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Man holding big piggybank, woman holding small piggybank
April 8 is Equal Pay Day. That means that the average woman is just now catching up with what the average man made in 2013. There are a lot of reasons for that, with outright discrimination at the individual level only accounting for part of the pay gap. But the pay gap is there from the beginning of people's working lives:
real entry-level wages of male and female college graduates, 1979-2013. Men are consistently higher, though women catch up a little bit.
And it's worse for women of color—in fact, for many women it won't be Equal Pay Day for quite a while:
[T]he wage gaps for women of color are substantially wider than for women overall: women overall working full time, year round typically make only 77 percent of what their male counterparts make – for African-American women compared to white, non-Hispanic men this figure is 64 cents – and for Hispanic women it's only 54 cents.

That means Equal Pay Day for African-American women comes in July. For Hispanic women it isn't until November.

And yes, part of the reason for women's lower earnings is that, as people dismissing equal pay concerns often point out, women tend to be in lower-paid occupations than men. But by what contortion of logic does the fact that the lowest-paid occupations are overwhelmingly dominated by women show that discrimination is not real? Doesn't it in fact show that discrimination is a much bigger and more pervasive force than a couple thousand asshole bosses intentionally paying women less than men? (Though those bosses are certainly out there, as Lilly Ledbetter could tell you.)

The final answers to equal pay are bigger than cracking down on overt discrimination. But we sure aren't going to get anywhere as long as discrimination remains illegal, but nearly impossible to discover and only weakly punished.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 01:14 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  isn't the next step in that process (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sparhawk
    And yes, part of the reason for women's lower earnings is that, as people dismissing equal pay concerns often point out, women tend to be in lower-paid occupations than men.
    to understand why this happens? Which will certainly be for multiple reasons. And then those root causes to be evaluated to detmine is they can/should be altered.
  •  so today ends at 77% of 24 hours = 6:48pm /nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    allie4fairness

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013 (@eState4Column5).

    by annieli on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 02:00:55 PM PDT

  •  Re (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    anime1973
    And yes, part of the reason for women's lower earnings is that, as people dismissing equal pay concerns often point out, women tend to be in lower-paid occupations than men. But by what contortion of logic does the fact that the lowest-paid occupations are overwhelmingly dominated by women show that discrimination is not real? Doesn't it in fact show that discrimination is a much bigger and more pervasive force than a couple thousand asshole bosses intentionally paying women less than men? (Though those bosses are certainly out there, as Lilly Ledbetter could tell you.)
    Discrimination by whom?

    In my upper level engineering classes, there were tons of men and hardly any women.

    Is it discrimination that women choose not to enter these fields? By whom...?

    By that point, there are only a few possible candidates for culprits:

    (A) Schools (elementary/middle/secondary)
    (B) Family / friends of possible female engineers
    (C) Churches or other organizations
    (D) ...?

    Certainly not employers, who would love to hire female engineers and pay them a lot of money if only there were any.

    If you're looking for discrimination, you might be looking in the wrong place. Focus should be put on getting women into high paying fields, not wondering why some fields pay less than others. Preschool teachers are always going to be paid less than solid fuel rocket designers, and to the degree that women are underrepresented in rocket design and over represented as preschool teachers the gap will remain.

    Let's get some more female rocket designers into the mix.

    (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
    Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

    by Sparhawk on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 03:17:10 PM PDT

    •  I personally know unemployed women in STEM (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cai, BMScott, FindingMyVoice, Carojay

      fields.  One of them has an MS in engineering and she once worked as a contract employee on a NASA contract.  Older women are sometimes told to their faces that they are not qualified when they meet all qualifications in the advertised position.  I once was on a hiring committee which chose a less qualified male over a more qualified female.  When I questioned the reason for the decision I was told the administrator who made the hiring decision did not like older women.

      •  Not for nothing (0+ / 0-)

        I'm not saying discrimination doesn't still exist here and there, but anecdotes are anecdotes.

        One of them has an MS in engineering and she once worked as a contract employee on a NASA contract.
        That description applies to a number of unemployed men as well. Working for a time on a "NASA contract" is not a guarantee of employment forever.

        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

        by Sparhawk on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 06:36:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You stated that there are (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BMScott, Carojay

          "employers, who would love to hire female engineers and pay them a lot of money if only there were any."

          I know a woman who is an unemployed female engineer who can participate in rocket design.  Your post claimed that women do not get equal pay because there are women who major in education instead of rocket engineering.  Majoring in engineering clearly does not guarantee equal employment for women.

          •  My friend (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sparhawk

            has a Ph.D from UCB and undergrad degrees in Math and CS and 10+ years experience;  I have a Master's and 14 years experience.   Yet around 2010 we were both out of work for over a year.    And we're both male.    So being male AND in STEM doesn't guarantee squat either.

            •  Men face long unemployment; women are replaced (0+ / 0-)

              by foreign nationals on short-term visas.  I know two women who had to train their foreign replacements.  The regular rich-guy BS about the lack of US citizens willing to take jobs in technical fields is infuriating.  Gifted female students have told me they do not see any point in getting science degrees when they will not be able to get a science job when they graduate.

              •  Yes, a lot of students (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                allie4fairness

                seem to be feeling that way.   Especially now with so many going into debt to finance their education.   Unfortunately those rich guys throw enough money at politicians (and even more now with the court decision) to get them to parrot their line about not finding enough qualified workers.

    •  Women (0+ / 0-)

      Now form a majority in science and mathematics programs in most colleges. Engineering and computer science remain largely male--in fact, computer science has proportionally fewer women than it has at various times in the past.

  •  I don't have the link, but even in the exact same (4+ / 0-)

    fields, IIRC, just-graduated women get lower salaries than their male counterparts.  

    Some links I do have: women who can do math still can't get hired:

    They set up a lab experiment in which “managers” hired people to complete mathematical tasks that, on average, men and women performed equally well.

    With no information about the job “applicants” other than their appearance, the managers (of both sexes) were twice as likely to hire a man over a woman.

    The professors, Ernesto Reuben of Columbia Business School, Paola Sapienza of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern and Luigi Zingales of the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago, tried another version of the experiment, which they labeled “Cheap Talk.” In this version, the job candidates were allowed to predict their own performance. Men tended to exaggerate their acumen, while women downplayed theirs. But the managers failed to compensate for that difference, and were again twice as likely to choose a man.

    The bias persisted even when managers were given hard data about the applicants’ ability to perform the tasks in question. Managers were still one-and-a-half times more likely to hire a man. When they knowingly chose the lower-performing candidate, two-thirds of the time they were choosing the male applicant.

    The managers were also given an “implicit association test,” or I.A.T., to measure their gender bias when it comes to math and science. “The very people who are biased against women about math, they’re also less likely to believe that men boast,” Mr. Zingales said. “So they’re picking up a negative stereotype of women, but not a negative stereotype of men.”

    Or this: Scientists of both genders biased against women in science:

    Science professors at American universities widely regard female undergraduates as less competent than male students with the same accomplishments and skills, a new study by researchers at Yale concluded.

    Information given to professors describing a recent graduate looking for a laboratory manager position. When the name of the applicant was changed from Jennifer to John, professors regarded the applicant as more competent.

    As a result, the report found, the professors were less likely to offer the women mentoring or a job. And even if they were willing to offer a job, the salary was lower.

    The bias was pervasive, the scientists said, and probably reflected subconscious cultural influences rather than overt or deliberate discrimination.

    Female professors were just as biased against women students as their male colleagues, and biology professors just as biased as physics professors — even though more than half of biology majors are women, whereas men far outnumber women in physics.

    © cai Visit 350.org to join the fight against global warming.

    by cai on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 04:43:46 PM PDT

    •  Then there's transgender physicist Ben Barres: (5+ / 0-)

      "Shortly after I changed sex, a faculty member was heard to say 'Ben Barres gave a great lecture today, but then his work is much better than his sister's.'"  

      (Quoted in "Women (and other minorities) in Science and Engineering: Why the Gap? a personal perspective" by Kathryn V. Johnston, Columbia University Astronomy.)

      © cai Visit 350.org to join the fight against global warming.

      by cai on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 04:52:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Hmmm. My daughter has a mentoring job at (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      allie4fairness

      her university.

      Maybe they didn't notice that she is a she.z

      LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

      by dinotrac on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 04:59:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Nothing I wrote said or implied (5+ / 0-)

        that no women can succeed, even with the unconscious (sexist) associations and institutional biases they face.

        What the studies I referred to pointed to was a basic unfairness in the opportunities men and women have as populations.

        One or ten or two hundred successful women do not mean that other women have not been shut out -- or that the successful women have, themselves, been hired, paid, promoted, and lauded as much as they deserve on their merits.

        © cai Visit 350.org to join the fight against global warming.

        by cai on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 05:16:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  And while I’m sure that you understand (0+ / 0-)

          this, let’s also make explicit that we’re talking about the attitudes of a population as well as the opportunities of populations.  There are many professors who do not share the bias of the professorial population; there just aren’t nearly as many of us as there should be.

          One problem that you didn’t mention was the effect of prior indoctrination: it was sometimes hard to get young women to realize that they were actually good at mathematics.  One of the most talented students I ever had in elementary real analysis suffered from this distorted perception.  Fortunately, that problem seemed to be decreasing over the course of my teaching career.

          •  On the one hand, I don't care about the attitudes. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            BMScott

            Actions mean much more to me.

            But I've had some interesting experiences in raising my daughters.

            For one, all three of them got Lego blocks, Lincoln Logs, assorted science kits, etc.  On one occasion, I struck up a brief conversation in a store with a woman trying to choose the best set for her son.  When  she realized I was buying for my daughter, she told me that I shouldn't do it, that girls don't like that kind of thing.

            On another occasion, I saw a little girl looking at toy cars and trucks only to have her mother shoo her away, saying those toys were for boys. Sad.

            All three of my girls loved their Barbies, Polly Pockets, and a pile of other "girly" things  -- right along with their Legos, etc, but they're also creative, good at math, articulate, etc.

            Well  -- I must admit that my oldest daughter, getting ready to graduate with a degree in biology, claims that biochem kicked her butt.  I can't remember her grade,but it might have been one of her few Bs.

            LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

            by dinotrac on Wed Apr 09, 2014 at 04:39:12 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I was including actions in attitudes, since (0+ / 0-)

              in my experience the two are pretty nearly inseparable in that particular context.  

              I’ve a pretty strong politeness imperative when dealing with strangers, but that first woman would have tested it!

              I’m the oldest of seven, with three brothers and three sisters, and the gap from top to bottom is only 12 years, so for most of the time there was a pretty miscellaneous collection of toys around the house.  I don’t remember what my sisters’ preferences in toys were when they were kids, but one spent her working life translating articles from Russian to English after majoring in French as an undergraduate, one majored in geology but dropped out of grad school because the department was full of old fossils who didn’t think that women belonged in the field, and one ended up with a PhD in Scandinavian archaeology.  (Field work in Orkney gets ... interesting ... when it rains horizontally.)  Not exactly a typically ‘girly’ collection of outcomes.

  •  We are #23 in the Global Gender Gap (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    allie4fairness, cai

    http://www3.weforum.org/...

    For some reason we went down in 2012 from #17 in 2011.   In 2009 we were #31. Wonder why?  Even the Philippines and Nicaragua are ahead.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 04:50:48 PM PDT

  •  But wait -- shouldn't here piggy bank be 84% (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    anime1973

    the size of his?

    On a serious note, a couple of things:

    Hooray -- the gender gap is narrowing!
    Boo -- both men and women are losing wages, but men are losing them faster.

    It would be nice to see somebody compare apples and apples --

    Male & female teachers, nurse, engineers, etc.

    It seems that part of the gap is likely to be a function of fewer women in scientific and technical occupations and more in teaching.

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 04:57:19 PM PDT

    •  CNN / Money had a story today (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dinotrac

      their website had a kinda good story. It was mostly apologetic for guys but the numbers they gave were probably the absolute top and it was something like when corrected for gender, age, experience, it was a 9% difference. I don't buy it but still.

    •  The gap has been present for many years in the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cai

      sciences.  Recent narrowing of the gap is partly due to women dropping out of their scientific fields.  

      •  Hard to believe that. (0+ / 0-)

        For two reasons:

        1.  Women have long been under-represented in the sciences, so any disparity there is likely to be a relatively small piece of the whole --- BUT would show up in apples to apples comparisons.

        2.  Underpaid engineers still out earn teachers.

        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

        by dinotrac on Wed Apr 09, 2014 at 04:23:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  It's been done, many times (3+ / 0-)

      I'm sure anyone could find the results, if they try.  This can't be the first time the idea has been raised in the consciousness of any DK regular after all, can it?  Not that that would help; the next demand would be for comparison of apples and apples regarding sick leave or job changes or some lack of ability to bargain, or whatever.

      I'm really sick of the entire burden constantly being placed on women's choices, when other evidence (as linked in a comment above, for instance) of pervasive societal bias against women is so readily available and by absolutely any conceivable logic must play a significant factor.  But no, there must always be an innocent explanation that exonerates society as it is and blames the women.

      •  because there are choices that go into this (0+ / 0-)

        I'm sorry, social sciences and the humanities just aren't valuable degrees. men working overtime accounts for much of the disparity. Honestly we should examine EVERY possibility before attributing sexism to the problem. I'm sure that accounting for every other known variable I'm sure that 5% or less is in the unknown/sexism category.

        •  Sexism is most definitely part of the problem. (0+ / 0-)

          I'm certain it's less prevalent than it was years ago, but I know it's out there.

          I started my career (if you can call it that) as a corporate EEO officer, and some of the things I heard from company managers...

          Let's just say sexism is definitely part of the problem.

          LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

          by dinotrac on Wed Apr 09, 2014 at 04:28:57 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Are you also sick of honest analysis? (0+ / 0-)

        This is not a matter of two choices.

        Teachers make less money than engineers, but female engineers can still be underpaid relative to male.

        If you don't do honest analysis how do you know the real extent of the problem, where to focus your resources ? Come one shining day, how will you know you've made everything equal?

        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

        by dinotrac on Wed Apr 09, 2014 at 04:26:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  annoying photo illustration (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    phillies

    just roughly sizing the piggy banks in area, not volume, his is 2.25 times larger plus he appears to be significantly older. I think if we reversed the genders on this it would be obvious that it is a distortion.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm all for illustrating the issue, pictures = 1000 words, etc., but it should be roughly equivalent to what it is illustrating and this isn't close. We like to claim that this is a fact-based site and that Fox News distorts reality but this photo is exactly what they use on Fox.

    I try not to follow Fox's lead, myself.

  •  Solution (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sparhawk, anime1973

    Persuade women to go into fields that lead to productive professional careers.

    I can readily name fields, including mine, in which the bachelor's and master's degree are not professional or qualifying degrees.  They get you jobs of a certain type.

    If you feel a calling for a vocation (in the oldest sense of that word) get your doctorate in theology or history or art history.  But understand that your reward is in part not in the coin of this world.  

    Mind you, if at any stage of my career someone had proposed to give me a job in industry rather than academic at twice the salary, I would have had no interest.

    Restore the Fourth! Save America!

    by phillies on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 05:26:10 PM PDT

  •  My secretary deserves to be paid... (0+ / 0-)

    at least as much as I do. Obviously she would have gotten her Master's of Science in Structural Engineering if it weren't for structural sexism.

    From each according to his ability, to each according to his need!!!

  •  WSJ: "Hold my beer, I got this." (0+ / 0-)

    There's an opinion piece out today by Mark J. Perry and Andrew G. Biggs addressing the '77 Cents on the Dollar Myth'.  Can't say they let any grass grow under their feet...  It's been highlighted in the LinkedIn newsfeed today.

  •  The 77% figure is misleading however (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    anime1973

    A much better initiative would try to get women into the more remunerative professions early on, and address the legit barrier for women who choose to work less or leave the workforce for a period of time for raising children.

    For instance the The BLS reports that single women who have never married earned 96% of what men do. The education attainment and fields of study and professions are relevant as are full-time and job experience. I seriously doubt any company would pass up the opportunity to pay a worker 23% less - by replacing the more expensive men with less expensive women.  As the Washington Post points out comparing the gross earnings of mean to women without considering variables such as hours worked, education, profession,job experience etc. is simply meaningless.

    There's no need to keep repeating an exaggeration.

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