Thursday, November 17, 2011

There Is No Male-Female Wage Gap?

Speaking as a guy who has had female bosses since his first "real" job in the 1970s, this seems true:

I confess, I haven't looked for rebuttals, so don't hesitate to offer any.

PS. The writer's a conservative and I'm not, so separate her rhetoric from her statistics.

ETA: Pamela Dean provides a couple of interesting links: No Gender Gap in Wages? So Carrie Lukas Argues. Part 1. and No Gender Gap in Wages? So Carrie Lukas Argues. Part 2.


  1. Just skimmed it quickly -- part of the problem w/ arguments like these is people talk past each other and all sorts of unspoken assumptions are embedded in their arguments. Here's just one example:

    Simply put, many women—not all, but enough to have a big impact on the statistics—are willing to trade higher pay for other desirable job characteristics.

    Willing? No, arguably have little choice but to... given the way our society and economy are structured currently. But the typical Capitalist Economist mindset assumes that all economic choices are voluntary, when in fact the dynamics involved are much more complicated. Recall the joke about freedom to live under bridges here...

    Anyhow, that's just a quick reaction...

  2. I noticed that one--Lukas's rhetoric sucks, imho. What I really want is a job-to-job comparison: do women get paid less for doing the same job? do they have equal opportunities to do the same work? I know, for example, that not being able to officially go into combat can limit some women in the military at promotion time--but how does that work out overall? Does a female colonel make less than a male one? Or, in the workplace, does a female CEO make less than her predecessor?

    And how do these gaps compare when you factor in region or class or religion? One thing I'm sure of: a woman from a major private school has better economic opportunities than a man from a state school or who can't afford higher education.

  3. I tried a quick search at the Economic Policy Institute's website just now but didn't come up w/ anything. I'm sure they've looked at the issue, however.

    Here's one straw in the wind... 20-plus years ago, a Milwaukee auto battery mfr. barred women of child-bearing age from working in an area where they were exposed to lead. The union contract classified that particular area as having a higher wage. Ultimately the US Supreme Court ruled that the company couldn't do that (an outcome that actually no one expected). Now, the company's motivation wasn't to pay women less per se, it was to avoid liability in the event of a birth defect to a child born to one of the employees. But it had the effect of causing women disproportionate economic harm. The real problem here might have been a paternalism that said women could just be excluded. (Supposing the substance had a particular hazard for men only, I suspect that the solution would not have been to exclude men from that work classification. But counter-factuals are always tricky.)

    The larger point is that all these outcomes (who gets paid more / less) are the consequence of a complex interaction of factors beyond what a simplistic analysis will point to...

  4. DSD, full agreement. I don't think anyone's saying that there hasn't been a major wage gap in the US due to gender. The question's whether it makes sense for people to run around claiming a woman's work is only worth 77% of a man's in today's job market. There are plenty of reasons to attack capitalism, but I'm not convinced sexism is a valid one in the 21st century.

  5. Two posts from Echidne of the Snakes:

    Part one:

    Part two: