Zach Blake

Zach Blake

Explaining The Wage Gap

Women do earn less than men, but its not because of sexism...mostly

       My first interaction with the wage gap came in an operations management class. Our class was discussing an article that had boasted of the value non-white men bring to a boardroom and business…fair enough. But, one student raised her hand, referenced the article, and stated, “It’s just crazy to me that women have this large impact, but are still only paid 79 cents compared to $1 for men, even for equal work!” Another student followed and told us she had heard the same unbelievable statistic in her gender studies course. Both students, and a majority of classmates, immediately chalked the gender pay gap up to discrimination. Men in positions of power have been treating women unfairly, and the numbers can’t lie…right?

      From a statistical perspective, it is true that women earn 79 cents (more or less depending on the study) compared to a man’s $1, but the reasons for this disparity extend far past gender discrimination. The current narrative, pushed by media and universities, would have Americans believe that women face insurmountable prejudice in their fiscal and political futures. However, this claim is misleading, both in its language and calculation methods.

      Before going further, this is not to say that women no longer face discrimination in the work force, they do. But underlying factors within the gap, other than gender discrimination, comprise a majority of its presence. The first misdirection lies within “equal work,” or language designed to imply that causes other than discrimination do not exist. When calculating the numbers, the Bureau of Labor statistics included only full-time workers, with 35 weekly hours being the cut-off. According to Pew Research, 26% of men work more than 40 hours a week while only 14% of women match those hours, which inherently skews the “equal work” argument1. Research has also indicated that men work more hours than women in identical professions and pay is distributed accordingly2.

Career Choice

Hours Worked

Traits

Children

      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.

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http://selectimagingcorp.com/?t=chinese dress traditional Works Cited:

1 Kochhar, Rakesh. “How Pew Research Measured the Gender Pay Gap.” Pew Research Center, Pew Research Center, 7 Feb. 2014, www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/12/11/how-pew-research-measured-the-gender-pay-gap/.

2 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Time spent working by full- and part-time status, gender, and location in 2014 on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2015/time-spent-working-by-full-and-part-time-status-gender-and-location-in-2014.htm (visited January 06, 2019).

3 Rappleye, Emily. “Gender Ratio of Nurses across 50 States.” Becker’s Hospital Review, 29 May 2015, www.beckershospitalreview.com/human-capital-and-risk/gender-ratio-of-nurses-across-50-states.html.

4 Loewus, Liana. “The Nation’s Teaching Force Is Still Mostly White and Female.” Education Week, Editorial Project in Education, 20 June 2018, www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2017/08/15/the-nations-teaching-force-is-still-mostly.html.

5 Crawford, Mark. “Engineering Still Needs More Women.” ASME.org, Sept. 2012, www.asme.org/career-education/articles/undergraduate-students/engineering-still-needs-more-women.

6 Vu, Shana. “Cracking the Code: Why Aren’t More Women Majoring in Computer Science?” UCLA Newsroom, 26 June 2017, newsroom.ucla.edu/stories/cracking-the-code:-why-aren-t-more-women-majoring-in-computer-science.

7 Su, R., Rounds, J., & Armstrong, P. I. (2009). Men and things, women and people: A meta-analysis of sex differences in interests. Psychological Bulletin, 135(6), 859-884.

8 Merline, John. “Gender Pay Gap? What About The Workplace Death Gap?” Investor’s Business Daily, Investor’s Business Daily, 4 Apr. 2017, www.investors.com/politics/commentary/how-come-nobody-talks-about-the-gender-workplace-death-gap/.

9 Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2017. company websiteThe Gender Wage Gap: Extent, Trends, and Explanations,Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 55(3), pages 789-865, September.

10 Rice, Curt. “How Blind Auditions Help Orchestras to Eliminate Gender Bias.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 14 Oct. 2013, www.theguardian.com/women-in-leadership/2013/oct/14/blind-auditions-orchestras-gender-bias.

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