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WOMEN AND THE PAY GAP


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April 27, 2007

WOMEN AND THE PAY GAP

Cathy Arnst

Forget about whether men or women do more housework--the bigger issue is why men continue to get paid more than women for the same jobs, some 40 years after women started entering the work force in large numbers. A study released this week by the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation found that a dramatic pay gap emerges between women and men in the U.S. the year after they graduate from college, and widens over the ensuing decade.

One year out of college, women working full time earn 80% percent of what men earn. Ten years later, women earn 69% percent as much as men. The researchers acknowledge that some of this can be attributed to number of hours worked, occupations and parenthood, but gender is definitely a factor. They estimate that 5% of the pay gap is attributable to gender one year after graduation and 12% 10 years after graduation. (The study, using data from the Department of Education, analyzed some 9,000 college graduates from 1992-93 and more than 10,000 from 1999-2000.)

Particularly unexpected was the gap one year out of college, when men and women should be most likely to show pay equity. "If a woman and a man make the same choices, will they receive the same pay?" the study says. "The answer is no. These unexplained gaps are evidence of discrimination, which remains a serious problem for women in the work force."

Don't assume the gap exists because women choose lower-paying professions, either--the study found a pay gap in the same fields. In education, women earn 95% as much as their male colleagues. In math, women earn 76% as much as men. This despite the fact, as the study lays out, women outperformed men academically, and their grade point averages were higher in every college major.

However, the researchers do suggest that women themselves may be partly to blame for the gap: "Women expect less and negotiate less pay for themselves than do men."

I hate to blame the victim, but that sounds plausible to me. I know far too many women who think it is somehow unseemly in the workplace to promote themselves, or demand more money. I think many women consistently undervalue themselves and their skills, which may be why many of us take on the bulk of the household chores even though we hold demanding jobs. Do we too easily assume that somehow the husband's job is more important, either because he works more hours (and how much of that is by choice?) or earns more? Perhaps its time to re-evaluate our worth, both on the job and at home. Or at the very least teach our daughters to be more demanding.

Here's a good column on the study by Diane Carman of the Denver Post

11:30 AM

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And, it seems as though the U.S. is not alone in the battle. I was just reading an article about how it's the same situation in the UK(http://www.helium.com/tm/73326/despite-equal-legislation-being). Both the US and the UK are "world leaders" but can't figure out how to pay people equally. Amazing.

Posted by: Becki at April 27, 2007 02:47 PM

How silly! There's a simple and justifable reason why men are almost always paid more than women: they work harder and longer hours, and they're eager to make sacrifices for work that women often refuse to make. Shouldn't people who don't cut out of work at 5 p.m. and put in additional hours every single work be paid more than those who don't? And shouldn't they therefore be eligible for greater advancement and the bigger rewards that come from more responsibility? Of course.

Posted by: Bob at April 28, 2007 12:23 AM

Nonsense. The American Association of University Women continue to hype the pay gap between women and men that simply doesn't exist, at least not because of sexism. Numerous comprehensive studies from groups such as the American Enterprise Institute (see Diana Furchtgott-Roth's article, "Still Hyping the Phony Pay Gap", January 31, 2000 www.aei.org) as well as Dr. Warren Farrell's book, "Why Men Earn More" (Dr. Farrell was the only man ever to be elected three times to the board of the National Organization for Women) have shown that the gap is clearly not due to unlawful discrimination against women. This is one of the many bogus AAUW's "studies" that will be followed up by a call for more legislation, more litigation, and more funding to combat the inequities in our "misogynist" society.

Posted by: Don at April 28, 2007 01:57 AM

I have a simple explanation for the pay inequity between men and women. It is best understood through a simple analogy. Suppose you??e a entrepreneur of a small struggling company and you have a opening for a critical job. This position will entail years of training and investment in the new hire for specialized skills unique to your company.

You have two equally qualified candidates in terms of education, experience, and job skills. One candidate is an avid boating enthusiast. The other is a professional golfer who participates and routinely wins regional and national golf competitions. The golfer?? clear potential is to eventually turn pro and golf the circuit full time. Which one would you hire? Which has the best payback, stability and loyalty for your company?

Gender pay inequities can be simply explained by distilling it down to probabilities. The simple biological fact remains that women statistically are less reliable, less loyal and need more time off simply because of childbirth potential??ust as the golfer in my example above who?? priorities and interests may lie elsewhere in the future. Until mass sterilization is instituted or virginity pledges are reliable, expect the wage disparity between the sexes to remain.

Posted by: sid at April 28, 2007 11:15 AM

Part of the problem is that women don't even know they're affected. We were surprised to find in our Downtown Women's Club's April 2007 survey (Women in the Workplace: Generationally Speaking), that less than half of all women don't even think they are affected.

When we asked if they were currently affected by the wage gap, only 50% of Boomers; 40% of Generation X; and 38% of Generation Y businesswomen responded "Yes." More information about the survey can be found at: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2007/4/prweb521537.htm

Posted by: Diane Danielson at April 28, 2007 10:28 PM

After 10 years Women at 69% of men vs. 80% on graduation may indicate that performance on job has not been competetive with male peers.

Posted by: Ken VanZandt at April 29, 2007 10:08 AM

Many times in business I have heard women espress the viewpoint that if their performance is superior, a manager or company will automatically reward them accordingly. This fails to take into consideration that one of the goals of management is to minimize pay levels, as long as employees continue to feel valued. Men more often seem to grasp that concept and ask for their share. A sense of entitlement, perhaps?

Posted by: Jules Vogel at April 29, 2007 04:54 PM

As a female manager, I have evaluated these static?? several times with colleagues, in many cases women were earning more than men.

This article failed to address that most large, even midsized companies DO monitor pay statistics regularly and men's work attendance tends to be higher then women's. Also, the AAUW is a terrible source. They advocate bigotry, ignorance, and misused of static??!!

Also, Cathy never once mentioned, most people who work in Human Resources are women, if the gap exists today (which it doesn't), I contend they would address this!

Because of propaganda such as this, I have lost faith in Businessweek. This misinformation hurts us (women) more than it helps us. Thanks alot Cathy!

Posted by: Kate McCormack at April 29, 2007 06:16 PM

NOW and AAUW are a disaster to young woman, who with still developing critical reasoning skills, do not as readily see the gender-bating, gender bashing, and hate mongering agenda of these two associations.

Posted by: Shawn W at May 7, 2007 07:56 PM

I think we should make it illegal for women to accept the same jobs as men that pay them less money than is paid to the men. The basis for this law should be unfair competition. After all, when any company needs to save money and two people do the same job just as well, who is going to be let go? The guy doesn't stand a chance.

Furthermore whenever organizations, in the future, whine about the pay gap, they should be required to turn in all the women who have accepted such jobs at less pay so they can be tried, convicted, fined and sent to jail.

I think that will fix the problem in short order.

Posted by: Dittohd at May 7, 2007 08:25 PM

In addition to the numerous studies that show almost no "wage gap" when you factor in tenure, skills, experience and qualifications, this article even contradicts itself.

Arnst reports that women earn 69% of men 10 years after graduation. Then in the next paragraph quotes figures that claim only 12% is attributable to gender (which would make women's salaries 88% of mens after 10 years). So why do we hear so much about the 69% figure??

I have no idea why seemingly intelligent women continue to peddle these destructive and erroneous figures. Ten minutes on google will reveal hundreds of studies showing that there is almost no "wage gap" when skills, tenure etc are taken into account. Why do some women insist on such a dogmatic victim mentality when there are so many irrefutable studies contradicting their standpoint? A case in point - a female graduate recently started in a job role in my office and found out the salary of a male co-worker was higher than hers. He was 10 years older and had 10 years in that role. She asked me for advice and asked if it was "because she was a woman?". After I stopped laughing, I suggested she go and ask him what he earned 10 years ago when he had her level of experience. Even HR advised her to drop that line of questioning. Consequently, no-one tells her anything now about salaries.

Posted by: Rob at May 8, 2007 05:56 AM

Dianne Danielson;

Please don't astroturf your own study from your own organization, here and pretend it's reputable evidence of a problem. You are clearly biased.

Also.. from your OWN study's description of the methodology you used...

"We surveyed the members of DowntownWomensClub.com..."

Beautiful selection bias. You do realize that this statement on its own COMPLETELY INVALIDATES any findings you came up with on the issue.

Posted by: alen at May 8, 2007 10:35 AM

PS Dianne:

I really love how you call half of your membership ignorant instead of believing them. They must love that.

Posted by: alen at May 8, 2007 12:41 PM

Why doesn't anyone say anything about the unemployment gap regarding gender. Men always have a much higher unemployment rate relative to women. Economist simply say that they can't explain this!

Posted by: Bill Bix at May 8, 2007 03:26 PM

Why are all ACCEPTED wage gap studies conducted by feminist groups? Politicians eager for the female vote will believe any propaganda perpetuated by groups such as NOW. Is it politically incorrect to utilize data that challenges what i call the wage gap myth?

Posted by: kmfdm at May 8, 2007 05:20 PM

The fact that men have jobs proves there is no wage gap. If a company can increase profits by 25-30% (probably more when considering taxes, vacation, sick leave, 401k's etc....) by firing all men and replacing them with lower paid women, why wouldn't they do this? I would.

And don't mix apples with oranges and tell me how a receptionist make less than a welder. If you want welders money, get your hands dirty and become a welder.

Posted by: Rhonda Mexico at May 8, 2007 05:29 PM

Can anyone name a single company that has hired only women and successfully used the alleged pay gap to gain a cost advantage over its competitors? If the AAUW crowd is correct the road to profits is a no-brainer.

Unfortunately the AAUW is a hype-machine whose primary vurtues are its ability to design research protocol that assures the desired conclusion and its leverage with an unquestioning media.

Posted by: Steve at May 8, 2007 06:35 PM

Can anyone name a single company that has hired only women and successfully used the alleged pay gap to gain a cost advantage over its competitors? If the AAUW crowd is correct the road to profits is a no-brainer.

Unfortunately the AAUW is a hype-machine whose primary vurtues are its ability to design research protocol that assures the desired conclusion and its leverage with an unquestioning media.

Posted by: Steve at May 8, 2007 06:38 PM

It's fake stories like these that are the reason I stopped reading the traditional media.

Now I only visit sites like Businessweek when they're criticised by blogs.

Posted by: Eric at May 9, 2007 12:19 AM

I'm glad to see so many people in these posts preparing to stand up for what is nothing more than another attack on men - one which is no where near founded in fact as this article would have us believe.

Career choice, such as women taking safer, less labor intensive jobs, family choice, acceptable career risks - men are risk takers - as well as working hours and conditions all play a huge role in explaining the pay gap.

Once women are prepared to do the same jobs as men, same hours and conditions, same back breaking labor and risk, with very little consideration given for THEIR time with family, then women may be in a position to complain about pay.

I work in the oil industry. Every field hand who applies for a job is male. The work is labor intensive, risky, hard and the conditions are harsh. The pay is good. Yet, every time I walk past Kelly Services, every person waiting for an interview for a cushy, air conditioned, office job with no personal risk, is female.

Posted by: James at May 9, 2007 12:55 AM

To: James,

>...every time I walk past Kelly Services, every person waiting for an interview for a cushy, air conditioned, office job with no personal risk, is female.

Apparently it is allowing women to take all these cushy, lower-paying jobs over the hard ones paying more that is, among other things, slanting the statistics that fuel this repeated whining about a wage gap.

Maybe we should put a ceiling on the percentage of cushy, lower-paying jobs and require them to take a certain percentage of the difficult jobs that they don't like until this pay gap of theirs disappears.

Posted by: Dittohd at May 9, 2007 12:22 PM

Sounds like you missed your mark Cathy. Shame on you for this misandric article. This is sloppy, shoddy journalism at it's worst. The fact that there are so many negative comments to your article proves the word is out there about the lies these groups have perpetrated for so long but are now being outed by the blogosphere.

Posted by: David L at May 9, 2007 12:24 PM

To: Dittohd

I agree with your point, Dittohd. I certainly wouldn't force someone to do a risky job with harsh conditions, but society right now is expecting it of men.

In my line of work, I am not prepared to ask anyone to do something I wouldn't do myself. I agree with the message of your post, women need to either put up or shut up. If they are not prepared to take the harsh, risky conditions that they expect men to work under, they have no right to complain about their so called pay gap.

Its this difference in choice that I see contributing in a big way to pay disparity.

Posted by: James at May 9, 2007 03:12 PM

I thought business week was a serious publication.

Posted by: tom, london at May 9, 2007 04:56 PM

You are so right!!

Posted by: sarah gharib at May 13, 2007 06:41 PM


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