Has anyone seen this study? Apparently it was commissioned by the US Department of Labor to give a better idea of the gender pay gap. Instead, it concluded that there was no pay gap:

However, despite these gains the raw wage gap continues to be used in misleading ways to
advance public policy agendas without fully explaining the reasons behind the gap. The purpose
of this report is to identify the reasons that explain the wage gap in order to more fully inform
policymakers and the public.
The following report prepared by CONSAD Research Corporation presents the results of a
detailed statistical analysis of the attributes that contribute to the wage gap and a synopsis of the
economic research that has been conducted on the issue. The major findings are:
There are observable differences in the attributes of men and women that account for most of the
wage gap. Statistical analysis that includes those variables has produced results that collectively
account for between 65.1 and 76.4 percent of a raw gender wage gap of 20.4 percent, and
thereby leave an adjusted gender wage gap that is between 4.8 and 7.1 percent.

In response, articles like this came out:

First of all, there are important kinds of direct employer discrimination which CONSAD’s methods cannot measure or disprove. For example, some employers are more likely to hire women to lower-paid positions and men to higher-paid positions. (Empirical testing – by sending male and female testers to apply for the same jobs — has proven that this sort of sexist occupational sorting sometimes happens.)

This sort of occupational segregation leads to women’s average work experience not being as good as men’s — which CONSAD’s methodology would classify as an “explained” difference in wage gap that has nothing to do with discrimination. It would be more accurate to conclude that the differences in women’s and men’s resumes may be partly caused by employer discrimination, and CONSAD’s methods cannot account for this.

Similarly, if employers are less likely to promote women (all else held equal), that would contribute to women being paid less overall — but would CONSAD’s study would, again, consider that explained and therefore not discrimination.

So who should we believe? I think it’s a fair point that women are less likely to be promoted than men are, but if they are less likely to be committed to the company (simply measured by hours worked, time taken off, etc), is that not fair? As a result, a company takes more risk when hiring a woman. I don’t believe that companies have conspiracies to demote or devalue women. Of all entities, they work on a capitalist, competitive system. It’s illogical for them to exclude women if they can be hired for cheaper and perform just as well. At the same time, that might imply that there is an air of bias in society that believes that a woman will be less respected and less effective, and subtly lowers a woman’s economic value.

Still, I think the job market clearly demonstrates that men and women are different, which is why there are traditional male-dominated jobs and female-dominated jobs. Those differences in how people choose and enjoy their work may also have subtle influences on how they are valued. For instance, a woman may be more likely to get a job as a nurse. Her sensitive, caring side would help her enjoy that. But those characteristics wouldn’t translate nearly as effectively to a different role (such as doctor), and would make her a less desirable candidate.




Comments are closed.