Good morning, Hank. It's Tuesday
So a while back I said in a video
In the United States women make 77 cents for every dollar that men make in the workforce
And a lot of people pushed back in comments
You know, "the wage gap is a lie,"
"That myth has been debunked,"
"your an idiot" with no apostrophe, et cetera.
Anyway, now after a lot of reading
I am going to attempt to share what I have learned
about the gender pay gap.
Hopefully without inciting a flame war in the comments.
This whole question is fiendishly complex
and people far smarter than I am
have spent their whole careers devoted to it,
but I want to begin with a broad observation.
There IS a gender pay gap
among full-time workers around the world.
But the size of the gender pay gap
varies dramatically by country. Like, in New Zealand
women working full time make on average
90 cents for every dollar
that a man working full time makes.
Whereas in South Korea, that number is
just 62 cents.
When it comes to calculating the pay gap in the United States,
a lot depends on what exactly
Like, by hourly wage, the pay gap is about 16%.
By weekly take-home pay, it's between 18 and 19%.
By annual earnings, it's around 21%.
The fuzziness here speaks to the complexity of
what we're about to get into, but basically
men on average work more hours than women on average.
Actually, nope, they don't.
But men work more paid hours.
Right, but so, this 16 to 21% number
just looks at all full-time workers.
It doesn't account for differences in education,
or skills, or experience,
When you factor all that stuff in, the pay gap shrinks
to somewhere between 4 and 8%
depending on who's doing the math.
This is the so-called "unexplained pay gap"
that is, there is no economic explanation for it
and most nonpartisan analyses agree
that this part of the pay gap is directly due to
By the way, you can find links to lots of sources in the doobly-doo.
But yeah, that 4 to 8% number might sound low
but even on the extremely conservative end,
it would mean that women lose over 241 million dollars
of pay every year to direct discrimination.
I should add here that there is also a wide racial pay gap
in the United States and as disccused in this Vlogbrothers video,
there is overwhelming evidence that
much of that gap is due to direct discrimination.
Because race and gender affect people long before
they enter the workforce, it's difficult to disentangle causes here,
but we do know that women of color are doubly disadvantage when it comes to pay
regardless of skill level, experience, or education.
Right, so a portion of the gender wage gap
is attributable to discrimination in the United States,
but most of it is ostensibly about choice.
Choice of college majors, or flexibility when it comes to hours, or occupation.
And this is what people generally mean when they talk about
debunking the gender wage gap.
Women, on average, work fewer hours
and tend to work in less lucrative professions
from school teaching to caregiving.
Whereas men are more likely to work in higher paying fields
like engineering or anesthesiology.
And some of the pay gap can be found here,
like in one study of more 120 professions,
more women than men worked in nine of the ten lowest paying jobs.
But of course that isn't only about choice,
it's also about the expectations of the social order.
Like, why are there more female nurse anesthetists but more male anesthesiologists?
And then there's the fact that even within almost all of these professions,
the pay gap persists from computer programmers to teachers to lawyers.
Some of this is the aforementioned "unexplained pay gap"
but some of it is because men, on average, work more
paid hours than women, which brings us to the question of unpaid work.
The average adult American woman spends 167 minutes per day
on housework or care for household members.
For the average adult American male, it 101 minutes per day.
And that work, even though it's unpaid, is of course very real.
Now, none of this is to criticize the many women and many men
who work fewer hours or don't work in the labor force at all to focus on childcare or housework.
It's only to say that women doing a disproportionate amount of the unpaid labor in the United States inevitably distorts
the paid labor market.
We see this especially clearly in studies of what happens to workers after they have kids.
With each child a family has, women see their average income relative to men go down.
It goes down about 7.5%
after the first child.
There have been a ton of studies exploring this,
but I just want to highlight one.
In 2007, a Stanford professor sent out fictitious resumes to various firms
and found that female applicants with children were less likely to be offered positions
and when offered jobs, were offered lower starting salaries.
Men, meanwhile, actually seem to fare better after they have children
in both employment opportunities and wages.
This may also be part of the reason the pay gap gets worse over time.
It's near 10% from young adulthood until
about the age of 35, when it suddenly jumps up.
Like one study looking at business school graduates
found that right out of school there was a relatively small gap
but then 8 years later it was much, much larger.
And interestingly, even in careers dominated by women
men disproportionately advance to supervisory roles
Like, most librarians are women, but male librarians
are disproportionately likely to become library directors.
And there are still large pay gaps within careers that employ mostly women,
from nursing to librarianship.
In fact, unless you really cherry pick the data,
a real and consistent gender pay gap exists
across almost all fields
at all education levels
at all ages.
And at the current rate of change, this wage gap won't close in the United States
In short, Hank, there IS a gender pay gap
but it is not as simple as women making 77 or 79 cents
for every dollar men make.
Instead, it's an extremely complicated web
of interwoven factors.
Some of the pay gap is attributable to positive, empowered choices
that individual women make to work less or to work in fields they find more fulfilling.
Much of it is due to direct discrimination against women,
And much of it is also due to the way our social order
constructs gender and our expectations of women.
And that is something we can change together
by, for instance, embracing the idea that there's
no reason for the social order to saddle women
with most of the world's unpaid work.
And we can also examine the real personal and systemic biases
that are distorting the way that we look at women in the workplace
and outside of it.
So the gender pay gap is complicated
and it's integrated with many other socioeconomic phenomena,
but make no mistake -
It is real.
Hank, I'll see you on Friday.
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« 29 Jan
5 Feb »
Is the Gender Pay Gap Real?
In which John examines the complex and tangled question of the gender wage gap, and looks at some of the reasons why women who work full time are paid less than men who work full time.
The pay gap increases as workers age, and there is a pay gap across all education and experience levels and in almost all professions. Also, the pay gap is larger for women of color, across all education and experience levels:
The size of the gender pay gap depends on how you calculate it, but discrimination is a big factor in the pay gap:
The gender wage gap for MBA graduates increases over time:
Women's pay goes down on average relative to men once there are kids in a family; men's pay goes up.
A really interesting, nuanced interview with an economist who studies the gender pay gap:
The wage gap won't close at this rate until 2056:
An analysis of the role race plays in the gender wage gap:
The gender wage gap is 10 cents in New Zealand, and 37 cents in South Korea:
The exhaustive and at times exhausting wikipedia article about the gender wage gap:
In the U.S. (and most countries), most unpaid work is done by women:
There's a pay gap among librarians, and male librarians are disproportionately likely to become directors:
Great overall information (if a limited data set) from payscale:
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Timothy J Parenti
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