Monday, April 23, 2007

Pay Equity - and idea whose time has come

Is anyone surprised that women STILL earn less money than men? A recent report by the American Association of University Women reveals that as early as one year out of college, women are earning less than their male counterparts. Even though most women do better in school than men.

AAUW suggests the difference is due to sex discrimination. Again I ask, is anyone surprised?
New research released today by the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation shows that just one year out of college, women working full time already earn less than their male colleagues, even when they work in the same field. Ten years after graduation, the pay gap widens.

In the report, Behind the Pay Gap, the AAUW Educational Foundation found that just one year after college graduation, women earn only 80 percent of what their male counterparts earn. Ten years after graduation, women fall further behind, earning only 69 percent of what men earn. Even after controlling for hours, occupation, parenthood, and other factors known to affect earnings, the research indicates that one-quarter of the pay gap remains unexplained and is likely due to sex discrimination. Over time, the unexplained portion of the pay gap grows.

The research also shows that ten years after graduation, college-educated men working full time have more authority in the workplace than do their female counterparts. Men are more likely to be involved in hiring and firing, supervising others, and setting pay.

"By looking at earnings just one year out of college, you have as level a playing field as possible," said AAUW Director of Research Catherine Hill. "These employees don’t have a lot of experience and, for the most part, don’t have care-giving obligations, so you’d expect there to be very little difference in the wages of men and women. But surprisingly, and unfortunately, we find that women already earn less — even when they have the same major and occupation as their male counterparts."

The AAUW research also shows that this pay gap exists despite the fact that women outperform men in school – earning slightly higher GPAs than men in every college major, including science and mathematics.

To my sisters reading this, it's time to bring pay equity back to the top of our list! TAKE ACTION


stanton said...

Actually, if you look a bit deeper and check the source of information that AAUW was using, you will see that the news is actually excellent. The GAO Report to Congressional Requesters on Women's Earnings does report the pay differential that the AAUW report published. And, as AAUW also reported, the GAO study accounted for 80% of that differential with non-discriminatory factors, such as number of hours worked, experience levels, etc. That leaves 20% of a $0.21 difference, or about $0.04. So in real terms, the gender pay gap is now closed to 96 cents for every dollar men earn. This is all from the study that AAUW used for their information.

AAUW did make an unfortunate assertion in their report when they stated, "While there is a portion of the wage gap that is explained by economists as a result of work patterns, the U.S. General Accounting Office found that about 20 percent of the wage gap is unaccounted for and can thus be attributed to gender discrimination." The GAO study (footnoted for this statement) did find that 20% is unaccounted for, but did NOT say that it can be attributed to discrimination. In fact, the study expressly states: "In conclusion, while we were able to account for much of the difference in earnings between men and women, we were not able to explain the remaining earnings difference... interpreting the remaining difference is problematic." So it is AAUW who attributes the remaining four cent difference to discrimination, not the study, as they imply.

Of course, instances of gender discrimination in pay can be found; they still exist. But the remedies available are powerful and effective, and the overwhelming majority of employers today are bending over backwards to be fair in their compensation policies, for fear of facing the consequences if nothing else.

AAUW needs gender equity issues for their survival, thus it is difficult for them to celebrate a victory, but this is very close to celebration time.

BAC said...

The fact that within one year there is a pay difference between men and women of equal ability and standing suggests the cause is sex discrimination. How else would you explain it?

And the reality that the gap INCREASES with time, suggests the problem is still, well ... a problem.

With women still facing a "sticky floor," that relegates far too many of them into dead-end jobs, it's not quite time to celebrate.


stanton said...

Well, BAC, you have just summed up the full extent of all of the research indicating a gender discrimination problem in US salaries: "How else would you explain it?" There needs to be more evidence than that to merit a "Yikes!"

There are many alternative explanations which are actually far more plausible, seeing how feminist researchers are trying their damndest to prove a discrimination problem and haven't yet succeeded. I suggest that their failure is more indicative of a false hypothesis than the "What else can it be?" canard is of a valid hypothesis.

One social force which I believe shapes the pay gap (and have not seen explored) is the mating instinct. Simply stated, higher pay increases the field of possible mates for males and decreases the field for females. This exerts downward pressure on the motivations of females to increase their compensation levels and upward pressure on that of males. This effect may continue unabated or even intensified after marriage and children as it blends with other family related drives (which HAVE been researched and demonstrated). Discrimination does not have to be present for these forces to result in a compensation gap. Do not expect AAUW to look at this too closely, however.

BAC said...

Do not expect AAUW to look at this too closely, however.

I would certainly hope not, since it's the dumbest thing I've read in a long time!


stanton said...

Perhaps my suggestion is incorrect, but why is it "dumb"? Human behavior is massively influenced by mating drives in nearly every aspect one might name. Why is it inconceivable to you that it would be a factor in this?

I will admit that there is one piece of evidence that argues against my theory, and that is the gender pay gap between never-married adults, who may be expected to be most subject to these influences. There is no gender pay gap whatsoever between never-married males and never-married females. Why would you guess that is, BAC? Does gender discriminaiton not kick in unless one gets married?

BAC said...

Where do you get this information? And please don't say the Heritage Foundation or Liberty University.


stanton said...

The information comes from the U.S. Census Bureau - the same source that inspired the AAUW report that is referenced in this post. I actually understated the case. In 2001, for example, never married college educated women made $1.17 for every $1.00 that never married men in tha group earned. How did discrimination skip this category? Are employers really so focussed in their discrimination that they give these women a pass and favor them over the men? And since this difference is hard to explain, would you apply your "How else would you explain it?" formula and declare it to be anti-male discrimination? I suspect you would want more evidence than that, right?

It's true that in other demographics, the never married women do not have such a large advantage, and they even fall below men in some, but not lower than 92% in any that I have found. Overall, it's either a wash or small edge to the women.

When fighting a discrimination war, why is so painful to declare a victory in one area and celebrate? Is the war itself an end, to be preserved at all costs?