The Wage Gap Myth – How about some truth for a change?


Reader Response to “Don’t Marry Career Women” – The Wage Gap Myth – How about some truth for a change?

The Wage Gap Myth – How about some truth for a change?
Teflon
Contributor
Teflon
The Wage Gap Myth

Friday, April 12, 2002

by Denise Venable

Tuesday, April 16, 2002, is Equal Pay Day – the day on which many organizations protest wage discrimination between men and women. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median income for all women is about three-quarters that of men, although the results vary significantly among demographic groups. Feminist organizations and some politicians point to these statistics as evidence of the United States as a patriarchal society that discriminates against women. But a closer examination leads to a different conclusion.

The Good News.

When women behave in the workplace as men do, the wage gap between them is small. June O’Neill, former director of the Congressional Budget Office, found that among people ages 27 to 33 who have never had a child, women’s earnings approach 98 percent of men’s. Women who hold positions and have skills and experience similar to those of men face wage disparities of less than 10 percent, and many are within a couple of points. Claims of unequal pay almost always involve comparing apples and oranges.

Lifestyle Choices

Women make different choices, and those choices affect how they work. Women often place more importance on their relationships – caring for children, parents, spouses, etc. – than on their careers. A study by the Center for Policy Alternatives and Lifetime television found that 71 percent of women prefer jobs with more flexibility and benefits than jobs with higher wages, and nearly 85 percent of women offered flexible work arrangements by their employers have taken advantage of this opportunity.

Entry and Exit from the Job Market.

Women are more likely to enter and leave the workforce to raise children, take care of elderly parents or move with their families. Working mothers are nearly twice as likely to take time off to care for their children as are working fathers in dual-earner couples. Yet time out of the workforce is an enormous obstacle to building an attractive resume and working up the corporate ladder. Women 25 years of age and over have been with their current employer 4.4 years, on average, compared to 5.0 years for men. Data from the National Longitudinal Survey reveal that women between the ages of 18 and 34 have been out of the labor force 27 percent of the time, in contrast to 11 percent for men. Women ages 45 to 54 who have recently re-entered the workforce after a five- or 10-year break are competing against men who have had 20 years of continuous experience.

Part-Time Work.

Women are also more likely to work part-time. In 2000, one-quarter of all women employees worked part-time, compared to less than 10 percent of men. Nearly 85 percent of those who worked part-time did so for non-economic reasons; e.g., to spend more time with the family or to further their education. In general, married women would prefer part-time work at a rate of 5 to 1 over married men.

While part-time work usually increases flexibility, the part-time worker loses out on promotions and pay increases. Part-time work also tends to mean lower hourly pay. Shorter labor stints and part-time work contribute to the probability of working for the minimum wage. Nearly two-thirds of minimum wage earners are women.

However, women’s wages hold up quite well to men’s wages when comparing specific job categories. [See Figure I.] Among adults working between one and 34 hours a week, women’s earnings are 115 percent of men’s. Among part-time workers who have never married, and who thus confront fewer outside factors likely to affect earnings, women earn slightly more than men. These statistics suggest that skill level, tenure and working hours – not gender – determine wages.

Occupational Choices.

Beyond work behavior, women gravitate to sectors of the economy that compensate workers at lower levels. While women hold 53 percent of all professional jobs in the United States, they hold only 28 percent of jobs in professions averaging $40,000 or more in annual compensation. For example, fewer women have chosen to enter such technical fields as computer sciences, math and science teaching, medicine, law and engineering. In 1998, women earned only 26.7 percent of computer science degrees.

Closing the Gap.

Despite all these factors, the gap between men and women’s wages has been closing. Figure II illustrates that over the last 20 years women’s earnings have jumped at least 12 percentage points relative to men’s earnings, closing the wage differential at every level of education. A change in women’s work expectations also has tended to close the gap. Until the 1970s, a minority of women expected to work after marriage. Today, almost 75 percent of young women expect to be working at age 35.

Changing work expectations are an apparent cause of women’s increased focus on education, and the enrollment of women in higher education has grown much faster than that of men. Women were awarded more than 50 percent of associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the 1990s. Women currently earn more than 40 percent of Ph.D.s, medical and law degrees.

The narrowing of the gender wage gap approximately one percentage point a year since 1980 is particularly significant, since during the 1980s and ’90s the overall wage level rose little and the wage inequality between skilled and unskilled workers grew. Without enhanced skills, women’s wages likely would have fallen further behind men’s. However, market pressures have helped to generate corrective mechanisms, and as the costs of denying employment to women mounted, prejudices were set aside.

Conclusion.

Women’s work-life patterns and their occupational preferences are significant factors in determining wages. Rather than being “funneled” into low-wage, low-prestige and part-time positions, women often choose these occupations because of the flexibility they offer. After adjusting for these factors, scholars find that the difference between men’s and women’s earnings is very narrow.

Those who still cite women’s 76 cents for every male dollar as evidence of sexism fail to take into account the underlying role of personal choice. The “wage gap” is not so much about employers discriminating against women as about women making discriminating choices in the labor market.

08-27-2006 10:06 AM

Re: The Wage Gap Myth – How about some truth for a change?
sunji
Contributor
sunji

This post and the one just below are proof that statistics can be twisted around to suit any agenda. People will choose which one to believe based on their personal preferences.

08-27-2006 10:10 AM

Re: The Wage Gap Myth – How about some truth for a change?
TheBM
Contributor
TheBM

sunji wrote:
This post and the one just below are proof that statistics can be twisted around to suit any agenda. People will choose which one to believe based on their personal preferences.

Just like how all the rape and domestic violence stats are twisted to suit the feminist agenda?

08-27-2006 10:56 AM

Re: The Wage Gap Myth – How about some truth for a change?
radiator
Regular Contributor
radiator

Do men who stay home to care for children also lose the same amount in wages? The “choice” issue hides all these misogynistic men who want to force women to stay home and have babies.  It also hides the hidden economy of homemaking–a very old topic that has also been written about.   This is one article written by someone who wants to spin the data this way–it’s not sufficient counterargument.  It doesn’t really address the fact that men are freaking out because America is losing its domination in the world and they are taking it out on the women.  There is a lot more going on.

Guys, don’t you have work to do?  Get to work and earn your keep!

08-27-2006 11:07 AM

Re: The Wage Gap Myth – How about some truth for a change?
TheBM
Contributor
TheBM
Do men who stay home to care for children also lose the same amount in wages?

Yes, That is the point. Men who choose that path lose the wage earning power of a man who will work longer and make choices based on money over staying close to his family.

Also, The author of that write up was a woman. I’d hardly start yelling off about how its misogynistic.

Here is another woman who says the same thing.

http://www.iwf.org/issues/issues_detail.asp?ArticleID=749

“It doesn’t really address the fact that men are freaking out because America is losing its domination in the world and they are taking it out on the women”

It doesn’t address it because that has nothing to do with the point of the write up. It also isn’t spinning anything. Go read N.O.Ws study itself and you will see how they got their data. It was them who tried to spin the stats. That is why it took another group of woman[IWF, Independant womans forum] a few years to get them to release how they did their study.

Message Edited by TheBM on 08-27-2006 08:57 AM

Message Edited by TheBM on 08-27-2006 08:58 AM

08-27-2006 11:56 AM

Re: The Wage Gap Myth – How about some truth for a change?
MartianBachelor
Regular Contributor
MartianBachelor

The Good News…. When women behave in the workplace as men do, the wage gap between them is small. June O’Neill, former director of the Congressional Budget Office, found that among people ages 27 to 33 who have never had a child, women’s earnings approach 98 percent of men’s…

I do wonder how this is possible, considering the fact that 90% of Art History majors are women, whereas 90% of Engineering degrees go to men. Not a biggie, but something doesn’t add up with that 98% figure. There should be a much bigger discrepancy. Or do Art History degrees pull down the same big salaries as Engineering degrees?

______________________________________________
“The loudest, most strident voices calling women weak, stupid, and incapable of competing in the world at large are the feminists.” – zed the zen priest

08-27-2006 01:36 PM

Re: The Wage Gap Myth – How about some truth for a change?
TheBM
Contributor
TheBM

MartianBachelor wrote:

The Good News…. When women behave in the workplace as men do, the wage gap between them is small. June O’Neill, former director of the Congressional Budget Office, found that among people ages 27 to 33 who have never had a child, women’s earnings approach 98 percent of men’s…

I do wonder how this is possible, considering the fact that 90% of Art History majors are women, whereas 90% of Engineering degrees go to men. Not a biggie, but something doesn’t add up with that 98% figure. There should be a much bigger discrepancy. Or do Art History degrees pull down the same big salaries as Engineering degrees?

The women who don’t bother having kids are often not the soft art history majors. They are the ones who power though the high end companies with business and accounting degrees.

Which pull down big salaroies as engineering.

08-27-2006 01:41 PM

Re: The Wage Gap Myth – How about some truth for a change?
leeraconteur
Regular Contributor
leeraconteur

The Wage Gap Myth is just that – A Myth.

The number cited so often takes the Census data for all income earned by fulltime men and women, divides by the number of each respective group, and figures a ratio.  This ratio is currently .76 female to men.

It does not control for:
-Women who are fulltime who work 35-40 hours.
-Men who work more than 40 hours a week.
-Men who take off no time for children, sabbaticals, extended vacations.
-Those who work 45+ hours a week.
-Those who chose dangerous jobs that pay a premium.  For instance, a woman who works 41 hours a week as a bookkeeper, and a man who works 39 hours a week pouring concrete forms and digging trenches.  Who is more likely to die at work?
-Those who chose a similar career but prefer a ‘work-life’ balance.

08-27-2006 03:36 PM

Re: The Wage Gap Myth – How about some truth for a change?
Freeyourself
Regular Contributor
Freeyourself
“-Those who chose dangerous jobs that pay a premium. For instance, a woman who works 41 hours a week as a bookkeeper, and a man who works 39 hours a week pouring concrete forms and digging trenches. Who is more likely to die at work?”

Sort of like my job. I have a herniated disk from heavy lifting already at 36. This past Friday I could of got crushed under a scissor lift. While trying to load it oustside in a wet parking lot and trailer I got it up onto but it took off sliding. The lift came down sideways and hit the pavement and tilted me on edge. I got slammed into the side of the cage but nothing happened so it was kind of funny except for the broken cellphone. This is why men live less than women since we do the more dangerous jobs but I don’t mind working in nature is more thrilling than boring office work. Look at all the firemen that gave up their lives during 9/11 rushing into the towers. Not one woman died trying to save lives because the NY fire dept refused to bow to Feminist trying to lower the physical standards required to be firemen. Other districts lower standards for women to be Firefighters because of potential lawsuits but citizens suffer if you lower standards.

08-27-2006 06:06 PM

Re: The Wage Gap Myth – How about some truth for a change?
radiator
Regular Contributor
radiator

No doubt that the study does not control for all the variations you mention and more–I concur.  But, It also doesn’t account for WHY women or men choose particular types of careers.

If you had read the other articles I posted, you would notice that Merrill Lynch was sued for unequal pay.  Obviously, many women were choosing that career path (of 80 hours per week) and then being iced out by unfair treatment.

You would notice that a major sexual harassment law suit was lost against a major university–the suit was filed by women.

You would notice that women are not demanding pay raises as much as men do FOR THE SAME job.  This is social conditioning–and because of discrimination.  Men are perceived as “powerful” if they ask for what they deserve, while women are considered “uppity.”

“Those who chose dangerous jobs that pay a premium.  For instance, a woman who works 41 hours a week as a bookkeeper, and a man who works 39 hours a week pouring concrete forms and digging trenches.  Who is more likely to die at work?”

Of course the dangerous job will cause higher death rates–no question.

However, there is another question underlying this.  Childcare workers make minimum wage–why is childcare so little valued in our society in comparison to pouring concrete?  Surely raising a fragile little soul is just as important as laying a sidewalk?  Or why does engineering pay more than art history, when art history will reveal the answers to why feminists are pissed off, and therefore educate so many more people?

So, the study also doesn’t account for the VALUE placed on certain kinds of work.  And historically, “women’s work”–historically, care labor–has been VASTLY underpaid in comparison to traditional men’s work.  That’s also why a lot more women have become “career” women–because “careers” pay better.

08-29-2006 06:02 AM

==============================================================================
Click on the board or message subject at the top to return.

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: