Additionally, the calculation does not differentiate between professions and career choices, completely abandoning the idea of both genders completing identical work. In order to better understand causal factors for profession choices and payment, we can take a look at personality differences between men and women. Personality differences are obviously generalizations based on overarching trends, and do not apply to all men and women, of which all are unique. However, professions varying in salary, task, and degree of danger attract more women than men, and vice versa. To demonstrate, women dominate fields like nursing, teaching, and social work (91% of nurses3 and 77% of teachers are female4) while men populate much of finance, engineering, and computer sciences (86% of engineers5 and 82% of comp sci majors are men6). Despite efforts by universities and other organizations to promote wide spread interest in fields not typically attractive to women, disparities still remain. In Psychological Bulletin, a peer reviewed academic journal, authors Su Rong, James Rounds, and Patrick Armstrong sampled over 500,000 participants and dissected personality trends between men and women. The researchers determined traits along Holland’s six personality types and found what many would expect. Men indicated a clear interest in investigative and realistic activities, while women strongly displayed artistic and social interests. The data also found that males are much more likely to work in object-based fields as opposed to their female counterparts who choose social arenas7. Keeping the data in mind, we can see that the genders, on average, gravitate towards stereotypical male and female professions. As for payment, work involving “things” is much more scalable than working with people. This implies that the most efficient nurse cannot dream of serving as many people as the inventor of the computer chip, and income will follow accordingly. Men are also much more likely to work dangerous jobs, comprising of 93% of workplace deaths8. It seems clear that career choices and time at work are much more impactful to salary determination than gender discrimination, but they do not tell the whole story.
In actuality, the “adjusted gender pay gap,” which accounts for the aforementioned factors, is closer to 8% but still poses a problem9. The remaining difference is not easily accounted for by career choices and time worked, which gives credence to discrimination affecting pay. One example of gender pay discrimination comes from the orchestra. Over the last several decades, orchestras have actually began conducting “blind” auditions in which judges are relieved of their sight. Since its implementation in the 70s, women’s presence in orchestras has increased by over 20%10 (due to merit and elimination of sex bias). Our gender equality standards have undoubtedly progressed in the last 40 years, but the orchestra reveals that, while it is unlikely that gender discrimination accounts for all 8 cents, some impact does exist.
Going forward it is important to recognize that we still have room for improvement, but spreading misconceptions will not help the problem. Women entering the work force possess valuable traits that companies in a capitalist society cannot easily ignore. As such, with the proceeding of time and morals, capitalism will continue to mitigate gender discrimination while encouraging discrimination based on merit. In such a society, a problematic pay gap struggles to exist and uplifts those of us willing to work hard in exchange for laudable goals, regardless of gender.
The works cited for this post can be found at the bottom of this webpage.