It's a Logic Gap, Not a Pay Gap

The pay gap, again?

This time Carrie Lukas, vice president at the Independent Women's Forum and author of "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Women, Sex, and Feminism," weighs in that the pay gap is actually a good idea in A Bargain at 77 Cents to a Dollar.

"I have a good education and have worked full time for 10 years...throughout my career, I've made things other than money a priority. I chose to work in the nonprofit world because I find it fulfilling. I sought out a specialty and employer that seemed best suited to balancing my work and family life...I'm not making as much money as I could, but I'm compensated by having the best working arrangement I could hope for...Surveys have shown for years that women tend to place a higher priority on flexibility and personal fulfillment than men."

Fine. Great. I agree -- kind of. I, too, have made decisions in which I asked for and got flexibility instead of more money or a promotion so I could have more time with my kids.

That doesn't exactly mean it was my choice to get paid less. I was just making the best of a tricky situation. My employer, like most, required me to be at work during practically every hour my children were awake despite the fact that I did not need to be physically at work to get the job done. I "chose" flexibility over more money because it was the only way I'd get to help my children grow up. Employers have far more leverage than little old me, despite the lack of logic in the insistence that good work is done only at the office during set hours.

Other surveys, reported in articles like the New York Times' Scant Progress On Closing Gap in Women's Pay, have shown that the gender disparity in pay is wider among college graduates and that a tiny number of women who've made it into the top tiers of management. This is especially puzzling because as employees move beyond factory, retail and service jobs into managerial and executive positions, more flexibility becomes possible without sacrificing job performance. And a few vanguard companies such as Best Buy have shown that when you give employees flexibility in their workday, productivity increases. There is an argument here that employees who can work flexible hours are more valuable than those who need to be at their desks in order to work.

The main flaw in Lukas' argument is that you can't call it a choice when every other door has been slammed shut. This is moral and sociological quicksand. Nearly every mom I know has the drive, smarts and desire to keep working once she has kids -- but not necessarily between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., the normal work window, coincidentally the same time period our kids need us, too. I happen to believe that most women are not "choosing" to get paid only 77 cents for every dollar men make working at the same jobs. Faced with a small decision set, moms who are lucky enough to have choices often make the same bargain I did -- kids over money. That doesn't mean the pay gap is good or justified.

The other question mark here: What about dads? Does accepting the pay gap mean that only women are entitled to choose time with our kids over more money? Are men obligated to keep choosing, as Lukas writes, "to focus more on pay" than personal fulfillment since someone in the family has to earn the money that enables women to make such noble choices? Wouldn't men, women, children and employers be better off if we were paid for the quality of work done, regardless of the chromosomes of who did it, when we did it and where we work, as long as we get the job done?

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  April 9, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Conflicts
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I choose a lower-paying job so I would have my evening and weekends to myself (and now the time is for my family)

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 7:12 AM

Yes -- there are a lot of us, including men, making this tradeoff. To a certain extent, when it is truly a choice, this is good. But it's dangerous to say ALL women who make less money are making this voluntary choice. It's classic twisted logic -- I can just hear it now -- "it's okay that there is a pay gap, because women are really CHOOSING to earn less" when a lot of women are really just making the best of a woefully limited set of choices.

Posted by: Leslie | April 9, 2007 7:25 AM

I think it is discrimination, pure and simple, to pay a woman less than you would a man for the same work. I have no idea how anyone in their right mind could justify it. That's all I have to say about that (for now).

To the first poster, you are talking about making a conscious choice to earn less because you want increased flexibility. Apples and oranges.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | April 9, 2007 7:41 AM

Certainly if men and women are doing the same level and amount of work with the same level of flexibility, then pay should be equal. But more flexibile jobs do come at a cost. I am looking to take a lower paid position to reduce stress, enjoy what I do, and allow myself to get out the door at 3:30 each day. To me the difference in pay is worth it.

Posted by: foamgnome | April 9, 2007 7:43 AM

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the 77 cent statistic is the median income of all women working full time versus all men working full time. It does not compare the compensation of women and men working the SAME job.

Posted by: johnson | April 9, 2007 8:06 AM

I'd like to see some comments today or in a separate blog re: the op-ed over the weekend that concluded women with children should not be in the military. I believe the author was Kathleen Patterson?

I will not say anything further about the column or characterize it in any way b/c I don't want to give away the content (or my feelings about it). But, the mother -and I only say mothers b/c that was the focus of the op-ed- in the military is certainly an extreme form of balance.

Posted by: JS | April 9, 2007 8:08 AM

Federal Tax day is April 17 this year.

Posted by: Taxman | April 9, 2007 8:10 AM

foamgnome hit it on the head. I am a male, and make less than my female colleague because I choose to work an earlier shift. The reduction in stress of the earlier times is absolutely worth it to me.

Posted by: earlyinearlyout | April 9, 2007 8:11 AM

If more women realized they could take matters into their own hands and join the 10.6M of us that have started our own business, the gap would be a non-issue. If an employer won't or can't give you what you need, go out and create the environment yourself!

A warning, though: just like being a parent, owning a business is the toughest job you'll ever love!

Posted by: ParentPreneur | April 9, 2007 8:13 AM

look I changed my name so as not to be confused with the "regular" Chris...

if you choose to have children then that choice results in a set of needs that people who do not choose to have children do not have...this goes for men or women

flexibility, time off because kids are sick or have a school play, wanting to be at home to help them grow up are just a few of those results.

Choosing flexibility over more pay is a choice. You could have chosen more pay and would therefor be making the same as a man or a woman who chose more money.

It is time to accept that there are consequences for the choices we make. Women with children tend to make less because their uninterrupted time in a job is less so their experience is less and they require more flexibility than other employees. Sure, some men are the primary care givers and make these smae choices but for the most part it is still women caring for the kids that is where most of the discrepancy comes from.

To say that every other door was slammed shut is false; you could have chosen to bot be home with your kids.

No one said a choice had to be easy to in fact be a choice.

Posted by: Chris1458 | April 9, 2007 8:17 AM

"I think it is discrimination, pure and simple......"

It is! And until something is done about it, it will continue.

Equal jobs, equal requirements, equal pay.

Posted by: John Q | April 9, 2007 8:22 AM

Well said, WorkingMomX.

Re: what the pay gap really measures. Most references to the pay gap cite Labor Department data comparing the median wage of women who work fulltime with the median wage of men who work fulltime. The measurements do NOT average in pregnancy or maternity leaves or people who work part time; these factors do not explain why women make roughly 3/4 what men do.

The Labor Dept also issues statistics broken out by age and education level. You can compare specific groups, as the NYT article cited in my entry did:

"Last year, college-educated women between 36 and 45 years old earned 74.7 cents in hourly pay for every dollar men in the same group did...A decade earlier, the women earned 75.7 cents."

Posted by: Leslie | April 9, 2007 8:23 AM

The author of the article wanted to tell women that they can make as much as men if they pick the right field (engineering, etc) and work the same hours as the average man in their field. This is useful info for a couple reasons. It lets us the average woman know what they need to do if they want to earn an equal salary today, and it also points out that it's pretty hard to have balance with two high-earner parents in the household. This information can be used as a starting point for social change, or it can be used to justify women staying home or taking a lower paying job. The problem in my view is that there are so many qualified applicants for each good-paying job, companies don't have to offer flexibility to lure high quality candidates. Sure, long hours scare off some people, but there are too many others who will sacrifice their personal lives in order to secure a good job.

Posted by: AB | April 9, 2007 8:26 AM

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/06/AR2007040601549.html


Here is the article that JS referred to.

Posted by: Royal Navy | April 9, 2007 8:29 AM

Ms. Parker is trying to set the notion of equality of woman back about 100 years. Taking her arguement to a logical conclusion, the US should immediately discharge all of its female members.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 8:33 AM

BTW, there is total equality of pay in the military. What a specific rank makes is what all others of that rank make.

Posted by: 8:33 | April 9, 2007 8:35 AM

While this use to bother me, it doesn't anymore. I am more interested in working in an environment that lets me have a balance. I need a certain level of income to achieve the basics in life--bills, retirement, kid's college, and a rainy day fund. The other things just don't matter.

What does matter to me is time. Time with my child and husband, sitting around laughing and enjoying life. Work is secondary and a means to an end. Because of this I work in a non-profit that gives me awesome benefits and seems to get it--to a point.

So take the extra .25 and work 14 hours a day. It's not for me and not what I want. Work is not life. All you end up with is wearing a really nice suit when they put you in your coffin.

Posted by: Nutty Mama | April 9, 2007 8:38 AM

The problem with the "pay gap" stories and statistics is that they don't take into account the reality that salaries and pay are based mostly the perceived supply and demand. If the perception of those doing the paying is that there's a high demand and limited supply for a skill, then salaries are high and working conditions good. If the perception is instead that there's a massive oversupply and limited demand, the payers can safely offer lower pay and (if they want) less optimal working conditions, knowing they'll still get the employees they need. That's not the most enlightened way of running a business, in my opinion, but it's the reality.

Even when I was a fed, the pay for engineers, computer scientists, and mathematicians was higher than for, say, analysts and linguists at the same grade. There were special pay scales; a GS-9 engineer made more money than a GS-9 program analyst. The reason? Because engineers were harder to get; the pay had to be bumped up.

Any effort which attempts to identify different but "equivalent" jobs based on qualifications to get into the field is doomed to failure. A PhD in some foreign language typically takes 5 years beyond a bachelor's degree to get; it takes 3 years to get through law school. So, by some analyses, it's harder to get the PhD and thus PhD language experts should make more than (or at least the same as) lawyers. How many lawyers out there, male or female, are willing to take pay cuts to the level of a PhD language expert?

Now, if you find that for a specific field (e.g. aerospace engineers with Master's Degrees) there's a salary difference between men and women, even after controlling for all other variables, then you've got a pretty good case for an unequal system, and you can probably talk about discrimination. But there hasn't been much evidence of that - in fact, the last data I saw showed that in some fields, including aerospace engineering, women typically make more than men when all other factors are controlled for.

If you really want to address discrimination and unequal treatment, stop comparing apples to oranges; and identify the real issues so that they can be addressed.

Posted by: Army Brat | April 9, 2007 8:50 AM

Please realize that there is still pay discrimination that is not based on women CHOSING to work more flexible jobs at therefore a lower pay.

Last year I found out that three of my male colleagues that I supervised were making 20% more than I was. Obviously I was pretty perturbed by this and went to speak to HR. Although they didn't say that it had to do with sex, when I brought up the topic they were very quick to admit that it was a problem and worked with me to fix it (thankfully).

I love my job and don't like to think that this discrimination was intentional, but I do think that it was discrimination. I work in a male-driven profession (accounting), and although things are changing and 50% of our workforce is female, only 10% of the partners are female. That means that the people making the salary decisions are mostly male.

Anyhow, I don't know what the answer is, but I don't think that the entire pay gap is related to women chosing more flexible jobs.

(and for the record, my company has an amazing flexible work policy granted equally to all employees, male or female, parents or not. We are allowed to work from wherever we want, whenever we want, as long as we get our work done. Obviously sometimes you have to work at client sites, etc. but in general we have a lot of power to create our own schedules)

Posted by: Carifly | April 9, 2007 8:55 AM

What's interesting is not that flexible jobs pay less (duh) but that women are overwhelmingly the parents taking those jobs. There would not be a gap if men and women were equally taking these flexible jobs.

This article shows not that women love their kids more and are willing to give up money but that women are expected to do so, and men must toil at the jobs with the rigid schedules so they can "provide." This article reflects societal expectations.

Posted by: Meesh | April 9, 2007 8:59 AM

What is interesting to note is that I was paid some 20-25% less than my co-workers. It was not a job performance issue in that my job performance was always ranked high and acknowledged by coworkers. I was the person that other employees asked the hard questions to provide a solution. Management just liked the other employees better. BTW, all of us are male.

(No, I don't work there anymore.)

Posted by: anon for today | April 9, 2007 9:09 AM

Too many people are focused on making more money, not focused on what is enough money for their needs. It is all about knowing what is really important to you (and the younger you are when you figure that out, the happier you will be!)

Posted by: just a thought... | April 9, 2007 9:11 AM

I don't see anything offensive in Lukas' comments. She's merely pointing out that people have the option to take a less flexible but better paying job or a more flexible but lower paying job. Think of it this way: a lawyer can draw a six figure salary fresh out of law school by taking a job at a big firm -- but it will require really, really long hours. Or, that same lawyer can trade the high salary for work-life balance and take a job at a nonprofit (just as Lukas mentions). I don't think this is a men vs. women/equality issue -- both male and female lawyers can and do make this very personal choice.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 9:14 AM

Colour me paranoid, but if women on the whole are paid less than men, then wouldn't it make it harder for fathers who WANT to stay home (or take lower-stress & lower-paid jobs) to do so?

It's like society doesn't REALLY want either gender to have real options.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 9:14 AM

As a father of two young children, I work flexible hours at a "progressive" company, while my wife works more traditional hours. Six years ago, our careers were both on mid-management track. We wanted to devote more time to our young family. Mostly due to her superior health-care benefits, and the fact that shift-work was available where I'm employed, we decided that I would move to part-time hours (30+ a week, starting at 5:30 a.m.).

What we didn't foresee, was the impact it would have on my career. I've been sidelined. Now that the children are reaching school age, I want to resurrect my career, it seems I've become irrelevant.

I'm sure there are many women and men out there who've found the same. What's funny is, at my "progressive" company, the women who choose to back off the career track for the mommy track, seem to find it a lot easier to resume their careers. Sour grapes? Sure, but I'm not looking to start a gender war. Though I'll say that coming from a privileged white, male background, the situation is tough to swallow. Others seeking balance, both men and women, should be warned.

Posted by: ms | April 9, 2007 9:15 AM

If you made a choice, you made a choice. Don't expect the world to change for you.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 9:16 AM

ArmyBrat, The gender problem these days is more about how the other variables you control for--the ones that do affect pay--are affected by gender. Few people economists argue that ubiquitous sytematic gender discrimination exists.

Posted by: bkp | April 9, 2007 9:17 AM

Carifly, was it a case of you had been there a while and the three employees you supervised were newer, or had you all been there a while?

I think it's a lousy way to run a railroad, but in the seven years I've been in private industry now, I've found that a lot of (most? ) companies work the same way. Current employees get targetted raises (typically somewhere between 1 and 5 percent; with 3 percent an average) and it's very, very hard to make an exception to truly reward an outstanding employee. New hires, however, are paid market rates, which are often higher than the current pay structure, which means that new hires coming in to the company often make more than the current employees. Many times, the only way to get a current employee a big enough raise to make things equal is for the current employee to go get a job offer from another company - to keep from losing a valuable employee, the company will match another offer, which can involve a 10 to 20 percent raise.

My brother in law is a program manager with one of the largest aerospace companies in the world. Because of his duties, he gets to see the salaries of those working for him, because he has to budget based on the per-hour costs. So, he knew that everybody working for him (male or female) was making more than him, even though they were all junior and less qualified. He went to the HR department and said "let's straighten this out. I can go looking for another job, get a job offer and bring it to you to match - or maybe I'll find an offer so good I won't let you match it, I'll just leave. Or you can just give me the pay increase needed to set things right without a competing job offer, and save all of us some time." They immediately recognized the situation and gave him a 20% pay raise.

So, I was wondering if that was your situation, as well. To me it's a lousy way to run a railroad, but it's fairly common.

Posted by: Army Brat | April 9, 2007 9:19 AM

There has been no discussion of the fact that traditionally "female" jobs pay less than those in traditionally male-headed fields. Saying that the solution should be for women to "choose" to stop teaching and start engineering is backwards. We should recognize the importance of professions such as these that have an enormous impact on society and make sure they are compensated accordingly. Obviously, this won't erase the pay gap, but it would be a nice start.

Posted by: rcmann | April 9, 2007 9:22 AM

Leslie, I think you're being too hard on Lukas and missing a major part of the picture. The overall point she was trying to make was that the "77 cents to the dollar" statistic was highly misleading. And, in fact, it IS highly misleading. It is very difficult to figure out exactly how much money men and women make for doing the exact same job with the exact same amount of seniority across the entire country and industries/jobs.

That is not to say that you haven't made a good point about flexibility, but you should be interested in the truth on issues -- not just flogging some tired old argument based on a gigantically misleading statistic.

Posted by: Ryan | April 9, 2007 9:29 AM

All I can say is that Lukas is right on - neither women nor men who are on both the mommy (daddy) and career track should expect to make as much as those solely on a career track - if you are looking for balance, who can't expect to make as much money. Its pretty simple and logical - of course, a woman (or man) shouldn't be hired at a lower salary simply because it is assumed she (he) might be gone for extended maternity leaves or quit after a baby. Its not fair for people who are devoted to their careers to have others who aren't paid the same amount of money. It's all about choices.

Posted by: WAMC | April 9, 2007 9:30 AM

Army Brat, I did start working about 6 months before the others (although one was there three month ahead of me) and at the same level. Then I received a promotion, with a 10% pay raise (they did not). And later found out that I was still $8K less than they were making. So unfortunately I don't think that your brother-in-laws situation applies...

Posted by: Carifly | April 9, 2007 9:31 AM

rcmann, philosophically I agree with you, but that's not how the market works. I'm biased; my mother was a high school teacher for 35 years before retiring; my sister has been teaching elementary school for 25 years; my niece is in her junior year as an elementary education major; etc. etc. So I'm all for higher teacher pay for a variety of reasons.

But the reality is that teacher pay is largely set by perceived supply and demand. The school board/state and county governments figure out how much money they need to pay teachers, then they collect taxes and balance other budget interests (police, fire, infrastructure, parks and recreation, etc.) to figure out what they can afford. The goal is to pay the teachers enough so that you get the number of quality teachers that you need, but no so much that you harm the other services you have to pay for (police, fire, parks, etc.) or that your constituents refuse to pay that much in taxes and vote you out of office. So, if the county can demonstrate that they're getting "good enough" education at a pay rate of X, it makes very little sense to pay X + some additional amount.

The solution would be to change the perception and demonstrate that the educational system could be improved significantly by paying X + some additional amount - that is, we'll get more and better teachers with the increased pay. Then, the taxpayers understand the increased value and will willing pay the extra funds.

But the fact that a bunch of us think that teachers are underpaid and deserve to be paid more than lawyers because they contribute more to society isn't going to make it happen.

Posted by: Army Brat | April 9, 2007 9:34 AM

Maybe this is an ignorant question, but, at least I feel, a legitimate one: when we're talking about a tradeoff between flexibility and disparity in pay, are we talking about a pro-rated amount based on actual hours worked? In a past job I made the choice to work 30 hours a week and got paid for just that--30 hours a week. Even though I wasn't an hourly employee, that was fair--I was working 30 hours and should have gotten paid for 30 hours. The fact that I could do the same amount of work as a full-time employee working fewer hours was a benefit to my company but I was hardly in a position to lobby that they should be paying me the same that they'd pay someone who was able and willing to work 40 hours.

In my case I was most definitely choosing to take a flexible job for less pay. Had finding a place that would pay me a full-time salary then let me work part-time been an option, of course I would have taken it! The notion that it is somehow society's responsibility to help women "have it all" by paying some kind of premium in recognition of the fact that she can do the work of an employee who logs in 60 hours a week at the office while she

Regardless of whether a woman--or a man--can be as productive as a full-time employee while working reduced hours, it is not society's responsibility to pay some kind of premium to the people who chose such a schedule. That's the same rationale as deciding that women--or men--who stay home to raise their kids should be paid a salary because they are doing a debt to society by raising their own kids as opposed to leaving it to daycare providers to raise them--yeah, there is definite validity to that notion in theory, but it would never happen, nor would it be reasonable to expect it to happen.

A choice is just that--a choice--and by nature involves picking one thing and losing out on another, and that will never change. Isn't this what we're supposed to be teaching our kids when they want this, that AND the other--that they need to pick one and be satisfied?

Posted by: mbl | April 9, 2007 9:34 AM

There has been no discussion of the fact that traditionally "female" jobs pay less than those in traditionally male-headed fields. Saying that the solution should be for women to "choose" to stop teaching and start engineering is backwards
___________________________________________

As teaching is a profession that is predominantly funded on a state and county level, all citizens could make this happen. Recall that women constitute over 50% of the voting electorate.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 9:38 AM

Carifly, then I agree it's a different case than my BIL's and I agree you had a legitimate complaint.

Posted by: Army Brat | April 9, 2007 9:40 AM

This could not possibly be sexism at work. If I could truly hire women at 77 cents on the dollar to do the same work, I'd hire all women. Talk about a classic no-brainer.

But the fact is women are being paid the same thing for the same work. The danger of looking at aggregate data is that you can't use it down at the micro level without first removing all the extra "stuff" that gets (or doesn't get) worked into the aggregate.

Does the aggregate account for:
* Women who start their own businesses? (and therefore make more than men, rather than less)
* Women who take a few years off while their kids are young? (Remember, you're giving up years of experience... years that can make you more valuable and worth more money)
* Women who go part time?
* Women who prefer stability over job-hopping? In my experience, men are more likely to job-hop, and new hires are often paid a premium with respect to their longtime-employed peers.
* Women who don't negotiate for higher pay (I actually had to tell my wife that she could do that and encouraged her to. She got herself a huge raise. Go figure. Seriously ladies, if you don't ask you don't get.)
* etc.

In all my year working, both at other people's businesses and at my own, I have always seen women getting paid the same thing as men FOR EQUAL WORK. If you want to work part time, if you want to take time off while your kids are little, if you want stay with the same company forever, realize that you are giving up some dollars.

Don't like it? Start your own company and manage it however you want. I know several women who have, and they find it to be very rewarding.

Posted by: Bob | April 9, 2007 9:49 AM

I worked in a large company with a lot of professional technical employees. While discrimination against women in pay and promotion was very evident when I began working in 1970, it seemed nonexistent by the time I retired this year. If anything, the younger women were advantaged compared to the younger men as the company sought to to embellish its EEOC stats.

We had flexible work arrangements, although 99% for women; most men who applied for such consideration were turned down. The other employees in the department always paid a price for the chosen employee's flexibility. Working 3 days a week with full benefits yields both a higher benefit rate and fewer hours per day worked. The part timers worked 24 hours and logged it faithfully, but for the rest of the salaried employees a standard work week was expected to be 50 - 60 hours. Mothers who 'couldn't' travel added to the travel load of others in the department. Non-mothers like time at home with their families also, and a lot of travel time is on your own time -- fly out on Sunday, get back home at 10:00 PM.

One woman in my department had a deal where she worked 3 days a week, could not travel, and worked 1 - 2 days a week from home. It seemed her 'could' had more to do with her husband's wishes than both halves of the couple making an effort on child care. Work at home with two young children is not as productive as work at work. One 9:00 AM staff meeting was interrupted at 9:15 by the sounds of her having breakfast with her husband and kids, having forgotten to mute the phone. Listening to a staff meeting as background noise is not the same thing as 'working'. She can say she doesn't 'need' to be physically present for the meeting, she can participate via speaker phone. But then, everybody attending that meeting would appreciate the same opportunity. Not going to happen. She is treated the same for salary and promotions as those who pick up the load for her.

This is not a gender thing. Married and unmarried female employees without children seem to log as many or more hours than the men and take their fair share of the onerous trips. The women who expect to remain childless are actually more steamed by the mother treatment than the men.

Posted by: retired | April 9, 2007 9:50 AM

If you made a choice, you made a choice. Don't expect the world to change for you.

Posted by: | April 9, 2007 09:16 AM


No, expect to change the world instead of taking it lying down, like bitter Anonymous at 9:16.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 9:50 AM

The argument that women are earning less because they are "choosing" more flexible jobs works when we're talking about professionals who make a lot of money anyway. To take an extreme example- a woman lawyer who decides to cut back her hours and therefore "only" earns $100k/year, instead of the $200k that her male colleague is earning- I'm not sure that this is something we need to wring our hands about.

But at the other end of the income scale, the pay differences matter. I'm willing to bet that among the jobs available for less skilled workers, the ones traditionally done by women pay a lot less than the ones traditionally done by men- and not necessarily for any good reason.

Posted by: randommom | April 9, 2007 9:52 AM

Women don't necessarily get paid equally with men even in traditionally male fields.

Speaking as a single woman with no kids who has been in enginnering and computer science - women are definitely not given the same opportunities and mentoring in these fields that men are even when the woman has no kids and no intention of having them. Pay at a specific level might be equal for men and women (even though I doubt that even that is true) but women don't have the chances to move up that a man does.

Also, pay does not work by supply and demand. In the 80s I worked in healthcare as an engineer. There was a shortage of nurses, nurses were badly underpaid, but nobody would consider paying more money to get nurses. This has finally changed for nurses. I see the same thing with teachers - maybe someday we'll wake up and see that if we want the best people to be teachers then we will pay for it. (I don't mean to knock teachers - many smart competent people I know chose teaching but most of the smartest kids I knew in high school and college wouldn't consider it because of the pay.)

Posted by: dai | April 9, 2007 9:52 AM

It is important to keep in mind that the stat reflects only people with full-time jobs. Flexibility in this sense means working 6-3, or 4 10-hour days in exchange for a day off. I think the people working 30 hours are excluded from this stat.

This is important to me because it means that the women are putting in the same hours, just on a different schedule. It makes it harder to justify paying less for the same amount of work.

Posted by: Meesh | April 9, 2007 10:00 AM

We had a situation at my firm recently that illustrates this problem. We have two branch offices, of roughly equal size. One has a male office administrator who has 16 years of experience in the field and no degree. The other has a female office administrator with 23 years of experience in the field and a 4-year degree. Until very recently when she was accidentally sent the entire salary report we use to determine increases for all staff categories, she made $22,000 less than he did. She saw the report on her own category and realized that she wasn't even making the average salary for a smaller office. She was too polite about her request for an increase, and is now a mere $10,000 away from his annual salary. Both administrators are equally effective and well liked in their offices.

I have from time to time had half a mind to send her proof of his salary and tell her to proceed with legal action.

This particular case is only one of many that I've seen in my career. It's just the most recent.

So to those of you (mostly men, I suspect) who think that women are being paid on par with men for the same work, you're wrong. I don't know what to do about it, because employees at most companies/firms are restricted by written policy from sharing salary information with co-workers. But it is absolutely happening.

Posted by: HR Rep | April 9, 2007 10:01 AM

The situation ArmyBrat describes at 8:50 AM -- that at high levels of formal education (e.g., Ph.D.), certain academic fields pay better than others -- has been well-documented, including recently by the American Association of University Professors in their report, "AAUP Faculty Gender Equity Indicators 2006." See abstract at: http://www.aaup.org/AAUP/pubsres/research/geneq2006.htm

The entire report is also available online at:
http://www.aaup.org/NR/rdonlyres/63396944-44BE-4ABA-9815-5792D93856F1/0/AAUPGenderEquityIndicators2006.pdf

But bkp and Carifly also make excellent points, namely that not all examples of gender inequity can be explained solely by choice of professional field.

Posted by: catlady | April 9, 2007 10:07 AM

HR Rep makes a good point. Do any of you know how much your co-workers are making? I for one have no clue. It could very well be that the men at my level are making more.

I have a vision of ostriches with their heads in the sand. Here is a stat based on actual numbers. Very few people know what co-workers make. There has been a long history of sexism in this country. There is lots of anecdotal evidence backing all of this up. Yet people still insist on trying to explain away this stat.

Why is that?

Posted by: Meesh | April 9, 2007 10:09 AM

If there is equal work being done, the salaries should be the same. However, I do take issue with the idea that a flexible schedule results in a pay gap.

Carrie Lukas said, "I'm not making as much money as I could, but I'm compensated by having the best working arrangement I could hope for..."

and Leslie said, "I, too, have made decisions in which I asked for and got flexibility instead of more money or a promotion so I could have more time with my kids."

In both cases, they are not being paid in cash, they are being paid in benefits. This sounds like a case of wanting your cake and eating it too.

Posted by: LM in WI | April 9, 2007 10:10 AM

From Ms. Lukas' article:

"When women realize that it isn't systemic bias but the choices they make that determine their earnings, they can make better-informed decisions."

*snort* Give me a break.

I am a specialist in web site development; basically, I make sure real people can use sites - including those with accessibility needs - and some advanced "mechanic" type work to fix the supposedly un-fixable.

I know my worth, and as hard as I ever negotiated at each new job (which was pretty damn hard), I never made more than any man in my department. And this was when I was single, not really dating, and a workaholic! And I usually had more experience, actual leadership skills, and after a few years, there was a national web site architecture award on my resume.

Some of us did not choose flexibility - some of us chose career (at least for a time - illness has made me choose flexibility now, not my marriage). And we still got paid less. Trust me, there's still some systemic bias, Ms. Lukas.

Ms. Lukas, perhaps working within the rarified atmosphere you have in your past and inside what appears to be an exclusively-female environment for the past 3+ years has buffered you from the actual realities of day-to-day women. (Her bio - http://www.iwf.org/experts/ex_lukas.asp) There's a big divide between that academic ivory tower and life as the rest of the world knows it.

There's a reason I work for myself now - I get paid what I'm worth. And it's a pretty penny - actually, many pretty pennies. I would never have made the hourly rate I do working for someone else....but a male colleague certainly would have.

Posted by: Chasmosaur | April 9, 2007 10:13 AM

Meesh makes an excellent point about employers encouraging employee secrecy about salaries. At some workplaces it's actually been against the rules to divulge one's pay to colleagues -- obviously making it possible for employers to get by with paying discriminatorily.

Posted by: catlady | April 9, 2007 10:15 AM

While I understand that some of the work situations related to the pay gap are in fact discriminatory, some of the problem is women not taking care of themselves in the workplace. Many times I find that women are too scared to ask for what is fair in terms of working conditions as well as pay. I know I am going to get chewed out for this but it's like those women who stay in cruddy relationships because they love the creep.

During last year's performance review period, I asked for a raise, while pregnant and two months before going on leave. I got it. Why? Because I based my request on current market conditions and my work performance from the past year. In fact a project I worked on was featured or mentioned FOUR times in their Annual Report. How could they tell me no? In fact, my salary has grown at an annual percentage rate of 10% while employed at my current job, and I work for a nonprofit.

When I came back from leave-as a parent and a woman-I asked for part-time, tried it and realized I was doing 40 hours worth of work in 30 hours. The trade off wasn't worth the sacrifice. So I went back to full-time to get the money. Again, that decision was made by me, not them.

In my field I am paid very well and I make sure that my skills stay competitive. Currently I am looking for a job closer to home. When talking to potential employers and asked about salary I tell them what I currently make and what I would be willing to leave for. Why? Because I don't want to sell myself short nor waste my time interviewing for someone who won't recognize my worth. BUT I am also willing to maybe make a little bit less if the benefits and work-life balance are better than my current situation-which is pretty good. My commute just sucks.

So women, stop whining and go out there and get it! If you are told no then leave and go to someone who will treat you right.

Posted by: Nutty Mama | April 9, 2007 10:16 AM

Oh - to those who ask how we know how much our colleagues are making?

I personally worked in the dot-com world. The young men were indiscreet. They let *everyone* know what they were making...

Posted by: Chasmosaur | April 9, 2007 10:16 AM

First, I echo the point that you've got to compare similar careers, educational backgrounds, and localities before you can really show any discrimination. Statistics demonstrate that women fill positions in nursing and teaching at much higher rates than men, and these professions are both sorely underpaid in society. Nursing, eg, is so underpaid that, in the DC area, it has become a recognized healthcare crisis, as younger workers are refusing to enter the profession.

But this raises a rather obvious point: IF a woman gets paid 75-77% less than a man for doing the EXACT SAME job at the EXACT SAME skill level ... then you've got to explain why companies would take an additional cost structure of 25% (actually more, when you consider benefits) per employee to hire men over women. Sure, you can say that it's companies run by men protecting their own, or something, but that doesn't hold much water, especially when you consider that *shareholders*, regardless of gender, would never stand for a seemingly arbitrary cost structure that high.

Nor is this limited to corporate jobs only. I dare you to find me a union job that discriminates based on gender.

Posted by: JB | April 9, 2007 10:18 AM

While I think the pay gap is unethical and unacceptable, there are other factors, too. In many instances, men ask for more when negotiating salary, benefits, etc. Many women don't, and no employer is going to offer the highest number right out of the gate. Ask for more in the beginning, and then keep asking along the way to keep up with the market.

Employers do a bad job with keeping up with the market, perhaps intentionally. So an employee who has been around awhile will suffer and lag behind new hires, who ask for and get higher salaries. Push your HR department or your boss to do market surveys and adjust salaries for long-tenured employees; most employers don't want to become known as a place that loses employees for money alone.

Finally, I think we need to be careful about labeling every example of pay inequity as discrimination. There are many reasons women may not be paid as much as their male colleagues, and few (if any) reasons are legitimate. But "I make less AND I am a woman" isn't discrimination -- "I make less BECAUSE I am a woman" is. In my experience, approaching the problem as inequity, bad business, bad management, etc, gets you farther than throwing around "discrimination" because the latter puts the employer on the defensive and in a mind set to fight an unsupportable allegation. While your salary is important you you and frequently at the top of your mind, it may not be fair to expect your salary to be at the top of everyone's mind. So be proactive and see what happens.

Posted by: Still new at this | April 9, 2007 10:19 AM

Leslie, now that you are a top manager, what do you do to help parents get crave that flexibility you so prized? You have a greater understanding and compassion for this issue than many bosses, male or female.

Posted by: Ritamae | April 9, 2007 10:19 AM

"...employees at most companies/firms are restricted by written policy from sharing salary information with co-workers"

FYI, courts have generally held that these policies are not enforceable, unless there is some extreme reason to keep this info secret. These policies were frequently enacted PRECISELY FOR THE PURPOSE of keeping female employees from finding out they were earning less than their male counterparts.

So go talk to your coworkers and compare your pay statements! My coworkers and I do.

Posted by: Kay | April 9, 2007 10:20 AM

A bad company will be one where pay discrepancies exist. If I can go elsewhere and make much more money, then I (presumably) will. But, yes, for people who like flexibility or benefits that a position supplies, they won't look elsewhere no matter what the pay is that they can get (well, maybe not if it is a lot, but you get what I mean). If you want to keep good people you need to pay them correctly and have them not even think of looking elsewhere. That is how a good business is run. But if I can get more money, and I have headhunters calling me all the time offering it, then (again, presumably-depending on what is important to me), I will eventually leave.

Posted by: atlmom | April 9, 2007 10:24 AM

To pick up the thread about the tradionally female fields making less I could not agree more. It is not just teaching but nursing, social work, childcare. These are all fields that are critically important to our society and reflect what we claim to be most important in our lives but the people in the profession make very little money in comparision to other professtions.

And the positions in these fields that do not require a degree such as the nursing aides, and daycare workers barely make more than miniumum wage. Whereas a roofer or highway worker makes significanly more money per hour. There was a trend during the welfare to work hayday to encourage women to enter these higher paying traditionally male fields. Which to me is so sad. Why should the sick, elderly and young not be given the same do as roofs and roads.

Posted by: Raising One of Each | April 9, 2007 10:25 AM

On the same note, I made considerably less than a male collegue (similar education, I had 2 year more experience) at my last company, and when I brought it up to management was informed that a. we shouldn't discuss salaries and b. he had a family to support (two kids + stay at home wife), and my husband and I didn't have kids. Needless to say, I immediately started job hunting, got a better offer and despite a matching offer from my current company, left. He also took advantage of FMLA after the birth of his second child, and I often covered for him as he left early to help out his family when they were sick, etc. The funny thing is, I didn't mind the extra work because I figured that someday my husband and I would have kids and it was good job karma, but geesh, I was making 20% less. With other women in the company who had kids, they were willing to give flexible schedules, but when I asked them, they doubted that they would have received an increase in pay when they had kids if their husbands stayed home or took a reduced schedule to raise the kids. Many of the women I know who have flexible schedules (and my male collegue) easily put in the needed hours and then some to do their jobs, and I don't think the flexibility cost the company - in fact, in offering flexibility for lower salaried employees, I think they made money because they kept experienced productive employees.

I'm not saying this happens all the time, but I don't think 'husband is breadwinner' is dead yet either.

Posted by: Novi, MI | April 9, 2007 10:28 AM

Thank you, Chasmosaur, for illustrating precisely why salaries shouldn't be kept secret. Like with domestic and sexual (and all other forms of) abuse, the abuser is enabled to continue getting by with the abuse as long as s/he can intimidate victims into silence. It's the same pathology, simply transferred to the payroll.

Posted by: catlady | April 9, 2007 10:28 AM

"...you've got to explain why companies would take an additional cost structure of 25% (actually more, when you consider benefits) per employee to hire men over women."

First of all, women aren't being discriminated in the hiring process, so men aren't being hired over women. Second of all, the logical extention of your reasoning means that employers would volutarily not hire 50% of the workforce. Men would not have jobs. But that is not the case. In reality, corporations have to hire men because they are half of the applicants. They can't get by with just women. Plus, men would cry discrimination if only women were being hired. And I think your dismissal of the good ol' boy network is a little quick. I think that men get the jobs and promotions because they "have a family to support" and women are just playing at work and don't really need to contribute to the family finances (haven't we heard that here on the blog?).

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 10:29 AM

to all who whine about this problem, just get a sex change operation.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 10:31 AM

Comparing pay stubs with your co-workers is a slippery slope. People are receive different final pay based on many factors that may not be shared at the same time you share paycheck amounts. Besides different deduction amounts, factors such as prior work experience, technical skills, and annual performance reviews result in major pay differences.

Posted by: hardworkin gal | April 9, 2007 10:31 AM

women are just playing at work and don't really need to contribute to the family finances (haven't we heard that here on the blog?).

Posted by: | April 9, 2007 10:29 AM


Tell that to single moms who are the sole supports of themselves & their families.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 10:33 AM

Oops, that was me at 10:29.

Posted by: Meesh | April 9, 2007 10:34 AM

As teaching is a profession that is predominantly funded on a state and county level, all citizens could make this happen. Recall that women constitute over 50% of the voting electorate.

I am just wondering why everyone thinks that teachers don't make enough money? My neighbor is a teacher and he makes as much as I do and has the summers off.

As far as today's topic goes, I know that some people who were hired after me make more or near what I do. It's not sexism, it is an HR issue. New hires tend to come in making more than what I did when I was a new hire.

Posted by: scarry | April 9, 2007 10:35 AM

It seems to me that companies often now say
the following.

If Bob or Jane doesn't need to be in the office
to do their job, then I can send the job offshore.
This is already true in IT and some other areas and
everyone I know says that in the near future, a
significant percentage of jobs that don't require
face time with customers will simply follow
programmers offshore. Before you tell me that YOUR
job is different because YOU have SO MUCH TO OFFER
just remember that so does that 20 something living in India and she works for 30 cents on
the dollar and not 77 cents on the dollar.
The conculsion is that we will all have to be
in the office 8-10 hours a day or accept the same low wage someone offshore accepts. Sorry it's just the reality of a globalized world.

Posted by: AG | April 9, 2007 10:36 AM

I had a job a number of years ago where I definitely was highly underpaid-they knew this wehen they hired a new person in my dept (they didn't know what to pay me either, so they based it on my old salary, even tho it was a difft profession and a diff field). I made, at the start, 14k more than my last job (so yes, I negotiated well). When they hired someone else, they knew that I needed a raise(my boss pushed for it cause he didn't think it was fair, but btw, both I and my new coworker were and still are women). So I got a mid year 10k bump and a 10k bump at review time. They knew that I could go get anothere job and they rectified the situation as soon as they could.

Posted by: atlmom | April 9, 2007 10:38 AM

One of the things I miss about the military is knowing how much you were getting paid... however, one of the things I like about being a civilian is knowing how much MORE I am getting paid. :-) I do wish there was more transparency between peers. Why is salary such a taboo subject? If we feel we are earning our keep, it should be no big deal? Unfortunately, I can answer my own question- some people will feel they are not fairly compensated when compared to someone else. What if they are not doing as much, or performing at a higher level? That would become common knowledge and people's feelings would get hurt... we can't have that now, can we? ;-P
However, full transparency may not be the best option. HR/accounting departments need to set fair standards and there needs to be a whistle-blower channel to investigate or report what appear to be obvious discrimination cases... Unless more people are willing to take action about problems, the problems will not go away.
That said, if more women went into business selling baked goods really cheap they could undercut the giant corporations peddling muffins/confections to us at over $2 apiece and help contribute to the expanding American waste-line, and make more money. ;-P

Posted by: Chris | April 9, 2007 10:39 AM

AG part of my job can be done from home - part can't. So in asking for flexibility I am not encouraging my job to go offshore.

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | April 9, 2007 10:40 AM

Okay, I have to clarify the last sentence of my 10:29. It was meant to portray the thoughts of bosses, sort of TIC. I certainly do not feel that way. Of course women contribute to the family finances! We wouldn't have a house if I didn't work. Sorry to create confusion.

Posted by: Meesh | April 9, 2007 10:40 AM

Scarry: I actually think teacher's don't make as much because their job is so important to society. I also think we looked at the pay schedule and they start off below a lot of professional fields but at the end of the career, they make a decent (not great amount). But I am not sure all jobs deserve the same pay just because they provide a useful service. I do think there should be higher pay for jobs that are less desirable. Such as engineering. I think we have less engineers because people do not want to study math and science. Why shouldn't they pay more because they were willing to do a job that most people are unwilling to do? I don't think a lot of people are willing to teach. I think there is a large retention problem in teaching. I think it is important and very hard job to do. Maybe they should be paid higher in the beginning but level off at the same point.

Posted by: foamgnome | April 9, 2007 10:41 AM

Ritamae -- At my last two jobs at The Wash Post and Johnson & Johnson, I gave as much flexibility, regardless of employee gender, as possible.

I had two employees with very long commutes, one with a new baby and the other a childless 50+ woman, and I gave them both the option of shifting their hours to avoid traffic or working at home.

I had another childless male employee with a very serious hobby that required late night rehearsals and performances several months of the the year -- he got to come in late and work late on those mornings-after.

One mom - a star performer who never missed a deadline -- wanted to hire a nanny for her three kids, but the nanny had to leave early on Wednesdays, so my employee did too.

I found these accomodations very easy to make, with little pain to my group. Everyone was treated like an individual. I tried to be fair.

The problem with this approach is that it is sometimes hard to institutionalize individual treatment. I had 15 direct reports in my group; a small size. The only place I've seen accomplish this fairness/flexibility on a broad scale is Best Buy, which lets all employees work flexible hours as long as they get their work done. I am sure there are other companies out there tinkering with flexibility. If you work for one please let us know.

Posted by: Leslie | April 9, 2007 10:41 AM

"So to those of you (mostly men, I suspect) who think that women are being paid on par with men for the same work, you're wrong. I don't know what to do about it, because employees at most companies/firms are restricted by written policy from sharing salary information with co-workers. But it is absolutely happening."

This is so true. I am a professional woman and I did not chose a "mommy track" and yet, I am certain I earn(ed) less than my male colleagues at least at the start. Here are the reasons (some already cited):
1) Women, especially junior women, are less likely to negotiate for better pay and terms
2) Women are less likely to be mentored and so are not given the same opportunities as their male counterparts--opportunities that would give them recognition and experience for getting positions and advancing
3) Pure discrimination still exists (I've seen it first hand in a place I used to work and was told that "she doesn't need the money as much as he does")
4) Professional men are more likely to have wives who either stay at home or who are on the mommy tracks so are perceived as being "like me" with regard to the leadership (e.g. boys club)

I am now considered a senior woman and I see the "mistakes" that I made as junior person. I try very hard to mentor younger women through these issues. I put mistakes in quotes because I don't think I did anything wrong---I just suffered from the problem of males in position of power who discount the value of women. And if you add a petty tyrant in the picture, a woman's career can suffer through no fault of her own.

I'd love nothing more than enlightened leadership both in the education sphere (for inclusive mentorship) and in the working world. Until leaders (both men and women) expect the same from both their male and female employees and treat them equally, women will earn 77 cents to a man's dollar.

Posted by: working mother | April 9, 2007 10:41 AM

"I do think there should be higher pay for jobs that are less desirable. Such as engineering."

since when are engineering jobs less desirable?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 10:43 AM

I don't think it matters what kind of job you do or whether you are in the office or not, if your company wants to send your job to India, it is as good as gone.

I mean factory workers have to go to work everyday sometimes working 12 hour shifts, but they ship their jobs overseas.

Posted by: scarry | April 9, 2007 10:45 AM

Oh, and with regard to advancement--there are all kinds of issues with regard to the differences between men and women with regard to communication and work styles. I'm in an all male situation right now and it's been a tough adjustment. I am often neglected or an after thought for many activities. It's like there's a boy's club and I'm too female for it. They're nice "boys" but a bit clueless when it comes to these issues.

Posted by: working mother | April 9, 2007 10:45 AM

I'll flip Leslie's points around...it'll be nice when companies AND SCOIETY AT LARGE regularly allow men to make the same choices that women have without raising eyebrows.

It has been said many times here previously that men just don't as easily have the choices and flexibility that women enjoy (RebelDad and a small minority aside). When those choices become more equal, then maybe then the overall pay gap shrinks. And then, once again, both men and women will have that better chance to be "On Balance".

As another poster pointed out, it generally isn't same pay for same work that is unequal (though wherever this exists it is wrong), and despite the anecdotes offered here so far this morning. What's sad to me is how this subject is generally misused to push an agenda that is damaging, ironically more often than not to the folks who offer it.

Because anyone who thinks you can suspend the laws of the marketplace is wrong. If a company can get an equivalent employee at a 25% discount, they are going to take them. The logical part of everyone's brain points this out to them, if they truly consider it. So this 77% "figure" is used for whipping up the appropriate crowd (rather routinely and effectively, I'm said to say).

As a side note, I loved the article JS mentioned up at the top, as I had read it myself and intended to mention it, but I'll come back with another post on it shortly.

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | April 9, 2007 10:46 AM

The American Medical Writers' Association published a survey of salaries last year in their members' journal, that found that even after compensating for every factor they could think of, including years away from work, part-time work, productivity, etc., that women still made significantly less than men with comparable qualifications. So I think the problem for women is even worse: when calculating whose career must come second, women are handicapped from the start, since on average they will bring less money into the family than a spouse with the same qualifications, even if they are working the same job for the same hours and being equally productive. Thus, in a rational analysis of what choices will bring the most family income, the woman's job will generally be less of an asset than the man's, even if they are equally great employees. So it is not all a matter of women "choosing flexibility" or not wanting to work 10 hour days. I think the pay gap forces married women with children out of good jobs and out of the job market.

Posted by: m | April 9, 2007 10:48 AM

Depends on the engineering field. Some, like electrical and computer engineering, are growing. Others, such as mechanical and civil, are shrinking.

As for salaries and disclosing them to your coworkers, that's a quick way to create a lot of animosity in the workplace. In my office there is a strict pay scale, and once a new hire is on it, that's where he'll stay (no government funded performance bonuses for us!). However, many of us older workers have gotten performance bonuses in the past, as well as salary adjustments to match our peers in the private sector, so our salaries often are on a higher pay scale than others with fewer years (but doing the same job).

So, when someone inevitably finds out what another's pay is, he goes running to the front office and says "xx makes more than me, what are you going to do about it?"

The answer is usually "nothing; we don't have the funds to give anyone a pay raise or salary adjustment."

Posted by: John L | April 9, 2007 10:49 AM

I am not quite sure how I even feel about this situation, but I work in IT and while the vast majority of my colleagues are men there is pressure from management to get and retain women. The last two women hired both got pregnant within three months of being hired. One was pregnant twice in 3 years and for one of the pregnancies she was out 7 months. In the meantime, the remaining members of the group had to pick up their work plus their on call. Both have left altogether now to stay home with their children. I don't mind equal pay for equal work, but in this case is it the same work?

Posted by: Mike | April 9, 2007 10:49 AM

to catlady:

>>>>Thank you, Chasmosaur, for illustrating precisely why salaries shouldn't be kept secret. Like with domestic and sexual (and all other forms of) abuse, the abuser is enabled to continue getting by with the abuse as long as s/he can intimidate victims into silence. It's the same pathology, simply transferred to the payroll.<<<<

Um...what? I'm a little confused about how my comments implied I was being intimidated to keep my salary quiet. I'm lucky in that I don't really get intimidated easily, a genetic inheritance from parents.

When I talked about young men being indiscreet, I basically meant that we had a lot of 21 and 22 year olds who weren't seasoned professionals. They didn't realize that talking about their salaries could cause problems for management.

Or was it something else?

Posted by: Chasmosaur | April 9, 2007 10:49 AM

What Leslie didn't mention was that she only allowed employees flexibility if they chipped in to pay the bouncy castle rent (or manually inflate it in shifts). ;-P Of course, having a bouncy castle at the next office party would solve all balance problems... at least until someone twists an ankle or claims that it is unfair that they can not breastfeed and bounce at the same time...

Posted by: Chris | April 9, 2007 10:52 AM

What is the difference between mechanical and civil engineers?

Mechanical engineers make bombs.

Civil engineers make targets.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 10:53 AM

This Mythical paygap is such nonsense. How is the paygap figured? Its not figured by identical jobs. It figured by comparing different jobs and then saying that there is a pay gap. Comparative worth is another term for this bologna, thankfully struck down as unconstitutional in the 80's by Anthony Kennedy when he was on the Nine Circuit Court of Appeals. There is no paygap for identical jobs, its just a media creation. But when they report this paygap do they ever say how the come with numbers? No they dont, they just mislead the public into assuming the number means for identical jobs.

Posted by: niceday | April 9, 2007 10:55 AM

Civil engineers work on the roads and design bridges and parking lots, sometimes they layout buildings as well.

Posted by: scarry | April 9, 2007 10:56 AM

Civil engineers work on the roads and design bridges and parking lots, sometimes they layout buildings as well.

Yea, targets!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 11:00 AM

Every other door has been slammed shut? Not so. One is open: don't have kids. If you really want to make your career and money-making a priority, don't have kids. If you do, arrange for your husband to be a stay-at-home Dad so you can focus on your career. That is, IF you want to make your career and money-making a priority. Most women have other higher priorities, hence the pay "gap".

Posted by: DC Cubefarm | April 9, 2007 11:00 AM

Scarry wrote: "I am just wondering why everyone thinks that teachers don't make enough money? My neighbor is a teacher and he makes as much as I do and has the summers off."

I agree Scarry - even in the Wash DC Metro area I know a 2 teacher family that gets 10 weeks off during the summer and make more then my husband and I combined. There are excellent retirements in many suburban areas from Public School systems.

As for what any public servant is "worth" is a sticky consideration if you want to pursue that career. I hate to use the military as a case in point, but they certainly don't sign on for the pay. Ditto Police Officers and Fire Fighters. Many people look at the service to their community, not the monetary reward. Not to say that the frustration of low pay is not felt by most public servants, it is.

Posted by: cmac | April 9, 2007 11:01 AM

You pretty much hit the nail on the head, Leslie. I also suspect that discrimination is a real issue, and Lukas's attempt to sweep it under the rug pretty much destroys her credibility. The two main problems with Lukas's argument as presented in her 4/3 op-ed piece are that she assumes 1) women's choices are the "real root" of the wage gap rather than discrimination, and 2) women want flexibility but men don't. Since her opinion piece offers no substantive statistical or other evidence to back her claim, I can't view it as anything more than a baseless assertion. What's needed are some credible numbers which indicate how much of the gap is the result of women's (& men's) choices vs. discrimination.

Even if "women's choices" accounted for a bit more than half of the pay gap, so that discrimination accounted for a 10% difference (women getting paid $.90 for each dollar a man is paid), that's still a huge difference which deserves more attention than the lip service which Lukas pays to it...

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 11:02 AM

To Anonymous, 10:29--

Cost-cutting is a standard mantra at every corporation on Earth. If you have standard costs per employee, which I assure you is a cost every business knows and monitors ruthlessly, you're going to do everything you can to keep those costs down, either by trimming per-employee costs, or trimming employees ... what the rest of the world knows as layoffs.

And "corporations have to hire men because they are fifty percent of the applicants. They can't get by with just women."? That just makes no sense at all. If I can hire a fully qualified worker for 25% cheaper than market, I'm going to do it in a heartbeat.

So, again, I put it to you ... you have to justify the obvious ludicrousness of blatant cost variance per employee from a corporate POV. Discrimination, however blatant -- and I don't deny it exists, btw -- can't justify cost discrepancies that high. Some, maybe, but not 25 - 30%.

I reiterate: women tend to be employed at much higher percentages in careers that pay substantially less money. These careers tend to be socially oriented and/or caregiver positions -- nursing, teaching, daycare, social work. For whatever reason, our society deems these less valuable and pays less money for them.


Posted by: JB | April 9, 2007 11:03 AM

At every company for which I worked, disclosing your salary to coworkers is grounds for termination. The official reason is because the labor rates charged to customers is a trade secret - if the competitors know how much we pay a person, they can figure out what we charge and undercut us on the bid by a couple of bucks an hour.

The company's position is that a person who's finding out what everybody makes can quickly compile a database that would reveal what we charge, thus enabling that person to go off on their own and compete with us, or sell that information to a competitor.

That's the story, at any rate.

Posted by: That's the story... | April 9, 2007 11:03 AM

According to The Secret, you bring it all on yourself through negative thinking. If women would just be more positive, there would be no pay gap, and they would have all the time in the world to clean the house, bake the pies, and bring home a six or even seven-figure salary!

Posted by: Chris | April 9, 2007 11:05 AM

>>But this raises a rather obvious point: IF a woman gets paid 75-77% less than a man for doing the EXACT SAME job at the EXACT SAME skill level ... then you've got to explain why companies would take an additional cost structure of 25% (actually more, when you consider benefits) per employee to hire men over women.<<

Why? because organizations that choose to pay women less than men in equivalent positions generally do so because there is a pervasive attitude that women's work product is inferior. They'd prefer to hire men at greater expense because they believe the men's work product is worth the money.

Catlady, thanks for posting the AAUP stats. Similarly grim figures can be found in the NSF salary survey of science professors with doctorates:
http://www.serve.com/awis/statistics/Median_salary_by_faculty_rank,_sex_2001.pdf

The same is true in some other fields. Surveys done by Guidestar, AFP, and the Chronicle of Philanthropy all show a gender pay disparity for nonprofit executives and fundraisers. A couple of those studies have shown that women in these fields make less even when compared with men of the same age and years of experience who work for nonprofits with similar missions and budgets.

I'll grant the point that the "77 cents on the dollar" statistic is misleading, because it does in part reflect choices that women make about balancing gross income with other desirable rewards. However, people who then conclude that there is NO real problem with gender pay disparity are abusing the math just as badly. The problem isn't universal across all fields, and there are even a few fields where women average better pay than men -- but there are far more fields where we earn less, even when the usual skewing variables are controlled for.

So I'll keep cheering on the folks who publish the stats. The aggregate figures may be oversimplified, but they keep the issue on our radars, and that's important. We need to keep having this national conversation until women in all fields of work really do receive equal pay for equal work.

Posted by: Northern Girl | April 9, 2007 11:10 AM

Chasmosaur, The only thing I was trying to say was that when pay information gets out, it potentially benefits lesser-paid employees who find out. That's why so often employers try to keep their workers quiet on the matter. Your individual workplace situation may well be different.

Kay pointed out earlier that such pay-information secrecy policies may not be legally binding in court, but that probably applies mostly in cases where a fired employee sues (as opposed to, say, a class-action lawsuit by current employees). I doubt many employers would be fool-hardy enough nowadays to fire an employee solely for revealing his/her own salary data -- although I suppose they could claim it was a form of insubordination -- but instead would try to create a (false, if necessary) paper trail to make the employee look as though s/he had a record of poor performance.

Posted by: catlady | April 9, 2007 11:10 AM

***Off topic alert***

{{partial soapbox on}}

For those who don't want to look up the link from above, I've pasted in the women in combat piece that JS mentioned way up at the beginning (by Kathleen Parker--I have read her column in JWS before). I thought it a very interesting piece and I wondered what readers here would think. We had talked about female firefighters that can't carry large men out of burning buildings before, or female police officers that have to use more force (sometimes deadly) because their size doesn't detour offenders. For me I had left it with meet exactly the same requirements, then do the job. Don't water requirements down to meet with agendas. If that meant that only 5% of the average female population could do the job, then so be it.

This isn't the first piece that points out that PC in the Western world's military is putting our missions at risk with women in so many front line positions these days. In the US, no one in high military brass these days has the cajones to admit what truth there is in this, but many in different stations have some firm opinions about it. What would our military brat say about this subject (or any others here with military experience?)

Read with special care the last three paragraphs, and see if you agree that if it is a step forward if someday US servicemen ultimately do not worry more that women are being raped is exactly the kind of equality you are looking for...to uncouple men's protective desire toward women.

What costs will we be satisfied to carry as a society to live up to our PC agendas, I wonder?

{{soapbox off}}

====================================
The Mother of All Blunders
By Kathleen Parker
On any given day, one isn't likely to find common cause with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He's a dangerous, lying, Holocaust-denying, Jew-hating cutthroat thug -- not to put too fine a point on it.

But he was dead-on when he wondered why a once-great power such as Britain sends mothers of toddlers to fight its battles.
Ahmadinejad characterized the release of 15 British sailors and marines, including one woman, seized at sea last month as a gift to Britain. In reality, the hostages were the West's gift to Ahmadinejad.

When a pretender to sanity like Ahmadinejad gets to lecture the West about how it treats its women, we've effectively handed him a free pass to the end zone and made the world his cheerleaders.

Not only does the Iranian president get to look magnanimous in releasing the hostages, but he gets to look wise. And we in the West get to look humiliated, foolish and weak.

Just because we may not ``feel'' humiliated, doesn't mean we're not. In the eyes of Iran and other Muslim nations, we're wimps. While the West puts mothers in boats with rough men, Islamic men ``rescue'' women and drape them in floral hijabs.

We can debate whether they're right until all our boys wear aprons, but it won't change the way we're perceived. The propaganda value Iran gained from its lone female hostage, the mother of a 3-year-old, was incalculable.

It is not fashionable these days to suggest that women don't belong in or near combat -- or that children need their mothers. Yes, they need their fathers, too, but children in their tender years are dependent on their mothers in unique ways.

There's not enough space here to go into all the ways that this is true, but children (and good parents) know the difference even if some adults are too dim, brainwashed or ideologically driven to see what's obvious.

Why the West has seen it necessary to diminish motherhood so that women can pretend to be men remains a mystery to sane adults. It should be unnecessary to say that the military is not a proper vehicle for social experimentation, but a machine dedicated to fighting and, if necessary, killing.

Women may be able to push buttons as well as men, but the door-to-door combat in Fallujah proved the irrelevance of that argument. Meanwhile, no one can look at photos of the 15 British marines and sailors and argue convincingly that the British Navy is stronger for the presence of Leading Seaman Faye Turney -- no matter how lovely and brave she may be.

But let's assume for the sake of argument that women, despite all evidence to the contrary, are as capable as men in any battle. If our goal is to prevail, then shouldn't we also consider other ramifications of putting women in combat and/or in positions of risk?

Those ramifications include women's unequal vulnerability to rape and injury, as well as cultural attitudes toward women that may enhance their exposure to punishment or, alternatively, to make them useful to our enemies.

Iran wasted no time dressing up Turney in Islamic garb and parading her before television cameras. More than her fellow male captives, Turney was required to confess repeatedly, to apologize for trespassing in Iranian waters and write letters of contrition.

This was not, needless to say, Churchill's Navy.

Rape, though not a likely risk in this case, is a consistent argument against putting women in or near combat. While advocates for women in combat argue that men are also raped, there is an important difference. Women are raped by men, which, given the inherent power differential between the sexes, raises women's rape to another level of terror.

What kind of man, one shudders to wonder, is willing to allow his country's women to be raped and tortured by other men of enemy nations? None that I know, but our military is gradually weaning men of their intuitive inclination to protect women -- which, by extrapolation, means ignoring the screams of women being assaulted.
At the point when our men can stand by unfazed while American servicewomen are raped and tortured, then we will have no cause to fight any war. We will have already lost.

Positioning women to become pawns of propaganda, meanwhile, is called aiding and abetting the enemy.
============================

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | April 9, 2007 11:11 AM

to niceday:

In 2002, I worked as a contractor for a Beltway Bandit on a Federal Agency contract.

I was hired because the 50-something, graphic-designer who had been hired only four months previously to code the HTML for the front-end told the project manager that it was too much for one person. He based this on his wealth of experience - he had done one small personal site before he got hired and only within the previous year.

I was hired as a 30-something, with 7 years of experience working for private businesses and web site development companies. I was - in short - far more experienced, despite the 25 year gap in our age.

When I negotiated my salary, I knew what I was worth. I started with an insanely high number to get the back-and-forth started (it was a 50% raise over my then current job, which paid decently) - and it was given to me without pause, which astonished me, but I didn't look a gift horse in the mouth.

Within 6 weeks, I had gracefully corrected all of my colleague's mistakes and caught up the work. Within 3 months, I was recognized as an extremely qualified individual who was easy to work with and usually had the answer you needed. My colleague still had his responsibilities, but the more complicated and high profile work landed on my desk - which the colleague actually preferred, since it left him time to be more flexible at home with his teen-aged son.

And within one year, I was laid off when the budget got tight, mostly because he had a family to support (despite his frequent admission that his wife was the real breadwinner), and I was just engaged so my future husband could support me.

The kicker? I found out after I left the job that he made 20% more than I had been, which probably explains why HR was so relieved to give me my insane salary - they were giving him a lot more and received a lot less in the bargain.

Identical job demands. Better skills, more dedication, and more experience favored towards the woman. And he made 20% more. Tell me how that's hype?

Posted by: Chasmosaur | April 9, 2007 11:14 AM

Mechanical engineers also design systems such as HVAC, power plants, electrical systems, etc, that can become targets. So there.

In my office it is time served, not gender, that defines what your salary is for any particular pay grade. The longer you've been a supervisor, the more likely you've had a salary adjustment applied to you, but we still lag far, far behind the people doing the same work in the private sector.

Our HR people say "you get better benefits", but that has become a joke lately. Medical insurance, leave, etc, are all comparable or better in the private sector than what we get. The only benefit we've got that the private sector never will have is a strict 40 hour work week. I have it, they don't. My wife just finished working 25 hours straight last week (Thursday morning to Friday morning) to finish a project; that would never happen at my work place.

Posted by: John L | April 9, 2007 11:15 AM

Niceday, you're full of it. Just read the American Association of University Professors report, "AAUP Faculty Gender Equity Indicators 2006" online at:
http://www.aaup.org/NR/rdonlyres/63396944-44BE-4ABA-9815-5792D93856F1/0/AAUPGenderEquityIndicators2006.pdf


Posted by: catlady | April 9, 2007 11:15 AM

catlady -

Thanks :D It just sort of caught me off-guard...

Posted by: Chasmosaur | April 9, 2007 11:16 AM

Anyone remember when so many people were criticizing Daniel Pearl for not getting a different job after he became a parent? And how many people pointed out that just because someone is a parent doesn't mean you cease to be a person in your own right?

That reminds me of the musings of that Iranian thug over putting "mothers of toddlers" in harms way.

I know many female veterinarians who were told outright not to continue with vet school, "How's a little thing like you going to deal with a 1500 pound dairy bull?"

With a sedative and a syringe, just like the 200 pound male vet, of course.

Hey, did anyone notice if female vets make any more or less than the men? I'd be interested in knowing that!

Posted by: Bedrock | April 9, 2007 11:20 AM

Here are some quotes from the female British soldier:
===============================

"She described him as a slimy-looking man whose tan leather shoes she will never forget. Faye, who lives in Plymouth, went on: "I asked him, 'Where are my friends? I want to see them'. He replied, 'What friends?' I told him, 'Mr Felix and Mr Chris' (her officers Lieut Felix Carman and Captain Chris Air).

"He rubbed the top of my head and said with a smile, 'Oh no, they've gone home. Just you now'.

"I was taken back to my cell again and that was my lowest moment. All I could think of was how completely alone I was. They could do anything now and nobody would know.

"At that moment I just totally lost it. All I could think of was what my family must be going through. What would my husband Adam be telling Molly? Did they even know I was missing? I cried my eyes out. I asked the guards about my friends but all they did was laugh at me."

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | April 9, 2007 11:21 AM

Citizens should protect their country--I'm all for women serving in the military. My daughter does. I did.

After all, if you don't fight, you can still die.

Posted by: Wool gatherer | April 9, 2007 11:25 AM

I'm sick of this pay gap BS. Women and all special interest groups have a vested interest in perpetuating these myths so that they have something to complain about and therefore themselves in the limelight. Shut up already, and iron my shirt.

Posted by: John Paul | April 9, 2007 11:26 AM

I don't really know how I feel about women in combat. I mean, I have met some rough women in my life and I have also met some very weak men. My old man always says that you want a person to want to be there because they are they are the ones who will watch your back.

However, I know that I would never want to be in a war, but if it was needed of me to defend my country and my family, our way of life, I would be the first to sign up.

It is a tricky subject and I can see both sides, I am grateful that people sign up for the military and that the choice is not made for me.

Posted by: scarry | April 9, 2007 11:28 AM

to John Paul:

My husband handles the ironing since I suck at it. I'll send your request on to him....

Posted by: Chasmosuar | April 9, 2007 11:33 AM

It is not that engineering is less desirable. But for a lot of people studying math and science seems to be less desirable. If it wasn't, we would be producing more math and science type people.

Posted by: foamgnome | April 9, 2007 11:33 AM

"If you really want to make your career and money-making a priority, don't have kids. If you do, arrange for your husband to be a stay-at-home Dad so you can focus on your career. That is, IF you want to make your career and money-making a priority. Most women have other higher priorities, hence the pay "gap"."

This rubs me the wrong way. This says, essentially, that most women have a better priority (family) than men (work). So men don't love their families? What this says is that women are supposed to care more for their families than men (for whatever silly reason) while men are allowed to make work their priority. Does anyone else find this to be absolutely ridiculous? Ca anyone else see that making money and caring for your family are intrinsically tied and NOT mutually exclusive?

JB, that was me at 10:29. I agree with your last paragraph, but that also does not completely account for the gap. In order for me to buy your first premise, first explain to me how your company would function without any men (which means firing half the employees). Then tell me you don't understand why corporations are forced to hire men. And tell me how corporations would mask gender discrimination in the hiring process (by only hiring women).

Posted by: Meesh | April 9, 2007 11:33 AM

I don't know where anyone gets these stats that says women make less than men out of college. I graduated five years ago, and I can tell you that I have seen NO difference in pay between men and women in entry level positions. NONE. When I see a difference in pay it is because of career choice - not gender.

I can also tell you that as a woman, I make more money than a lot of men I know - it's more about the choices you make (and merit) than about what female/male parts you have. To say otherwise is absurd.

Posted by: College Grad | April 9, 2007 11:33 AM

Texas Dad of 2, we are all capable of reading the newspaper on our own without you re-printing entire articles on this blog. There's nothing "PC" about making qualifications and experience rather than gender the determining factor in which of two equally qualified persons has an opportunity for paid employment. Military experience is a pre-requisite for many jobs, and gives an applicant who can legitimately claim it a lifetime hiring boost over non-veterans. But, of course, if you find Ms. Parker's arguments as persuasive as I find them ludicrous and offensive, I doubt any comment will change your mind.

Posted by: anon for Monday | April 9, 2007 11:34 AM

Niceday and John Paul, provide some solid data.

Posted by: catlady | April 9, 2007 11:35 AM

Military experience is a pre-requisite for many jobs

Please list the jobs, other than working for Blackwater.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 11:36 AM

To paraphrase what Rosie said to Elizabeth, College Grad, you are very young, and you are very wrong.

Posted by: to College Grad | April 9, 2007 11:36 AM

Military experience is a pre-requisite for many jobs

Please list the jobs, other than working for Blackwater

post office for one

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 11:39 AM

Rosie is an idiot. I don't even like Elizabeth, but I would love to know why Rosie thinks her opinion is more important than hers.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 11:42 AM

College Grad, Didn't you learn in college that a single anecdote does not a generality make?

Posted by: catlady | April 9, 2007 11:45 AM

From the article posted above:

"Why the West has seen it necessary to diminish motherhood so that women can pretend to be men remains a mystery to sane adults."
"our military is gradually weaning men of their intuitive inclination to protect women"

This writer has no credibility with me. Essentially, the writer believes that women have more to lose in war than men, so they should not fight.

So it's okay for men to be tortured, raped, and killed, but it's not okay for women? The men who "allow" women to fight are bad people for not "protecting" the women? Nevermind that no woman is forced to serve. The ones I know are ready, willing, and able to serve.

So our government should stop women from protecting their country even though the women want to, are able to, and realize the risk. Meanwhile, we should encourage men to step up and defend their country because they are, well, better suited to being killed I guess.

It's absolute BS. Motherhood is about protecting your family. A mother would take a bullet for her kids any day. So she shouldn't be able to volunteer to defend her children in a time of war?

Posted by: Meesh | April 9, 2007 11:46 AM

TDof2: I love Kathleen Parker and agree that this is NOT Churchill's Navy. I'll also whole-heartedly agree on the deadly political correctness that permeats all levels of the military.

Wollgatherer: the question about women in the military is not whether they should serve, but should they serve in combat roles. I think the British Hostage situation and Parker's peice highlights and answers the questions quite clearly.

Posted by: cmac | April 9, 2007 11:47 AM

Dear 11:02 AM
I guess the answer is we just don't know. There are anecdotes in both directions znd the 'statistics' we have seem designed to obfuscate rather than analyze. Comparing salaries by age range and educational level, as one study quoted above did, obscures so much. Just comparing earnings for full time males and females obscures even more. Professional societies like American Chemical Society try to do better, and as a result do show a smaller gap. Still, when you phrase questions in terms like 'years since B.S.' rather than 'years of employment' you obscure some of choice issues. Still, they are looking at one profession, accounting for degree level, accounting for corporate, university, or government employer, accounting for age.

Any gap that looks at full age range is going to measure where we have been as a society more than where we are today. Over 45 women have faced a lot of discrimination in employment and education. The under 30s, not really.

Posted by: statfreak | April 9, 2007 11:48 AM

The Dept of Labor stats show that men and women working full time year round at the SAME job still have a pay gap that favors men. There is no occupation at which women earn more in Table 15 of their data on detailed occupations. So the 77 percent is an average overall, but even for specific occupations, women earn less. And this is a PROBLEM.

Posted by: Same job less pay | April 9, 2007 11:50 AM

You might be surprised, anon for today. I'm open to comments, though obviously I have a point of view.

As an Aersopace Engineeer, having had a few jobs working for military contractors and some friends/familial inputs, I've gotten some feedback from the horse's mouth on this topic, so to speak.

But that is why I asked people like Army Brat and others with family or direct service what they *honestly* think about the situation. I bet they have some interesting data points to add, whether ot not they concur with the opinion.

Would be a bit sad if people became soldiers just to eventually deliver the mail, though... :~)

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | April 9, 2007 11:50 AM

Military experience may not be an absolute prerequisite for many jobs, but it's highly desirable in law-enforcement. Most pilots learn flying skills in the military. Medics sometimes go into civilian healthcare fields following their service. Lots of military-trained service members go on to related civilian work.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 11:51 AM

As long as the women can pass the same physical tests that men have to for GI (General Infantry) positions, I have no trouble with them serving in the military in those roles.

What I DO have a problem with, is when that same military takes women AND men from other MOS (military occupational specialty) and tell them "ok, now you are an infantryman, go out there and clear that block". Anti air, MP, artillery and even transportation units have had their roles changed and the personnel given M-16's, and then sent into the streets of Iraq (and the hills of Afghanistan to a lesser extent). It's happened with both regular duty and National Guard units.

IMO if a serviceperson has a child and they are the primary caregiver, they should not be sent into a warzone, period. Often though both parents are military personnel, and there have been situations where both were sent to Iraq.

Posted by: John L | April 9, 2007 11:51 AM

Military experience is a pre-requisite for many jobs

Please list the jobs, other than working for Blackwater.

Posted by: | April 9, 2007 11:36 AM

Someone else already identified the Post Office. While being a veteran is not a pre-req to post office or other agency and government-related employment, veteran status allows an applicant to leapfrog over non-veteran applicants and get hired.

for many, many beltway-bandit jobs and other positions involving government contracts, in particular sales to the military, veteran status is a pre-req.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 11:52 AM

catlady - you are absolutely right. One anecdote doesn't equate truth, but you missed the point. My point is that college grads start out on equal footing. It's after children enter the equation that things start to change. It's simple economics! If you need to work less/take time off why would an employer pay you the same as someone who works more?

The other point I'm making is that maybe my generation has learned a thing or two from previous generations. We are listening - and maybe instead of crying about it, we actually went out and did something about it.

Bottom line - if you think you make less than a man in the same position - ask for a raise. Find a job that pays more. It's not rocket science people.

Or, you can just sit on this blog and waste time crying about it. That will help.

Posted by: College Grad | April 9, 2007 11:52 AM

I beleieve the Feds and most state governemnts give a preference to vets. You won't get the job just because of being a vet, but if your qualifications are the same as a non-vet, you will get hired.

Posted by: veteren's preference | April 9, 2007 11:54 AM

College grad does have some good points.

Posted by: anon for this | April 9, 2007 11:55 AM

"My point is that college grads start out on equal footing."

Again, very young and very wrong. Strike 2.

And don't make me laugh about your generation getting out there and doing something about it. By all accounts, your generation is one of the most entitled bunch to come out of the human race in history.

Posted by: to College Grad | April 9, 2007 11:55 AM

Phrases like "pay gap" and "equal pay for equal work" make this issue look different at first glance than it is.

That 77 cents on the dollar figure *isn't* about unequal pay for the same job. It's about people in *different fields* being paid different wages.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pay_gap
http://gstudies.asp.radford.edu/sources/wage_gaps/wagegap.htm

Paying two similarly qualified staff in the same position unequal wages is deplorable to all, illegal under the Equal Pay Act of 1963, and a straw man in this argument.

The point that's central to the 77 cents on the dollar argument is that people in career X should be required to earn the same as people in career Y - a very difficult case to make.

Posted by: Prince William | April 9, 2007 11:58 AM

I think the British Hostage situation and Parker's peice highlights and answers the questions quite clearly.

Posted by: cmac | April 9, 2007 11:47 AM

Yes, the answers to the questions are quite clear. Parker, however, got them entirely bass ackwards.

In light of our all-volunteer force, what is most clear is that we have an urgent need to identify and encourage the most capable, intelligent and best-trained service women and men to defend our country, which defense includes combat (big surprise, that), then provide them with the equipment they need and let them accomplish the job we send them to do.

Posted by: anon for today | April 9, 2007 11:58 AM

According to Kathleen Patterson, Islamic men ``rescue'' women and drape them in floral hijabs.

How lovely. Let's conveniently forget about those chivalrous Talibans who would stone an Afghan woman whose ankle accidentally flashes in public when the breeze blows her burqa a bit.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 11:59 AM

If you tell my daughter that she could not do any job in the military, she would shoot you with her M-4.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 12:00 PM

College Grad, I went to college too. And while I was there I took math and logic and philosophy courses, and learned that "I don't like the conclusion" isn't a legitimate argument. Do you have an actual rebuttal for the statistics that have been presented here?

Like you, I make more than several men I know -- but my personal satisfaction with my salary doesn't blunt my outrage over the number of women who AREN'T appropriately paid for their work.

Posted by: Northern Girl | April 9, 2007 12:00 PM

Two comments:

1. A former roommate once found out by accident that a young man with the same educational background but fresh out of school (she was 5-7 years out of school) and the same job title and responsibilities, whom she was training, was making more than she was. The workgroup had a practice of going into each others desk drawers to get pencils, and she accidentally saw his paycheck when she did so. She was supposedly in line for a promotion (but it was slow in coming), and when she told her boss that she was concerned about the pay differential, he told her, "you can go to EEOC, but I can't tell you what that would do to this" and waved her promotion file in her face. She went to EEOC and won a case against the employer, stayed and got the promotion, and then moved to another job. The company had a don't tell policy about salaries, and called her coworker in to read him the riot act about telling his salary, but he truthfully said he hadn't told her. I don't think the employer ever knew how she found out, and I have always wondered if the paycheck was left there on purpose for her to see it.

2. I once worked for Purdue University. You can go to the library or to the HR department to look through salary books, which tell you the salary for everyone in the university from the president down to the janitors. Indiana University has their salary information online, so you can sit at your desk and look up anybody you want. In both cases, this is the result of women's groups pushing for more openness. When salaries are known, there is less opportunity for a gender based pay gap. I don't totally buy the bit about pay being a company secret.

Posted by: pay secrets | April 9, 2007 12:01 PM

College Grad wrote: "...college grads start out on equal footing. It's after children enter the equation that things start to change..."

College Grad, I'm glad you got lucky fresh out of school. But women often do not start out on equal footing in the workplace, because employers may well subtly (or not so subtly) make assumptions re the future of female employees -- including marriage and children -- and start treating them in accordance with these prejudices ahead of time.

Posted by: catlady | April 9, 2007 12:04 PM

To Northern Girl: What you said -- and better than I ever could've!

Posted by: catlady | April 9, 2007 12:06 PM

Who are Rosie and Elizabeth and why should we care?

College Grad - I agree that you have some good points. there are many people who are close-minded and don't want to consider any viewpoint other than their own.

I believe that there are several reasons that there could be a pay gap. One, women may not negotiate as much as men. Two, if women have taken some time out of the workforce for family reasons, they will not have the same years of experience as men or other women who did not take a break. Three, maybe the woman isn't as good as the man - not everyone is the best in the workplace, and I'm not saying that women aren't capable of being best, just that some people are blind to their own flaws. Four, blatant discrimination. Five, non-blatant discrimination - A man and woman were both hired 20 years ago with the man being hired at a higher pay based on the (discriminatory?) practices at the time. Each has received yearly increases of equal percentages. The employer may feel that they are not discriminating since they are giving 10% raises regardless of gender, but the woman is still making less. Also consider that the raises being given now may be determined by someon who didn't have anything to do with the initial hiring. do you really think that a business would look at that and bring everyone equal on the pay scale if they could keep the employees without raising the pay? How many here would voluntarily choose to raise the pay of the people who clean your home just because someone else is paying others more?

Women are being paid less because they are accepting it. Refuse a job offer or quit the one you have. Maybe if enough women leave, then the businesses will pay equally.

Posted by: huh? | April 9, 2007 12:06 PM

"My point is that college grads start out on equal footing." Assuming that they haven't been subject to favortism in internships, professors, teachers in high school or even in societal pressure (nice girls are supposed to appear aggressive - hurts when negotiating for salary).
It may not be discrimination by an individual employer, but it doesn't mean we can just ignore it and blame the individual for not finding a better paying job.

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | April 9, 2007 12:08 PM

Women are being paid less because they are accepting it. Refuse a job offer or quit the one you have. Maybe if enough women leave, then the businesses will pay equally.

Posted by: huh? | April 9, 2007 12:06 PM

Maybe, but in the meantime, my mortgage payment is due.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 12:09 PM

John L., would you bar single fathers from military combat, too?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 12:10 PM

Maybe, but in the meantime, my mortgage payment is due.

Well, you are just compromising your principals then!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 12:14 PM

I encourage everyone to take a break from reality and read the eye opening cover article Pearls Before Breakfast- about the violinist (Bell) in the metro playing on one of the greatest violins ever made. It brings to light how out of balance we are as a society- especially near DC. Soul Crushing sums it up... I think our main focus needs to be not just balance in the workplace, but in how we view life. Of what value are any of our efforts if we can not be afforded the time to stop and smell the roses?

-----

As far as military service goes, my thought was if you can carry or haul my wounded butt to safety, fine. Luckily I never encountered such a situation. I think many women in the service are great. Sure there are those who feel the standards need to be lowered because they just CAN'T possibly do all those push-ups, run as fast, or make it over the same wall the guys have to make it over... I knew plenty of women who resented that and agreed with me, as those wanting the easier standard weakened their position: If you can't hack it, stay out. If you can, then welcome. Nothing personal. On the other hand, if they are highly qualified or skilled at something- say sniping, or some sort of espionage- someone should make an allowance, provided of course that allowance does not needlessly endanger anyone else.

Posted by: Chris | April 9, 2007 12:14 PM

Lots of expert snipers on this blog!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 12:17 PM

I'm a middle aged graphic designer. My profession demands that I keep current with rapidly changing software and whole technological shifts (think starting with rubber cement and moving to html coding in 25 years).

My relevant experience is that when I was a department head in a small company 7 years ago, a raw newbie (male) designer was hired to be my assistant. He knew a bit about programs, a little bit about design and was a nice guy overall, but had a lot to learn. I had the galling experience of watching people go up to him to ask for expert technical help that he couldn't give -- instead of asking me! In group presentations, admin types just assumed that he had put together projects when it was me. I had to disabuse people over and over again.

It was very obvious that people just assumed that because this young designer was male, he know more about cutting edge technology than I, because I'm female.

This kind of attitude is pervasive in many businesses, and hr keeps salary info secret. Obviously gender discrimination exists.

Posted by: Sharon Solomon | April 9, 2007 12:18 PM

Maybe, but in the meantime, my mortgage payment is due.

Well, you are just compromising your principals then!

Posted by: | April 9, 2007 12:14 PM


True. But is the s/he compromising her/his principles as well?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 12:18 PM

Sounds like Sharon experienced a combination of age and gender discrimination. Older women in our society are too often treated like they're invisible instead of valuable.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 12:21 PM

Oops, that was my post at 12:21 PM.

Posted by: catlady | April 9, 2007 12:22 PM

"Women are being paid less because they are accepting it. Refuse a job offer or quit the one you have. Maybe if enough women leave, then the businesses will pay equally.

Posted by: huh? | April 9, 2007 12:06 PM

Maybe, but in the meantime, my mortgage payment is due.

Posted by: | April 9, 2007 12:09 PM"

Of course you must take care of immediate financial concerns. I was thinking more of situations where people change jobs. If the new job doesn't pay according to a "man's" salary, ask for it and refuse the offer if you don't get it. Keep your old job. As long as women continue to accept jobs at lesser pay, the companies will offer less pay.

Posted by: huh? | April 9, 2007 12:22 PM

>>Women are being paid less because they are accepting it.<<

Sometimes that's true, perhaps -- except that often we aren't just accepting it, we lack the information needed to argue for more appropriate pay. Yes, if I'm interviewing for a job I can go look at national statistics on what people in that job make, but it is nearly impossible to find salary data for a particular job within a specific geographic region, let alone at a single employer. So how would I know if an employer offered me a salary that is $10,000 less than what a similarly qualified (or less qualified) man is making?

The reality is that because salary data is so private, women who accept jobs that pay them less than their male counterparts HAVE NO WAY OF KNOWING that they are receiving less money. As several women on this blog have commented, once we find out we're pretty good about standing up and asking for more. But how can we demand equal pay when we don't know what the men are making?

Posted by: Northern Girl | April 9, 2007 12:24 PM

--- But how can we demand equal pay when we don't know what the men are making?


If we don't know what the men are making, why do we assume that they are making more?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 12:25 PM

The government should guarantee equal opportunity, not equal outcome. If it requires working 80 hours a week for 5 years to become a partner at a law firm, you can't say I need to work 40 hours a week and take two years off because I have young children, but I still expect to be a partner. As long as the requirements are the same, just because some choose to have different priorities, the tough requirements are not inherently wrong.

Posted by: steelerhawk | April 9, 2007 12:25 PM

Just to give a little bit of insight into how compensation is determined in most corporate environments: There is a range of pay attached to a job description and generally the folks who fit that job description are paid something within that range. Those who are more qualified will, theoretically be at the high end of that range, and those who are less qualified (read performing at a low level) will be paid at the lower end of that range.

There are always exceptions to this to bring a highly qualified candidate in the door for example, but please note that all of the pay decisions are in the hands of your direct managers. They have budget available to pay you, and make decisions based on your performance as to how much they will pay you. If you feel that you should be paid more, then do your research; understand that terrain for your job description, build the business case for a higher salary, and ask.

Another thing that does need to be taken into account is "total compensation" so the benefits you enjoy, the bonus plans, and incentive compensation if you qualify. If you legitimately feel that you are a) underpaid for the work that you do or b) paid in a discriminate fashion have a conversation with your manager, who should be your advocate. If you don't feel that your manager is capable or qualified to have this conversation, talk with the compensation folks in HR. They are there to answer your questions.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 12:27 PM

"By all accounts, your generation is one of the most entitled bunch to come out of the human race in history."

If this is true, who do you think is to blame? (And I agree to some degree with what you are saying)

I suppose my generation should do what your generation is doing - blame someone else for the problem?

My point still stands. If you are a woman and you think you are not being paid what you are valued - SAY SOMETHING - (outside this forum to your employer) DO SOMETHING. Get a better job. Ask for a raise.

I am shocked at all the crying and complaining like you are in handcuffs. Do you just take what they give you? If you are worth more, demand more.

Do you notice that there aren't young people complaining on this forum? It's only the older workers are are complaining?

Sure, you can say I am young and very inexperienced. You can write me off because of it, but that would be about as ridiculous as paying a woman less for the same job - which seems to happen in your generation.

I suppose I am the one who is laughing, because I'm not worrying about the man next to me making more.

Posted by: College Grad | April 9, 2007 12:27 PM

Women's equality in the workplace has come a very long way in the past 30-40 years. Change takes time. It didn't all happen overnight. I believe college grad when she says that everyone is starting out on basically equal footing when leaving college and starting entry-level positions. It may not be the experience of the majority of posters here, but I see it as the next step in the evolving process of women's equality.

Posted by: anon this time | April 9, 2007 12:28 PM

Maybe, but in the meantime, my mortgage payment is due.

Well, you are just compromising your principals then!

Posted by: | April 9, 2007 12:14 PM

La- dee - dah. How like this board to assume everyone has the financial resources to up and quit a job where she's getting screwed.

12:14, principals don't feed and clothe my children. If you'd like to sign over some of that trust fund you have laying around, I won't compromise my principals any more by working.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 12:30 PM

Chris, I read that article. It was interesting, but not eye-opening. I expected every outcome. The truth is that the people were on their way to work. I doubt any of them wanted to tell their bosses that they're 15 minutes late because they stopped to listen to the guy playing the violin in the Metro station. And some people just don't have an appreciation for music. I don't know if I could tell the difference between that guy and the guy playing sax for money in the China Town station.

There is so much beauty in the world. Maybe those people who walked by stopped in front of their offices to smell the flowers. Maybe they put on his CD as soon as they got to the office. Who are we to judge where and when people find beauty?

Posted by: Meesh | April 9, 2007 12:31 PM

"By all accounts, your generation is one of the most entitled bunch to come out of the human race in history."

If this is true, who do you think is to blame?


Not you, right?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 12:32 PM

My idea is that high pay goes to jobs that are perceived as "magical abilities", things that only a few people are capable of even doing at all due to training or unusual talent. Medicine, plumbing, engineering for example.

The "female" jobs that are paid less are often things that certainly take immeasurable talent and in some cases training to do very WELL, but that anyone can take a stab at if they have to. Teaching, day care.

It is possible to get up in front of a class as a first-timer with no training and get through the hour, even though you will do it POORLY. But sit you down in front of a computer with no training and no talent and you will do NOTHING.

For some reason, pay scales seem to covary with that poorly-vs.-nothing distinction.

Why do men gravitate toward the magical jobs and women toward the everybody jobs? Who knows, that is a subject for another post. But maybe this post will help shed light on why society places less monetary value on day care, teaching than on engineering, medicine, plumbing.

Posted by: clutterwoman | April 9, 2007 12:34 PM

I suppose I am the one who is laughing, because I'm not worrying about the man next to me making more.

Posted by: College Grad | April 9, 2007 12:27 PM


But maybe he really is making more, and you don't know it.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 12:36 PM

In defense of College Grad, she has a valid point about making a stand. I think that not just the age difference is a factor. Far too many people all around fail to make stands, and as a result, society erodes. Take poor customer service for instance. We now take it for granted that we will be screwed by a major telecommunications company and it is not worth bothering transferring service because "the other company" is just as bad. How did we get to such a position when just a short time ago, transferring customers, treating them rudely, then hanging up on them was unheard of? Far too many people collectively stop fighting for decent treatment and it goes away, or fails to materialize. Of course, the weight always falls on those who try to fight for a change- someone willing to spend the time/money/energy required to get something done... if more people invested in such an effort, it would likely change faster.

Posted by: Chris | April 9, 2007 12:36 PM

I suppose I am the one who is laughing, because I'm not worrying about the man next to me making more.

Posted by: College Grad | April 9, 2007 12:27 PM

Oh, many of us are laughing at you, College Grad, so don't worry that there's any lack of mirth amongst "older" workers, e.g., those over 30. There's having an opinion and then there's acting like you are the hottest thing since the iPod. The second is not appealing.

Posted by: anon for today | April 9, 2007 12:37 PM

From Howard Kurtz's media chat, goin gon right now:

Kennett Square, Pa.: Howard, as a media commentator and reporter, you're certainly free to discuss the editorial policy of The Post. So, can you speculate on the thinking behind giving Kathleen Parker space on Saturday's editorial page? She opined Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was "dead-on" in ridiculing England for having women soldiers, and we in the West are "humiliated, foolish and weak" for putting "mothers in boats with rough men." Yes, I know the editorial page is for different voices, but that can't and doesn't answer why such a silly piece of Victorian fluff got precious column space. Doesn't giving space to Ms. Parker imply The Washington Post editors find her views to be responsible and serious discourse?

washingtonpost.com: Mother Of All Blunders (Post, April 7)

Howard Kurtz: I think it says that Post editorial page editors are committed to publishing provocative views. Remember, this is an op-ed page whose regulars range from Novak and Will to Richard Cohen, E.J. Dionne and Gene Robinson.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 12:40 PM

I'd heed this one, perhaps even find out if you can be fired for comparing fresh-out-of-college pay stubs.

I suppose I am the one who is laughing, because I'm not worrying about the man next to me making more.

Posted by: College Grad | April 9, 2007 12:27 PM


But maybe he really is making more, and you don't know it.

Posted by: | April 9, 2007 12:36 PM

Posted by: to College Grad | April 9, 2007 12:47 PM

"Chris, I read that article. It was interesting, but not eye-opening. I expected every outcome. The truth is that the people were on their way to work. I doubt any of them wanted to tell their bosses that they're 15 minutes late because they stopped to listen to the guy playing the violin in the Metro station."

I read the article as well, and I did find it eye-opening. I have been working for 30+ years, so I have a different history than many here.

There was a time when people were not so very time-stressed. It was common to allow an extra 15-30 minutes per day to arrive at work. That extra time was generally enough that you would not be late to work if there was an unexpected delay. The majority of the time, the extra 15-30 minutes was used to settle in at work, to read the newspaper, to have a bite to eat, to socialize with co-workers, to meditate/relax before starting work. The personal pace was less hurried and frantic. If something out of the ordinary, such as a public music performance, happened along the way, people had the luxury to take 15 minutes or so to enjoy the unexpected pleasure of the journey.

Now, people are in a constant 'hurry up' mode. The sooner I get to work, the sooner I can leave. Must hurry and beat traffic. I don't have to spread the newspaper across my desk to read it anymore, just glance at the internet during the workday. People are also more isolated in public, due partly to technology. I-pods, blackberries, and other electronic devices leave people concentrating on immediate areas and not open to the surrounding world. Even families traveling together are more isolated. Teenagers plug in to I-pods, and watch DVRs with headphones in the SUV/minivan. While there is less "Are we there yet, there is also less conversation between the family members." People choose self-service checkouts, not only to save time, but because they can't stand to have any interaction with the cashier, or with other random strangers.

I don't know what my point is here, or even if I really have one - just observations about changes in my adulthood. While I understand that family, personal, and workplace demands have changed, and commute time is much worse than in the past, I do feel that there is much more disconnect between people than there was 30 years ago.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 12:51 PM

"John L., would you bar single fathers from military combat, too?"

Yes I would; I see no difference between them and a single mother in the military.

It's the same thinking that led to the "Sullivan" rule during WWII, and the premise to the movie "Saving Private Ryan".

The Sullivans were five brothers who wanted to serve on the same ship, the USS Juneau. As luck would have it, all five were killed when the ship was torpedoed and blew up; after that the military refused to put all serving brothers into combat on a single ship or ground combat unit, for fear of another family tragedy.

In the movie Saving Private Ryan, three brothers had already died in combat, and Ryan's group was tasked to find the final surviving one and get him to safety.

Posted by: John L | April 9, 2007 12:51 PM

And in the case of married military personnel, who happen to be parents too, which one do you command give up his or her career?

Posted by: to John L | April 9, 2007 12:55 PM

"I do feel that there is much more disconnect between people than there was 30 years ago."

Is that a bad thing?

Don't people pretty much make the time for what they want?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 12:58 PM

"And in the case of married military personnel, who happen to be parents too, which one do you command give up his or her career?"

As I said before, which one is the primary caregiver? If both parents are in the military and subject to overseas deployment, however (not all are), then under no circumstances should both be deployed simultaneously (which has happened). All IMO of course.

Posted by: John L | April 9, 2007 12:59 PM

I can understand your arguments that I may not know what others make. FYI - I'm in finance. In my last job I had access to all employee salary from entry level to CEO. I know what I make in relation to others.

I smile to myself when my male counterparts brag about their salary at happy hour - and I know I'm making more.

Really, what I'm saying is, the pay gap is going away - and it's starting with those who have recently graduated. Things change down the road when family becomes a factor.

Rather than be ENCOURAGED by this fact, you choose to dismiss me as young and naive. Your choice, but it isn't going to help solve anything - at least not for your generation.

Posted by: College Grad | April 9, 2007 1:01 PM

College Grad,

Are you absolutely positive that you are indeed earning the same amount (factoring in relevant experience or internships, etc.) as your colleagues of similar age, experience and education? Do you compare pay stubs? Are you even permitted to do this, or can you be fired for sharing the information?

I doubt your company is "open source" about the pay. Unless you are HR and actually know what everybody is paid!

Now, if you work for the government, you can find out how much someone is paid, simply by looking them up (there used to be a link, here on WP) and seeing what their pay scale is, whether or not they had gotten a bonus, how much it was... I don't think anyone has bothered to update it. That was a few years ago.

Posted by: MarylandMother | April 9, 2007 1:02 PM

The reality is that in many male dominated fields for many years, starting salaries for women were higher than for men b/c the cos. Were trying to recruit women and there weren't many of them to recruit.

Now, with more and more women going to college and fewer and fewer men, things might take care of themselves. I.e., there just aren't going to be as many men to hire.

Posted by: atlmom | April 9, 2007 1:02 PM

John L: First, let's not base current opinion on a movie about a war fought 60+ years ago.

to John L: Just so you know, if married servicepeople have children, they are required to have a Family Care Plan on file with their unit. In other words, a plan for the care of children in case the parents are called away. What this does is require parents to think logically and ahead of time about what to do with their kids so that they can go take care of the country. We also put a high premium on making sure paperwork (death benefits, wills) are up-to-date.

I know I take my service requirements seriously...my fellow service members count on it. And, for the record, I'm one of the women that that Parker woman would like to see stay home.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 1:03 PM

Rather than be ENCOURAGED by this fact, you choose to dismiss me as young and naive. Your choice, but it isn't going to help solve anything - at least not for your generation.

Posted by: College Grad | April 9, 2007 01:01 PM

Then be part of the solution and accidently-on-purpose make the company pay roll public to the employees. Obviously you wouldn't do it with your e-mail address.

I bet there are plenty of people who THINK they are paid commensurate with their training, experience, hours put in, and know-how.

As it stands, you have the information and you are being very smug. I bet you wouldn't stand for it if it were YOUR parent, or aunt/uncle being shafted.

Posted by: uh-huh | April 9, 2007 1:05 PM

---"I do feel that there is much more disconnect between people than there was 30 years ago."

Is that a bad thing?

Don't people pretty much make the time for what they want?---

That was me at 12:51 - unsigned post.
To answer your question, IMO, it is a bad thing. I feel that interaction between all sorts of people we come across in our lives can be enriching. Speaking with the cashiers or other customers or the street performer or someone walking through your neighborhood is, in a small way, a connection with the bigger world.

Posted by: wondering | April 9, 2007 1:06 PM

"Just so you know, if married servicepeople have children, they are required to have a Family Care Plan on file with their unit. In other words, a plan for the care of children in case the parents are called away. What this does is require parents to think logically and ahead of time about what to do with their kids so that they can go take care of the country. We also put a high premium on making sure paperwork (death benefits, wills) are up-to-date."

Thanks, anon at 1:03 for your service to our country. Would that all parents approached parenting as proactively and responsibly as you.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | April 9, 2007 1:07 PM

What helps my generation, to use your language, is to share salary and promotion information and employment experience with others in our respective fields, and to spend 80% more time listening than shouting. You are old enough to have learned that most of the time those who think they know everything inevitably are poor sources of credible information.

Posted by: to College Grad | April 9, 2007 1:14 PM

Texas Dad of 2

Again, I am baffled as to the point of your post.

It seems to prove nothing but the fact that you have mastered the fine art of copying and pasting.

Posted by: Confused | April 9, 2007 1:15 PM

anon @ 1:03,

That's all well and good, but as I said in response to your comments, I don't see why both parents should be deployed simultaneously. You see it differently and that's fine with me, but just because the military makes you fill out a plan on how to take care of your children if both parents are deployed doesn't necessarily make it right.

Posted by: John L | April 9, 2007 1:16 PM

"John L: First, let's not base current opinion on a movie about a war fought 60+ years ago."

If I may, John L. was not talking about opinions, just the reasons why siblings are not serving on the same ships or in combat in the same units.

It is a personal decision to serve, if you are a single parent it is an even more important decision. Katie Couric won't travel to war regions because she is a single parent. I respect her decision as I would someone who is actually fighting.

Posted by: anon for several reasons | April 9, 2007 1:20 PM

You guys should take a step back and stop picking on college grad. Remember he/she is still very young and don't we all remember when we thought we knew it all in our 20s. Everyone eventually learns the golden rule, "nothing in life comes out even. The sooner you accept that the sooner you will find happiness."

Posted by: adoptee | April 9, 2007 1:25 PM

I love this little thing that catlady and college grad have going on. I like college grad. she has moxie. No wonder she makes good money. catlady on the other hand has some real serious issues.

Posted by: John Paul | April 9, 2007 1:27 PM

watch the upper classes sit around and talk about whether service women should serve in combat roles. as if any of you men are going to step up and replace the women in those combat roles.

everyone wants an all-volunteer army. no one educated wants to serve in it. nice.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 1:27 PM

I was a bit taken aback just reading the headline on Ms. Parker's opinion. So much so that I did not read it until today. I guess that she feels that we should run our country by the standards of other countries. As she points out this is not Churchill's navy but it is not Churchill's war or decade in time.

This is certainly a subject that I thought about before my daughter enlisted. But as it was her choice to make and the fact that my family has a long heritage of military service, I was not against it.

I view this issue--that a woman could be captured and killed --as a logical extension of gender equality. The struggle for gender equality has opened many doors but it also brings the responsibility and the obligation of the downside of jobs. Equal pay for equal work is a laudable goal but the work truly must be equal. Being a partner in a law firm brings many perks as well as 80 hour weeks. Being a soldier brings a few perks but also equal danger in the practice of that profession.

If you ask me I am willing to see my daughter die in combat? Hell no! But I understand that this is a reality as it was for me, my brothers, my father and many others.

Posted by: Fred | April 9, 2007 1:28 PM

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/09/technology/09blog.html?ei=5090&en=52ed112ca37ec909&ex=1333771200&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss&pagewanted=print

Interesting article on blogging, cites many reasons not to accept anonymous posts. Hint, Hint..........

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 1:29 PM

My wife and I got into an interesting discussion the other day about how if I was going to die on her I should have done it when I was active duty- It would have gotten her a BIG life insurance paycheck of $400,000 and support the rest of her life. If I were somehow killed now, she would get pretty much squat- even though I am doing something similar to what I used to do and making a LOT more... For some reason that thought makes me sleep a little easier at night. ;-P

Posted by: Chris | April 9, 2007 1:32 PM

I would like to think that no parent would want to see either their daughter OR their son killed in combat.

Other countries have had women in combat; the Soviets had both female snipers and fighter pilots serve with distinction in WWII.

I've got no problem with women in combat, as long as they can perform to the same standard as the men can. But, when children are in the equation the military needs to take that into account when assigning deployment orders.

Posted by: John L | April 9, 2007 1:33 PM

Does anyone know if the qualifications for men and women in combat are the same?

Posted by: anon for several reasons | April 9, 2007 1:34 PM

But wasn't the British sailor's husband with their child? Maybe he was the primary caregiver?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 1:35 PM

1) The physical standards for men and women are different.

2) By law, women cannot serve in certain MOS's (jobs) such as infantry, artillery.

3. As John L points out, many individuals are "cross trained" upon arrival in country. So a female cannot hold the MOS of a infantryman but can perform the same duties as her MOS say a MP.

Posted by: Fred | April 9, 2007 1:37 PM

John Paul wrote: "I love this little thing that catlady and college grad have going on. I like college grad. she has moxie. No wonder she makes good money. catlady on the other hand has some real serious issues."

Considering the source, I wear your comment as a badge of honor.

Posted by: catlady | April 9, 2007 1:39 PM

John L,
"I've got no problem with women in combat, as long as they can perform to the same standard as the men can. But, when children are in the equation the military needs to take that into account when assigning deployment orders"

The problem here is that if parents aren't going to be taking the same risks as non-parents then they shouldn't be paid the same!
I was a reservist during Desert Storm. A group of my fellow soldiers were given orders to go overseas. I was not. Purely luck of the draw. Someone said that they should send the single people without kids first. As a single person without kids I found that offensive. If they are going to make the same money as I am then they should share the responsibilities and risks.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | April 9, 2007 1:41 PM


Women also serve in the Israel armed forces.

Posted by: Fred | April 9, 2007 1:41 PM

Question for fred,

1) The physical standards for men and women are different.

Then do you believe that women should perform at the same level as men in order to be in the infantry, or are you ok with the current rules?

Posted by: anon for several reasons | April 9, 2007 1:42 PM

Females are by federal law barred from being infantry. On the face, this is a moot point.

Posted by: Fred | April 9, 2007 1:44 PM

I've got no problem with men in combat, as long as they can perform to the same standard as the women.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | April 9, 2007 1:48 PM

Females are by federal law barred from being infantry. On the face, this is a moot point.

Posted by: Fred | April 9, 2007 01:44 PM


Still trying to clarify, do you think women should be in the infantry if they can meet the same standards?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 1:50 PM

There should be standards for going into combat and whoever meets them can go. What generally happens is that many (not all)women complain that any standard based on physical standards is inherently discrimnatory if men do it better. (Strangely the same "discrimination" does not appear applicable if women do something better). This is generally related to items that require physical strength or endurance. I will reiterate, once the physical standards are set, whoever qualifies should be allowed to fill the roles. In some areas "diversity" is not as important as performance.

Posted by: steelerhawk | April 9, 2007 1:56 PM

Thanks, John Paul for your comment - it really made me laugh.

In response to "uh-huh" I would never "accidentally" let that information out. I'm a woman of integrity, and as unfair as you may think things are, I choose to play by the rules. Also, if you have been reading my posts, you would realize I don't think things are really that uneven. There are more senior women in my org who make more than the men around them - and they work hard. Much harder than I would like to work!

Adoptee - you are absolutely right. Nothing in life is "equal" or "fair". You have to be smart, work hard, and above all, you have to take responsibility/accountability for yourself.

I know the pay gap exists in some places. My bro-in-law (37) tried to get me to take a job at his company for 35K. Imagine his surprise when I told him my salary requirements and he realized I was making more than he is! So, yes... Pay gaps exists, often because men think women only want to be a secretary. Unfortunately, many women are willing to accept it by doing little more than complain.

My point still stands that the younger generation is doing better than previous generations - it's just a non-issue for us. Really. Your generation should be happy! We're actually listening to you.

I read Maureen Dowd's book "Are Men Necessary?" and I was left with a "so what?" sort of feeling. Then I realized that the generations before me - Maureen's generation - had pretty much accomplished what they set out to do. The problem is - they don't see the change in their generation. The change is in my generation - only too many of you are too proud to admit it.

Posted by: College Grad | April 9, 2007 1:57 PM

Do you think all standards should be be measured in terms of physical strength?

Posted by: To steelerhawk | April 9, 2007 1:59 PM

to college grad:
I'm ~8 years out of undergrad, and completely agree with you about entering salaries. I took advantage of career counseling to negiotiate a great starting offer (computer science, programming). The problem comes in a few years. When you get married, and find out your boss is a participant in the 'baby pool' to guess who is the first woman who got married to get pregnant. Or to interview for jobs and get a patronizing 'flexible schedule' talk because you are a woman of childbearing age? I started to not wear my wedding ring to interviews. In a lot of cases, you are judged (and concordantly paid) based on what people believe you to be, not what you are. And I don't want to work from home, and my husband will stay home with the kids. It's the way it is.

As for those who say find another job, some jobs are great and for great companies and close to home. I loved my job that I left that differentially paid my co-worker who had a family. I did leave, but it's easier for me as I'm in a high-demand field.

Posted by: Novi, MI | April 9, 2007 2:01 PM

Do you think all standards should be be measured in terms of physical strength?

Posted by: To steelerhawk | April 9, 2007 01:59 PM


In combat, that is the prime requisite!

Posted by: Been There, Done That | April 9, 2007 2:01 PM

"Bottom line - if you think you make less than a man in the same position - ask for a raise. Find a job that pays more. It's not rocket science people."

I couldn't agree more. If I found out I were making less than my male counterparts for doing the same (or more) work, you couldn't stop me from demanding a raise. If I didn't get it, I'd find another job where I am paid what I am worth. Sitting around whining about wage disparities absolutely will not help.

And if some of you whiners are at work blogging on the company's dime, I might have some insight as to why you make less...

Posted by: lawgirl | April 9, 2007 2:01 PM

About the standards to serve in the military:

The standards were adopted based on what men could do because only men were serving. Now that women are serving, the same standards are being used to evaluate them.

The best solution is to recalibrate the standards so that they measure both men's and women's abilities. That way all the soldiers would be equally qualified and the women wouldn't be discriminated against.

I'm sure that recalibrating the standards wouldn't send our military into a downward spiral. I don't think that changing the standards to 20 pull-ups instead of 50 pull-ups will cause more deaths.

Posted by: Meesh | April 9, 2007 2:01 PM

As Fred (and I) have said, the rules barring women from ground combat have been made pointless by two things:

1) The fluidity of things in Iraq; there is no "front line" behind which it is safe for women to perform their duties. Combat can erupt anywhere, at any time, against any unit.

2) The desperate need by the Army for "boots on the ground" for house-to-house patrolling, garrison duties, escorting convoys, and protecting evacuation personnel.

Units in which women have served well in the Army in the past (intelligence, anti-air, transportation, maintenance, MP, etc) have all been deployed to Iraq, had their equipment taken from them (or just not deployed with it in the first place), and on arrival in country, the troops were given crash courses in "how to patrol" and sent out. Men or women, trained or not, active or NG, they've been sent into combat areas.

Back when she was deployed, a woman assigned to a noncombat unit kept a blog running over there. She described being pinned down in a firefight in the middle of Iraq a couple of times, even though she was not trained for such action. I don't know if she's still doing it but the descriptions she gave (self censored and time delayed for security reasons) were hair raising.

Posted by: John L | April 9, 2007 2:03 PM

College grad, wait till you go to your next employer, or the one after that, etc. You just got lucky this time, and sooner or later you'll get treated unequally. How will you handle it then? Just quit and do without a job for awhile?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 2:04 PM

Meesh,

The standard have be recalibrated. And the ability for 20 vs. 50 pullups could mean alot in combat. Upper body strenght is a real consideration for infantry. Try slogging around all day carrying a M-240.

Posted by: Fred | April 9, 2007 2:05 PM

You really think you're something, don't you?

Posted by: to College Grad | April 9, 2007 2:05 PM

Not all standards, only those requiring physical strength and endurance. I once saw a show about qualifying as a firefighter. Because the average weight of an American male (at the time) was 180 lbs, there was a requirement that a firefighter could carry 180 lbs for X distance. I still recall listening to Bella Abzug ( a noted feminist)respond that just because many women couldn't meet that requiremnen was no reason to deny them a good high paying job. They should simply have a man do that part of the job. When it was pointed out that a greater proportion of women couldn't direct the firehose or carry the ladders or effectively wield an axe...She (Bella) again said it was still discriminatory to set the same standard for men and women if women fared less well.
There are many jobs where women will do equally well or better. However, whatever the standards, they should not be lowered to accomodate specific groups.

Posted by: steelerhawk | April 9, 2007 2:06 PM

that should be "have been recalibrated"

Posted by: Fred | April 9, 2007 2:07 PM

Do you think all standards should be be measured in terms of physical strength?

Posted by: To steelerhawk | April 9, 2007 01:59 PM


In combat, that is the prime requisite!

Posted by: Been There, Done That | April 9, 2007 02:01 PM


Nowadadys, more combat is technological than mano-a-mano, compared to past wars.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 2:07 PM

You really think you're something, don't you?

And you must not think you are anything at all.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 2:08 PM

Meesh, I have to disagree with you about recalibrating military physical standards for women.

No one wants a soldier in the foxhole next to you that is unable to haul a 220 pound wounded comrade to safety, man or woman, or perform your duty in the heat of combat unaided. The physical standards are based on someone being able to do that, especially for the ground units such as infantry and Marines. If those standards cannot be met, man or woman, then they should have no business being in a situation where they may have to do these things (which is why I don't like what the Army is currently doing by turning their noncombat units into infantry).

It's the same reason why firefighters must pass a rigorous physical test; they never know when they may have to carry an injured fireman up or down a ladder, unaided, wearing protective gear.

No doubt there are men who cannot pass those tests, but no way do I want them relaxed just to allow more women to pass either.

Posted by: John L | April 9, 2007 2:08 PM

Just because you felt fear (and maybe that female soldier did too) when reading that blog doesn't mean that that soldier didn't want to be serving her country. We all sign up knowing that this military profession requires sacrifices...emotional and physical. You're absolutely right about the blurring of battlelines. In my mind, that's great proof that women shouldn't be told where they're "allowed" to serve. We're doing it all already...and we're doing great. Thanks for the attempt at protection, but we can handle ourselves.

Posted by: to John L | April 9, 2007 2:09 PM

Nowadadys, more combat is technological than mano-a-mano, compared to past wars.

Posted by: | April 9, 2007 02:07 PM

Do you EVEN watch the national news with daily scenes of combat patrols? A foot soldier is a ground pounder is a grunt. No computer will replace him!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 2:10 PM

No one wants a soldier in the foxhole next to you that is unable to haul a 220 pound wounded comrade to safety


How often does that happen? Wouldn't such an obese soldier not be allowed into battle in the first place?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 2:13 PM

Right. Not every job in the military is grunt-work. I am 4'10" and 99 pounds, and was in military intelligence for 5 years.

Small WOMEN can serve--like anything else, proper tools for the proper job.

Posted by: NW anon | April 9, 2007 2:16 PM

>>I am shocked at all the crying and complaining like you are in handcuffs. Do you just take what they give you? If you are worth more, demand more.<<

Say I change jobs. My new job is a step up from my old one, and now I'm making $12,000 more than I was. I'm pretty happy about that! The figure is within the national range for my job, and I feel like I'm making good money. If, however, I were to find out that the guy in the next office, who is doing the same kind of work, has 5 fewer years of experience, and lacks the master's degree that I have, is making $10,000 more than I am - you bet I would stand up and demand a raise! The problem is that I generally have no way of knowing if the guy in the next office is making more money.

Women as a class can demand equal pay based on the national statistics - and what you get is arguments like this one. Individual women, on the other hand, generally can't improve their own situations without knowing what men in equivalent positions are making, and that information isn't usually readily available.

College Grad, looking at national studies of pay equity in various fields, it becomes pretty clear that this doesn't have all that much to do with age. Gender pay disparity happens to young folks too. It has more to do with what field you work in, and the institutional culture of your employer, than it has to do with how old you are. And don't you dare accuse me of condescending to your youth - I too am under 30.

Look, I'm happy for you that you make more than the guys around you. But catlady's warning about generalization from a small sample is well-taken - what is true for you is not necessarily true across the board.

Posted by: Northern Girl | April 9, 2007 2:17 PM

A man wearing his combat gear (body armor, supplies, etc) can easily weigh over 220 pounds (they typically carry 30-50 pounds of gear). A man in his early 20's, in excellent health and above average height can have a body weight of 220 easily.

As for the "technological war", all our electronic gear doesn't work too well in urban settings, which is why the "boots on the ground" are so necessary in Iraq.

No, I'm not trying to "protect" women from combat. I've said repeatedly if you want to go fight and can pass the tests, I'm all for it. The issue is that there are many (men and) women who did NOT choose to be infantry and are now finding themselves in that role, whether they are suited to it or not. The Army isn't being too choosy where they get their troops, as long as they get them.

Posted by: John L | April 9, 2007 2:18 PM

Right. Not every job in the military is grunt-work. I am 4'10" and 99 pounds, and was in military intelligence for 5 years.

Small WOMEN can serve--like anything else, proper tools for the proper job.

Posted by: NW anon | April 9, 2007 02:16 PM


The question is women in combat roles, not the military in general.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 2:24 PM

No doubt there are men who cannot pass those tests, but no way do I want them relaxed just to allow more women to pass either.

Posted by: John L | April 9, 2007 02:08 PM


Thank you John L. You are being more gender-neutral then the ya-ya sisterhood on this blog.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 2:26 PM

John L you make a good point about siblings not being allowed on the same ship, stationed at the same place, etc. My cousins were both in the first gulf war and wanted to be together on the same ship. The navy was not having it, which is a good thing I think. I wonder if any other professions limit family togetherness on the job.

I know that some coal companies also nix family in the mine. My cousin tried to get his brother a job working with him and was told they weren't allowed to hire family due to the risk of cave ins and injury. I wonder if firefighters and police officers have any restrictions.

Now the back to the topic. College grad is taking a big hit on the board today. I can see some good points to what she is saying. Maybe you guys don't like the way she is coming across, but can't you see that she has the feminist spirit that many of you like?

I am woman hear me roar, I can take on the men and still make more! Come on, I don't think it is fair to call her lucky or to say that she thinks she is something just because you guys don't agree with her. Maybe she works hard and doesn't take no for an answer.

I am not saying that some women have not been treated unfairly, most of us know this happens, but to totally discount what she is saying because you find her young or full of herself isn't fair either. I am not trying to start a fight, but I just think that some of what she says is worthwhile.

Posted by: scarry | April 9, 2007 2:29 PM

John L, "The Army isn't being too choosy where they get their troops, as long as they get them."

Exactly, point well taken. If your screening system is broken, which is the foundation for your operation, then by definition, your operation is flawed.

In my opinion, you should no more put the guy who is 110 pounds soaking wet in as a foot soldier than you should me--at 99 pounds. If someone can physically do the job and wishes to, let them. If they can't, well, hey, I'd like to play for the WNBA, but I don't see anyone banging down my door to sign me up. Facts of life, folks.


Posted by: NW Anon | April 9, 2007 2:29 PM

Susie McConnell Serio played in the WNBA, at 5'4", and she rocked

Posted by: To NW Anon | April 9, 2007 2:32 PM

College Grad, I think you are doing most of the complaining here- and it is pretty bad when you are complaining about people complaining!

I am 25 and have been in the workforce for 4 years. Until I experienced pay discrimination I felt that I had never been treated unfairly compared to men, and once I did find out that the men were getting paid more I went directly to HR. My salary was very quickly increased to match theirs.

So, I did DO SOMETHING about it. But that doesn't mean that the problem didn't exist in the first place. And as has been mentioned above, there are many people who don't ever find out how much their colleagues make and therefore don't know if they are experiencing discrimination.

Just because you haven't had the experience yet doesn't mean you never will. It is nice to look through the world with rose-colored glasses, though.

Posted by: Carifly | April 9, 2007 2:32 PM

Since we men are so useless and do nothing but hold women down, why even bother? Just take steps to ensure the eventual elimnation of men from society.

Posted by: to scarry | April 9, 2007 2:32 PM

Just take steps to ensure the eventual elimnation of men from society.

Posted by: to scarry | April 9, 2007 02:32 PM


Nah, we'll just keep a few of ya around 'cause you're so cute.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 2:34 PM

To scarry wrote--- Since we men are so useless and do nothing but hold women down, why even bother? Just take steps to ensure the eventual elimnation of men from society.

This is a really insightful post. Join a discussion where truly valid, well-thought-out ideas are being discussed and send this blanket blast. To scarry, you're a waste of space.

Posted by: To to scarry | April 9, 2007 2:35 PM

Nah, we'll just keep a few of ya around 'cause you're so cute.

Posted by: | April 9, 2007 02:34 PM

This was not a line of reasoning that men were allowed to follow past about 1965 or so...

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 2:36 PM

Discrimination can exist and does exist in the sense that even in an organization that has the most equitable pay practices possible, people are paid differently for different performances and that evaluation of that performance is subjective. So while college grad makes a good point about taking an active role in understanding your pay and ensuring you are being paid fairly, please don't believe that discrimination doesn't or cannot exist.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 2:38 PM

The pay gap is the result of both labor supply and labor demand factors. The worker (supply) may choose to have have a more flexible job and hours and may choose a career field, but these are NOT the only choices being made. The employer (demand factor) also chooses to hire one person over another, to invest more in one worker than another, to follow (or not) stereotypes in deciding on promotions, and such. So women's (or men's) own personal volition in the career is important, but we should not forget that part of the wage gap comes from what employers choose and, yes, the fact that much of the upper tier of fields like finance, politics, academia, etc., is male means that women will sometimes experience discrimination. Discrimination, whether we like to admit it or not, is part of the pay gap.

Posted by: montgomery3 | April 9, 2007 2:38 PM

In the recent WV coal mine disaster, wasn't one of the survivors related to one of those who died? ISTR there was a son and a father down there and only the son got out alive.

There've been times recently in Iraq where the Army has deployed siblings there, and both parents (but in different units), while the USN has refused to allow relatives on the same ship. The Army's the one with the deployment/manpower crunch though, not the Navy.

In my office pay is gender neutral; each pay grade has the same range of salaries, and only experience in a position counts for salary differences. Two new employees at the same pay grade would be paid the same, male or female.

Posted by: John L | April 9, 2007 2:39 PM

This was not a line of reasoning that men were allowed to follow past about 1965 or so...


Posted by: | April 9, 2007 02:36 PM


But we know darn well that some of them still think it.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 2:39 PM

"If, however, I were to find out that the guy in the next office, who is doing the same kind of work, has 5 fewer years of experience, and lacks the master's degree that I have, is making $10,000 more than I am - you bet I would stand up and demand a raise"

If you found out you were making $10,000 more than the worker in the next office who has more experience and education, would you demand that they get a raise or offer to take a cut in salary?

If you were happy with your $12000 and new job, can't you just be happy? Maybe he was offered less and said no, and that is why he is getting more.

Re: education. I do not have a degree but am doing professional work and have for years. When I started working, you could work your way up in a company with in-house training and related experience. I have years of experience and consistent awards and bonuses for high performance. You could actually get a new job or promotion based on education or a combination of education and experience. Now that I am interested in relocating, I can't find a job because the employers are requiring a degree. Someone who just graduated college with no practical work experience can get the job, but someone with 15 years of exemplary experience cannot even get past HR screens to get an interview. I have the honor of mentoring new people, but if I were just applying to my company, I would not be considered qualified for their jobs. I am not against education by any means, but why doesn't experience have value any more?

Posted by: billie | April 9, 2007 2:41 PM

"To scarry, you're a waste of space.

And how! Sounds like the ramblings of a middle school cheerleader!!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 2:43 PM

I didn't say that. If you read some of my previous posts from other blogs you will see that I am neither a feminist nor feel held down by men. I do, however, think that pay discrimination exists in all different kinds of shapes and sizes. I think that in some companies it also includes men. So there you have it!

John L, yes in the mine blast in Somerset, PA there was a father and a son in law. They both got out and I will tell you that was nothing short of a miracle.

I come from a family of strip miners who always worked together. However, this mine in particular has gotten smart about the reality of mining. I would think that they could have at least let them work different shifts, but they told him no.

Posted by: scarry | April 9, 2007 2:45 PM

"please don't believe that discrimination doesn't or cannot exist."

Just because discrimination can and does exist, doesn't mean that it exists everywhere. Not every working woman has been a victim of discrimination.

If college grad says that she hasn't experienced discrimination, then I believe her. I don't automatically assume that she has and just hasn't recognized it.

I know many men who have been discriminated against because the company was trying to upgrade its image regarding women in the workforce. I'm not implying that the women didn't qualify in their own right, but their selection was a definite case of discrimination because there were men who also qualified.


Posted by: lmn | April 9, 2007 2:47 PM

It is my understanding that much of the "pay gap" goes away once actual time spent on the job is take in to account. Essentially, if you have to mid-level managers, one who has worked in their career are for 12 years straight and another who took 3 or 4 years off, but comes back and is hired into a similar position, the latter will make less money. One cannot expect to take time out topursue other areas that are important to one and come back in an be compensated at the level of those who never left(Chances are they were receiving some type of raise each year.) Some portion of pay is tied to "time in service" and "time in grade". The rest, theoretically, is tied to performance. For argument's sake, let's say the person who stuck around got a 5% raise each year while worker B took off 4 years. When worker B comes back, you would expect that they are going to make a little more than 20% less per year than the person who worked uninterrupted.

Posted by: steelerhawk | April 9, 2007 2:47 PM

"If you read some of my previous posts from other blogs..."

"So there you have it! "

The last word (not) from scarry!!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 2:48 PM

This is a really insightful post. Join a discussion where truly valid, well-thought-out ideas are being discussed and send this blanket blast. To scarry, you're a waste of space.

Posted by: To to scarry | April 9, 2007 02:35 PM

No less than what passes for comments by some of the posters on this blog. Maybe there was a bit of hyperbole in my comment? It did cause a few replies other than you are (whatever)

Posted by: to scarry | April 9, 2007 2:51 PM

Is "Scarry" because you have lots of scars, or because you misspelled a name indicating that you are someone who causes fear?

Posted by: Enquiring minds want to know.... | April 9, 2007 2:51 PM

I am not against education by any means, but why doesn't experience have value any more?

The million dollar question. My guess is education is seen as two things. 1) the ability to think 2) the willingness to invest in your future both in terms of $$ and time. But it is a real shame that so many professions require a piece of paper that says very little about job performance. But that is why I am doing my best to assure that my daughter goes on to college. If nothing else, she will always have that piece of paper. The saddest part is that graduate school is following suit. So many people are getting useless grad degrees just to qualify for positions. Even if the position does not require the educational knowledge obtained through these degrees. But we are rewarded for investing in the future. A college education is still the safest route out of poverty.

Posted by: foamgnome | April 9, 2007 2:54 PM

Absolutely. Your daughter is a lucky little girl (two reasons--she ahs you for a mum, and, she will get to go on to college).

My mum is a very smart woman in her 70's. She was always held back due to lack of a degree, and she made certain I went on to college.

Always glad to see your posts!

Posted by: Caroline | April 9, 2007 2:56 PM

>>If you found out you were making $10,000 more than the worker in the next office who has more experience and education, would you demand that they get a raise or offer to take a cut in salary?

If you were happy with your $12000 and new job, can't you just be happy? Maybe he was offered less and said no, and that is why he is getting more.<<

I'd argue for my colleague to get a raise, of course, assuming that my colleague's quality of work merited the pay.

As for why I can't just sit down and shut up about pay disparity? Because the advice that "you should be happy with what you've got" is the argument that has been used for centuries to reinforce institutionalized oppression. I advocate for change because I believe in the principle of gender equity, because I believe that sex-based discrimination is simply wrong.

For the record, I work in the non-profit sector, and I choose to stay at my current employer because I love the work, even though I could probably swing a 50% raise next week if I was willing to work somewhere else, let alone if I switched to the private sector. I'm not fixated on the size of my paycheck. But you better believe I would be outraged if I found out that I made less money than a less-qualified coworker.

Posted by: Northern Girl | April 9, 2007 3:01 PM

Thanks Caroline. We actually don't know if my daughter will go on to college because she has developmental delays. Right now, it is too early for them to know. Truthfully it is always too early to know at the age of 3 (unless your kid is some kind of genius). My friend's son who is actually quite bright but very immature just dropped out of college. So you never know. But we are making sure the $$ and the opportunities are available if she is capable. If not, we will need to talk about alternative routes of employment. If she can't go to college, we will research trade schools. We would also give her the down payment on a house (if she does not go to college). This will help her achieve a middle class lifestyle without a college degree. But all a parent can do is save money, provide educational opportunities, a love a learning, and hope and pray.

Posted by: foamgnome | April 9, 2007 3:03 PM

"Please don't believe that discrimination does not or cannot exist"

Is is a demographically neutral statement. Discrimination can exist because pay decisions are generally based on (at least partially) performance evaluations which in of themselves are (at least partially) subjective.

I haven't experienced discrimination personally, but as someone who works closely with corporate compensation, want to make it clear that 1) compensation conversations are not one sided & you can negotiate and 2) the possibility exists that personal bias can influence pay decisions.

If you find that it does, then you have the resonsibility to clearly state that to your manager and the compensation department so that the problem can be addressed and hopefully eliminated.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 3:05 PM

Off-topic alert.

FG, I sent an e-mail to Fred & Frieda in hopes that you were listed with them too. (Hint-hint. Bad movie reference follows: "Desperately Seeking FoamGnome"!)

Are you using the 529 plan?

MdM

Posted by: MarylandMother | April 9, 2007 3:08 PM

If you find that it does, then you have the resonsibility to clearly state that to your manager and the compensation department so that the problem can be addressed and hopefully eliminated.

Posted by: | April 9, 2007 03:05 PM


There's the rub sometimes, just finding out. Like someone said earlier, at some places pay is considered a trade secret, so you can't legitimately find out what coworkers are getting.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 3:09 PM

MD Mother: We use a combination of a 429 and another savings account that is tax deferred at my job. I also saved some money in mutual funds as a back up plan. We are hoping not to have to liquidate the mutual funds for her education but will do if necessary. How do I get on Fred's list? I don't believe I am there.

Posted by: foamgnome | April 9, 2007 3:11 PM

"Maybe he was offered less and said no, and that is why he is getting more."

I think this is one of the biggest barriers to women. If you don't ask for what you're worth up front, it's much harder to make up for that gap later through raises. And I think that a lot of women are reluctant to be hard negotiators at this stage, which is where it counts the most. Doing your research ahead of time to figure what you should be asking for, and not being afraid to ask for what you should be getting, is essential. I know I make more than a lot of my colleagues (men and women) in comparable positions because I asked for it and they didn't (I am a woman). I kind of feel bad for them and at the same time, I don't feel responsible for the fact that they didn't do what I did. I guess I could tell them what I make but I work for a small company and the consequences would be intense, possible I'd loose my job.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 3:11 PM

To John L. and others responding to my post about military standards:

Thanks for letting me know they've been recalibrated. I fully agree that people serving in the infantry should be able to drag one another out of danger. My only point was that the standards have to actually reflect the needs (like having to carry a pack that weighs 60 lbs.) instead of just using the standards from decades ago because they're too lazy to figure out if they're still applicable. I'm all for weaklings being booted out of infantry.

John L., I completely agree with your post about the soldiers being assigned to areas that they're not familiar with and unprepared for. I heard similar news.

Posted by: Meesh | April 9, 2007 3:14 PM

I guess I could tell them what I make but I work for a small company and the consequences would be intense, possible I'd loose my job.

Posted by: | April 9, 2007 03:11 PM


Hope you don't sleep well at night.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 3:14 PM

Who can truly ever sleep well at night, when s/he is employed by someone else? (I am not self-employed, either)

Posted by: ? | April 9, 2007 3:15 PM

//Hope you don't sleep well at night.

Posted by: | April 9, 2007 03:14 PM //

I don't, though not because of this. The topper is I really don't even like my job much. Maybe that's why I felt freer to ask for as much money as I did, Ididn't really care if I got the job or not.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 3:17 PM

MdM
I rec'd you email but I am not in charge around here!

Foamgnome,

write me at Fred_and_Frieda@hotmail.com

Posted by: Fred | April 9, 2007 3:22 PM

"Discrimination" and "discriminate" appear in 514 post by 260 different posters.

Top 10 listed below:

6 Meesh
6 pittypat
7 scarry
8 Five
9 foamgnome
9 Megan's Neighbor
10 Emily
11 Working mother
12 Megan
14 Leslie

Posted by: Blog Stats | April 9, 2007 3:24 PM

Yes, that is the rub, but you are also allowed to ask what the pay range is for your position and find out why you are either at low, middle, or high point in the range.

If that aligns with your performance evaluation and how you perceive your performance to be in comparison with others then it should be relatively clear that your are being paid fairly.

If however, there isn't alignment, then you have a case for discrimination simply on your own merits. There are always going to be exceptions to the rule for valuable employees or new hires, but it behooves the manager to differentiate pay fairly because despite some organizations attempts at keeping pay practices concealed there is no way to effectively enforce that, and let's be honest people talk one way or another.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 3:25 PM

but you are also allowed to ask what the pay range is for your position and find out why you are either at low, middle, or high point in the range.


Not always.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 3:28 PM

Hi Fred,

I know--I'm not complaining. Just trying to encourage FG to ask to be included, so I can persuade her to go to Glen Echo with me (oh, yeah, so the KIDS can go to Glen Echo) sometime.

MdM

Re: College Grad

Okay, you're in HR. Does this mean you have actually sat down, reviewed the employee files within job categories/titles and can categorically state that discrimination does not exist? You, at least, have access to their training, their experience, whether or not they took maternity leave (or used the FMLA), were out of the work force for a significant time (personally, I don't think 8 weeks for maternity leave is significant--that was the most I ever used, so I'm biased.), etc.

I'd be interested in hearing about that. As you mentioned that you are a "woman of honor" and wouldn't let the staffers know who makes how much, does this mean it IS considered a trade secret by your employer, or that you simply wouldn't let on? If someone came and asked you how s/he stacked up within their job position vs. the rest of the pack, would you be able to tell them something useful? As in, "In your position, you are amongst the 20% best-paid"? Or would that land you out in the street?

Just curious. As I said, in the gov't, if you know their name, you can find out how much someone is paid.

Posted by: MarylandMother | April 9, 2007 3:33 PM

//Hope you don't sleep well at night.

Posted by: | April 9, 2007 03:14 PM //

I don't, though not because of this. The topper is I really don't even like my job much. Maybe that's why I felt freer to ask for as much money as I did, Ididn't really care if I got the job or not.

Posted by: | April 9, 2007 03:17 PM

Why shouldn't she sleep well at night? She asked for more money because that's what made the job worth it to her, she shouldn't be penalized because other people are willing to do the same work for less. Basic economics, people!

Posted by: basic econ | April 9, 2007 3:33 PM

If you can't get the answers that you need then I guess ignorance is bliss.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 3:34 PM

If you can't get the answers that you need then ignorance is... oppression.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 3:38 PM

I think this is one of the biggest barriers to women. If you don't ask for what you're worth up front, it's much harder to make up for that gap later through raises. And I think that a lot of women are reluctant to be hard negotiators at this stage, which is where it counts the most. Doing your research ahead of time to figure what you should be asking for, and not being afraid to ask for what you should be getting, is essential. I know I make more than a lot of my colleagues (men and women) in comparable positions because I asked for it and they didn't (I am a woman). I kind of feel bad for them and at the same time, I don't feel responsible for the fact that they didn't do what I did. I guess I could tell them what I make but I work for a small company and the consequences would be intense, possible I'd loose my job.

Posted by: | April 9, 2007 03:11 PM

While I agree in principle with your comments, let me add another reminder that the idea of negotiating for a higher offer up-front depends on the industry. In mine the pay scale for new grads at all employers is published info, e.g., there is no negotiation at all. After that, the subjectivity commences.

I am making more than several of my female colleagues because I have indicated to my supervisors that I care what I make, that I am aware of market shifts, and that my family is counting on me to maximize my opportunities. On the other hand, I am making less than several of my male counterparts, within my firm, with comparable, high, performance reviews? We suspect that they are more afraid of losing high-performing single-income family men, than they are of losing a comparably skilled dual-income family woman.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | April 9, 2007 3:40 PM

We suspect that they are more afraid of losing high-performing single-income family men, than they are of losing a comparably skilled dual-income family woman.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | April 9, 2007 03:40 PM

Sheer nosiness prompts this question:

Are they equally afraid of losing high-performing single-income family women?

Posted by: Bedrock | April 9, 2007 3:44 PM

"But that is why I am doing my best to assure that my daughter goes on to college. If nothing else, she will always have that piece of paper"

When I started working, if you had a HS diploma and the willingness to start at the bottom and work your way up through job training and experience put you in a position to compete with those with a college degree. It might take you ten years to be at the same spot as a college graduate with 2 years experience. It was understood that 8-10 years experience was equivalent to 4 years of college for certain jobs. There were aptitude tests and internal training, but the college grads also had to take the internal training.

I guess the comparison would be that you and your daughter do everything right and she goes to college, gets a degree and gets a job. Then 20 years into her career (in her 40's in age), the rules change and she cannot get hired elsewhere doing the same work unless she has a phd. So it's not just a matter of being willing to make an investment, it's more that the definition of acceptable investment has changed.

It's never too late to go to school, but, frankly, not everyone wants to. After 20 years working, you may not be in a position to quit work to continue your education. Classes on top of a full time job while raising children who are no longer babies and have busy lives of their own, and the possibility of caring for your own parents at the same time, is not appealing to everyone.

Posted by: to foamgnome | April 9, 2007 3:44 PM

Megan's neighbor wrote: "We suspect that they are more afraid of losing high-performing single-income family men, than they are of losing a comparably skilled dual-income family woman."

That's so unjust. But why do you think it's like this -- old stereotypes that won't die?

Posted by: catlady | April 9, 2007 3:45 PM

3:44: of course we can not predict the educational requirements of the future. I think graduate school is replacing the college degree of the past. But right now we know that she will need at least a college degree. So that is what we are working towards. I really don't see PhDs being the standard. Simply because the number of years and $$ invested would be too great for the masses. But I do see MA/MS degrees replacing the college standard. Of course I would love if my daughter went on to grad school. But it is one step at a time.

Posted by: foamgnome | April 9, 2007 3:48 PM

"And if some of you whiners are at work blogging on the company's dime, I might have some insight as to why you make less..."

Touche!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 3:48 PM

Employers booting spouses from health coverage
Sunday, April 08, 2007
By Anya Sostek, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07098/775892-28.stm

Seeking to save money on rising health insurance premiums, a growing number of Pennsylvania companies are squeezing out spouses who have access to insurance of their own.

The concept, known as a spousal exclusion, is viewed as a way for companies to rein in costs without directly costing their employees more money.

Under one version of a spousal exclusion policy, a wife wouldn't be able to get coverage on her husband's insurance plan if she were eligible for insurance through a job of her own. Another variation might allow a working husband to join his wife's employer's plan, but charge him a fee to do so.

A survey from Mercer Human Resource Consulting released last year reported that 14 percent of Pennsylvania employers said they used a spousal exclusion provision, compared with 8 percent nationally. Additionally, 8 percent of Pennsylvania employers said they planned to add a spousal exclusion provision, vs. 5 percent nationally....

Posted by: In da 'Burgh | April 9, 2007 3:51 PM

"Megan's neighbor wrote: "We suspect that they are more afraid of losing high-performing single-income family men, than they are of losing a comparably skilled dual-income family woman."

That's so unjust. But why do you think it's like this -- old stereotypes that won't die?


I would guess that they are playing the odds. No matter how many more women continue working after having children, there are still more women who quit for family reasons than men. The employers don't work as hard to try to keep the women because they feel they may leave anyway.


Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 3:52 PM

"And if some of you whiners are at work blogging on the company's dime, I might have some insight as to why you make less..."

Touche!

Posted by: | April 9, 2007 03:48 PM


Look in the mirror, Einstein!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 3:52 PM

"When I started working, if you had a HS diploma and the willingness to start at the bottom and work your way up through job training and experience put you in a position to compete with those with a college degree"

Same here. I know a lot of fed women who started right out of high school, have no additional formal education and are now at GS-12 or higher pay.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 3:53 PM

"I really don't see PhDs being the standard"

And I never thought I would see where a college degree with no experience would carry more weight than a proven track record in the field.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 3:55 PM

THanks for the link, In da 'Burgh, that's an interesting article. You never know what you're going to find when you log on this late in the day!

Posted by: Megan | April 9, 2007 3:55 PM

Does this mean they are also going to be squeezing out employees who have a family? Do the companies have more than two rates (single & family)?

When I signed on, pre-children days, I still had to pay the higher family rate when I got married, as I carry the health insurance.

Does this mean there are families and that there are "families" (as in those who have kids)? Wouldn't this lead to class action lawsuits?

Megan's Neighbour--that's your cue!

Posted by: MdMother | April 9, 2007 3:59 PM

I really don't see PhDs being the standard"

And I never thought I would see where a college degree with no experience would carry more weight than a proven track record in the field.

Posted by: | April 9, 2007 03:55 PM
Of course, you never know. But unless US grad schools are going to accept a lot more students, have a lot more funding, I really can't see it happening. It is still logical to fund your own college and have an employer fund your masters. But I don't see too many employers willing to fund someone for 5-7 years. We can barely get Americans to get PhDs that are fully funded in this country now. How would we get 40% of our general population through them. There is a big difference between a Masters degree and a PhD. Heck of a lot different in terms of years, tuition, and gut it out time.

Posted by: foamgnome | April 9, 2007 4:00 PM

"And I never thought I would see where a college degree with no experience would carry more weight than a proven track record in the field."

I can really sympathize with this, as it has happened in my husband's field and he now has had a real struggle in changing jobs. When he started his career, there simply wasn't that much of a focus on the degree and so he never finished his. Now he's got 25 years of experience, but not the degree and certification that the kids who are graduating now do, and it's hurting him. It's a hard situation to find yourself in, though I don't know how you can avoid it necessarily.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 4:01 PM

Are they equally afraid of losing high-performing single-income family women?

Posted by: Bedrock | April 9, 2007 03:44 PM

I do not know. There are no women at my level, with this employer, who are the sole financial support for their families.

catlady, in response to your question, fundamentally, I believe supervisors in this industry are rational actors. My male colleagues with similar performance reviews, levels of visibility, and practice specialties get significantly more calls from headhunters on a weekly basis. The net is they have more mobility than similarly credentialed women. Accordingly, supervisors are right to be more concerned about male superstars leaving than they are about female superstars leaving. (As an aside, talking about this topic is alot like discussing redlining in the residential mortgage business. You know it when you see it, but there are so many factors in play - all of which are out of your control -- that it is nigh unto impossible to isolate any one factor.)

"And if some of you whiners are at work blogging on the company's dime, I might have some insight as to why you make less..." an easy quip, but we don't all punch a clock. I'm surprised to see this comment from you, lawgirl.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | April 9, 2007 4:02 PM

It's a hard situation to find yourself in, though I don't know how you can avoid it necessarily.

Posted by: | April 9, 2007 04:01 PM

Didn't he see it coming? Was there any way he could have asked his company to pay for (or reimburse afterwards) him to attend college classes? Perhaps they may still be willing to invest that in him, if he is willing to sign paperwork that states he will work for them X number of years afterwards.

But hell yeah, it IS harder to find the energy to go to classes, study, etc. when you have a mortgage to feed, kids to feed (and possibly be paying for their college tuition[s]), etc.

You have my sympathies. Any chance of you picking up some more CE and minimizing the financial crunch in the meanwhile?

Posted by: JL | April 9, 2007 4:05 PM

Thanks, Megan's Neighbor. I imagine you're right (sigh).

Posted by: catlady | April 9, 2007 4:06 PM

You have my sympathies. Any chance of you picking up some more CE and minimizing the financial crunch in the meanwhile?

What is CE?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 4:08 PM

"My male colleagues with similar performance reviews, levels of visibility, and practice specialties get significantly more calls from headhunters on a weekly basis. The net is they have more mobility than similarly credentialed women. Accordingly, supervisors are right to be more concerned about male superstars leaving than they are about female superstars leaving."

M.N., thanks for your posts on this, they are really interesting. Going back to catlady's question, what do you think that this increased mobility is based on? It seems questionable that there would be so much more interest in the superstar men, all other things being equal, and I wonder what fuels that. Do you think women in this field are also less likely to change positions when given the opportunity?

Posted by: Megan | April 9, 2007 4:09 PM

To Megan and her neighbor: Do you think the assumption -- perhaps traditional stereotyping, although not necessarily valid -- is that high-power female professionals who are married have husbands who are even higher-powered professionals, so that the wife's domicile is still determined predominantly by the husband's employment? And that high-powered male professionals have wives whose jobs are lower-powered.

Posted by: catlady | April 9, 2007 4:16 PM

Self-perpetuated oppression then; if you really want answers about compensation you can find them.

Whether or not the answers are what you expected or will actually help you to get a raise depend on your ability to evaluate what you have found and then use that to your advantage.

I agree with college grad that you need to take responsibility for your compensation outcomes.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 4:18 PM

"Didn't he see it coming? Was there any way he could have asked his company to pay for (or reimburse afterwards) him to attend college classes? ... You have my sympathies. Any chance of you picking up some more CE and minimizing the financial crunch in the meanwhile?"

JL, thanks. It's a long story about why he didn't try what you describe, which I think would have been an option at one point. Our situation isn't that bad, he decided to change careers altogether and I make enough that we can eke through the transition, but there were some tense times before we got to that point. But it sure seems to say, like you point out, that the question is not so much whether parents can anticipate what their kids need for an education as much as that we all have to make sure our creds are current before we think we're going to need to rely on them.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 4:19 PM

if you really want answers about compensation you can find them.

NOT ALWAYS. But it's so much more comforting to just blame the victim of discrimination for being discriminated against.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 4:22 PM

Why does everyone assume that because two people make a different amount doing the same thing that it is necessarily discrimination?

Posted by: steelerhawk | April 9, 2007 4:25 PM

Instead of thinking in terms of direct competition with men in professions that exaggerate the physical differences with respect to size, strength, etc. try focusing on why the professions in which women tend to dominate, such as teaching, are underpaid across the board. Our society under compensates and undervalues the very jobs that must be done well in order for us to move into the future. If these jobs paid better, there would be more competition for them and maybe, just maybe we would get better teachers instead of the many losers who have nowhere else to go and end up shortchanging our children - our future - in the bargain. This being said, let's not forget that there are many fine, dedicated teachers who would do the job regardless of the pay. It's high time they got their just rewards.

Posted by: John Paul | April 9, 2007 4:25 PM

"an easy quip, but we don't all punch a clock. I'm surprised to see this comment from you, lawgirl."

OK, so if you're not blogging on company time, you're blogging on time you could otherwise be spending with your family. And people wonder why it's so hard to balance work and family.

Posted by: Hmmm. | April 9, 2007 4:26 PM

Megan,

Only my opinion: There are a number of factors in our industry that militate against equal pay for women. Women often rightly suspect that it's a career-ending move to indicate to a supervisor that they know what market is for their skillset and expect to be paid at that rate. Sharing salary information across firms happens all the time, but it is affirmatively discouraged within firms.

Headhunters assume the men are in it for the long haul and assume women are not, regardless of bio information to the contrary in either case, which information is fully visible on the web. When headhunters decide which candidates to put forward to key clients, they put forward male candidates and take the potentially mommy issue off the table. I suspect they do this to ensure they won't have to refund the placement fee if the female candidate leaves the position in less than 12 months. In my experience, women are as flattered and responsive to contacts about opportunities as men, but since they don't get the volume of calls, they have fewer opportunities to consider. Fewer to consider means fewer chances that one will be a good fit.

As you know, it is nigh unto impossible for an attorney to mail out a resume or interview in person for a position without word leaking back to her present employer, so no one who wants to retain the job she has can afford to send out resumes and respond to blind e-postings. Every female attorney I know who has changed legal positions either relocated, accepted an offer to change firms in connection with a shift to a new firm by her supervising partner, or went in-house to work for a client for whom she worked in her capacity in a firm. I know several male attorneys who were recruited to move laterally from one firm to the next. That's where the pay increase occurs, and you can only make one or two moves, at the most, without negatively impacting the time-line to be considered for membership.

Your thoughts?

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | April 9, 2007 4:28 PM

To John Paul...

Most likely supply and demand. Every organization tries to pay as little as possible to get done what it wants done. Every employee wants as much as possible. The more people willing and cabable of doing a particular job, the less it pays. Simple economics...

Posted by: steelerhawk | April 9, 2007 4:28 PM

Why does everyone assume that because two people make a different amount doing the same thing that it is necessarily discrimination?

Posted by: steelerhawk | April 9, 2007 04:25 PM


What else is there, that's lawful?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 4:29 PM

OK, so if you're not blogging on company time, you're blogging on time you could otherwise be spending with your family. And people wonder why it's so hard to balance work and family.


Posted by: Hmmm. | April 9, 2007 04:26 PM


SPeak for yourself, Hmmm.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 4:31 PM

Performance is a big item. Also, simply the ability to negotiate. I may be willing to pay $100k a year, but would rather pay $60k. If I find someone that I feel is qualified and willing to work for less, that's a bonus. Opportunity cost...every $ a firm spends on an individual's pay is a $ that can't be spent anywhere else.

Posted by: steelerhawk | April 9, 2007 4:33 PM

It's a comfort to know steelerhawk is cabable.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 4:33 PM

"an easy quip, but we don't all punch a clock. I'm surprised to see this comment from you, lawgirl."

OK, so if you're not blogging on company time, you're blogging on time you could otherwise be spending with your family. And people wonder why it's so hard to balance work and family.


Posted by: Hmmm. | April 9, 2007 04:26 PM

Since you are so concerned, hmmm, I am in an entrepreneruial business. I blog during time while holdmusic is playing in my office. Grabbing another file would be inefficient and unfair to that client, and efficiency and good client service is my top priority while I sit in this office. It's not my family's time since I cannot leave to be with them while waiting on hold.

I have an idea! Let each of us determine the most efficient use of our time instead of assuming you know all relevant information.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | April 9, 2007 4:33 PM

Well, the victim can continue to be a victim or the victim can educate themselves enough to change their situation.

If you truly think that you are being discriminated against, I would hope that you have some sort of concrete indication that this is the case. If so, then you can begin to take action.

If you are simply walking around with a chip on your shoulder and assuming that you are being descriminated against then that is most likely being reflected in substandard output, which is a legitimate reason for an organization to pay you less than your colleagues.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 4:34 PM

Yes, it is lawful. There is no law saying that a company has to pay the exact same thing to everyone in the same position. This would not allow for talent development and the ability to reward those who go above and beyond the job description.

Talent management is about attracting, retaining and engaging those with the highest capicity to contribute to the overall goals of the organization. Compensation is one of the major tools in the talent management tool box.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 4:40 PM

Is Steelerhawk saying an employee who asks for more pay won't be told to simply look for work elsewhere?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 4:40 PM

tick tock.

tick tock.

tick tock.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 4:43 PM

OK, so if you're not blogging on company time, you're blogging on time you could otherwise be spending with your family. And people wonder why it's so hard to balance work and family.


Posted by: Hmmm. | April 9, 2007 04:26 PM


Or maybe we could just all wear astro-nette diapers at work, to save more time for our families.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 4:43 PM

Yes, it is lawful. There is no law saying that a company has to pay the exact same thing to everyone in the same position. This would not allow for talent development and the ability to reward those who go above and beyond the job description.

Then you're saying the two employees are NOT DOING THE SAME WORK.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 4:45 PM

Employees are not robots, they are not all performing at the exact same level. Each brings their strengths and weaknesses to the job that they are given. So no one performs at the exact same level.

Even all things being equal, employers can pay differently if they so choose, and there are many things that can factor into that decision outside of job performance.

That said, it does not benefit them in the long run, if there is significant pay differentiation between equals within the company because is causes disengagement, decreased productivity, and higher turnover.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 4:54 PM

I'm coming late to the comments today but had to remark on the women in combat issue... it's dear to my heart because I am a former private. Yes, I passed all the same tests that the guys did. With flying colours, I might add. Yes, I was fully prepared for combat but I was never called up.

Yes, it ticks me off to no end when standards are relaxed for women--it just gives ammunition to people who think that women shouldn't be allowed in the forces, and it renders invisible the achievement of the women who DID pass all the men's standards. I think the military should be gender-blind. So long as it is, there will always be some women who pass the tests at every level.

I just completely do not understand people who don't want women to serve even when we've proved to an objective standard that we can do exactly what is required. Parenthood? Some of us are childless and those who do have kids have made, or can make, provisions to look after them. Physicality? Don't make the arguments about equipment weight--the standard tests are meant to judge exactly that, and if I've passed them, in the opinion of experts I am fit to serve. Rape? Yeah, it's awful and I don't want it to happen to me, but I really don't see how it's supposedly worse for a woman than it would be for a man to be raped--and besides, if I'm willing to risk it in the service of my country, that is MY choice to make and it's part of the sacrifice a good soldier is prepared for. Bottom line is, the women soldiers I've known have had amazing attitudes and tons of strength and patriotism and I cannot imagine why anyone wouldn't want them fighting for you.

Fred, you sound like a great dad and you must be very proud of your daughter. My best to you both.

Posted by: worker bee | April 9, 2007 5:00 PM

That said, it does not benefit them in the long run, if there is significant pay differentiation between equals within the company because is causes disengagement, decreased productivity, and higher turnover.

But all that seems to matter anymore is the short term bottom line.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 5:01 PM

what about if someone just did a better job negotiating their salary - is this considered discriminatory pay? I was not agressive my first job, and accepted what they offered - work in a field where the norm is 5% increases (per USAID), so if you did not start out higher a few years down the road you will still be at a disadvantage

Posted by: single mom | April 9, 2007 5:09 PM

"What else is there, that's lawful?"

Market forces at work. Two employees could start out making the same. The company may be prepared to pay increases of 5-10%. If employer offers 6% to each, and one accepts it but the other requests 8%, then most likely the first would receive 6% and the second would receive 8%.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 5:11 PM

worker bee -- what she said.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 5:12 PM

"But all that seems to matter anymore is the short term bottom line."

Disengagement, decreased productivity, and high turnover are long term issues, and who are we to complain if this move toward keeping employees happier in the workplace leads to better compensation, benefits and development opportunities. When thinking about a total compensation package (what your employer does for you) all of those things need to be taken into consideration.

But ultimately all of this is dependent on a person's ability to perform. Why should organizations go out of their way for someone who is simply mediocre?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 5:14 PM

Exactly, when it comes to compensation it can't hurt to ask for more. Make it an educated conversation, but make sure it is a conversation that you have with your manager.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 5:17 PM

Being a more aggressive negotiator can also land an employee out of work.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 5:33 PM

You cannot be fired for asking for a raise, but finding that balance between over the top agression (read greed) and complete passiveness when you ask is up to you.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 5:44 PM

Exactly, when it comes to compensation it can't hurt to ask for more. Make it an educated conversation, but make sure it is a conversation that you have with your manager.

Posted by: | April 9, 2007 05:17 PM

ummmm. It can hurt. I'm not suggesting that it's not the right conversation to have, but anyone walking into one of these conversations with a boss has to be prepared for the downside risk that the boss will interpret the conversation as a sign of your lack of commitment to the organization and an implicit threat to leave. I advise that you make sure you know your workplace culture and your boss before initiating a conversation like this. I am not suggesting you should live in fear, or that you shouldn't go elsewhere, but there is always a risk in initiating conversations about compensation. It's better to have your eyes wide open than to have to explain to your spouse why the paycheck in your hand will be your last one from the company you used to work for, when you thought you were having a harmless little chat with the guy in the corner office.

Posted by: anon for now | April 9, 2007 5:48 PM

You cannot be fired for asking for a raise.

Sure you can be.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 5:48 PM

"You cannot be fired for asking for a raise."


You cannot be this naive.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 5:54 PM


"If, however, I were to find out that the guy in the next office, who is doing the same kind of work, has 5 fewer years of experience, and lacks the master's degree that I have, is making $10,000 more than I am - you bet I would stand up and demand a raise"

There is a lot of self serving assumption in this statement. "same kind of work" does not equal "as valuable to organization". You don't know what contributions this worke has made in the past. S/he might be getting $10K more than you for excellent reason. You are the new kid on the block and your performance is a bit of an unknown. You say "5 years more experience", but you are a new hire, so is your experience really as relevant as you think in the new job/city/whatever.

You interviewed for the job. You laid out your accomplishments. You and your employer should have come to an agreement what your prior experience, education, and accomplishments are worth in a new setting. Depending on the change of work/location your experience may not be all that helpful.

In any case, you agreed with employer on what you were worth to the nonprofit. Where do you get off questioning the value of a coworker who has earned his/her position with your current nonprofit based on actual work contribution. It is unlikely the person would have gotten to this salary if the employer did not find value greater than the salary.

Maybe you need to look deeper into why this person is making more than you, rather than shout discrimination.

Posted by: rebuttal | April 9, 2007 5:59 PM

>>If you are simply walking around with a chip on your shoulder and assuming that you are being descriminated against then that is most likely being reflected in substandard output, which is a legitimate reason for an organization to pay you less than your colleagues.>>

Some of us do the opposite--work harder than others have to--in order to prove ourselves. I was one of the only sr staff in my organization to have a baby, and the previous person in my dept who had a baby pretty much checked out of her job, so the assumption (despite a strong 10-year record) was that I would, too. I was supposed to be promoted right before my delivery date, and was told by my boss that "we should wait and see what happens, because once you have a child you might not want the increased responsibility." I got mommy-tracked before I had the baby! When I came back--after 8 weeks--I had to work my ass off, harder than my peers, to be taken seriously and to get my career back on track--although I hadn't done anything to be derailed, other than have a kid. It is more of an example of discrimination against *mothers* than against *women* per se, but still unfair.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 6:01 PM

"It is unlikely the person would have gotten to this salary if the employer did not find value greater than the salary."

-- written by someone who has never made a hiring decision in his life.

It is highly likely that the salary of the co-worker at the time of hire reflected a combination of the mood the boss or his boss was in at the time of the offer, how good a year the boss was having that year, how good a week the boss was having that week, and how long the position was vacant. Salaries reflect more randomness and subjectivity than some people want to admit. That randomness has impact for years.

Posted by: anon for today | April 9, 2007 6:08 PM

Two scenarios:

1. Employees A and B take a job doing the same work and progress at the same rate. After 5 years, employee A takes 2 years off to travel and returns to work and finds the position still open. Employee B has received 2 raises in that time. Does employee A have a complaint about pay parity?

2. Employees A and B take a job doing the same work and progress at the same rate. After 5 years, employee A takes 2 years off to for a child and returns to work and finds the position still open. Employee B has received 2 raises in that time. Does employee A have a complaint about pay parity?

In both situations, employee A made a CHOICE to leave their position. But in the second case, it's to raise a child. Should they be treated differently?

Posted by: kelly | April 9, 2007 6:12 PM

"You cannot be this naive"

It is all in the asking.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 6:14 PM

"You cannot be this naive"

It is all in the asking.

Posted by: | April 9, 2007 06:14 PM


Why don't you write a guest blog on the subject?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 6:17 PM

The two scanarios are exactly the same thing, and in no way does employee A deserve to be paid the same as employee B in either situation.

2 years out is 2 years out, and there is no mention of upskilling or further experience which would enhace the resume during those two years.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 6:20 PM

Who cares why anyone takes time off and what does that have to do with the bottom line of a business?

At this point, Employee B has two additional years of recent experience in the job. Unless it's a job where those additional years add no value, the pay disparity makes sense.

A prudent manager would hire Employee A back at roughly the same rate as Employee B in order to preserve morale on his team. An even more prudent manager would say, if the job has been vacant for 2 years and my department did not suffer, there's no reason to re-hire Employee A. Either the job Employee A did doesn't need to be done or the tasks Employee A did can be handled by Employee B without any assistance and without incurring any extra payroll expense. Take the amount you'd have spent on Employee B and divvy it up among everyone on the team next December.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 6:24 PM

Clearly there are more factors at work in that example, but I think the point is that some people feel they are entitled to something due to having a child.

Posted by: Jessica | April 9, 2007 6:31 PM

And there's no benefit to society from her having a child? Of course there is.

What about if someone's National Guard or Reserves unit gets called up? Do you favor abolishing, or not vigorously enforcing, laws that are supposed to protect their job rights?

Posted by: To Jessica | April 9, 2007 7:05 PM

M.N. - just got back to my desk and saw your post. I think I pretty much agree with what you've written - it seems pretty accurate to me, although I have much less experience and knowledge of these areas. Although I summered with a big firm I have not worked with one since. The firm I worked for made a big deal about wanting to attract and retain women, but I can't say I had a great sense of how well they implemented that. It is a shame to see women held back because of headhunters' concerns about the mommy factor, and unable to really ask for what they think their skills are worth.

Posted by: Megan | April 9, 2007 7:11 PM

Many states (Virginia is one) are "work at will" states. You can be fired for any reason or no reason. So yes, you can be fired for asking for a raise. But they wouldn't be dumb enough to tell you that is why they are firing you. And no, if you are careful how you ask, you aren't likely to get fired.

But about asking for more money. In a previous job at a university in the midwest, I asked for a ridiculously low starting salary (wasn't prepared to be asked in the interview) and was given what I asked. Later I got great raises because I both proved I was worth it AND my boss was afraid to lose me. I had colleagues who negotiated for higher salaries at the time of offer, and received them, but our boss was kind of mean about it, and they never had a good relationship with them, which I always felt I did. So eventually, I left, and worked for a different university in a different state, but same type of job. I was very prepared for the salary question that time around, and negotiated a 20% increase in starting salary, but my boss never seemed to feel I was worth what I was being paid, and I never had a good relationship with him. Ultimately, I was laid off. I will never know if there are any relationships between any of the facts I have just cited, or if there are other factors that are equally or more important. But I do know that it will be very hard for me to ever feel it is a good idea to negotiate for a higher salary. And now, I am in a field where there are stated salary levels based on years of relevant experience and educational level. I chose not to try to negotiate to get more experience credit than they offered, and now it is too late. But I am reasonably happy with my job, and while I know I could get a higher salary doing other things, as someone much earlier pointed out, there are many ways to be compensated for a job. For me, the flexibility and family friendliness of my job is part of my compensation package. Yes, I would love to make more, but not if the tradeoff was less flexibility.

Posted by: work at will state | April 9, 2007 9:40 PM

There is no "pay gap" as presently defined. The IWF piece is only the latest destruction of this silliness. It's like investing: Your portfolio may beat mine, but that is not because I have been discriminated against. It likely is because I choose lower-return but safer investments. (Perhaps to guard against wild volatility, or whatever.) I made that choice. Because it works for me. I am not a victim. When women stop buying this victim nonsense, then they will be happier. Because it is only holding them back. Because it is a lie.

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