Salary gap between men and women

In the Numbers section of this week’s Time magazine is this:

It’s that 77.5% statistic that sets my bullshit radar off. While it may be true, it just sounds like one of those statistics that “everyone knows” but actually has been pulled out of thin air, e.g. “Everyone knows that we use only 10% of our brains.”

So who came up with that figure, how did they come up with it and (the GD part of the question) is it a legitimate figure and, if so, why is the gap there?

Well, is the difference between men and women doing the same job, or is it men’s and women’s salaries in general? I raise this question because some jobs that are lower paying are more commonly taken by women- teaching, or being a secretary comes to mind, while you find men more often as high level executives or doctors. Now as to why women more commonly take lower paying jobs or why those jobs are low paying, that is a whole nother can of worms.

Who came up with that figure? The census bureau. How did they come up with it? By asking American men and women who worked full-time what they earned, then averaging it out.

The 70-something percent gap between salaries of men and women is something I’ve heard for years now, but I don’t know where it came from. Time magazine credited The New York Times with the figure, and I was able to find a mention of it there, but I couldn’t read the entire article without subscribing.

My understanding is that the figure is based on a very carefully structured comparison of jobs held by men and women, but with studies such as this one must be alert for hidden agendas, subtle and not-so-subtle bias, and all the rest.

I’d like to be able to go directly to the source and decide for myself if the claim is valid or not.

It’s a meaningless statistic. You need to look at men and women doing the EXACT same jobs at the EXACT same company. I have men and women working for me and they get paid the same for doing the same jobs. Anecdotal, yes, but that’s all I have.

Cecil took this one on, in his article,Are Women Paid Less Than Men For The Same Work?

There was also a thread discussing the article here.

Hope that helps !

Just like to point out that I provided those links to be helpful, not along any “already done this” lines. Sorry if it came across that way.

There were many interesting and informative opinions and further cited links in the thread spawned by Cecil’s article.

Thanks, Goo. I figured that this had already been discussed here - jeez, what hasn’t been - but couldn’t find anything.

As an example, amongst lawyers. A far higher percentage of women lawyers compared to male lawyers go into lower-paying jobs – such as working for legal aid, public defenders, and similar lower paying jobs.

In a way, discrimination on this scale is hard to believe.

First, posit two principles:

  1. A given woman is empirically just as productive as a given man is at any given job.
  2. Firms can and do pay women less for the same work: (i.e. the cause here is employer led discrimination, not something else)

If those principles are true, then women would dominate the workforce: they would be cheaper for the exact same productivity. At an almost 25% per worker average saving, and CEO who failed to take advantage of this would be insane, and it gets very hard to believe that some desire to discriminate against women could hold up against the sort of diversified demand for profit from stockholders that normally manages to drown out everything else.

So, let me propose that one of those two original principles is wrong (or maybe a little of both).

Another factor - women take extended amounts of time off to have children, and thus have less senority which could reduce their salary. I don’t think their is any comparable situtation with men taking extended amounts of time off.

Apos, that’s exactly the part of this that sets off my bullshit radar. If people from pool A were just as productive as those from pool B but could be had for 25% less, we’d all be hiring from pool A. I just don’t see how the economic forces would allow that sort of thing to continue.

I don’t buy the whole gender gap thing, but don’t think there isn’t discrimination in the work force. I’ll be a lot of male mgrs think they “know” that women (or blacks) are less productive than men.

Bnorton and Apos I can’t tell you how many times I have raised exactly that argument with people. The implication is that the desire to discriminate is SO overwhelming that the management et. al. are willing to eat 30±% on wages just to keep men working. I can’t believe that, so I will watch this thread closely to see if anyone has a good response. I had a roomate once whose GF was a total feminazi of the worst kind and I got into this discussion with her, and her only reponse was that the men in power wanted to keep the women out, to which I responded that the women should get together and form their own company to undercut the evil men blah blah blah…

Anyway, if someone has an explination that accounts for this (and I think the personal choices and child raising are a big part of it) I look forward to seeing it.
Curious, Rhum

I believe that it is true that women can do the same jobs as men, excluding obvious jobs such as a nose tackle for the Raiders (although, given their performance in the Super Bowl…) Anyway, I think that any given organization, knowing that women and men are equally capable, and that women are willing to work for 30 percent less, give or take, that these organizations structure these available positions to acquire a woman. Now if some guy is willing to work for the little pay they provide, then more power to him. Women could be paid less for a variety of reasons, all of which seem to have been mentioned, one which I might include would be that a lot of women do not have to earn the primary income of their household.
So I believe that the job market is extremely sexist and that the glass ceiling is a very thick and low one. What I have seen in my experiences and companies saying, “A woman is just as good as a man so let’s get a woman to do the job and pay her little to nothing. Besides, she should feel lucky to even be out of the house.”
To the single women out there: I have turned down jobs that a women has ended up being placed in because the wages were so low I simply couldn’t accept the position. And some of the women were people I knew and were just as talented as I am. I simply don’t know how many of you make ends meet with the amount of pay that is made available to you.

From my post in the linked thread :

I followed this with 7 cites, if anyone is interested.

Many women work in jobs that do not involve full time hours. Many women don’t want full time hours. Comparisons that specify the full time criterion consider 28 hours per week as full time. Seriously, ignoring the professionals, how many women work in excess of 40 hours per week? None that I know. Many working me do however and it is a fact of life that while married working men are notorious for not helping with the house work, a part time job or satisfying low paying job is just not an option if a satisfactory home life is desired.

Thus the stats are skewed.

I agree with DreadCthulhu. If women are taking time off for children (maternity leave, junior having the sniffles, etc), they will not advance as fast as someone who puts in more hours.

I don’t think it’s a man vs woman thing, as a time thing. If I’m the boss, the person putting in 60 hours a week every week will get my attention more.

I agree that ‘70% for the same work’ doesn’t make any sense. Just to add to what’s already been said, there are a lot of businesses where (1) labor costs are a sifnificant percentage of expenses; (2) profit margins are thin; and (3) there is intense price competition

For example, if you ran a lumber yard and could pay your workers 70% of what your competitors did, you’d make a freaking fortune. Now, it may be true that a lot of lumber yard owners are racist, sexist, etc., but that doesn’t stop them from hiring black and hispanic men. Why? Because (generally speaking) their top priority is to MAKE MONEY.

The reality is that most women just aren’t interested (compared to men) in doing jobs that are dangerous, dirty, or involve significant manual labor. Further, people ignore the fact that there is intense social pressure on men to MAKE MONEY.

women : physical appearance :: men : ability to make money

Frankly, I’m surprised that women earn even 70% of what men do.


I work more than 40 hours a week, have less seniority than my male counterpart here, and I am paid more than him due to my background and relation to the field (I’m a computer engineer, he has a bachelors in business management). Considering our reviews and merit based pay, mine keeps going up and his keeps staying the same, because he keeps getting reviews that aren’t as good as mine. Makes it funny that he continues to show them to me and brag about them as if he’s a star employee. He doesn’t know that I earn more, and if you asked him would probably tell you that I’m lesser paid than he is. However, since he has no problem showing me his pay stubs, I can compare the numbers and see plainly that in this case, the female is making more than the male. </Anecdote>

I tend to think the discrepancy appears because of the type of work people choose to do, how many hours they choose to work, and whether they take time off to have kids. Someone who works part time as a cashier at a book store so she can spend more time at home with her kids is going to earn a lot less than the garbage collector who puts in 50 hours a week for unpleasant and back breaking work. Someone who works as an administrative assistant and goes home at 5 pm is going to earn less than the executive who puts in 18 hour days. At the exact same job, there’s no way to look at only the sex of the workers and determine who makes more.