The Gender Wage Gap — a Myth?
|August 8, 2012||Posted by Jeffery J. Smith under News|
Bad Comparisons Make for Bad Conclusions
You know what they say about crunching numbers: even the Devil can quote scripture. Regardless of what’s the case, the truth is that geonomics helps close any gap of any size. This 2012 article is from MarketWatch, Jly 26.
by Diana Furchtgott-Roth
We hear it over and over again: Women still earn just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. Just one problem — it isn’t true.
Here are three myths about the wage “gap.”
Myth 1: Women get less pay for equal work. This comes from comparing the earnings of all full-time men with those of all full-time women. The comparison is bogus, for two reasons.
First, it lumps together men and women who work different numbers of hours — any hours above 35 hours per week. On average, full-time women work fewer hours than full-time men, often because they prefer it. When comparisons are made between men and women who work 40 hours per week, women make 87% of men’s earnings. For men and women who work 30 to 34 hours a week, women make more, 109% of men’s earnings.
Second, the gap claim averages for each gender earnings from many and disparate vocations. For example, it averages women who work as social workers with men who work as investment bankers; female elementary school teachers with male engineers; and male loggers with female administrative assistants.
For their own reasons, many women enter so-called “helping professions,” such as nursing, teaching, elder care, health services, nutrition, social work. These occupations pay less than do some more dangerous and physically-demanding lines of work that attract more men — engineering, mining, operating construction machinery. Comparing men and women in the same job with the same experience, analysts find that they earn about the same.
Myth 2: Women are discouraged from enrolling in higher-paying fields — science, technology, engineering, math. Fewer women choose to major in engineering, chemistry, and physics. More choose to take English literature, communications, and gender studies. Graduates in these fields are usually paid less than in the sciences.
Women were projected to get 58% of masters and bachelor’s degrees, and over half of PhD degrees for the 2011-2012 academic year. In 2010, the top five woman-heavy majors were family and consumer sciences/human sciences (88% female); library science (87%); health professions and related programs (85%); public administration and social service professions (82%); and education (80%).
The top four man-heavy majors are more highly paid but draw relatively few women. They were military technologies and applied sciences (4% female); transportation and materials moving (11%); engineering and engineering technologies (17%); computer and information sciences and support services (18%); and economics (30%).
Women who prepare for science and engineering are well rewarded in a job market that traditionally has been male-dominated. While women represented 11% and 12% of university tenure-track applicants in electrical engineering and physics, they received 32% and 20% of job offers.
Myth 3: A discriminatory “glass ceiling” restricts women to lower-paying jobs and careers and keeps them out of senior management and the corner office. Many women, even those with excellent academic credentials, prefer to work part-time in order to combine work and family. Family-friendly jobs with flexible hours pay less than jobs with longer, inflexible hours. (Some feminists contend that this is unjust, but that is a separate issue.)
It’s not the “glass ceiling” that keeps women out of the corner office, it’s a choice of how much time and effort to put into one’s career. Many in the millennium generation (born after 1980) call it “work-life balance.” For men and women, to make it to the corporate top requires countless hours of work and travel and too little time for family. That means missed birthdays, football and field hockey games, and school productions. Women seem to mind missing these events more than men.
In 2012, as it has done in many other years, Yale Law Women, an organization of female law students at Yale Law School, made a list of “Top Ten Law Firms,” in categories particularly noted for family friendliness. “One of the goals of the Top Ten list is to generate discussion about family- friendly policies at top law firms,” Yale Law Women wrote on its website.
These are women who have the credentials to aim for the executive suite at major corporations, but some are planning for part-time and flex-time. There’s no problem with those choices, but these same women shouldn’t cry discrimination when they don’t make it to the top.
Myths and realities — women and men grow up with them. Some myths teach us moral and ethical truths, and we are the richer for them. But when myths try to teach us something demonstrably false — such as women earning less than men for the same work — we are all the poorer. It is time to discard false myths about women.
JJS: Another consideration is that those jobs that pay oh so much — such as to the CEO of a badass corporation that makes weapons or wrecks the environment or demands unpaid overtime or trolls for patents to hinder techno-progress — do not reward the payee for creating more wealth but for collecting favors from politicians and thereby concentrating existing wealth. Those anti-social jobs that pay a king’s ransom are mainly performed by males and so tip the wage averages boy-ward. If we were to abolish such activities and the jobs that go with them (and why not?), then paychecks for women and “himmen” would be virtually equal.
Still, if differences existed, then paying everyone a Citizens’ Dividend would greatly help close the gap. And making such a CD feasible by abolishing corporate welfare and de-taxing real earnings while recovering the socially-generated values of land and resources, would also discourage “rent-seeking” by corporations and make useless the overpaid CEO. Wages would become less of an issue and the more important work/life balance would actually evolve into harmony.
That’s the promise of geonomics and why, perhaps, the feminine in all of us is what will ultimately win it.
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