web analytics

Is it true that women only earn 77 percent for each dollar earned annually by men and 82 percent of each dollar earned weekly?

Is it true that women only earn 77 percent for each dollar earned annually by men and 82 percent of each dollar earned weekly?

That’s what you hear over and over and over and over and over again.  It showed up in the presidential debate.  I saw it in recent comments on an article.  It came up here in Wisconsin, where I live.  It is stated on this website dedicated to ending the ‘wage gap.’

You know what I think?  Rubbish.  Propaganda. Manipulation.  In short: Bull-crap.

This assertion is an aggregation of data that does not reflect the real world, and is phrased in order to play to special interests that have just one goal:  financing their own lucrative jobs long into the future.   They know that people tend to stop reading at the headline.  But even if the assertion is true, and the headline accurate, it does not give us enough information to know whether or not we should be indignant.

Let’s consider some scenarios.

Scenario 1:

John is a secretary, working 40 hours a week at $10 an hour.  His duties are exactly the same as Jane’s, who works 40 hours a week at $7.70 an hour.  They both perform their duties well and in all other respects are similar.

Scenario 2:

Steve is a lumberjack who routinely throws three thousand pound logs over his shoulders and dodges trees falling all around him with such nimbleness he could weave his way through rain drops.  Because of the nature of his job and the skill he has, he is paid $10 an hour, 40 hours a week.  Miranda is a secretary who works hard and well for 40 hours a week and makes $7.70 an hour.  Incidentally, women never apply for Steve’s job.

Scenario 3:

James is a secretary, working 40 hours a week at $10 an hour.  His duties are exactly the same as Julie’s.  Julie also makes $10 an hour, but due to family duties, can only work 30.8 hours a week.  Thus, as it happens, Julie makes 77% less than James.

Now, common sense and common decency tells you that there is nothing particularly discriminatory about scenarios 2 and 3, and yet the assertion in the headlines and floating around that women only make 77% for each dollar earned by men holds true in them.  It is only in scenario 1 where we can justifiably be annoyed.  Now, does the assertion give us enough information to be able to know which scenario is in play?  No.  Absolutely not.   The assertion rests on number crunching in the aggregate, but injustices can only be demonstrated when looking at particulars.  It is probably not an accident that it is framed this way.  The manipulators know most people don’t have time to examine everything put in front of them, and who could be against equal pay?

I took the liberty of performing such an examination, even though I had some good reasons already for thinking the great leaps based on the assertion were asinine.

First I looked here:  http://www.pay-equity.org/

Notice how their examples all flow from lumping data together, and not addressing common sense distinctions such as the ones I highlighted in my three scenarios.  Surely, I thought, someone must have a brain at that website, so my concern had to be addressed somewhere?  Not really.  The closest it comes is a report such as this one, which if you observe breaks things down by occupations, but still does not factor in the possibility that women might work fewer hours.  Full time is defined as at least 35 hours a week.  Even with that, half of our disparity could be accounted for;  if a man works 40 hours a week and the woman works 35, that would close the ‘gap’ from 77% to 87%.

No word about the possibility that men might work more overtime  than women, too.  Surely that would have a bearing on the question?  But not a hint of that reflected in the report.

Bear in mind that the HHS has redefined ‘full time’ as working 30 hours a week or more, as opposed to 40 hours a week, and the possibility going forward is even more wide open that the ‘wage gap’ can be explained in other ways than discrimination.  I predict that in the next few years, even under a (perish the thought!) second Obama administration, the putative ‘wage gap’ inexplicably widens further… requiring even more government intervention, of course.  The special interests are eager to play their part.

In the meantime, the very same report has a whole heading that says:  “Women are More than Twice as Likely as Men to Work in Occupations with Poverty Wages”

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…. inquiring minds would like to know if THIS FACT ALONE might explain the ‘gap.’  The report says:  “more than twice as many women (5.52 million) than men (2.3 million) work in occupations with median earnings for full-time work below the federal poverty threshold for a family of four.”

I don’t know about you, but a difference representing 3.2 million more women than men could, in the aggregate, seems like something that could go a long way in explaining the ‘gap.’  We may wonder if perhaps we need to address the issue from the point of perspective of how we can help women get jobs that do not pay ‘poverty wages’, but that is entirely separate from the issue of whether or not men doing the same work for the same length of time get paid the same ‘poverty wage.’  Remember, the charts showing the percentage of men’s wages that the women make per occupation do not tell us how many hours each work or whether or not overtime hours are taken into account.  My money is on a BIG FAT NO.

I said before that I had reason to believe that this was all rubbish before I took the time to see what the other side said.  I have several lines of anecdotal evidence, and I think a lot of people have the same experiences.  But before I address that, it is worth mentioning that it is already ILLEGAL to pay a woman less for the same work that a man does.  Has been for a long time.  If there is a legitimate problem here, it comes down to enforcement.  However, unlike many people in our country, I don’t believe businesspeople are idiots.  I think that they are plenty sensitive about protecting their own rear ends, even if they are bloodthirsty robber barons (as 99% of them evidently are, to hear some talk) who don’t care a lick about their fellow man.  Or woman.

Now my anecdotes.  In the report I have been touching on, it has this particular statement:

Elementary and middle school teachers –  weekly:  $933. percentage of a man’s wage: 91.3%.

Now, anyone with two brain cells to rub together knows that most of the elementary and middle school teachers in this country are public school teachers–as is my wife, which is why I know this.  You can go online to just about any school district to check their wage scale.  For example, here is one I found in about 30 seconds.

Please observe on the first page a scale that tells you how much you will make per year of experience taking into account your education level.  I looked and looked and looked and I couldn’t see any separate category that said “if you are a woman, you will make only 91.3% of these figures.”

Elementary and middle school teachers are discriminated against because they are women and only make 91.3% of what a man makes?  From personal experience, I say BOGUS.

I have had a number of jobs over the years.  The starting wages were often public.   There was never any way that someone could be hired at a different rate.  Indeed, in one of my current jobs, it is a demonstrable fact that everyone makes the same amount, whether they are male or female.

If in fact elementary and middle school teachers are making 91.3% less than their male counterparts (unlikely, it seems to me), then this means that liberal leftist unions across this country are deliberately and purposefully selling women short.  If the women they represent are getting the shaft, it is happening right underneath the noses of the people who supposedly are there to keep such things from happening.  Or, it is those organizations themselves inflicting the injustice.  It isn’t Romney–oh, that dastardly Romney–or conservatives and Republicans.  It is the Democrats, unions, and dare I say–special interest groups?–keeping women down.

Or…  perhaps the answer is more benign, and other factors are in play.  I’ve alluded to some, such as the nature of the jobs in question, the amount of hours worked, etc.

The report I’ve been citing says this at the end:  “The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) conducts rigorous research and disseminates its findings to address the needs of women, promote public dialogue, and strengthen families, communities, and societies.”

Evidently, I have a different definition of ‘rigorous’ than the IWPR has, because from my perspective, they completely overlooked some really obvious questions and considerations.  But for some reason, judging from them and a lot of the other sites I looked at to make sure I had my facts straight, I don’t think ‘overlooked’ is quite the right word.

Disclaimer:  I am not a woman-hater.  Some of my best friends are women.  I’m even married to a woman.  (You have to clarify that these days).  I think women should be paid equally for equal work.  But I am not a dupe, and I will not be played.





    • Dannyboy on October 24, 2012 at 9:32 am

    Equality of opportunity vs equality of results.

    Anyone demanding automatic equality of results regardless of actual work performed is an idiot, but the equality of results (appropriately adjusted) can be useful as a proxy measure for the equality, or lack thereof, of opportunities that different groups have access to. You’re quibbling about how data on gender-based results (specifically pay) has or has not been adjusted by the actual amount of work done – fair enough, but that says nothing about whether or not women and men have equality of opportunities in the workplace. I have seen several studies which suggest that they do not – which show, for instance, that identical CVs generate significantly lower numbers of invitations to interview if they have a woman’s name rather than a man’s name at the top. That kind of discrimination seems to be a much more relevant issue in this discussion than waxing oddly lyrical about the nimbleness of lumberjacks and questioning women’s ability to lift three thousand pound logs (since while what you say may be absolutely true, manual labour jobs tend to be low- rather than highly-paid, so women’s exclusion from them would be unlikely to contribute to a gender wage gap).

    So, I’d say that discriminatory hiring practices are a concern for womens equality of opportunity, especially in the business world, where heavy lifting abilities are not traditionally required. Such practices could easily result in a disproportionate number of women ending up in low paid jobs regardless of their actual abilities. If you fail to consider this possibility then you run the risk of being a dupe for traditional, rather than progressive, interests.

    • Anthony on October 24, 2012 at 9:58 am

    “fair enough, but that says nothing about whether or not women and men have equality of opportunities in the workplace.”

    Wait, let me dwell on those sweet words for a minute… “fair enough…” mmmmmmmmmmm feels good going down.

    You’re comment is moving the goal post. If ‘that kind of discrimination’ is more relevant, than THAT is the conversation that should be had. That’s NOT the talking point. The talking point is almost verbatim what I have in the title. And why is that the talking point? Because people who can’t, or won’t, bother to think for themselves are easily manipulated, and these folks know just how to manipulate them and not above doing so.

    The problem with your analysis re: the lumberjack is that of course your statement still assumes that there IS a gender wage gap, but that is the very thing that needs demonstration.

    If anything, you seem to be reinforcing my point. Since the chart involves the top 20 jobs for both men and women, and most of the items for each are on the ‘low’ end in wages, it would be difficult to say that discrepancies within their respective areas would ‘contribute to a gender wage gap.’

    Things change on the administrative side… and most of these items for both genders are not on the administrative or management side.

    To me, the question of opportunity is a separate issue, and I would still look skeptically, even cynically, on any aggregate results on those as well. Let us agree that ‘discriminatory hiring practices’ are bad. But do they really exist? Would this really be why ‘a disproportionate number of women [end] up in low paid jobs regardless of their actual abilities”?

    You are just assuming that this is happening at a wide scale. It is outside the scope of this post, but you’ve got to actually PROVE it, man! You can’t just assume it is happening!

    Even in the case of ‘opportunities’ you’d still have to analyze data that takes into other explanations. Eg, my wife is a public school teacher (as already mentioned in the post) but has often said that she would take a much lower paying job in order to be home more with the kids, providing my income could replace her income. She would then be in a ‘low paid job’ very much below her actual abilities… by her choice. Now, you tell me how this is going to be measured and represented in any data attempting to make a case that women have less opportunity. My wife is not unique in this respect. She is a woman, and she does womanly things and has womanly desires. Many women desire the same thing: more time at home to be with the kids, and BY CHOICE would be willing to take a lower paid job in order to do that. This data approach obliterates the real nature of women, leaving nary a hint that some of the disparities might have nothing to do with ‘discrimination’ and much to do with their own volition.

    But this is outside the scope of the post.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

5 − two =