WOMEN'S WORK PAYS LESS BECAUSE IT'S LIGHTER
In ''What gets lost in the gender gap'' (Up Front, Nov. 30), you compare two jobs that you characterize as equivalent but gender-specific. In fact, the jobs of stock clerk (male) and office clerk (female) are quite different. The office is usually cleaner and more temperature-controlled than a warehouse. The lifting requirements are much higher for the stock job. If they were truly equivalent, the office workers would jump ship to warehouse work and balance out the wage differences.
It has been a reality throughout history that men take the jobs with greater risks and, as investors understand, greater risk leads to greater rewards. So it is that our trash collectors with their high rate of injury get paid more than people who file and type. Either is free to switch to a safer but lower-paid job or higher-paying riskier job. If the underpaid office worker of your example really wants to outperform the wage market, let her learn programming or otherwise raise her skill level.
Updated Dec. 10, 1998 by bwwebmaster
Copyright 1998, Bloomberg L.P.