Equal Pay Day

Today is Equal Pay Day -- because (in case you missed Amy Joyce's Life at Work column on Sunday) today marks how far into 2006 (115 days) the average full-time working woman must go to earn as much as a man earned during 2005.

And don't go thinking the working woman numbers are pulled down by lesser educations or inadequate experience or because women chose to take time off to give birth or raise children. These numbers measure salaries of women who work full-time and haven't been out of work for any type of pregnancy, maternity or disability leave within the past 12 months. These women are paid only 77 cents for every dollar earned by comparable male employees. Women who work part-time or have taken maternity leave earn even less! And women's earnings have been stuck at this level for most of the past decade.

Here's more: A Cornell University study released in August showed bias increases the more children a woman has. The more kids, the less potential employers are willing to pay her. The opposite is true for men: the more children, the more employers want to pay him.

Facts like these naturally infuriate me. They make me look around and say:

Okay, a man in the office next to me, perhaps not even doing as good a job as I am, gets paid more, just for having facial hair. And there's me, daily facing the teeth-grinding stress of trying to be a good mom and a good employee. Despite the jokes from men at my office about maternity leave being a "nice vacation." Despite a female colleague without kids who calls me at 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. regularly, as if trying to make work interfere at the precise moments my kids need me most. Despite the school personnel who always call me first and my husband never when there's any type of problem with our kids during the day. Despite men so clueless that they raise an eyebrow when told I write about working and stay-at-home moms: "You could write a whole book about that?"

I think women should get paid MORE than men. And moms should get paid MORE than people without children, or at least get some juicy tax break, simply because it is so damn hard pulling it all off, day after day, feeling like you've worked a whole eight or 10 hours by the time you get to the office at 9 a.m. And don't think I'm leaving stay-at-home moms out of the equation -- they need a tax break, and child-care access, and financial protection in case of divorce, and plain old RESPECT. Sometimes a mom needs to put her children first -- for an hour, for a day, for a decade. We are worth MORE to society, not less, because of all we do.

The most demoralizing, frustrating fact is that it's so hard to bring about greater equality at work and in government on a mom-by-mom basis. Especially when many of our most high-powered, best-educated moms lose clout when they stay home with kids (There's nothing wrong with staying home to care for kids -- what's wrong is that women who stay at home often lose power to bring about change. And the women still at work suffer from the diminished number of moms at high levels). But employers -- together with the male and female employees -- can bring about change that makes the workplace more employee-friendly. Equal pay for equal work, flexibility except when it's truly impossible, support for the lives employees lead outside of work. It's not just moms and kids who will benefit -- although more equitable treatment of moms and kids should be enough, in itself, to motivate companies to change. Everyone benefits from fair treatment. And everyone loses when inequality like 77 cents to the dollar persists.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  April 25, 2006; 6:00 AM ET  | Category:  Research
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Comments

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I wonder if this is really true. I think I read on a blog somewhere that if this were really the case, some smart businessman (or -woman) would hire nothing but women and thus save 10-12 percent on salaries and get the same quality of work as a comparable male-dominated company. It can't be that simple, can it? Don't get me wrong, I think women should get paid equally, I just wonder if the study is accurate.

Posted by: Kevin in AK | April 25, 2006 6:58 AM

Studies have shown for doctors and engineers if you take education, years of experience, and number of hours worked into consideration there is no significance difference in pay between men and women. I question your source and how they determined differences.

Posted by: Numbers Guy | April 25, 2006 7:37 AM

My answer is to go to work for yourself. It's not obviously a path everyone can take, but me and my friends who have can report that we are getting paid exactly as much as we deserve since we are the ones signing the checks!

I think the increase in female entrepeneurship will be the trend that finally buries this problem. It may take another generation, but only by having more women holding the purse strings will the bias go away.

Posted by: PTJobFTMom | April 25, 2006 7:52 AM

>>I think I read on a blog somewhere that if this were really the case, some smart businessman (or -woman) would hire nothing but women and thus save 10-12 percent on salaries and get the same quality of work as a comparable male-dominated company. It can't be that simple, can it? Don't get me wrong, I think women should get paid equally, I just wonder if the study is accurate.>>

See, that's the point about discrimination. It's not in a company's best interest, it does not make economic sense, BUT THEY STILL DO IT. And then men say "What? No way!"

The first step towards solving your problem is admitting that you have one. We're not there yet.

Posted by: Arlington | April 25, 2006 8:01 AM

This is a good topic and I'm glad you brought it up. I agree that women deserve equal pay. Everyone deserves to be paid what they are worth, regardless of their race, marital status, disability, etc.

That being said, I don't deserve more just because I have a child. Having a child was my choice, not the companies, my single friends, or the politicians, etc. So, if I'm up all night with a crying baby, I have two choices: take PTO or suck it up and go to work! I think that by making the argument that we deserve more pay because we are mothers, you are actually setting back what so many women fought for: equal rights. I deserve what I earn; I don't want special treatment because I am a woman with a baby.

Posted by: Scarry | April 25, 2006 8:20 AM

>>I question your source and how they determined differences.>>

GAO: They normalized the data for experience, occupation, hours, marital status, age, and tenure. Women earned 80% of what men did. did.www.gao.gov/new.items/d0435.pdf

Census Bureau: Looked at earnings data for full-time, year-round workers in the same industries. In the highest paid AND lowest paid occupations, men made more than women. In the highest paid category, physicians and surgeons, women made only 63% of men's median earnings.
www.census.gov/prod/2004pubs/censr-15.pdf

Bureau for Labor Statistics: For full time workers, the women's-to-men's earnings ratio among 35- to 44-year-olds was 75.4 percent in 2002, and that for 45- to 54-year-olds was 74.6 percent.
www.bls.gov/cps/cpswom2002.pdf

Posted by: trygoogle | April 25, 2006 8:27 AM

As a recent college grad that has to pay for my own health insurance, this brings about even greater frustration. Compared to men, I have to pay higher premiums simply because I am fertile and may have a baby. Since there's no physical way men can have a baby (and therefore cause the insurance co to pay out) I have to swallow higher premiums until I hit 55 and am considered infertile. While in principal I have no argument with the insurance co.s (babies aren't cheap), its just frustrating that we have to deal with higher premiums on top of lower pay. It all adds up to less I can put in the bank and make my way in the world.

Posted by: Spob | April 25, 2006 8:27 AM

Just because someone hasn't taken time off for the last 12 months doesn't mean she hasn't had an interruption in her work cycle in the past. I've been working for the past 12 months, but before that I took 3 years off to be with my daughters. I don't expect to be paid the same as someone who was there working the whole time.

Posted by: Ms L | April 25, 2006 8:30 AM

"And moms should get paid MORE than people without children, or at least get some juicy tax break, simply because it is so damn hard pulling it all off, day after day, feeling like you've worked a whole eight or 10 hours by the time you get to the office at 9 a.m. And don't think I'm leaving stay-at-home moms out of the equation -- they need a tax break, and child-care access, and financial protection in case of divorce, and plain old RESPECT."

Newsbreak - I am not worth less than you because I do not have children. I work just as hard as you. Sure, I don't have kids, and yes, being a mother is probably the hardest job in the world - however if you and I are doing the same job, you don't deserve to get paid more because you have kids. Sorry, that's just the most ludicrous thing I've EVER heard. You DO get tax breaks. You also get maternity/paternity leave - something I do NOT get to take care of my aging parents.

You do deserve to get a "tax break, and child-care access, and financial protection in case of divorce, and plain old RESPECT," but so do I for caring for aging parents (in my case elder care). The system is broken on both sides of the equation - but that does not mean that mothers are worth more to the work place than us childless people are - that is just offensive.

Posted by: Childless | April 25, 2006 8:34 AM

Um Spob, "As a recent college grad that has to pay for my own health insurance, this brings about even greater frustration. Compared to men, I have to pay higher premiums simply because I am fertile and may have a baby. Since there's no physical way men can have a baby (and therefore cause the insurance co to pay out) I have to swallow higher premiums until I hit 55 and am considered infertile. "

Ya sure about that. You sure you aren't misreading single coverage versus family coverage? In American, it is ILLEGAL to charge one price for a female and a different for a male. It's called price discrimination and it is illegal.

Posted by: Father of 2 | April 25, 2006 8:43 AM

I certainly agree that 77 cents on the dollar is unfair, but I vehemently disagree that Leslie or other moms should be paid more because of their status as mothers.

I thought employers were paying us for our WORK--our ability and our contributions--not any other circumstances we might have in our lives. That she has chosen to have children does affect her worklife, obviously, and she's talked about all the ways it's affected that worklife in this blog (mostly in terms of kids interrupting work or causing stress.) But has her choice to become a mother improved the work she does for her company? If not, why should that company be obligated to pay her more?

One of the goals of equality was to get employers to pay us for what we do, not who we are. If we as women want our work to be equally valued (and equally paid) with that of men, we can't at the same time claim that we require more money for the same work because we're mothers.

Posted by: mom of 1 | April 25, 2006 8:51 AM

Hooray for Ms. Steiner! She really tells it like it is and how it should be.

Posted by: Camille | April 25, 2006 8:55 AM

Um, I think Leslie was being facetious, not advocating an actual policy position.

Working moms work hard in the workplace, pull the second shift at home, then find out that they are likely getting paid less than men. Isn't the natural reaction to say "screw that! I should be making more!" Sheesh! Can't the woman rant in her own blog?

Posted by: VAmom | April 25, 2006 8:57 AM

Childless,

I agree with you, I can't believe that Leslie said we deserve more pay for being mothers or for even being women. I want to be paid more because I am the best at what I do, which unfortunately, I'm not, I fall somewhere in the middle!

It's also true about you parents. I only hope you have a nice boss who understands. And you are right it's not fair that you can't get some kind of leave. Have you been able to take any FMLA?

Posted by: Scarry | April 25, 2006 8:59 AM

"And you are right it's not fair that you can't get some kind of leave. Have you been able to take any FMLA?"

FMLA leave is great if you are worried about being able to keep your job, but it is UNPAID leave. This is not an option for people that can't afford to miss a paycheck.

Posted by: Arlington mom | April 25, 2006 9:04 AM

Everyone wants to be treated fairly.
Ironically, the military has the best pay for women (vs. men) in the country, if I remember correctly --may be as high as 98 percent of what the men make.

Due to women not being able to work in certain hazardous positions, their pay is a little less than men of the same rank, but it's only slightly less. And, military moms receive full pay for maternity leave (but it's very short, unfortunately).

But then, depending on your job, you may be deployed or put in harm's way even if your job isn't officially on the front lines.

Posted by: Kate | April 25, 2006 9:08 AM

Please consider two points that cast doubt on how to interpret the 77 cents per dollar figure. First, careers cannot be measured by looking back 12 months. Show us the ratio for men/women wages after equalizing for 5 years, 10 years, 20 years. Second, just looking at wages does not factor everything into the equation. "Full time" positions vary greatly in the number of hours worked per week. The risk of getting killed on the job due to workplace accident falls almost entirely onto men, who account for approximately 95% of such deaths -- surely any rational job market would provide a 'risk premium' via higher pay to a job that has a high liklihood of being killed.

Posted by: DK in IL | April 25, 2006 9:12 AM

I am a female actuary who makes on the lower end of the scale for actuaries. Why is that? I chose a job that was more interesting and had more flexible hours and benefits like vacation time than many of the other actuarial jobs available. Even if I would get paid more I would not want to work 80-hour weeks or have no flexibility on my job. I am willing to take lower pay because of this.

Obviously there is some bias here towards men. But I also think that women tend to make choices that allow for some balance between work life and home life, whether they have kids or not. This means that they sometimes choose a more sane job with lower pay, so that they can have a more sane life.

Posted by: Balanced | April 25, 2006 9:13 AM

Numbers Guy and Trygoogle:

While the www.gao.gov/new.items/d0435.pdf paper indicates that they found women earning 20% less when years / hours were adjusted, it specifically notes that it can't explain the difference due to limitations in the data and model.

While discrimination -- both gender and racial -- certainly exist, it is also fair to say that the 20% difference commonly referenced is likely due to a host of factors other than gender.

Posted by: A Dad | April 25, 2006 9:18 AM

Childless,

"You also get maternity/paternity leave - something I do NOT get to take care of my aging parents."

I hope you're not assuming everyone who takes maternity/paternity leave is actually getting paid. Family Medical Leave Act protects your job; it doesn't pay you. In many jobs, you're only paid for time you have accrued, vacation, sick. By the way, depending on the situation with your aging parents, you could probably use FMLA as well.

Posted by: non-paid | April 25, 2006 9:20 AM

Balanced, you do have a good point. But I think Leslie's point is that women shouldn't have to have take the "lesser" job in order to have flexibility and more sanity. I am currently a SAHM and love it, but would appreciate more respect overall and an easier return to a rewarding part-time gig. And a society that better supported families in ALL forms would help, i.e. elder care is just as important as child care.

Posted by: LDB | April 25, 2006 9:29 AM

"FMLA leave is great if you are worried about being able to keep your job, but it is UNPAID leave"

Yes, I know it's unpaid leave. I took it when I had a baby and was just trying to be helpful!

Posted by: Scarry | April 25, 2006 9:32 AM

Trygoogle,

The GAO statistic is good report for they specify how they controlled for variables and they talk about limitations in the data analysis. They did not breakout their statistics for similar jobs rather they lumped anybody who worked in the same industry together regardless if your degree was in psychology or engineering. I do not mean to offend only point short comings of the report. There was no breakout of education with occupation or job function rather education and industry was lumped together. Note on page 55 they make this statement about the weakness of the data. My previous post was to point out recent studies on engineers and doctors when all things are taken into account find there are no significant differences in pay. Instead of googling try reading the report.

Posted by: Numbers Guy | April 25, 2006 9:34 AM

Teachers are worth even more than moms, when it comes to society. They have to deal with all the bad parenting we throw in their face each day and then they have to deal with us coming in afterwards and asking why they can't teach our kids because the kids aren't getting better grades. And yet they are paid much less than the average, skilled worker.

It seems that worth to society is inversly proportional to the pay scale. How much do you think sports figures are "worth" to society? How much are corporate execs "worth" to society? When I think that a 6 million bonus can pay 37.5 FTEs at 80k a year, INCLUDING benefits. That's a whole lot of R&D for a company that is wasted on someone who doesn't need the money any more.

Posted by: Working Dad | April 25, 2006 9:36 AM

To A Dad and others...whatever. Numerous studies, over decades, using different datasets and methodologies have documented that there is a difference and it is related to gender. Now lots of people (women!) *on this blog* are saying either a) it's not true, or b) it's because women choose to work less/take time off/are distracted by families/whatever. What are you all really saying? Women deserve less. Because some women are paid less because of work/life balance choices, decisions to stay at home, whatever---ALL of us are devalued by the labor market. STILL. 30-40 years after "women's lib"! We are allowed to go out and work but we better accept what they will pay us. In fact, we'll even say it's our fault, and accept the crappy deal to work 80 hours a week or get paid less!

Posted by: trygoogle | April 25, 2006 9:36 AM

"I think women should get paid MORE than men. And moms should get paid MORE than people without children, or at least get some juicy tax break, simply because it is so damn hard pulling it all off, day after day, feeling like you've worked a whole eight or 10 hours by the time you get to the office at 9 a.m." and "These numbers measure salaries of women who work full-time and haven't been out of work for any type of pregnancy, maternity or disability leave within the past 12 months"

Tax breaks are fine, but an employer should pay employees based on what they do at work for the company - period. No extra credit for being a nice person, having a family, being a man, being a woman, or having a nice yard. And please, don't look back just 12 months. Many jobs depend on years of experience - being there last year is nice, but what about the 15 years prior to that? Breaks in your career matter.

Posted by: Get Real | April 25, 2006 9:36 AM


Re-reading the GAO report on this at http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d0435.pdf there are a couple of notables:

(1) With respect to 'equal levels of education' the model assumes all degrees are equal. Thus, a man with a B.S. in Engineering would [all other things being equal] be assumed to earn the same as a woman with a B.A. in Literature if they both worked for the same company.

(2) With respect to 'profession' categories, the model is extremely broad -- for example 'Finance, Insurance and Real Estate' represents a single category.

The bottom line is, as the report notes, there is no compelling evidence that there is a systemic effort to pay women less than men for the same work.

Posted by: A Dad | April 25, 2006 9:38 AM

Whenever we look at this kind of analysis, we should ask ourselves what it would suggest if we looked at entirely different groups of people. Hypothetically, what would we see if we looked at the pay of, say, the Amish (or people in the "simplify your life movement", or Catholic priests)? Bet we would find a pay differential? How would we explain that - discrimination against the Amish? Or could it be that some people's choices are less driven by money than others?

Posted by: Get Real | April 25, 2006 9:43 AM

Is there a law (other than natural economics) that dictates women will be paid less than men? If not, how does this happen? A conspiracy of men? Not likely. If this discrepancy actually exists (and other comments cast doubt on your column's credibility), what's the reason for it?

Posted by: The Bobster | April 25, 2006 9:43 AM

Trygoogle:

Why in the world would I want my wife and daughter to be valued less because they are women?

Every single report demonstrates that women earn less than men -- absolutely. And then, as the model begins to control for things like years of experience, hours worked, education, profession -- the difference goes away.

I'm not saying discrimination doesn't exist -- but there is simply no evidence to show that there is some systemic issue here.

Posted by: A Dad | April 25, 2006 9:43 AM

I really want to see stats for what men and women get paid for the SAME JOB. I used to be an attorney in private practice, and male and female associates got paid exactly the same, X to start, Y for the second year, Z for the third, and so on-- male or female. (I'll concede that it's likely that most male partners get paid more than most female partners, but I'd imagine that's due to additional hours, etc. However, I worked at one prominent firm at which the highest paid partner was a woman.) Are these studies comparing, for example, jobs dominated by men that are inherently dangerous or unpleasant (e.g. road construction workers and garbage men) with jobs dominated by women that offer more flexibility and fulfillment (e.g. teaching, nursing, etc.)? It's clear that there needs to be some pay "bonus" for the folks that take the dangerous and/or unpleasant jobs-- largely men.

As for the comment that said the jobs with flexibility should pay more, my question is-- why? The flexibility is, in a huge way, its own benefit. Unless people are paid more for taking undesirable jobs, will anyone take them?

(BTW, I'm a woman.)

Posted by: Questioning | April 25, 2006 9:47 AM

"Um Spob, "As a recent college grad that has to pay for my own health insurance, this brings about even greater frustration. Compared to men, I have to pay higher premiums simply because I am fertile and may have a baby. Since there's no physical way men can have a baby (and therefore cause the insurance co to pay out) I have to swallow higher premiums until I hit 55 and am considered infertile. "

Ya sure about that. You sure you aren't misreading single coverage versus family coverage? In American, it is ILLEGAL to charge one price for a female and a different for a male. It's called price discrimination and it is illegal."

If she's paying for an individual policy, Spob's correct - rates are higher for women of childbearing age than men (and also vary for age and pre-existing conditions). It is illegal, however, under group policies, to charge employees different contribution rates based on gender, age, etc.

Posted by: dl | April 25, 2006 9:48 AM

"First, careers cannot be measured by looking back 12 months. Show us the ratio for men/women wages after equalizing for 5 years, 10 years, 20 years."

I agree. I want to say that this information actually has been provided, and the women who put in hours similar to men made something like 97 cents on the dollar. I can't provide the cite, though.

Twelve months is in no way representative.

Posted by: Lizzie | April 25, 2006 9:52 AM

The problem with this argument is the simple contradiction: you can't simultaneously explain how women are DIFFERENT from men, and then expect an employer to treat them the SAME as men.

An employer gets to "choose" what's important. Do they only want someone who is active, skilled, and trained? Great--lots of women out there who will do that job.

But would they prefer someone who is willing to work 80 hours a week? Someone who is--in their best guess--LESS likely to leave for family reasons? Well, guess what: they may preferentally hire men. Or pay them more, which is essentially the same thing from an economic sense.

now, you can complain about employer preference. But the reality is economic and logical: IF you set your priorities to value things like attendance, THEN you will best meet those priorities by hiring people who can offer attendance.

Woman who "work a man's traditional schedule"--who take long hours, give up family time, delay child rearing, take the absolute minimum of parental leave--get paid equivalently. Similarly, men who "work a woman's traditional schedule" and who demand long leave time under FMLA, demand fewer hours, take unscheduled off to care for their sick kid or go to a school play...they get paid less, too.

This isn't a GENDER decision. The hiring and paying is not based directly on gender. It's a SOCIAL decision, based on the (fairly accurate) assumption that from a probability sense, a woman is more likely to have certain behaviors than a man is.

Leslie: If I was trying to decide between hiring you or your husband for the same job, and I knew that if there was a family emergency it would always fall to you to take time off... If attendance was imporant to me, guess who I'd hire?

You can try to pass new laws which restrict the employers' right to be efficient, but like rent control there's always a way around them.

Posted by: Erik H | April 25, 2006 9:52 AM

Oh yeah:

Me? I work a family oriented schedule. I get paid less than I would otherwise. This doesn't seem odd to me at all; why would it? I'm WORTH less. It wouldn't suddenly "become" unfair if I turned into a woman.

Posted by: Erik H | April 25, 2006 9:54 AM

The 77 cent study was a farce. Multiple studies have shown that salaries are pretty much equal if you take all variables into account. Basing an entire article on a false premise? Amazing.
And by the way. Men on average work almost 1 more hour per day than women and when taking into account part time work (women are more likely to work part time than men) it shrinks to about 35 min per day extra. So, that's about 3 weeks extra per year. I wonder if that is the main reason why the statistics are wrong???

Posted by: John | April 25, 2006 9:58 AM

"In fact, we'll even say it's our fault, and accept the crappy deal to work 80 hours a week or get paid less!"

Trygoogle, are you saying that those who work 80 hours should be paid the same as those who work 40?

Posted by: Balanced | April 25, 2006 10:02 AM

You wrote "Someone who is--in their best guess--LESS likely to leave for family reasons? Well, guess what: they may preferentally hire men."

That's illegal. It's not just unfortunate, it's actually against the law. Employers are not allowed to make assumptions about who might be less likely to leave for family reasons and hire accordingly, because that is code for "hiring men instead of women." That attitude and that stereotype is what led to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act in the first place. Employers were assuming that women would take more time off and were hiring men as a result, and employers could not be trusted to stop depending on the stereotype on their own.

I'm not saying they don't still do it, because we all know that there are a number of pretexts that are legally defensible but morally suspect. I'm just saying that they are not legally permitted to make assumptions about who they think will take more (or less) time off for family reasons.

Posted by: To Erik H | April 25, 2006 10:05 AM

Empirical studies reveal that:

There is a gender gap in pay in the U.S. -- women on average get paid less than men.

Very little of this gap is accounted for by differences in years of education or training, years of experience, or hours worked. (Yes, these factors matter, but they don't account for much of the wage gap.)

A substantial portion of the wage gap has to do with gender segregation by profession -- women are clustered in a small number of professions which get paid less, while men tend to be spread out over a wider range of professions which are, on average, paid more.

However, even within profession, and controlling for education, experience, hours worked, there is *still* a wage gap (although the size of the gap varies somewhat by profession).

Why is there a wage gap?

In laboratory studies, when participants (male and female) are given the task of paying someone for work completed, they pay women less on average than men for the same amount of work. Women have to do more work and do it better to receive the same pay as men in these studies.

I think it is pretty clear that, on average, we tend to value women's work less than men's, which is another reason that female-dominated professions and jobs tend to be paid less. Indeed, historically, as professions shifted from being male-dominated to being female-dominated, the wages dropped (e.g., secretary, bank teller).

I don't mean to say that this is the only factor, but the devaluation of women's labor is clearly part of the equation.

Posted by: Psychology Professor | April 25, 2006 10:13 AM

I think it's true that, as some mentioned above, the pay gap can largely be explained by the different career choices men and women make. I'm sure it's also true to some extent that men get promoted more than women, but that's changing. And I think there's a larger gap among older generations of workers because of differences in education and work history, as well as differences in motivation.

As a 29 year old attorney in government practice, I make what male colleagues with my experience make - in fact, I make more than most of them because of merit promotions. There's less standardization in the private sector, but frankly, if I were to go to firm and find out 2 years down the road that I'm getting paid less than my male counterparts, I would leave, and they would miss me because I'm a damn good attorney. Those kinds of policies just don't make business sense. As far as the "moms should get paid more" thing, joke or not, give me a break. Work is work; you should be valued on what you contribute AT WORK, not on some nebulous idea of your overall contribution to society. I agree that employers should work on providing better work-life balance for all employees, including reasonable hours, reasonable health benefits, and opportunity to take leaves of absence for anything you want, rather than just having a baby. I don't plan to have any babies, and, while I support maternity leave for those who want them, I would also like the opportunity to take a similar leave to travel, or write my novel, or do whatever, if I wanted to. I don't have that. So I think that explains the resentment Leslie experiences from her male and non-mother colleagues. We support your choice to have a family, but not everyone wants to make that same choice.

Similarly, if you take 3 years off to take care of your kids and I'm here working for those 3 years, no, you shouldn't be able to come back and be in the same position I am. You've been out of the workforce for 3 years while I've been honing my skills. If we women want to be treated as equals in the workplace, we have to act as equals, and unite with our male coworkers to argue for better working conditions for everyone. Not argue for special treatment because some of us are mommies. People become parents because they want to, they find it fulfilling, etc. I get my fulfillment in other areas that are no less important than your choice to have kids.

Posted by: single female | April 25, 2006 10:21 AM

The problem with the study is it never compares apples to apples. As previous posters have commented, one must control for job experience over a much longer period than 12 months.

I am in the military, and in the military I see firsthand that the female generals are very often single women who were never married. They devoted their lives to their careers. They never slowed their career down by taking time off to have children.

The fact that women make less than men is irrelevant, anyways. Most men are married to a woman. If men make more, on the average, and women make less, on the average, then total household income should balance out. Single women who have never gotten married and taken time off for child rearing make much closer to 100% of male salaries. The only people who get screwed are the divorced women with kids, but this is mitigated by the child support paid by the father (based on his higher income).

Posted by: Napoleone | April 25, 2006 10:21 AM

Oprah, Letterman, Leno

Posted by: Anonymous | April 25, 2006 10:26 AM

Yep, and it is indeed exactly like rent control. Outlawing perfectly rational economic behavior is one thing - enforcing the prohibition is entirely another.

Posted by: To "To Erik H" | April 25, 2006 10:26 AM

-- Census Bureau: Looked at earnings data for full-time, year-round workers in the same industries. In the highest paid AND lowest paid occupations, men made more than women. In the highest paid category, physicians and surgeons, women made only 63% of men's median earnings.
www.census.gov/prod/2004pubs/censr-15.pdf --

However, we must remember that "physicians and surgeons" is a very large category with many specialization. Not all specialists receive the same earnings. The earnings of "physicians" (who do not do any surgery) are lower than surgeons.

General practice physicians earn a lot (a lot more than other workers), but surgeons earn a lot more. I think the earnings of anesthesiologists are particularly high.

We do not know the percentages of men and women in each specialization.

It may be the case that more women work in family practice and pediatrics, while more men work in surgery and anesthesiology -- but that both women and men in each of these fields receive roughly the same earnings.

Thus, average earnings for "physicians and surgeons" as a whole would be higher for men than women, while average earnings for each specialization would be much more equal for men and women.

see: http://www.ocouha.com/cur/ooh021510_07.htm

Posted by: Frank | April 25, 2006 10:28 AM

>>Trygoogle, are you saying that those who work 80 hours should be paid the same as those who work 40?>>

On an hourly basis, yes. On an aggregate basis--of course not!

And to the rest of you--several of the studies I skimmed and linked to noted equally significant differences because of race. Is this because of lifestyle choices the workers themselves are making?

Nevermind, don't answer. I'm just surprised at the number of people saying that there is no problem instead of saying how could we fix this. I would think you would care about your wives and daughters.

Posted by: trygoogle | April 25, 2006 10:31 AM

Psychology Professor:

You stated:
"Very little of this gap is accounted for by differences in years of education or training, years of experience, or hours worked. (Yes, these factors matter, but they don't account for much of the wage gap.)"

The recent GAO report that has been referenced ( http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d0435.pdf ) seems counter to that. Do you have any references to research to validate your claim?

Thanks.

Posted by: A Dad | April 25, 2006 10:35 AM

To Childless - at least at the federal government, FMLA allows the use of sick leave and vacation time to make it paid. I would be surprised if most employers did not allow this. The fed. govt also provides the family friendly leave act, which allows slightly more than 2 weeks of sick leave a year (every year) can be used to take care of a family member, including elder care. I took a long maternity leave, all of it paid for by saved sick leave and vacation.

For single female - if you are a government lawyer, you should look into an extended leave if you want one, I know multiple people who have taken a significant leave of absence (6 months to a year) to travel the world, volunteer for a political campaign, try teaching, etc., all while childless and having their jobs waiting for them when they got back. Yes, much of it was unpaid, but, as someone else pointed out, so are extended maternity leaves and being a SAHM. It just takes effort to put a plan together and execute it.

Extended leaves happens more often with parenting because time off is simply required and having children tends to put the cost benifit analysis of the importance of working all the time (such as 80 hours a week) vs. the importance of having and outside life into perspective for people.

Posted by: another DC mom | April 25, 2006 10:37 AM

To Erik H

>>>>Woman who "work a man's traditional schedule"--who take long hours, give up family time, delay child rearing, take the absolute minimum of parental leave--get paid equivalently. Similarly, men who "work a woman's traditional schedule" and who demand long leave time under FMLA, demand fewer hours, take unscheduled off to care for their sick kid or go to a school play...they get paid less, too.<<<<

Can I work where you have?

I married in my mid-30's and we are determinedly childless by choice (which was well known in my workplaces, because the parents would gang up and tell me about how I'm going to be unfulfilled, but that's another rant). In the past, I have worked just as hard, if not harder than, my equivalent male counterparts (both in job responsibilities and work experience).

Guess what? Even with pushing hard during initial salary negotiations (I don't feel I'm not worth a good salary), I made 25-30% less.

I'm not a feminist (I generally agree with your sentiments and statements), but there is still a bias to give men better salaries because it's assumed women will "change their minds" and have a child. And those are society-based biases, because it has always been pretty apparent that I'm not changing my mind.

Women are generally expected to have lesser jobs. For example, at one job where I was a senior project lead and developer, maintenance had to fix a utility problem that happened to run through office. Because it meant cutting through my wall, they temporarily moved me to a cube on the other side of the floor near the support staff, but not actually among them. I was actually in a row of cubes that ran alongside a row of mid-level and senior manager offices. All were men, and were for a different department than mine, so they didn't really know me.

Despite dressing and acting professionally and having technical project paraphenalia tacked up on the walls, I lost count of the times when these men strolled out to my temporary cube, didn't bother asking my name, and threw documents on my desk to be typed up, asked me to set up a conference call, or even make copies for them!

It's really easy to dismiss bias if you've never been a victim of it. (As for me, I had fun politely introducing myself and handing back their documents...)

I did end up leaving the workplace...so I could pursue entrepreneur opportunities instead. Because I got tired of being paid less for the same work. Especially since I have a "male" sounding name, so when clients and other co-workers finally met me outside of e-mail correspondence, they were surprised I was female!

Posted by: Iniquity Den Mother | April 25, 2006 10:39 AM

You never seem to address, much less appear aware of, the well-thought-out comments which your readers post in response to your daily messages. This makes me conclude that you are not open to feedback or to other takes on things, but will only continue to keep viewing things in an outdated, martyr-complex, type of way. Can you please address why you are not addressing the comments that your readers post? Do you even read them? Or do you not have time b/c you are making lists and directions for your babysitters all the time? What is it?

Posted by: 32-year-old wife | April 25, 2006 10:40 AM

To the females who are boo-hooing the fact that their medical insurance costs more "b/c they are fertile" -- boo hoo to you. Try being INFERTILE and paying for fertilty treatments OUT OF POCKET. I really do not feel sorry for you in the least as my husband and I shell out thousands of $$$ to just try to GET pregnant.

Posted by: 32-year-old wife | April 25, 2006 10:45 AM

"I would think you would care about your wives and daughters."

That's a nice ad hominem attack (in more ways than one). Of course we love our wives and daughters (and more than a few of us _are_ wives and daughters). You may believe that there is more remaining discrimination against women than some of the rest of us - and you might be right. But even in a perfect world, earnings will vary based on the life choices people make. If, totally hypothetically, women were on average to make different life choices than men, it isn't unreasonable to speculate that it would affect their annual and lifetime earnings.

It also isn't unreasonable to note that the women in my family and in my acquintance do on average make different choices than the men I know and am related to. This has affected their earnings. Is that unfair? I don't think so. Does that mean that all women do - or should - make less than men? No - the general manager of the firm I work for is a woman, and makes more than any of the rest of us. My next door neighbor is a stay-at-home dad. So what? Neither one is being cheated.

Posted by: Aren't We A Bit Over the Top Here? | April 25, 2006 10:46 AM

>>The fact that women make less than men is irrelevant, anyways. Most men are married to a woman. If men make more, on the average, and women make less, on the average, then total household income should balance out.>>

Wow, that works out great! I can totally live with doing the same amount of work as a man at my job and getting paid less, because my husband is doing the same amount of work as a woman at his job and making more! Too bad I'm a lawyer and he is a teacher, if it was the other way around we'd be making out like bandits!


Posted by: Falls Church | April 25, 2006 10:46 AM

I never really understand these studies. Isn't it only meaningful if you compare people in the exact same job?

Because otherwise, the study isn't really about 'men and women being paid differently for doing the same work.' It's about men and women being, say, steered into different jobs, different career paths, etc.

Right?

Posted by: FuzzyMath | April 25, 2006 10:49 AM

There is also a body of research showing that while women experience a motherhood penalty (they earn less after having children), men experience a fatherhood premium; fatherhood significantly increases the hourly wage rates and annual hours of work. (Interestingly, this relationship is stronger for the birth of sons than for daughters).

Some may argue that this all works out in the end - the mother makes less, the father makes more, and the family is just fine. Yet it can also be viewed as an example of how society continues to reinforce traditional gender roles. Do we accept that women will always earn less as long as they are the ones to give birth? Will we continue to expect women to be the primary caregivers and men to be the breadwinners? Are we okay with the implications this has for unmarried, divorced and widowed mothers?

Just some questions that this issue raises for me as a young woman starting out in my career.

Posted by: young professional | April 25, 2006 10:56 AM

I worked at a company where one of my co-workers, female, who'd been working there for two years, and started out working for nothing as a volunteer for the previous three, was happy, until she saw a pay stub sitting on a male co-workers desk, a male who'd just been hired, had a family, two kids, etc. and a position under hers. He had left the pay stub on the desk, she wasn't snooping, she had no reason to believe her pay was so different.

She discovered there was a $15,000 difference, and walked into the CEO's office and got a $15,000 pay raise, but the bitterness and anger of that incident never went away. It hurt the company and her to learn that. Also, all the women in the company started looking at their pay. The only good thing? They ended up standardizing pay for men and women.

My spouse's stepmother, full-career woman, never took time off for kids, extended leave etc, worked her way up the ladder, and was pretty high up there when she discovered she was making less than $30,000 than another man doing the same amount of work. She walked into her boss' office, and got a $30,000 pay raise. She told me that while it wasn't fair, men with families often got more because of a perception they need to 'take care of the family' and since they are providers, should make more. Women with families got less because employers anticipated they would leave, be gone more etc. and women in general were paid less. It was a sore point with her, but she learned to negotiate and made a nice, six-figure salary.

Her advice was to negotiate better and to make sure you fully research the field you are in.

Also, and this may contribute, I read an article once *sorry I can't cite it I don't remember the name of it* that suggested that women sometimes get paid less because they tend to not negotiate as hard as men do when it comes to pay. Men tend to ask for more than they are offered, and seem to be trained to put a price tag on their work.

I agree with this blog for once! Also, I don't believe she's suggesting we all actually get paid more for our children, but the point is, women's roles are still de-valued. Look at some of the negative attitudes toward SAHM's on this blog, and some of the venom toward WOHM's. And this is from women!

My mother always told me the problem with women is we don't stick together and tend to fight whereas men, fighting or not fighting, stick together.

Posted by: Observer | April 25, 2006 10:59 AM

You know, if this blog was really about equality and fairness, Leslie would consider us Dads who have put our career in "neutral" while we make every effort to share the child-rearing with our working wives. I think all the 30-somethings on this board give information every day that is indicative of this trend. Look, some us, female AND male, have elected to lessen our focus on career to increase our focus on family. That's going to slow the rate of yearly salary increases, proportionate to the reduction in work. And it should.

Having said that, if the guy one office over from me is working even fewer hours than me for whatever his reason is (maybe he has 5 kids) he should still be making less than me, all other stuff being equal.

It's not the preferred situation for the person who's earning power is leveling off, but it's a math problem. Why does it have to be so emotional?

Posted by: Argh | April 25, 2006 11:00 AM

>>I never really understand these studies. Isn't it only meaningful if you compare people in the exact same job?>>

There are two ways to do it. You can look at one company and compare people in the same position. Usually this only happens when there is an EEOC suit, or a company may do an internal salary review. The other way is to look at large amounts of data--such as the census, or the BLS datasets--and conduct statistical analyses by pulling representative samples. If your dataset includes millions of people, you can pull a sample that represents "people in the exact same job" even if they are not literally at the same company.

Lots of big companies (not all) lose EEOC suits when their data is compared person by person and shows that they systematically discriminate. And the large dataset studies consistently show that, when all other factors are accounted for, one-quarter to one-third of the difference in salary between women and men CANNOT be explained by quantifiable factors such as time out of the workforce or choice of profession. What does that leave? Discrimination. Which, as some have pointed out, affects ALL women, not just moms.

Posted by: trygoogle | April 25, 2006 11:03 AM

What a truly pathetic diatribe. When it comes to business, there are two types of people - employers & employees. Don't like your current circumstances? Start your own business.

That would seem to be more helpful, rather than bitterly complaining that a capitalist economic system has not prostrated itself to satisfy your socialist agenda.

Posted by: Registered Voter | April 25, 2006 11:05 AM

Young Professional,

"Interesting it stronger for birth of sons than for daughters". Please provide the data on that outrageous statement. The GAO study could not breakout occupation with education but some mysterious study you quote can break out the gender of your kids for higher pay. Sounds like an Urban Legend to me; however, I'm sure "Trygoogle" could provide us with a web site.

Posted by: Numbers Guy | April 25, 2006 11:05 AM

Numbers Guy:

"Most notably, men's labor supply and wage rates increase more in response to the births of sons than to the births of daughters." The data comes from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID).

Lundberg, S. & Rose, E. "The Effects Of Sons And Daughters On Men's Labor Supply And Wages," The Review of Economics and Statistics, May 2002, 84(2): 251-268.

Posted by: young professional | April 25, 2006 11:10 AM

I agreed with you, until you spoke that magic phrase "moms should get paid MORE than people without children, or at least get some juicy tax break". Pardon me, but you DO get a juicy tax break - look at your return - and most tax laws revolve around YOU! I pay a tax penalty for being single. And compensation is about how well you do your job, NOT how many times you gave birth. If your job is not compatible with having young children, then scale back your lifestyle or find a more compatible job. Or get your husband to do more work around the house, don't demonize me. In reading your blogs the last few weeks, I wondered when you'd get to the part about parents being morally, personally and in every way superior to single women without children. I guess today's the day. We're all created equal, until the parenting starts, and then you parents think you're embodied with some divine intelligence that makes you better. Well, sorry to say, it just makes you a jerk with an entitlement complex.

Posted by: sitswithpentel | April 25, 2006 11:10 AM

Trygoogle:

There's a big difference between correlation and causation.

Every morning I get up and make a pot of cofffee. I then go outside and get the newspaper. Brewing the coffee does not cause the newspaper to appear.

Women earn less than men. Being female does not imply that you earn less than an equivalent male.

Posted by: A Dad | April 25, 2006 11:16 AM

Interesting. Not long ago, there was a middle manager who posted that she is only going to hire single guys or women whose children are grown and out of the house because she's had so many problems with moms who work. So the negative perceptions affect women before they even get the job. We've got a long, long way to go on this one. People who believes this is not happening are kidding themselves.

Posted by: Snap2 | April 25, 2006 11:31 AM

I wonder how much of this has to do with bias against women (thinking they will take time off, leave, etc) and how much of it has to do with the fact that women, statistically, as far less likely to negotiate their starting salary than men. I have read that, typically, women are more likely to accept the salary they have been offered for a job, whereas men are more likely to question the initial salary offer and try to get more.

Posted by: Student | April 25, 2006 11:38 AM

Thanks dl, I am paying for individual policy because I am basically self-employed and have no other way to get coverage. And to 32-year-old-wife, you too would be paying higher insurance under an individual policy simply because you are in the child bearing age range not due to fertility or infertility. I have no concept of the pain you must be going through in order to conceive a child (physical, mental and budget-related) so I wish you the best. I am not "boo-hoo-ing," I am simply frustrated, as you also seem to be. May bearing children bring you the peace of mind you seek and I wish you many children and grandchildren in your future.

Posted by: Spob | April 25, 2006 11:38 AM

Spob,

What a mature comment to a completely irrational one.

"I am simply frustrated, as you also seem to be. May bearing children bring you the peace of mind you seek and I wish you many children and grandchildren in your future."

Posted by: Scarry | April 25, 2006 11:49 AM

>>There's a big difference between correlation and causation.>>

That's right--being female does not cause you to be paid less. Discrimination does.

PS That's DR. Trygoogle to you, buddy.

Posted by: trygoogle | April 25, 2006 11:52 AM

I think Observer hit one of the nails on the head--there's a pretty strong gender divide along people's willingness to negotiate for themselves. That's not to say that a wage gap along gender lines doesn't have myriad layers of factors, but we don't raise girls to stick up for themselves the way we do for boys.

One of the really tough aspects of this topic is the disparate ways employees and employers see salary. Employers see salary as the cash they need to pay to get a job done in a way that makes the company money. Employees see salary as an empirical form of validation. Think I'm wrong? Listen to people talk about how much money they make--whether they're happy or unhappy about it (or rationalizing a low-paying job), between the lines there's a sense that they feel like 'this does/does not accurately reflect what I'm worth.'

And by the way, Inequity Den Mother, do you believe in, support, look fondly on, hope for, and/or work towards equality of the sexes? Then you're a feminist.

Posted by: Sasha | April 25, 2006 11:53 AM

Aw crap, Student types faster than I do :)

Posted by: Sasha | April 25, 2006 11:55 AM

What about the benefits to society of having and raising children? How do you put a price on those? Not only is it work in and of itself, but in order for any society to continue to function at a status quo level (let alone grow or get richer), people need to not only have children, but commit time, energy, and money to raising them to be responsible, productive adults. Without a steady influx of children, there will not be enough professionals to take over from an aging population; not enough contributions to the tax base that keeps society running; a shrinking consumer base--all of which would have a negative impact on any society. Without responsible, committed parenting, we would face even more problems with schools, health care and crime than we have now.

Posted by: NJO | April 25, 2006 12:12 PM

The psychology professor is correct. I would ask the contributors to this blog comment section why so many of us are looking for ways to discredit what has long been shown to be the case -- that women are paid less than men even when one factors in years of experience, time in the workforce, education, actual degree received, etc. And placing our faith in the rational economic decision making of companies is short-sighted, because what is in a company's short-term interest is not necessarily in the company's long term interest or society's (or even the economy's) long term interest. If we could trust business people to always make rational economic choices, then we would never have experienced things in this country like racial discimination OR gender discrimination.

Posted by: Interested party | April 25, 2006 12:15 PM

Observer wrote: "She discovered there was a $15,000 difference, and walked into the CEO's office and got a $15,000 pay raise."

I am distrustful that any company would give $15,000 raises to anyone (male or female) who barged into the CEO's office complaining about wage disparities.

Can you imagine the response if a man similarly barged in and demanded a $15,000 raise? He'd probably would get fired on the spot.

More generally, even if a wage disparity exists, no HR person would sanction such a large pay increase in one step. The reason is that it would have a major impact on morale for other employees, who had to work years to gain an equivalent pay increase.

It's far more likely that the $15,000 increase written about the by poster above was to avoid the headache of a lawsuit, than anything related to wage disparities.

Lastly, Observer's female colleague had "been working there for two years", whereas the male colleague had "just been hired." I would point out that newly hired employees tend to make the same or more than what they were earning in their previous job. Observer presented no data on the work history, experience, and responsibility levels that the male new hire might have had in his previous jobs, as compared to that of Observer's female colleague.

Observer, if you are going to argue by anecdote, then at least be sure to compare like with like.

Posted by: Skepticality | April 25, 2006 12:17 PM

My problem with statements from childless folks about how other people having children is not their problem and therefore not something they should be punished for/contribute to is that it gets into that notion that it's every person for him or herself. What about the interest of society that all children be raised to meet their potentials as adults? It's like saying that we shouldn't care about people who are homeless or poor or who don't have health insurance or the elderly who have no one to care for them. Society has to take responsibility for everyone and we are all in this together. This individualistic mentality is part of the reason why America is so family-unfriendly to begin with. There is very little support at the societal level for just about anything.

Posted by: bloggerbabe | April 25, 2006 12:18 PM

DR. Trygoogle:

I think [at least hope] that we are in strong agreement that gender discrimination exists and needs to be eliminated.

Where we disagree [at least it appears] is to the degree to which we attribute gender wage differences to discrimination.

There are many men who are passionate in their belief that gender discrimination must be fought. Yes, we do have wives and daughters and genuinely want a world in which they are treated as equals. Even without wives and daughters, it is an issue of fundamental fairness.

That said, attempting to assert that discrimination alone is responsible for the delta between men's and women's average wages is disingenuous. As models grow in their complexity to take into account all of the variables associated with wages, the gender differences are muted. This should be viewed by all as a *good thing*.

Over-stating the impact of discrimination doesn't help us any more than under-stating it.

Posted by: A Dad | April 25, 2006 12:21 PM

Skepticality:

I once made a decision to hire a male subordinate and HR came back and told me what his salary would be -- $12,000 annually more than me. This was not a situation where our skillsets were different -- he was essentially a step down from my position. He also had fewer years of experience and no degree. I let it go for about two weeks after he started working and then went to HR to complain. I immediately got a $20,000 raise. So don't be too distrustful of such stories. Incidentally, I know many, many men who have demanded raises and gotten them. It depends on what you're willing to put up with.

Posted by: Snap2 | April 25, 2006 12:22 PM

Interested Party:

If the data is so readily available can someone provide any link to it?

The GAO report explicitly states it doesn't factor in type of degree and uses very broad 'profession' groupings.

The Census study explicitly states that it doesn't have access to 'years of experience' so it only adjusts by age.

I've been involved as a manager in a large company where we had to provide this data as part of an EEOC audit -- and we passed [with an organization of approximately 3000 employees]. In our organization, the average income for woman was about 65% of the average income for men -- but when adjusted for profession, years of experience, and education there was no delta and we were given a clean bill of health.

I'm sure discrimination occurs -- I not trying to argue otherwise -- but the gender wage delta is more complex than just discrimination.

Posted by: A Dad | April 25, 2006 12:29 PM

Yong Professional,

If you read the report the authors note that there is bias in the data since the number of sons to daughters is significantly out of balance (i.e., girls were potentially under counted in early part of the data). They also report that when all the data is used (multiply children) this is no significant difference between men with either daughters or sons. They find a significant difference in men's pay only with the lower quadrant of their analysis (1-2 kids). It is only after they back out this statistic that they find a significant different between having a sons over daughter. The authors note that men work longer hours after having a son compared to having a daughter based on their statistical analysis. The longer hours was most significant reason for the increase in pay. The author then go on to speculate why men would work more hours after having a son. This reminds me of the statistic that shows wearing red vs blue resulted in more metals at the Olympics. I have my doubts on both statistics.

Posted by: Numbers Guy | April 25, 2006 12:31 PM

Interested party writes:
"I would ask the contributors to this blog comment section why so many of us are looking for ways to discredit what has long been shown to be the case -- that women are paid less than men even when one factors in years of experience, time in the workforce, education, actual degree received, etc."

Um, perhaps because the above statement may not actually be true, or may only be partially true? Haven't you been reading any of the comments about how unreliable the data are?

Want a reminder of these comments? Here you go:

- Physicians and surgeons being lumped into one profession,
- a BA in literature considered equivalent to a BSc in engineering,
- the physical risk to life and limb of road construction and garbage collecting vs teaching and nursing
- 12 months not long enough to be representative of careers

Etc, etc, etc...

These are serious criticisms of existing studies and deserve serious discussion.

So don't take anything in the area of gender wage disparities as having "long been shown to be the case". The data are in dispute, as are the methodologies and the conclusions.

Posted by: Skepticality | April 25, 2006 12:31 PM

Bloggerbabe, I agree. Besides, it's my kids who'll be paying their Social Security benefits!

Posted by: vj | April 25, 2006 12:34 PM

Of course we as a society bear a responsibility for the welfare of the next generation. But it's quite a leap to say that I, personally, as an individual, should sacrifice myself so that YOUR child can go to a private school and still have mom home by 5 every night. We should have family-friendly policies in our workplaces, for parents and non-parents alike. We should have flexible schedules, not just for kids' soccer games, but for whatever is going on in someone's life that requires them to need a flexible schedule (caring for sick parents, personal medical issues, kids). But, if I don't take that time, if I'm willing to come in on the weekends and stay late on weekdays, maybe I should make some more money. The fact that I don't have babies doesn't make my free time any less valuable than yours. I don't have to justify my life to anyone, least of all smug parent coworkers. If you spend your free time having kids, and I spend mine volunteering at a homeless shelter, does that make you better than me and worth more to society than I am? How about if I spend my time painting? Or gardening? Or going to rock concerts? Who cares? I'm entitled to a life just like you are. And what if I choose not to get married? Guess that blows the whole "differential salaries for men and women work out in the end" theory to hell. I don't want to depend on a man for support - isn't that what feminism was all about?

Posted by: single female | April 25, 2006 12:45 PM

"Bloggerbabe, I agree. Besides, it's my kids who'll be paying their Social Security benefits!"

Do you think there will be any social secruity when a lot of these people posting retire.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 25, 2006 12:47 PM

"Having said that, if the guy one office over from me is working even fewer hours than me for whatever his reason is (maybe he has 5 kids) he should still be making less than me, all other stuff being equal."

i'm not sure that number of hours worked should be a determining factor overall (at least when discussing exempt employees in general). If you work from the assumption that exempt employees are typically paid an annual salary based on a 40 hour work week, why should the person who gets the same amount of work done in 40 hours make less than the person that produces the same results (and same quality) but in 80 hours? this would apply to male/female, male/male and female/female comparisons. more hours does not always mean better and more work.

Posted by: passing through | April 25, 2006 12:48 PM

Wow single female - angry much? I never said any of the things that you posted. I don't think any one person's time is more valuable than another. However, I do think that as a society we have gotten pretty far afield in the "I take care of me and my own" sentiment and forgotten that we are in this world all together. So when parents start fighting for better work-life balance, they aren't suggesting that those without children should suffer, they are asking employers to consider ALL outside of work commitments, activities, responsibilities, etc. It's something we should all be striving for.

Posted by: bloggerbabe | April 25, 2006 12:50 PM

This number, 77%, (80.1% according to the most recent BLS paper on women in the labor force - http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpswom2004.pdf) is very misleading. Ms. Steiner has lumped all full-time workers together when she should not have. 85% of women with full-time jobs work 35 to 40 hours per week. Only 73% of men with full-time jobs work those hours. Fully 27% of men work more than 40 hours per week with over 18% working 49 or more hours per week. Only 8.5% of full-time women work that much. A large portion of this 19% pay gap is thus explained by men working significantly more hours than women. Most of the remaining gap is accounted for by occupation choice. Women tend to choose lower paid occupations. (Arguably the occupations are lower paid because women choose them) If women want to earn as much as men on average they'll need to work a few more hours each week and become engineers, accounts, and IT professionals rather than primary educators or administrative support.

Posted by: G | April 25, 2006 12:51 PM

Snap2 writes:
"I once made a decision to hire a male subordinate and HR came back and told me what his salary would be -- $12,000 annually more than me. This was not a situation where our skillsets were different -- he was essentially a step down from my position. He also had fewer years of experience and no degree."

So why did this particular new hire get the salary that HR indicated to you? Simply because he negotiated harder, or did he have a similar salary in his previous job, or something else perhaps?

More broadly, what was HR's approach to setting salaries for new hires, and were there factors that were more important than the ones you cited: "skillsets", "years of experience", and "degree"?

I accept your overall point that step changes in one's salary can and do happen. However, these are the exception and not the norm.

Specifically, in my experience as employer and employee, salary step changes happened when:
a) a promising new hire negotiated hard before joining, e.g. with a competing job offer elsewhere,
b) a valued employee threatened to quit,
c) an existing employee was given a promotion to a new job with new responsibilities,
d) HR was overruled by the hiring manager or the CEO, or
e) there was a systemic review of wages and benefits, e.g. integrating two workforces after a corporate merger.

Of these, (c) promotions to an existing employee, was the most common justification for a step change. (Again, in my experience as employer and employee.)

Hope this clarifies my previous comments about salary step changes.

Posted by: Skepticality | April 25, 2006 12:53 PM

This is a painful, painful topic for me because I have lived it all my life and am living it NOW. I am a middle aged female scientist (PhD) at a small company, and it is a simple matter to find out what the other scientists make because we have to quote our rates in proposals. However I didn't really look until I had to quote another male scientist in my proposal, who has exactly the same job, same age, lesser qualifications, a little less time on the job - found out he was making 25% more! Plus he is a slacker and an idiot, even the boss would always be making asides to me how useless he is, how he was thinking about getting rid of him, etc. Stewed about it a long time, finally talked to the boss directly about it - and slowly over 4 years I have been getting catch-up raises, not up to his salary yet but it is maybe *only* 10% more now....

THEN just a few months ago we hired another scientist, male, only a few years out of school - guess what, he is getting about 8% more than me right out of the box...! At least he is a bit brighter than slacker boy but it galls me to be teaching the ropes to this young arrogant puppy who is getting more than me and has to know it. I am looking for a new situation, I can't stand this rage I feel every day.

I think it can be explained mostly by these men negotiating harder than I did, so I won't make that mistake again - assuming I can find something else as a highly specialized professional at my age. But I think also some amount of sexism goes into this. It has to!

Another thing that happens is that women who are married tend to have the "second" job in the family - so they move based on the man's opportunities most of the time, and don't get to take the best job for their qualifications, they don't get the optimum timing for their career moves either.

And someone who said well if this is true why don't employers just hire women if they are cheaper and just as good - I have seen this happen. Happened at another small high tech startup I was in. We had a number of over-qualified women scientists who had moved to that city for their husband's job and took what they could get. Or one woman who had been out of the job market with kids, they hired her in real cheap and she was fabulous. But they treated her with a lot less respect than the young men. Oh yes this happens!

Posted by: Catherine | April 25, 2006 1:04 PM

>>A Dad: Over-stating the impact of discrimination doesn't help us any more than under-stating it.>>

Yes, totally fair point. I felt that many posted were completely discounting it. Obviously there are a lot of complex things going on, women choosing the "mommy track" (at a particular job or as a career approach) being an important part.

Posted by: trygoogle | April 25, 2006 1:10 PM

Bloggerbabe, I think I agree with your endpoint, but disagree with how you get there. I think that it's the role of society/government to provide benefits (e.g., tax breaks) as appropriate for families. I think it's the responsibility of the employer to pay employees with respect to their value to the business. Most of the singles seem to be objecting to deviations in the latter issue, whereas your comment seemed to criticize them for their views on the former issue (which they haven't provided).

Posted by: justpassingthru | April 25, 2006 1:14 PM

Look, I'm in favor of family friendly policies and I said as much in my post. But yes, I do get angry listening to the sanctimony of many parents - "I made this choice, which is the right choice, therefore I deserve more and better than those who did not make this choice." It's a matter of style largely, and a matter of some people being jerks, but I'm happier to accommodate people who don't have an entitlement complex based solely on their ability to breed. An ability which I also have, but choose not to exercise. I'm happy to embrace people's differences and different choices, but how about some respect for the non-parents among us? If you have Timmy's baseball game after work, and I have a dinner date, you do not automatically get to be the one who leaves on time. And your baseball game is not inherently more important or worthy than my date - for all I know Timmy could be a raging brat and my date could be Albert Schweitzer. I mean, he's dead obviously, but otherwise it could be him.

Posted by: single female | April 25, 2006 1:17 PM

I was wondering if salary negotiation ability had anything to do with the difference.

Observer related the story of women who discovered that their male coworkers made more than them and then demanded a raise and got it. Maybe in these cases, the woman got the salary that she demanded and the man got the salary that he demanded? (Possibility) The CEO was right to make their salaries equal in the end but when hiring the woman, I doubt that the company was going to pay more than she demanded.

I know of many coworkers in equal jobs who make different salaries due to their negotiation skills, other job offers, and the demand for their skills at the time of being hired.

Posted by: LC | April 25, 2006 1:22 PM

while i agree that an unfair disparity still persists, we need to be careful in some of our comparisons. unfortunately, when you get into anecdotal evidence, there are always other pieces of info not readily apparent. another force always at play is market conditions. it almost never fails that if you have been at a company for several years, depending on the job category and the labor pool, new hires are frequently are hired in at higher pay rates than current employees with the same job (even if experiences are different), and those who move jobs tend to increase their salary quicker than those who remain and receive slower adjustments.

Posted by: passing through | April 25, 2006 1:24 PM


Okay,

This is something I'm just throwing out there... I think that people with families may get the 'time off' to go to Timmy's baseball game because they ask for it, and becasue baseball game schedules are not up to the parent, but the schools/organizations and they usually place them at a time when it's necessary for parents to take time off from work, whereas a date is up to the individuals scheduling it -- why do they get to do that just because they have a family?

Having families is a huge part of society. In general, right or wrong, girls AND boys grow up with an expectation that one day they will be married and have kids.

The majority of people in America do end up getting married and many of those people have children. I think the majority of employees are probably parents though I don't have a study to back that up. The thing is, if the majority of your experience workforce, the majority of the people with experience and years behind them are families, than you are going to cater to that demographic, especially in fields where it's hard to find experienced individuals. Oftentimes, employers view women as 'potential breeders who'll take time off' maybe not even consciously, but they also view young single workers as 'people who will eventually fall in love and breed' whether or not they actually will.

So why is there a push to be more family-friendly? Because the majority of the workforce is part of a family and will be part of a family.

Do single people get the rotten end of the deal? In my experience, no... I mean, hasn't anyone else asked to leave early for a concert? To pick up a friend at the airport? To start your three-day weekend early? Never? Most parents aren't asking to leave early every day.

Employers, in the end, want people who get the job done, not to work 80 hours just cuz. How many of us know someone who is at the office for 60+ hours but actually only works about 40?

Posted by: Observer | April 25, 2006 1:28 PM

Here's another twist on sexism in the workplace:

When my husband died suddenly, everyone at work assumed that my financial status had been lowered. It hadn't, in fact it got a lot better. I was too upset to correct the false impression, and lo, out of nowhere, I was given a big pay raise!

I took the raise and learned a big lesson about human nature.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 25, 2006 1:33 PM

single female - I don't think we disagree over the main points, but your posts come across as incredibly bitter toward parents.

For the record, I work in an office with mostly single people who don't have children. It's interesting to note that in general I have no fewer sick or vacation days than my childless counterparts. Nor do I work less hours than they do. I have a schedule that I pretty much stick to and if I have to leave early, come in late, I often take work home to get the job done. It helps to have a supervisor that regards getting the job done more important than punching in a clock. At least at my work place, there doesn't seem to be any bitterness between the parents and childless.

Posted by: bloggerbabe | April 25, 2006 1:35 PM

passing through writes:
"we need to be careful in some of our comparisons. unfortunately, when you get into anecdotal evidence, there are always other pieces of info not readily apparent."

Agreed. This is a critical point and can't be overemphasized.

Anecdotal evidence has fundamental limitations, due to the limited data set and one-sided perspectives of the party reporting the anecdote.

For example, the anecdotes reported above by Catherine and Observer about women employees earning less than newly hired men don't prove that sexual discrimination was the sole, or even primary, cause of the wage disparity.

Rather, as Passing Through pointed out, people who stay in one company tend to receive "slower adjustments" than people who "move jobs". This is especially true for people who negotiate hard for what they believe they are worth.

Without intensive investigation into the cases reported by Observer and Catherine, we'll never know what caused the wage disparity, and it is inappropriate to favor, or exclude, any specific explanation without the data to back up such a conclusion.

Posted by: Skepticality | April 25, 2006 1:40 PM

Let's face it, you get paid pretty much what you deserve. If you feel you're underpaid, don't whine about it, move on. Get a life. Take some personal responsibility. (Of course, to you union types out there, go ahead and ignore this, as whining is in your nature and personal responsibility is an alien concept).

Since I'm in sales, it's real easy for us to see the differences - you get paid based ENTIRELY on performance. Whenever some chick (or some dude for that matter) started complaining that they weren't making the coin, the answer is simple - either work longer hours, or learn to be better at what you do. Then you get the $. Just do your job. I wish more jobs had easy metrics for performance, then this whole argument would be moot.

Posted by: Neanderthal Man | April 25, 2006 1:44 PM

I'm really tired of the "you're angry" speech that always appears on this blog. I don't think that the single female is anymore angry than anyone else on here. She is entitled to her opinion like everyone else as well. And, quite frankly she makes good points.


She shouldn't have to give up her dinner date for my kids play, etc. I shouldn't make more money than her because I have children. Anyone who thinks this way shouldn't be working at all.

Also, some of the things she was talking about in her post are implied on this board all the time and she probably experiences it at work as well.

Posted by: Scarry | April 25, 2006 1:46 PM

Catherine: Sounds like you should consider finding a good employment lawyer and explore filing a sex-based wage discrimination suit under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII.

Posted by: antidiscrim | April 25, 2006 1:58 PM

I accept the fact that I could have negotiated better, and intend to learn from this bitter experience. However, I think that it is not always entirely the woman's fault in the negotiation step either. In my experience anyway, in science, men are believed and taken seriously much more than women. In every day work, for myself and most other women I've worked with, I need a hell of a lot more proof of anything I say than the men do. We need to back EVERYTHING up. If I go into a meeting and say I think A is the answer to our problem, I better have data and graphs and quotes. I've seen the men just walk and say, oh I think it is B, and the boss and other men say oh sure that must be so. With no backup. I think a man walks into a meeting or a negotiation already being believed to be better, to know what he is talking about, more than a woman. I mean this slacker guy I work with - he exudes confidence. But - he has no idea what he is talking about! Seriously. And the young guy who makes more - he is very brash. I can see already that there is not quite as much there as he advertises, although I think he will be OK as an employee, better than slacker. So I think there is some sexism in the assumptions the boss makes, that make it easier for a man to negotiate a better salary. I'll just work twice as hard at it next time...

Posted by: Catherine | April 25, 2006 2:09 PM

Leslie's original blog entry says she believes those women with children should be paid MORE than those w/o kids. I wonder if the Washington Post, her employer, agrees and does this? Wouldn't that be discrimination? I also wonder about those of us with children and aging parents. Should we be paid MORE MORE? or do aging parents count? In my experience, employers sneer at/dismiss the presence of parents in the lives of their workers. "Oh you're mother's dying, do you know when she'll go so you can come back to work?" That is what my boss said to me when I called him (having left the office less than 24 hours earlier to go to my mother's home)to let him know things were deteriorating. I had the audacity to be out of the office a total of four days, which were then deducted as vacation days, for my mother's last days and memorial service. Family friendly workplaces? Whom are we kidding?

Posted by: Rita | April 25, 2006 2:13 PM

I agree with antidiscrim! Catherine, please pursue this. On the (admittedly limited) facts you present to us, at least it sounds like there is SOMETHING worth looking into there.

Posted by: Catherine v. Bad Employer | April 25, 2006 2:16 PM

"Oh you're mother's dying, do you know when she'll go so you can come back to work?"

my husband had a similar experince. his boss told him to "get over it" It's a very sad world all around, for all different types of families.

Posted by: Scarry | April 25, 2006 2:17 PM

Rita, that is the most depressing story I've heard in a while.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 25, 2006 2:17 PM

Anybody looked at the glass ceiling lately? Let's assume, just assume for the sake of argument, that women ARE getting paid as much as men, that many women are making choices to balance work and family, thus making them less attractive job candidates.

According to USA Today, women ran 2% of Fortune 500 companies, but I'll bet that more than 2% of women. I don't know, but I would assume that more than 2% of women workers are willing to work long hours to get ahead, to choose work over other things.

I think this is evidence of discrimination. This is the evidence of the systemic trouble of sexism in our society.

Posted by: Rita | April 25, 2006 2:20 PM

I agree with scarry. The "you're angry" comments are dismissive. (An adult version of that old playground chestnut "you're an idiot!" perhaps?) I wonder why people respond this way. It seems like the "you're angy" people are angry too. I'm rubber, you're glue...
;)
Maybe there's some truth in what single female has to say.

Posted by: Friend | April 25, 2006 2:20 PM

friend,

now we both will be labled angry.

Posted by: Scarry | April 25, 2006 2:25 PM

Skepticality and others here say that the data are in dispute. Yet this is true of all scientific data, for both the physical and social sciences. Nothing is ever "certain" because we can never control all the variables. But when our best attempts at study consistently indicate that discrimination at least contributes to a pay gap, why are we willing to overlook it because we can't be "sure?" To me that is in the same camp as saying we shouldn't teach evolution because we're not "sure" that evolution is a "fact." We're as sure as we can get with knownn methods and data sets. So why can't we take steps to address the disparity? For further consideration, we should ask ourselves why the male method/approach to negotiation is rewarded in the workplace whereas alternative approaches, i.e. approaches more commonly associated with women, are not. The discrimination is multi-layered.

Finally, I see that Skeptically did not take issue with my caution not to trust business interests to act consistently with their long term economic interests.

Posted by: Interested party | April 25, 2006 2:27 PM

Catherine writes:

"In my experience anyway, in science, men are believed and taken seriously much more than women. In every day work, for myself and most other women I've worked with, I need a hell of a lot more proof of anything I say than the men do."

You're a scientific researcher, with a PhD, right? Well, let me propose the following:

Please consider approaching both your HR representative and the head of your organization, and ask both of them to sit in, and record their observations of, presentations made by both men and women.

Ask the HR person to record their observations of men presenting primarily to men, women presenting primarily to women, and cross-sex presentations in both directions.

Ask the head of your organization to focus on the productivity loss arising from potentially sound data, methodology, and conclusions being casually ignored.

I'm sure that you're qualified to write, or at least solicit, a competent research proposal to investigate this topic. If you are busy and don't have time to organize this yourself, perhaps your organization has access to recent PhD, current students or interns? If so, the summer is coming up, and this might make an excellent project for one of them.

Even if there is no scope for an actual investigation, this suggestion may be food for a thought experiment, no?

Posted by: Skepticality | April 25, 2006 2:30 PM

single female...it's a travesty that no one has picked up on the Albert Schweitzer line. You kill me.

One more anecdote for the growing pile, re: being the single, childless one in a heap of people with kids--
I used to work in a place that had a night shift for part of the daily operations, so whenever we did daytime employee events (benefits info, United Way fundraising, employee appreciation, whathaveyou), there had to be a night event, too, and they usually started at 11:30. I was saddled with a hugely disproportionate share of coming back to help run the events, and at first I was really irritated that my status as single and childless made me the go-to regular for night events among the folks who were responsible for such things.

And then one day I took a step back and thought about it another way--it *was* easier for me to do it. Everyone else in the group that handled workplace events had kids and lived quite a ways away. Some of them were single parents. I lived a 15-minute drive from the office. It seemed strange to me to feel slighted when I thought about the gymnastics it would take for one of the single parents to arrange childcare and drive an hour round trip to do something I could just as easily do. My immediate supervisors were pretty good about letting me come in a little late the day after night events (which usually lasted until after 1), so where was the harm? I figured I would have wanted someone to do the same for me if I were in their shoes.

Once I realized this, I started volunteering to do it more...and the payoff was that the folks with kids were happy to offer help or a tradeoff in other ways when, say, I wanted to leave early to pick up my sister from the airport.

Posted by: Sasha | April 25, 2006 2:43 PM

To skeptically,

She didn't just barge in their. She did go straight in there and inquire as to what her pay raise was in comparison to others since she was in a higher position, doing more, and wanted to know if they were going to match her salary to her performance, or sorely underpay her. They gave her the pay raise because a) they knew they were underpaying her and b) she was right, there was no good reason that someone she was training that would work under her and eventually alongside her doing the same task should be paid more, especially when she had more experience.

I didn't mean to imply barge. She did go in angry, rightfully so, but did what she should have. I mean, should she just say 'oh darn, bummer?'

More generally, even if a wage disparity exists, no HR person would sanction such a large pay increase in one step. The reason is that it would have a major impact on morale for other employees, who had to work years to gain an equivalent pay increase.

This company didn't have an HR department or person. It was, at the time, a small company, less than 50 employees. The impact on morale was nil, because she and the management didn't announce it to the company, also, she was one of the senior employees, having been there from the start. They had upped employee's pay but left hers the same.

It's far more likely that the $15,000 increase written about the by poster above was to avoid the headache of a lawsuit, than anything related to wage disparities.

As for the male, he had the same volunteer experience she had, only she'd been at it a bit longer. She also had experience in the industry from a prior job, where he came from an unrelated field. Both had the same education.

My feeling is they just figured she'd never find out, didn't give it any thought, or just weren't concerned. It was wrong though.

The point is, they gave her the pay raise. They didn't give it to her because she demanded it, but because she deserved it, and they apologized. It was awkward for them. Other employees have asked for pay raises and been denied. She got the large pay raise and it brought her up to industry standards and the levels of her co-workers of comparable experience.

It's because of this incident and how she handled it that they standardized the pay rates, which is a good thing. She tried to be tactful, and didn't blabber to the whole company, but when I worked there, she gave me a heads up about the incident so I could negotiate a better salary.

Posted by: Observer | April 25, 2006 2:48 PM


Also,

As for the other example, they too gave her the pay raise because when she demanded it she gave evidence indicating why she deserved it. She had a heart-to-heart negotiating salary meeting. She too was furious, but she handled it right and got the big raise. Why? Because she was correct and had her facts.

Posted by: Observer | April 25, 2006 2:50 PM

I can't speak to your situation, but it is not uncommon for new hires - men or women - to come in at a higher salary level than current employees. This is especially true when unemployment rates are relatively low. Companies bounce along giving modest raises, and then when they go to recruit someone new, find that they aren't offering enough to get anyone to move. Of course, when the other employees find out how much they had to pay to bring in the new "talent" it can raise some pretty obvious equity issues.

Posted by: To Catherine | April 25, 2006 2:55 PM

Rita,

Let's use your logic since roughly 70% of the population is white then the NBA should be 70% white since I am sure most white guys would be willing to put in the time to play in the NBA so it must be discrimination against white guys. Talent just happens to be a major factor as well. Those who rise to the top rise because they are typically: 1)most talented; 2)hardest worker; 3)good at self-promotion; and 4)great timing. I have seen women display these qualities and guess what they rise to the top as well.

I find these blind statistics troubling. Its hard to start a conversation if one side is citing studies that are poorly done and claiming my pay is only 80% or less of yours. If I am going to work for a cause I need some honesty with numbers. I work in the world of microbial ecology and all the time I see poorly designed studies that fail to preform proper method validation prior to initiation of their studies. Then they take their poorly designed study and data and make grand conclusions. Its hard to replicate and trust poor science and data analysis.

Posted by: Numbers Guy | April 25, 2006 2:57 PM

There's an EXCELLENT book on this topic:

Why Men Earn More: The Startling Truth Behind the Pay Gap -- and What Women Can Do About It
by Warren Farrell

Mr. Farrell analyzed reams of specific data to compare "apples to apples." He 1) debunks the whiny myth that women are paid unfairly for "equal" work and 2) offers very real solutions to women who want to earn higher wages/salaries.

The book shows how the pay gap is not due to discrimination but rather because of 25 differences between men and women's work-life decisions.

I suggest reading reviews on amazon.com to get a feel for the book and then checking it out of your local library. Happy reading!

Posted by: MBA Mom | April 25, 2006 2:57 PM

As others have said, researchers believe the factor that explains most of the gender wage gap is the concentration of women into occupations that pay less - women make up 98% of secretaries, 98% of dental hygienists, 98% of Pre-K and K teachers, 93% of RNs, etc. While RNs and some teachers aren't paid poorly, secretaries, hygienists, waitresses and other female dominanted occupations often pay quite poorly whether you look at hourly wages, yearly wages, wages by industry. In contrast, men tend to be concentrated in occupations that pay better - 70% of judges and lawyers are men, 70% of physicians are men, 90% of engineers. Why does this happen? Sometimes women chose female dominated occs, sometimes they are pushed into them by parents, teachers, society (socialization), sometimes college depts in engineering and other male-dominated fields are hostile and not inclusive, sometimes women chose jobs that mesh better with their family responsibilities. When women are the primary caretakers of children and hh work, then they may chose/get pushed into jobs that pay less. Discrimination also plays a role, but in less overt and more subtle ways like statistical discrimination (thinking that all women behave in certain ways) and in a subtle preference for men in certain fields and women in other fields. If there were easy answers, perfect data or amazingly effective public policies, the gender wage gap would have disappeared 30 years ago. It hasn't, because it is real and does exist, but is due to many factors that cannot be easily changed until individuals change their behavior on a widescale - by not putting most of family responsibilities on women, by generations of women entering male-dominated jobs, by employers not stereotyping workers, and by generations of men entering traditionally female jobs and not dismissing them out of hand as "women's work" and therefore less valuable.

Posted by: SocProf | April 25, 2006 2:57 PM

I agree that it's sometimes easier for single people to arrange to work odd hours than it is for people with kids. But there's a huge difference between volunteering to work late and being expected to work late by virtue of your singleness or lack of kids. That smacks of disrespect for employees' personal time, and I wouldn't want to work somewhere that doesn't respect my time. If there's a project that requires working late, ask for volunteers. If you can't get a volunteer, sweeten the pot with a bonus, or time off, or ability to advance more quickly. Similarly, if you want to work a more flexible schedule for whatever reason, yes, you may have to take a pay cut. But if your priority is family rather than work, why not take it? I agree that working longer hours does not necessarily mean contributing better work, and that many people work faster than others and can accomplish more in a condensed time. If that's true, pay them accordingly. But I think we all also know people who come in late, spend 2 hours "catching up" with their friends in the office, another hour on the phone with the nanny, and then, oops, it's time for lunch! If I'm slogging away during those three hours, I shouldn't be the one stuck staying late that day because they have to take the kids to soccer. Childless people slack off too, but we don't have the built in criticism-immune excuse of "it's all for the kids."

Posted by: single female | April 25, 2006 3:02 PM

"As others have said, researchers believe the factor that explains most of the gender wage gap is the concentration of women into occupations that pay less - women make up 98% of secretaries, 98% of dental hygienists..."

I personally would not include dental hygienists in the ranks of the low-paid. Do you really consider $30-50/hour for an office job that only requires a community college degree and never requires unpaid evening or weekend work at home to be "less pay"?

Posted by: MBA Mom | April 25, 2006 3:10 PM

Number guy, all I'm saying is that I refuse to believe that 98% percent of women lack the skills that make a good CEO. Are you prepared to say that 98% of women are not job-focues and smart enough to handle a CEO job?

And Soc Prof, I agree with you. Perhaps the reason for the wage gap is that we value women's work less. Yes, there are more female teachers and secretaries. When we start valuing women's contributions, these jobs will see pay increases.

Posted by: Rita | April 25, 2006 3:11 PM

While I admit that I haven't run the regressions myself, I do believe these stats. I'm a young female professional, not married, no kids, nothing. Two months after taking a terrific job I found out that my male counterpart makes 1.5 times my salary. He is only one year older and had significantly less work experience than I prior to taking our current positions (less in terms of both quality and quantity--the disparity is great enough that I'm comfortable saying this is not a subjective matter). I plan to talk to my boss about a raise after I've been here a few more months, but yeeesh. I don't pretend to know why there's such a difference between us, but it really makes me wonder..

Posted by: dcgal | April 25, 2006 3:15 PM

As always, I am amazed at the rancor on this blog. I just wanted to point out two things to the many 'childless by choice':

1. You can Take FMLA if you want to care for your parents. yes it is unpaid but so is maternity leave. The solution is to make it at least partly paid so it is affordable for everyone to take the time off for family when they need it.

2. I am not advocating I get paid more for having kids. However, I do want to point out that my 'personal choice' to have kids is going to mean they will pay for your social security as well as mine when you are old, though you did nothing to raise them. Anyone want to opt out of that? Its not 'fair' either.

This is just a mean spirited discussion.

Posted by: mom of two | April 25, 2006 3:15 PM

There's way too much abstract talk about the "value" we place on "women's work." The core issue here is the cash compensation given to specific individuals for specific jobs. No particular woman's salary is based on some societal consensus about how much "women" are worth. Employment is a market, just like any other. Supply and demand drive prices. The number of people preparing for particular jobs, and willing to take certain jobs, is affected by how desirable we think those jobs are, and how much prestige we place on them. But when we talk about wage levels for humanities professors versus engineers, the bottom line is the supply of qualified people versus the demand for what they do.

Posted by: Get Real | April 25, 2006 3:23 PM

I don't think single people should be expected to work late or more. I don't think they should be expected to volunteer more, either.
I also don't think that it's only single people who spend half the day goofing off on the phone, there are slackers in every demographic. My point was the priority shouldn't be on how many hours you work but on what you accomplish in that time. There are always exceptions, some jobs are strict shift work, but in most professional jobs, performance is task and project related, not time-in-the-office.

Also, if an employee leaves early, it doesn't always mean that someone has to stay late. In my field, people have their own areas of responsibility, and work time off around deadlines. If that is not the case in your job, than prior arrangements should be made, I agree, so nobody is suddenly 'stuck.' If you are constantly being expected to work late or volunteer because you don't have a child, I'd look at the demographics in your office. Are you the only single one? Does your office expect you to do it because you are single, or because you say yes even when you don't really want to? No one can force you to volunteer or work late so somebody else can take off early. If that is your office's general policy, I'd find a new one, or bring it up to a manager. Or just start saying no, or coming up with reasons why if you have a hard time saying no, such as 'i can't, i have plans I can't break tonight' or 'i'm picking up friend from airport' or just 'ooh tonight's not a good night...'

Also interesting point about why there is a pay gap and the role that 'traditional woman roles' has to play in it. I'm going to check that book out, it sounds interesting. I believe that it's possible to even out the pay gap on an individual basis by being informed on salaries in your field, what your 'worth' is and negotiating.

One funny thing a friend told me, the best way to get a large pay increase is to move to a different company, because it's easier to change companies than it is to get promoted in a male-dominated field. She said the only time she ever gets large pay increases is by switching jobs. She doesn't skip jobs every two years, we all know it's not good to do that, and her comment was made half-in-jest, but it worked for her.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 25, 2006 3:24 PM

Rita,

I use the NBA analogue since only the most talented and those willing to sacrifice live that dream. I would say most men and women are not cut out to be CEOs and most do not want to subject themselves to the rigor of that lifestyle. Do not kid yourself on that aspect. I used to work at a large corporation and I saw what it took to succeed. I know work in academia and I see what it takes to really succeed here (i.e., president of college). Hey, its nothing I want to do either. As the SocProf stated men often have different support structures at home; consequently, it is easier for them to rise to the top than it is for women. However, that is a total different line of discussion than saying women should rise to the top based solely on statistical numbers.

Posted by: Numbers Guy | April 25, 2006 3:26 PM

Hey has anyone tried the wage gap calculator? You can get to it from the Amy Joyce article that Leslie referred to.

I tried it and it said that I am making 72% of what men are making in my job in my area. It also said that 98% of people in my profession (speech-language pathologist) in this area are female and 2% male (I think that is true across the US for speech therapy.)

I know that the salaries really can vary in different types of settings (public school, outpatient rehab, hospital, nursing home, etc.) and there was no way to account for that with the wage gap calculator. I can decrease my salary by over 25% by working in a school (better schedule but not really as much of a reduction in hours as it would seem to be at first glance) and I can increase my salary by as much if I want to work in a nursing home. So maybe in this job, the difference between men's salaries and women's has to do with where men and women choose to work.

Posted by: speechgirl | April 25, 2006 3:28 PM

To whomever said price discrimination is illegal in America based on gender... take auto insurance. Men pay higher (especially if you're below age 30). Prove it to yourself... go to progressive's website, fill in the info, get a quote... then go back, fill it with the opposite gender, leaving everything else the same. Shameless.

Posted by: Chris | April 25, 2006 3:29 PM

Mom of Two, I totally agree with you. May I add a point, we were all single at one time and in the work force as well. I don't recall being dumped on by married people with kids and I don't dump my work load off on anyone in my office when I take annual or sick leave. I either take it home or get it done before I leave.

Posted by: STM | April 25, 2006 3:30 PM

Gap Calculator Results
You currently make 22% more than the average White Non-Hispanic Male with your same job title in the county you provided.

After adjusting for age, education, and industry, you currently make 17% more than your corresponding White Non-Hispanic Male coworker.

Over the next 23 years, you will earn $300,318.49 more than your corresponding White Non-Hispanic Male coworker.

Your job in the location provided is 49% male and 51% female.

Posted by: No wage gap for me! | April 25, 2006 3:31 PM

Re: the social security issue, you're making a lot of assumptions there, foremost among them being that social security will still be around by the time I retire (35 plus years from now), or that I will be entitled to it (i.e., that it hasn't been means tested, reduced, limited in some other way), or that I will still even be alive, or that your kids will be working or living in this country, and on and on. I'm paying SS right now for people who "didn't raise me." If I were only paying it for the people who did raise me, it would take a much smaller chunk from my paycheck. SS is a benefit paid by society at large because of our societal interest in supporting the elderly. It's not the elderly's just reward for raising kids. And also, I'm paying into the system now, and will be paying into it until I retire (assuming again that the system still exists). I'm paying much more into it than I can ever expect to get out. So really, no, your kids will not be paying for my dotage.

Likewise, I support having my tax dollars go to help children whose parents can't afford to take care of them, or who don't have parents, etc. That's a policy issue. I'm talking about a personal issue - the superior attitude that many parents have towards non-parents. Also, many companies do offer paid maternity leave, separate from FMLA leave. I think that's fine, given that having a baby is different from anything else humans do. But don't come back from your maternity leave and expect everyone to not expect as much from you as they did before. That's just unreasonable.

Posted by: single female | April 25, 2006 3:33 PM

Fields where the main employees are women tend to make less on average than fields where men dominate, despite the demand or need for that field. It's assumed that women will work for less, and they tend to, because many still enter these traditionally women fields, where the payscales haven't really increased.

Look at daycare providers and childcare and teachers *to spare the 'but they get three months off, lets use teachers that work in year-long school districts.* They are not big wage earners. But we need them, desperately, in two-parent households. The employees in that field, however, receive little pay despite high demand. But the lack of importance we place on educating and providing for our children is another issue.

So I think it isn't too much abstract talk on the value we place on women's work, because as a society, women who do jobs traditionally viewed as 'woman's work' end up making less because the entire field is undervalued.

I hope somebody can say that better than I did heh.

As for working parents, I think the drive for 'family friendly' workplaces is based on economic need. Companies need these employees and these employees are saying we need family-friendly options. The companies want to wrench as much work out of every employee as possible, and by being family-friendly, letting parents telecommute when kids are sick or leaving early to attend a game with a 'i'll finish the project tonight at home' is one way of doing that. In a sense, it can be worse, because well, we carry the office with us everywhere.

There is a balance between work and life, for everyone, including the 'currently single' group. It just may take some a while to find it. Also, I don't think pay is ever 'fair' it really does have to do with how you negotiate, and hitting that magic place where you find a number that is higher than what you're being offered but not so high that the employer isn't willing to pay it. People who learn to negotiate salary early on make more in the long run.

Posted by: Observer | April 25, 2006 3:41 PM

My attitude is very different from Single Female's, but it does suggest a very basic question (which I think is separate from the question of how much an employer should pay for a particular job). Just how big should the "village" be that helps with the raising of a child - and just how much should the village do to help the child's parents?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 25, 2006 3:42 PM

I have also worked in big corporations and in academia -- I think I have a fair notion of what it takes to succeed in both. And I believe am as committed and talented as my male peers, and at least as driven. Yet there are few women out there who could serve as role models to me. Given a labor pool where the percentage of women is more than 2%, only 2% of women make it to top positions.

Oh I'm sorry, you're right. It must be due to the different "support system" women receive at home.

Posted by: Rita | April 25, 2006 3:46 PM

Oh, so while I think good negotiators make more money in the long run, I also do think that fields women dominate in make less than they should and that in the average business place, the higher you go, the more often you run into the 'you are a man with a family we'll pay you a bit more' and 'you're a woman who can have babies one day or get married, we'll pay you less.' Now, I don't think that employers are aware of the disparity, that they are consciously thinking that, but I think discrimination of that sort is insiduous, most aren't even aware they practice it. negotiation, than I'm curious to see how traditional women's fields can be considered 'more valuable.'

The good thing about the military? You can't negotiate your pay. Man or woman, it's based on your occupation and time in service.

Posted by: Observer | April 25, 2006 3:46 PM

i often hear that the children of others will be paying my social security. I am wondering how this can be when we have been told so often by our government leaders that the SS system will be out of money long before most of us on this blog get close to needing it. So who are those children paying for?? And if they're busy paying, how is it that the ss pot will be empty?

Posted by: Observer | April 25, 2006 3:50 PM


The SS post is another 'observer' but here's my thing.

If it's going to be empty, the SS pot, when I retire, then um, I don't want to pay anymore, so can I just opt out? ha ha ha

Really, we're just hoping one of our children emulates either Donald Trump or a sports figure, makes lots of money and funds our retirement, now THAT's investing in our future...

Posted by: Observer | April 25, 2006 3:53 PM

Chris wrote:
"To whomever said price discrimination is illegal in America based on gender... take auto insurance. Men pay higher (especially if you're below age 30). Prove it to yourself... go to progressive's website, fill in the info, get a quote... then go back, fill it with the opposite gender, leaving everything else the same. Shameless."

That's not price discrimination. It costs more to insure a male under 30 (statistically) than a female. After you go to Progressive's website, go to your county's website and look at the statistics on speeding, theft, accidents, and mortality. Then you'll see why there is a difference.

When you turn 30, your rates will drop. You might think that is age discrimination but you probably won't mind.

Later,

Posted by: LC | April 25, 2006 3:59 PM


Just wanted to say that I think men with families may make more, but I don't know why. I'm not sold on the 'because they have kids' line.

For instance, my husband and I made the exact same amount of money for more than a decade. We also made about the same as our co-workers who were our age, experience, family situation etc etc. Then, something happened. We had children, and I decided to stay home. What happened to me? Not much, just a drastic life-style change, income-change, and a slight frustration that people assume because I stay home I can a) cook and b) clean. I can do neither, but I'm great with the kids...
Now, what about my husband? Well, he got promoted. And raises. Now, he's extremely capable, but so aren't his peers. But for some reason, his career just rocketed, and he's grown professionally more in the past few years when I've been home with the children than when we were both working.

My take? He felt more pressure to provide because now, he's the 'it' guy for money. Without his income, doom. Because of this, he went after more opportunities at work, became a bit more assertive at looking for ways to move on and grow, and at one time, point blank told his boss what his goals were and wanted to know what he needed to do.
The flip side, did they see him now as a serious career-man with a professional future now that his wife stayed home to, as he said 'help him focus on his career while she takes care of the family and home side.'

Was it him? His employer? A combination of both? An actual increase in drive and ambition, or a perceptual one based on them, or a bit of both?

His take? He honestly feels the lack of distractions of dual-responsibility for sick kids, school closures, parenting, etc etc, freed him up to concentrate more fully on work.
Is the opposite true from women who have the career while their husbands stay home? Have their wages and positions increased?

Posted by: My experience | April 25, 2006 4:03 PM

Rita,

If as the SocProf stated that 90% of the engineers are men and looking at the resume of many CEOs (especially in IT, Chemical and manufacturing industries) many were engineers prior to their move to the top. Then taking years experience I would expect to see a much higher percentage of men than women. And yes factor in support structure at home and the number skews even more. Is there a glass ceiling? I would probably have to agree to what extent is another argument. What I detest is this throwing around of numbers that have no meaning. Its hard to address and issue if you do not have reliable data. How do we know our solutions will work if its based on poor data.

Posted by: Numbers Guy | April 25, 2006 4:06 PM

First, I am male and my working wife and I have one child. I am so tired of hearing these manipulated statistics that fail to normalize for contributing factors in the pay rates between men & women. The largest being that many women take time off, months or years, to spend more time raising children in their formative years. Of course, this fact alone will translate into lower salaries because on average women will have less work history than men. In my almost 20 years in various technical fields I have seen nothing but equal pay for equal work. BTW, my wife makes about 40% more than me.

I was going to write more but I see that many of the Post readers saw this story for the poorly researched, inflamatory, piece of garbage that it is and answered much better than I could have.

Posted by: Ron | April 25, 2006 4:06 PM

The comment about social secruity is not a good argument. Most people who work have 401Ks.

"I am not advocating I get paid more for having kids. However, I do want to point out that my 'personal choice' to have kids is going to mean they will pay for your social security as well as mine when you are old, though you did nothing to raise them. Anyone want to opt out of that? Its not 'fair' either."

Posted by: Scarry | April 25, 2006 4:10 PM

Numbers Guy,

Okay,I think I see your point here. I agree, numbers aren't perfect. My point is more that what I think we can tell from the numbers is that there is some disparity between what men and women make. I think this number derives from "sexism" whether that takes the form of not schooling our girls to be aggressive (or not valuing the way they negotiate), the support systems we culture men to give to women (women tend to do a lot more housework, even in double-income houses), the ways in which we legislate maternity leave (in many other countries it is "parental leave," also granted to men and is paid up to a year), etc.

Yes, numbers and statistics are reletive and can be maniuplated, but when I see statistics that are so exaggerated, like 2% of women are CEOs of Fortune 500 companies (and you'd think this statistic would be hard to manipulate...you just count up the female top honchoes), to me, it demonstrates that somewhere, somehow, things are not equal.

Posted by: Rita | April 25, 2006 4:16 PM

As I have read reports on this over the past 20 years or so, those reports have convinced me that this is the biggest pile of hooey going.

Reports I have read suggest that if you control for the same kind of work, education and continuous time in the workplace, women earn a statistically insignificant amount MORE than a similarly situated man does. That the reason for the gender wide disparity has more to do with the type of work women choose to enter and the fact that they do take time out of their careers for child-rearing. So absent such stupendeously riduculous notions like "comparable worth", where we begin to have a committee decide how much every job may be paid, women's choices about what kinds of careers to have (administrative work, library aides, teachers and the like instead of being union trade workers like teamsters, plumbers, carpenters, etc.) are the reasons you get this meaningless 77% number and a "day of rembrance" like today.

If you want to earn more money, choose professions/jobs where you can earn more money -- and stay continuously employeed. In otherwise, exercise the lack of choice that men receive when it comes to parenting and stop choosing to be a school teacher instead of a union electrician.

Posted by: Barry Crook | April 25, 2006 4:23 PM

another observation about female and male professions--in every single place I've worked, the physical therapists have been paid more than speech therapists.

Posted by: speechgirl | April 25, 2006 4:27 PM

Barry,

I'm sorry you evidently didn't have a choice about parenting. However, these days, many women are choosing to stay in the workplace and their husbands are choosing to stay home. I'm also glad you are capable of reading reports.

Posted by: Rita | April 25, 2006 4:28 PM

Rita's and speechgirl's comments summarizes the point of this whole thing. Things are are not equal. Even if performance were equal, the perception of better value (higher pay)is in the eye of the payer (employer). This is why some people pay a premium for "designer" clothes even though they're probably made in the same village in China than the clothes from Target.

The argument most people here seem to want to make is whether this wage gap needs to be eliminated by legislation and litigation.

I, for one, don't need more wage rules. See why the unions are failing their constituencies and in the long run the businesses that employ them. I'd rather stand and fall on my own, thank you.

Posted by: Paolo | April 25, 2006 4:29 PM

A dated, but interesting, discussion of this issue on Cecil's website:

http://www.straightdope.com/columns/020823.html


(You should discover this site if you haven't already).

This largely confirms what we already know - women tend to go into professions that don't pay as much. And the reason they don't is SUPPLY AND DEMAND, as Get Real said. This isn't because of some insidious plot to keep women down, it's just the way it is. Teachers get what they deserve, economically speaking, so do nurses, day care workers, etc., and so do construction workers, warfighters, truck drivers, and everyone else. You get what the market will pay you - no employer gives a rat's whatever about what your 'comparable worth to society' should be - you'll get paid based on your contribition to profit, revenue, reduction of cost, completing the mission, or whatever.

Posted by: JD aka Neanderthal | April 25, 2006 4:37 PM

Many high paying jobs effectively value the following traits in hiring (among other traits):

Willingness to work extreme hours
Aggressive drive
Type A personality

Those traits are of unequal distribution between sexes in the U.S; they are more common in men. As a result, employers may hire more men (thus decreasing womens' comparative salaries through supply and demand) or may pay the men more.

Are those employers discriminating?

Sure doesn't look like it to me...

Posted by: Erik H | April 25, 2006 4:40 PM

Rita,

IMHO I think the two biggest areas that need to be address are support structure at home and choice of profession (i.e., women need to be pushed into male dominated fields). I would note that those who rise to top are extremely driven and aggressive and that is one area I do not know how to measure and I do know if men and women have similar strengths. In a hostile encounter my male colleagues typically go for the juggler. Maybe we should remove the caveman from the boardroom.

I will note that due to storages in nurses the wages of nurses has risen dramatically in the last couple of years and this has also lead to increases in the number of males entering that profession.

Posted by: Numbers Guy | April 25, 2006 4:47 PM

Leslie,

I was just wondering if you are complaining about this issue for all of us poor women because according to you post yesterday, you are doing just fine.

"This thorny conundrum -- lack of equal partnership at home when I long ago achieved equality at work -- makes working motherhood harder than I ever expected. I've written him lists. I've complained. I've cajoled. I've begged."

Posted by: Anonymous | April 25, 2006 5:58 PM

"According to USA Today, women ran 2% of Fortune 500 companies, but I'll bet that more than 2% of women. I don't know, but I would assume that more than 2% of women workers are willing to work long hours to get ahead, to choose work over other things."

I agree that more than 2% of women are willing to work long hours to get ahead, but how many women aspire to be a CEO? There are different degrees of getting ahead, most of which do not equate being CEO.

Very, very few women (even ambitious women) are interested in giving up their families or lives to run a major corporation. Survey your friends. Survey your neighbors. Survey your co-workers.

Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett Packard, comes to mind. She sacrificed having children and her husband retired early so that he could support her in her job and run their household. How many women are willing to do that? How many husbands are willing to do that?

When I was a newbie at a "Best Places to Work" $50B company, I attended a Women's Network panel featuring upper-management women. The topic was "Balancing Work and Family." Two thirds of the women on the panel either sacrificed having children or had husbands who were full-time fathers. The other one-third had round-the-clock nannies and rarely saw their children.

That panel (and all the experiences I have ever had) confirmed that it's a matter of priorities. You can't have it all. There are tradeoffs.

Posted by: MBA Mom | April 25, 2006 6:00 PM

No way should women get paid more than nom-moms! You people on this blog constantly act like you were forced to have children and are now whining and struggling to deal with it. Why did you have them if it's such a struggle? Why not wait until you have things figured out? It's not fair to expect more pay and more flexibility from an employer because you choose to have children. It's no secret that being a parent is tough...don't do it until you are financially and emotionally ready!!

Posted by: nonmom | April 25, 2006 6:01 PM

I totally agree with this post Leslie wrote today.

Posted by: sammy | April 25, 2006 6:17 PM

The issue isn't about whether or not a mom should get paid more than a non-mom. In no world should pay be related to whether or not you are a parent, but on your work performance. So the statement "No way should moms *i think that's what you meant* get paid more than non-moms" is as true as "No way should non-moms get paid more than moms." To be quite honest, any smart women hoping to climb up the career ladder would avoid the subject of children at an interview. Women who need flexibility in the work place and are seeking a more balanced option probably can mention it.

What the main gist of this blog is though, is, do women, single women, mom women, non-mom women, married women, all of the variations of women etc. get paid less than men, single men, dad men, non-dad men, married men etc.

And, is it true that fathers get paid more than non-moms and non-dads and moms?

Should fathers get paid more than you and should moms get paid less than fathers? Should we base pay on status? That's the blog. Sometimes it gets lost in the side-conversations.

Personally, I think this is one of the more interesting blogs she's done in a while.

Posted by: Observer | April 25, 2006 6:26 PM

I saw a recent study that very rigorously evaluated the wage differential between male and female professors (and it was published in a peer-reviewed journal). They statistically controlled for everything imagineable--rank, age, type of university, field of study, number of publications, etc, etc. After all the controls, there was still about a 7% wage gap that can only be explained by some kind discrimination. That's on the order of thousands of dollars a year, not trivial at all. If people care about women at all, they would be concerned that any discrimination still occurs.

Posted by: young scientist | April 25, 2006 7:03 PM

Young scientist, you said it best.

Posted by: working | April 25, 2006 7:19 PM

I posted a comment about how I was with Leslie until the "women should make more, and moms should make more than non moms". I went back to work knowing that it would start a nasty war, with the singles being the evil, bitter, mean people that you have called Single Female and others, and the "my kids will be paying your SS when you retire" silliness would start. Well, vj, mom of two and bloggerbabe, I certainly hope so, since while you and your kids were swimming at the pool, or playing games, watching movies, napping, going on vacation, and having dinner together at a reasonable hour, I was working nights, weekends, holidays, family birthdays, 6 or 7 weeks in a row without a day off, getting my head whacked with a 2x4 by partners and clients. My lifestyle is modest, in fact, my home and furnishings are not as nice as virually all of my married friends, since single women are paid less than married men. I could not even have the small house I have if I hadn't put in the effort I have, again, since women are paid less than men.
I have worked VERY hard at becoming a CPA, I earn every bit of my salary and then some. I think you've forgotten that I contribute to Social Security, much of which I will never see, and also pay for children who lose a parent, widows, and mothers who never worked past the childbearing years. I also pay the property taxes that pay for your kids' schools, which I feel is the responsibility of EVERY citizen. I also contribute to a parochial school. I knew the smug sense of entitlement that marrieds have would come out, and that was my whole point! Leslie's blog was about EQUAL pay, not greater pay. What entitles you to MORE? Do you really think you are morally superior to me? Why? How can you not understand that being female or a parent does not entitle you to more, but just the same and equal treatment by an employer? I'm not asking for better treatment, like Leslie wants, just the same respect that Leslie wants.
I just came back from a NYC weekend with a friend who is a harried stay at home mom. I made sure we did what she wanted, since I can get away easier than she can. One big difference. She doesn't have that sense of entitlement, isn't bitter because I don't have children to raise. Pity you don't have her attitude.

Posted by: sitswithpentel | April 25, 2006 7:23 PM

For those who are questioning the data, why not look at female dominated occupations, and see what the average male makes there? Some years ago I remember that nursing (mostly female) paid men more in general for the same work that women performed. In the same jobs.

On a different note: I remember a former colleague wanted to hire me to work as a public relations exec at a software company. He was apologizing over the low (to him) salary, and said, "Your salary doesn't pay the mortgage anyway."

That he was a friend, he felt comfortable saying this to me. I was completely shocked, but I shouldn't have been. In many cases, this is how people think, even if the facts say otherwise, that both partners contribute to the financial well-being of the family.

And, my husband just became a teacher after two other careers(mathematics) in a mostly female department. He was offered a starting salary that would normally be paid to a woman with probably many years experience.

I'm grateful because I'm now a SAHM, but I'm not sure how I'd feel if I were one of the women who works with him and knew about the disparity.

Posted by: Kate | April 25, 2006 8:18 PM

Regarding men in female-dominated professions:

I've already mentioned that I work in a primarily female profession. I don't know how much the men make, but I have noticed some things about the differences between men and women in this profession.

Most of the women get their Master's degree and then spend the rest of their career doing direct clinical work. The men are a lot more likely to go on for their PhD. Regardless of their degrees, the people who are big well-known experts who go around giving seminars tend to include a lot more men than the general speech therapist population.

Posted by: speechgirl | April 25, 2006 10:01 PM

I liked someone's comment about letting your partner take the oars if you want him to row. I think Leslie is a good example of a woman who is creating a lot of extra stress for herself by being too controlling.

I've had this problem too and my husband told me that I could have things done by him or have them done my way, but that I usually wouldn't be able to have both. This really bothered me at first because I honestly felt that my way was the best way and I really didn't want to lower my standards.

But then I started listening to what I was saying to him and realized that I was hypercritical and impossible to please and that I was letting every little thing become huge and much more important than it really was.

Now I really try to keep my mouth shut and let him do things his own way unless there is something serious (a safety issue or something.) And I've noticed that he listens to me more now, because I'm not constantly yammering at him.

Posted by: control freak | April 25, 2006 10:11 PM

Yes Barry Crook, those nasty women are making up lies again, so you have nothing to feel guilty about and are required to do nothing.

Some men . . . kind of suck, in general.

Posted by: Smiley | April 26, 2006 2:25 AM

Young Scientist,

Academia is one field that is hard to quantify since it does not response so well to pressures of the market place; however, I would say it has made some progress as of late.
I would be interested in knowing the paper you read that showed 7% difference in pay.

When I looked at the paper from "Young Professional" concerning how fatherhood resulted in more pay and having sons also significantly increased your pay I was skeptical. I read through the paper (not pretending to be an expert in the authors' model). I found that the authors show no difference between men's pay who had daughters or son if you had more than couple kids it was only significant if you had one and that child was a boy. The pay was different mostly because the men tended to work longer hours than their peers. The authors can only speculate at that point as to why. Maybe the authors need more replication. In addition, the part of the study that showed significant differences in pay rate for men having sons was also skewed somewhat since the authors readily admitted that the data set was biased since there was disproportionate amount of sons reported as opposed to daughters (i.e., the number of sons vs. daughters was out of balance to the general population) and that data was much older pre 1950.

In academia its hard to gauge what the maket rate is for a professor. Should a young competent assistant professor make the same as a full professor? The young assistant professor may publish more papers, have more grants, and carry more students than her full professor colleague but her salary will be grossly undervalued compared to his. Did the study control for declining productive levels with age? We have a few older professors at my department who would have been forced out if they worked in the private sector, but due to tenure remain. These all happen to be men. In the private sector this would not be tolerated as it is at the university level, which is why corporate research Ph.D.s are younger than their counter parts at the university level. I believe average age for a Ph.D. in corporate R&D is 45 compare to in their 50's at Universities. It is extremely hare to come up with sophisticated models to actually concern for as much as you claim they controlled in their study.

Posted by: Numbers Guy | April 26, 2006 8:05 AM

After looking at my post I wonder if I should get tenure. The last sentence should read: "It is extremely hard to come up with sophisticated models that actually control for as much as you claim they controlled in their study."

Posted by: Numbers Guy | April 26, 2006 8:21 AM

I want to offer a comment on something that Leslie said and that really resonated with me. Nobody else has picked on that so far.

"The most demoralizing, frustrating fact is that it's so hard to bring about greater equality at work and in government on a mom-by-mom basis. Especially when many of our most high-powered, best-educated moms lose clout when they stay home with kids (There's nothing wrong with staying home to care for kids -- what's wrong is that women who stay at home often lose power to bring about change. And the women still at work suffer from the diminished number of moms at high levels)."

I left a fairly high powered job (in DC terms) for a mommy track job and a few women colleagues said to me that they were sorry to see me go because when women issues are discussed they wanted women in the room at the table who could make decisions. I left because my employer did not want even to consider flexibility. I fought for it and I lost and in that particular career if you lose you go.

Leslie is right. If we don't have high powered working mothers in the workplace, the involved mothers, not women who delegate the upbringing of their children to nannies and grandparents, we can blog until we are blue in the face and nothing will change in the workplace.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 26, 2006 12:43 PM

"I was working nights, weekends, holidays, family birthdays, 6 or 7 weeks in a row without a day off, getting my head whacked with a 2x4 by partners and clients"

That's your choice, honey.

Posted by: vj | April 26, 2006 12:46 PM


It's always the single person's fault on this board isn't it?

"I was working nights, weekends, holidays, family birthdays, 6 or 7 weeks in a row without a day off, getting my head whacked with a 2x4 by partners and clients"

That's your choice, honey.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 26, 2006 1:35 PM

"I left because my employer did not want even to consider flexibility. I fought for it and I lost and in that particular career if you lose you go."

Your former employer placed a higher value on someone who was there all the time, as is their right. And you chose the mommy track, as is your right. I don't see a problem here.

It all comes back to choices and priorities, for both the employee and the employer.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 26, 2006 2:29 PM

You are missing Leslie's and my point -- had I been able to stay (and if more women like me stayed in their high powered jobs) we would be changing the culture of the work place. And it was already discussed ad nauseum on this blog that "being there all the time" and actually being productive and contributing are not the same thing.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 26, 2006 2:39 PM

It seems that it's only the men who think there isn't a disparity in wages. Get real, guys.

Posted by: Unreal | April 26, 2006 3:40 PM

" If we don't have high powered working mothers in the workplace, the involved mothers, not women who delegate the upbringing of their children to nannies and grandparents, we can blog until we are blue in the face and nothing will change in the workplace."

This is an interesting point. Got me thinking about how segmented our lives can be. How our roles as wives or mothers (or sisters, friends, daughters, what have you) rarely overlap with our roles as workers. Unless, of course, they're interfering with one another.

Posted by: Friend | April 26, 2006 3:47 PM

WHINE WHINE WHINE
Try being a single african american mom in the deep, deep south, making less than 25k a year. Guess what? It's my choice-I made MY decisions, so I have no need to complain. This is not Sudan, or Iraq, or any number of places on Earth-this is America, and no one on this blog is in imminent danger of being hacked to pieces by machete, or watching your children slowly starve to death. Don't like your life?
SHUT YOUR MOUTH AND GET TO WORK ON CHANGING THINGS!

** And I must agree with a previous post-Leslie doesn't respond to any of the feedback. Perhaps she doesn't understand that's how a blog typically works.

Posted by: jackst | April 26, 2006 3:59 PM

"You are missing Leslie's and my point -- had I been able to stay (and if more women like me stayed in their high powered jobs) we would be changing the culture of the work place."

I do understand your point. My point is that isn't it the employer's prerogative to determine the "culture" of his workplace?

Posted by: Paolo | April 26, 2006 4:06 PM

"It seems that it's only the men who think there isn't a disparity in wages. Get real, guys."

I don't diasagree. There is a disparity in wages. But I don't agree that its due to an inherent bias against women that most people are extrapolating from these generalized statistics.

If people chose to investigate, there probably would also be disparate wages found between all males and all females within the same industry; for example, general practitioners vs. surgeons. You will find however, that these "specialties" are lumped into the same statistical job classification and no further breakdowns are provided. Please see speechgirl's posts regarding the causes of wage disparity within her industry.

Posted by: Paolo | April 26, 2006 4:20 PM

"My point is that isn't it the employer's prerogative to determine the "culture" of his workplace?"

No, I disagree. It depends on who has more power. In a buyers' market when there are more workers than jobs (like today) the employer has more power to determine workplace culture. But in a sellers' market (like the late 1990's) it's the workers who have more power to determine workplace culture. Just look at how the popularity of flex time and other worker-friendly policies boomed during the dot-com era when labor was short.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 26, 2006 5:26 PM


During interviews, I never bring up my children, and employers never ask because it's against the law. I know some do, but they aren't supposed to. The same about your marital status.

When I return to work, my explanation for absence will be explained by my role as a student pursuing a master's degree rather than a woman who left to take care of her young children. Both are equally true. But the first will be more likely to get me an interview and/or hired. The second isn't really a potential employer's business, just like it isn't their business how many children I have.

I feel that women who have children aren't looked on as being as 'professional; as a woman without children, so I do my best to come across as 'professional' about my job, leaving all mention of my home life out. I may get dinged for taking a couple years out of the workforce, but I'll be less dinged if my absence was due to my pursuing an advanced degree rather than staying home for a couple of years because daycare costs are so high it's cheaper to get an advanced degree. *In my field, most of the jobs require at least a master's anyhow so I'm not losing 'professional ground' by being one.

Sure, eventually people will find out that I have children, and might be grumpy, but well, they'll get over it. Oftentimes an interview is about marketing your positive skills and downplaying your negative ones. The feeling on this blog is that employers perceive moms negatively, so I will downplay that aspect.

Problem solved.

On another note, employers set up the corporate culture, yes. Employees have a choice to work there or not, and do affect the corporate culture by their needs. Employers who have a hard time finding good labor will make policies that attract them.

The more women that become educated and try to advance in the workplace while maintaining some flexible options while they have young children, the more employers will cater to that talent pool.

The good news is, if you don't want to work at a place that has a corporate culture that caters to parents, you don't have to work there! And vice versa.

One thing I notice when I browse through websites of jobs that I'm interested in... most of the companies talk about how family friendly they are. They must recognize that there is a large talent pool in the 'have family' segment to be trying to market their corporate culture as 'family friendly.' I mean, there's no law that says they HAVE to advertise that way...

There are a lot of 'non-family' friendly companies, too, of course. The good news about that is non-family friendly companies can't hire or fire you based on your family life. So during your interview, DO NOT TALK ABOUT YOUR CHILDREN. :)

Posted by: Returning to work | April 26, 2006 9:00 PM

Oh, right, I thought the name "Leslie Morgan Steiner" looked familiar. You're the author of that new book on how haaaaarrrrrrd it is for rich yuppie women to raise children, aren't you? So ably taken apart here by Sandra Tsing Loh:

http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/prem/200605/mommy-wars

Maybe if more yuppie mommies took cues from articles like this one...

http://www.law.com/jsp/law/careercenter/lawArticleCareerCenter.jsp?id=1145885172140

...their careers wouldn't suffer as much. Oh, but wait, then you wouldn't get to feel all SPEHSHUL and martyr-like because you're a Working Mommy.

Posted by: Tired of Entitlement Parents | April 27, 2006 8:05 AM

Surveying the comments I was struck by the "business-like" lack of compassion of so many people. Sad that the human herd has been so indoctrinated by "business" balderdash. Problems will increase until some nurturing and community values in society overtake the competitive craziness we've all accepted thanks to corporate brainwashing.

Posted by: Lots of Tough Talkers but Where's the Compassion? | April 27, 2006 9:49 AM

Tired of Entitlement Parents

I can't open your first link, but I opened the second and all I can say is, i'm glad i'm not a lawyer. Also, you forgot to put white, "rich yuppie women." Usually, people who are compaining about people like Leslie say that.

And you know what, if an employer can't go an hour or two without calling you, like when your watching your kid play soccer, who needs them!

Posted by: Scarry | April 27, 2006 10:33 AM

Why is the assumption being made that it's only single people who don't have children? There are plenty of married, childless men and women in the work place.

As far as the parents claiming that it's their kids who will be paying the the childless people's social security, my husband and I have planned well in advance for our retirement. Instead of worrying about funding our non-existant kids' college education, we've funded our future.

Posted by: Childfree&Married | April 27, 2006 11:45 AM

So the choice is between working for a "family friendly" company where you will be expected to sacrifice your free time to help the parents in the office, or working for a "non family friendly" company that just expects everyone to sacrifice their free time all the time. Great. Guess I'd better start having some babies if I want to feel justified in having a life. I can never be a "real woman" without having them anyway, right?

Sheesh. We've come so far as a society.

Posted by: single female | April 27, 2006 12:09 PM

To Lots of Tough Talkers...

You know where the compassion comes in? In individual conversations between employers and employees. At my past job, the 'culture' was work work work and work, but when I ran into the problem of daycare issues and needing to not work late all the time, I discussed it with my manager, who assured me I wouldn't be penalized and in fact, was viewed as a 'go-to' person who would solve problems and get things done, and as it turned out, I didn't suffer. However, that being said, when I asked for flex-time options with less hours, we sat down and discussed what I needed and wanted and what that would mean career wise, and what it came down to was a very workable, fair solution. Of course, because I wasn't working full time, I wouldn't get to just be a part-time manager, but I didn't lose out because it was a compromise we both were satisfied with.

The tough-talk changes when an individual worker who is valued asks for concessions. Now, not all managers are open-minded, but more and more are getting there.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 27, 2006 12:12 PM

single female,

You can't let these people on this board bother you. You shouldn't have to work extra for me or any other parent. It's good that you stand up for yourself on this board and at work.

Posted by: Scarry | April 27, 2006 12:16 PM

Lets change family friendly to 'life friendly' or 'employee friendly' where employees are recognized as valuable assets that need to be retained rather than disposable commodities.

The point of a family friendly company is that the culture is one that doesn't force anyone to sacrifice their free time for another. It values its employees and recognizes that putting too high a premium on work and little value on personal time creates a burden on the employee, results in burned-out employees, and actually decreases production.

The reason they are called family-friendly is because many parents are drawn to this culture, not because it's a place where single or childless employees can bear the extra burden.

The culture and company is set up so that if a parent leaves early, they can accomplish their work at home, or come in early the next day, or work from home if their kid is sick but not so sick that they are administering TLC and medicine all day. It would also allow a single person time off to care for a sick relative, to handle a personal matter, etc etc.

I still don't understand why just because a parent leaves for work you have to stay behind. I've never had anyone have to stay becuase I left early. If I worked on a project, I made damn sure my contribution was such that it wouldn't set anyone behind. Most parents I know do this.

As for the "non family friendly" companies that just expect everyone to sacrifice their free time all the time, well I don't like those companies either, and think they place too little a value on the employees.
They usually have high transiton rates because employees get burned out and leave.

Non-family friendly companies are bad for everyone, but it seems most of the people on this board work for one of those companies. I understand it's the norm in some fields, but it does suck. I agree. But the only way to handle that is to decide if what you are doing at work is so satisfying that you can take the abuse, or if you want more of a personal life because the job isn't personally satisfying. I know a lot of single and childless people who look for jobs with more of a balance, and some that love their profession so much, they consider it worth it.

As for you having babies and working for a family friendly company? So not the point. Maybe we could change it to 'employee friendly company' or 'life values friendly company' or something. The point is these companies exist because they recognize their is a large talent pool of people that want a career where they can balance their life and their work. It just so happens parents are more likely to actively seek them out.

As for you having children to feel like a real woman? I don't think anyone suggested that not having children makes you less of a woman.

Sheesh. We've come so far as a society.

Posted by: Clarification | April 27, 2006 12:37 PM


Interesting comment from a friend:

I get paid to work for a certain amount of hours per my aggreement on being hired with my employer.

If you feel obligated to work late, that is your perogative, however, I view it not that I'm leaving early, but I'm leaving on time. There are times when I will work extra for a project, but overall I get my work done, and leave. Those who stay often feel they 'have to.'

If I am paid to work 60+ hours, I would work those hours, but I'm being paid for my skills, not for the hours. If I were being paid for the hours, I would get hourly wages. Being paid on a salary basis is due to my skills, not how many hours I can put in.

This woman works in hi-tech and makes a craptonnalotta money but is still home in time to be with dinner for her family. Go her. Others at her workplace don't work long hours, because it's not necessary. They get their stuff done and leave on time. Time managers... love em or hate em... if they work overtime, the employer gets grumpy...

She shopped for her job. I think more people should do that.

Posted by: Friend's point of view | April 27, 2006 12:54 PM

I have a wonderful employee, a woman who changed to part time when she had a baby, and plans to stay part time until her child goes to school, some 3 years from now. All employees in the same job/years of experience get the same pay.

I have a supervisor job open, and I want to promote her. This job requires full time attendance, we cant have a first line supervisor who works 3 days a week. She is now struggling with the decision as to whether to go full time and take the promotion at a higher pay level, or not.

If she takes the promotion now, she will advance in her career, and be set up for a second level supervisor or manager position somewhere down the road. If she doesn't take this job, someone else will, and it may not be available when she is ready.

How does this fit into some study about women and wages? This is entirely her choice. If she doesn't get the job, should I go for the next best person even if that is a man? Or should I go for the next best woman?

Posted by: real world manager | April 27, 2006 2:19 PM

I don't even get this conversation. If women are paid less than men then they have two choices: work for themselves (like I do) or demand a higher pay scale. Discrimination comes into play when you have no control over the issue (such as your skin color). You can't be discriminated against if you are the one accepting the unequal pay.

Get off your butt and change the situation or don't bellyache about it. I am a woman and I can't stand women moaning about this and that but not taking action.

Posted by: Bonnie | April 27, 2006 3:13 PM

Two corrections: Childless, My maternity leave at a major company was classified as short-term disability for my 8-week, doctor-authorized recovery, (I'll spare you the details as to why I got 8 instead of 6 weeks). That means it would be the same as if a childless person had major surgery, was seriously injured or had other health problems that qualified for short-term disability. I also took another 4 weeks of unpaid leave under FMLA, for the total 12 weeks that FMLA allows. I also took unpaid leave under FMLA a few years back to help care for my mother, who was undergoing breast cancer treatments. Most working mothers I know had to take the same route for their maternity leave. I don't think many moms get to just take 3 months and still get a paycheck.
Father of 2: Yes, they can charge different rates. I just set up insurance coverage for my husband's and my new small business through a major, national carrier and the rates are divided by gender and age, with women's coverage AT LEAST twice what a man the same age would pay. We chose to split our family and insure myself and our son under one policy and my husband on another to save money. Call any major carrier and ask for a quote for a 30-year-old male and a 30-year-old woman and you'll find the same thing.
Might be different in other places, but that's my experience.

Posted by: smallbizmom | April 27, 2006 5:23 PM

The old 77-cents-to-the-dollar saw is a notorious red herring generated at such a macro level as to be almost meaningless. The mere threat of lawsuits has stabilized corporate compensation packages between genders, and frankly if you sign up for part-time then you get paid part-time. So many women seem to respond to the "working mother" thing like it's some grand conspiracy put in place by corporate America (read: men) to punish them for wanting to have it "all". It's not. The simple fact of the matter is that if you constantly vanish into the ether for maternity leave, or adhere to deadlines set by your children rather than your employer, then you are not going to be perceived as worth the top cash. For example, one female attorney here would notoriously depart at 6:00 pm on the dot every evening regardless of whether there was a pending filing or her work was completed, even going so far as to often drop her half-finished work on another's desk with the remark "I'm turning back into a pumpkin." As a result, the male attorneys taking up her slack tended to get more hours in, better reviews, and larger bonuses. This was the opportunity cost to her of running off to take care of her kids rather than having a sitter watch them for a few hours and attending to the job she voluntarily accepted.

Issues with gender roles and employment are never, ever going to go away. If you want to spend more time raising your kids, either man or woman, then you must accept a decrease in your career prospects. And I can guarantee you that there is someone in your circle of co-workers who works harder than you do and won't appreciate you complaining about your "raw" deal.

Posted by: Irresponsible Speculator | April 27, 2006 5:42 PM

That statistic is distorted by people for political purposes. If you compare side by side comparisions woman make the same as men. It is when you put other facts in the pie that kind of statistic comes out. Its a comparable worth statistic. It comes from the same source that brough us the statistic that men beat their wives more after the super bowl.

Posted by: Niceday | April 27, 2006 5:45 PM

One of my favorite family stories. While in college my sister worked for a small law office making $7 an hour. Upon her departure, she recommended me (her younger, also in college, brother) the job. I was paid $9 an hour. She screamed bloody murder and to this day rants about gender discrimination. The thing is, I had asked for $12 and she had asked for $6.

Posted by: Little Brother | April 27, 2006 8:31 PM

I just wonder if everyone was on the job and getting PAID while posting on this blog.......

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