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171 responses to “Unequal pay for work of equal value”

  1. Matt C

    An interesting article, though I’m not sure she sufficiently explains the basic concepts under discussion.

    She also omits monopsony and monopsonistic competition in the labour market and low rates of unionisation and collective bargaining as causes of pay inequity. Those are two key factors in the community services sector (aka “welfare sector”, “social services sector”, “charity sector”, “human services industry”, etc), and the community services sector is low paid and disproportionately female.

    WACOSS recently released a research paper on the gender pay gap and the community services sector: http://www.wacoss.org.au/images/assets/SP_General/Close_The%20_Gender_Pay_Gap.pdf . It’s specific to WA, but is relevant in other jurisdictions.

  2. desipis

    Unequal pay for work of equal unequal value

    To argue that women are as economically involved in society as men is to ignore the statistical evidence. One can certainly argue that there are unfair cultural influences that drive the different level of economic involvement, but this would be a vastly different issue to “Equal work for equal pay”.
    The first five points about “discrimination” are exclusively about the behaviours of women themselves, and not the way they are treated by employers and the second five are about broader cultural values. Giving a red rose to your boss and blaming them for all this is to point the finger in the wrong direction.

    Ignoring the issue of whether our quasi-capitalist approach to pay determination is the best way to go, it’s a system that has developed as a result of its inherent economic efficiency and one to which men have culturally adapted. It’s not a system that has developed because it favours men over women. If women have not culturally adapted to the system as well as men have (which isn’t suprising given the small number of generations since legal equality), then it is up to women to continue to change and not just point the finger at the men.

  3. Sam

    “new graduates often show clear gender differences, even in the same professional areas, e.g. law and medicine.”

    Is she really saying that a graduate male lawyer in law firm X gets paid more than a graduate female lawyer in the same law firm?

    I find this difficult to believe.

  4. hannah's dad

    “Ignoring the issue of whether our quasi-capitalist approach to pay determination is the best way to go….”
    Why ignore this?
    “….it’s a system that has developed as a result of its inherent economic efficiency ”
    That’s a strange statement.
    I suppose you could perhaps run a control experiment in a parallel universe to attempt to support it but other than it seems to boil down to just another ideological statement of dogma.
    The GFC and current environmental and economic carbon crises would seem to contradict it pretty blatantly.
    Something is drastically wrong.
    ” …It’s not a system that has developed because it favours men over women”
    But it does favour men, dramatically so, whatever its origins.
    And it needs to change, because its inequatable and clearly, somehow by whatever processes discriminatory you see, and as a man I would prefer to see equity.
    Wouldn’t you?

  5. Rationalist

    Desipis has expressed my point of view quite well.

    If you want to be successful, go out, work hard, learn some skills and then you will do well. Mulling over statistics is silly since it is simply a function of the differences in areas which men and women tend to work in.

  6. Kersebleptes

    So, what would the proposed solution be?

    Paying some people more for a “unit of work” than others? Based on which gender the people in question are? Now, that will get rid of sexism in the workplace!

    Maybe hours of work could be determined by how much the most time-poor person in the workplace can do? Once they have to leave then everyone must down tools, because you can’t have people earning more just because they choose to do so, now can you?

  7. John D

    The last set of APESMA data had new female engineering graduates earning more than men. A closer look at the data showed that, at the time, chem eng graduates were paid more than most other engineers and that chem eng had a much higher % of new women graduates. Competent women mineral processing graduates that i have worked with seem to be progressing to managerial positions at the same rate or faster than males. This may reflect the fact that women go into engineering because they really want to while many men go into engineering because it was seen as a natural job for men.

    Unionization on its own is not sufficient. In the mining industry truck drivers have traditionally been well paid because the mine stops as soon as they go on strike. Trades pay doesn’t reflect their relative skill level because it usually takes longer for a maintenance strike to actually stop production. Teachers may be unionized but all they do is save the government money when they go on strike.

  8. Helen

    It’s not a system that has developed because it favours men over women. If women have not culturally adapted to the system as well as men have (which isn’t suprising given the small number of generations since legal equality), then it is up to women to continue to change and not just point the finger at the men.

    Oh really! So our whole system of non-domestic production developed in the ether and then men adapted to it (successfully) as did women (less successfully). Like one of those seed crystals, perhaps? That’s a highly original view of the Industrial Revolution. Most people tend to think that a mostly male population developed the modes of production and work to suit themselves, notably, in the twentieth century, to suit someone who had the domestic and childcare work done by somebody else.

    Many people also think that having been built by humans, systems of production can also be adapted by humans to suit a life where the domestic and child work isn’t all done by women – which is one of the major keys to our “poor” adaptation. (Brilliant adaptation I would say, given the barriers and domestic load.)

  9. Ken Lovell

    The problem I have with the Eva Cox/Barbara Pocock et al stuff is understanding what they expect, or want, somebody to do about it. Descriptive research that reveals inequality is all well and good, there’s a lot of it about and always has been, but after a while it gets pretty pointless unless you can come up with some proposals to alleviate it. “Society should change the way it thinks” is not really a useful conclusion.

    As Mark points out, discrimination on the basis of gender has been unlawful for 30 years. To the best of my knowledge, business schools in Australia teach managers to base employment decisions on merit regardless of gender. Maybe there are other institutional initiatives that are worth exploring but if so I wish someone would say what they are. Regular cries of “Look at us, we are still oppressed” lose their impact after a while.

  10. desipis

    Why ignore this?

    Mainly, because the topic seemed to be gender discrimination within the current system and not a broader discussion of economic systems. Even if we had a system that resulted in pay rates reflecting the value of work instead of the ability to negotiate pay, the cultural differences would still mean women would be paid less as they would still do less work.

    Wouldn’t you?

    I would like to see society support equal opportunities and equal value judgements for women, however I don’t see cause for forcing cultural change upon those who willingly follow traditional gender roles to some extent. As long as they remain tollerant and accept women who wish to persue careers and men who wish to be homemakers, I don’t see why they shouldn’t be accepted too. As I expect that those who value elements of traditional gender roles will continue to be a significant portion of the population for some time to come I don’t see discrepancies in the “outcome” statistics as clear indicators of (external) gender discrimination.

  11. desipis

    Most people tend to think that a mostly male population developed the modes of production and work to suit themselves, notably, in the twentieth century, to suit someone who had the domestic and childcare work done by somebody else.

    Certainly the current system was build on the foundation of an industrious/domestic partnership but as your ungendered terms illustrate there is nothing in the current system that dictates which gender takes which roles. The gender discrepancies we see are a result of the culture that developed in the past when the system did enforce specific gender roles. The system has moved on, the culture hasn’t.

  12. Helen

    Naturally you would think that way Ken L. The system was built for people like you – middle class white males with minimal burdens of extracurricular work to get in the way of being the perfect employee – and it’s predicated on men being the default human, with the woman as the other, whose job it is to fit in to the system as built to suit the default.

    Why should you go to a lot of trouble and stress to change a system that works so beautifully for you and others like you? It wears us out and we’re the ones who stand to gain by change. However, we don’t stand to gain so naturally. I understand perfectly.

  13. Helen

    as your ungendered terms illustrate there is nothing in the current system that dictates which gender takes which roles. The gender discrepancies we see are a result of the culture that developed in the past when the system did enforce specific gender roles. The system has moved on, the culture hasn’t.

    That’s only correct if you take the “culture” and the “system” as separate. The workplace is a repository of culture, including sexism, homophobia, racism and all the other delights that it holds (as well as the good stuff, of course). Just like every other human endeavour or venue.

  14. Ken Lovell

    Fine Helen, I’m sure you feel better now. The bile directed at ‘people like me’ was very revealing. I confess to being white … didn’t recognise the rest I’m afraid.

    However putting all that to one side, how about responding to the substance of my comment? The ‘system’ wasn’t ‘built’, it evolved. What precisely, or even generally, are you suggesting anyone should do to change it? Not the people like me who you so obviously despise; anyone at all. Change the laws? Create a new government agency? What?

  15. Me

    This is rot. Men and women receive equal rates of pay, Men and women in families also make decisions which suit them. Stop trying to judge men and women’s decisions to have the woman stay home for a few years with kids, thus reducing her income. Another way to look at it is that women gain much and men miss out on time with their kids. Men and women will always be different. P.S. As a man I have job shared with my wife to raise kids so give the attacks a break. Maybe the real problem is that western feminists have become obsessed with thweir capitalist careers and lost sight of the real things in life. Instead of turning more women into wage slaves how about we encourage careerist men to drop the work addiction.

  16. Rachel

    Regular cries of “Look at us, we are still oppressed” lose their impact after a while.

    I disagree. Change never eventuates unless the issue remains in the public conscience, and is repeatedly raised. From a couple of the comments above it seems as though there is a prevalent defeatist mindset: “What do they want?”, “It’s all too hard”, “It’s up to The Wimmins to adapt!”, “Culture has moved on”.

    Frankly I’m surprised by this; don’t we all want an end to income inequality?

  17. Helen

    Ken, by people like you I mean white, middle aged males who up to now have constituted the default human in the better-paid echelons of the Western workforce. I can see how “people like you” might seem bilious but it was meant in the sense of “people like yourself, even though you might not have enjoyed mainstream success and high earnings, as I don’t know the specific and outs of your work situation.”

    The ‘second-wave’ feminists did a lot of work along the lines of changing legislation and yes, government departments, such as the Office of the Status of Women (from memory – may not have the name right) and departments dealing with childcare and other developing systems. The way in which this was undermined and dismantled by the Howard government is described in Anne Summers’ book The End of Equality.

    I can tell, though, once you get the “Well WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO ABOUT IT?? WHAT??” that the person isn’t engaging, and again, I think it’s because you’re happy with the way things are. It would be nice if some of the people who aren’t happy with the way things are could come into this almost exclusively male thread without being shouted down.

  18. Ken Lovell

    Rachel I would like to see an end to unfairness, which is not necessarily the same as an end to income inequality. But be that as it may, who do you believe should do what to end it? The whole point of Mark’s post is that nothing much has changed in almost 30 years so the mere publicising of the matter doesn’t seem to be having much concrete impact.

  19. desipis

    Helen,
    By “system” I mean the definable rules by which the workplace operates, things we as a society can have explicit control over. By “culture” I mean the collective actions/views/etc of all the individuals, something we as a society have very little control over. Cultural gender roles are as much about how others see women/men as it is about how women/men identify themselves. I think it’s much more this later factor, as the five points in the post indicate, that drives the gender descrepancies in the work place.

    The reluctance of individuals to allow change the way they identfy themselves as well as the desire to pass elements of this identity along with other cultural traits to ones children means that cultural change will happen a lot slower than the direct change we can make to the system. Unless we start taking away individual freedoms or the right to pass on cultural identity to one’s children. I also don’t think we can justfyable blame the system, or others for the results of how particular individuals self identify.

  20. Helen

    Yes, as I said, you don’t want cultural change in that direction, as the status quo is working well for you. It is a little strange that you can’t imagine “cultural change” without “taking away individual freedoms”. Cultural change, as we hinted at on the Afghanistan/Karzai thread, might consist of giving individual freedoms to people who don’t have them.

    Now I’m off to do some domestic tasks. /Irony

  21. Jarrah

    “and it’s predicated on men being the default human”

    That’s very true, and the cultural and socio-economic baggage that has built up over centuries (if speaking about the industrial era, otherwise millennia) can’t be undone in one or two generations. This is a long-term project, and the questions around how to manage it are pertinent, as Ken points out – what action is feasible, what action will really work? Personally, I’d say we’re just going to have to wait until the old codgers die out and new generations thoroughly socialised in gender equality grow up and take positions of power.

    I’d also say that fluctuations like that 86% to 82.5% drop shouldn’t be given undue emphasis when the trend is up.

    Lastly, I wish I could remember the details of a study I read about that purported to show that pay differentials were almost non-existent for under-24s (ie, before women generally start having children). I’m with Sam in being suspicious of Eva Cox’s claims about new graduates.

  22. Me

    The problem is a majority of feminists in the west see feminism as removing barriers for middle class women to climb the career ladder and get rich. Therefore they advocate for childcare which really means poorer uneducated young women looking after their children so they and their husband can earn a double income. They advocate work as the sole means of identity and in the process assist in destroying communities by ensuring we live in a society where the streets are empty as workaholic careerists try to get richer. The real problem lies in the fact that most western feminists are amongst the most priveledged and wealthy people in the world. I bet most have no idea of the poverty of both men and women in poorer countries.

  23. desipis

    Yes, as I said, you don’t want cultural change in that direction, as the status quo is working well for you.

    When did I ever say that I didn’t want cultural change? I was objecting to the baseless assumption that the economic output of women is the same as men, and that any pay discrepancies must be the result of discrimination rather than work related behaviours along with the implication that bosses are responsible for the career choices of women.

    I think it would be great for women to become more involved in the economy and men to spend more time to partake in the domestic side of life, but I don’t see why it needs to be wrapped up in the baseless conjecture of “Unequal pay for work of equal value”.

  24. Kersebleptes

    /Irony, Helen?

    Of the subtle-as-a-thrown-brick variety, I see!

    There are a fair number of women that fully expect their men to get out of the house, work long days, and bring home the bacon.

    I assume you will be working to demolish this and other such shibboleths as well. Don’t think that simply hectoring people who happen to be males of a certain age will magically solve all your problems.

    Unless you just enjoy it, of course. A person might almost think that you’re happy with the way things are. /Irony

  25. Jack Strocchi

    Patriarchy is inevitable in organized and differentiated societies. Catallactic capitalism is actually less patriarchal than most, as it rewards economic performers, not favoured genders or races. (Although recent regressive tendencies in finance capitalist remuneration have tended to (inequitably and inefficiently) favour kleptocratic Alpha-males masquerading as Masters of the Universe.)

    Women earn less than men in this system because, on average, they produce lower-value products than men. This is partly because women have less occupation-relevant experience than men, generally related to women’s greater focus on home-making. And partly because women are not presenting in the upper echelons of high-value occupations, such as finance and technology. These industries reward numerical and spatial facility, areas where men tend to have an innate advantage, at least in the upper-echelons where superiority attracts larger rewards.

    Noting this fact in public can cost you your job, as Larry Summers discovered to his dismay. But most economic studies show that gender pay disparities reflect economic performance and career choices, not social privilege:

    The pay gap between men and women has nothing to do with discrimination by employers, an influential study said yesterday. It argued that the difference in salaries between male and female workers came down to ‘individual lifestyle preferences’.

    Professor John Shackleton, of the University of East London, said that in reality the pay gap hardly existed for workers under 30. He said men work longer hours in more dangerous jobs and face a greater risk of being sacked, while women who take career breaks outnumber their male equivalents by more than five to one.

    In a paper for the Institute of Economic Affairs, he pointed out that single, widowed or divorced women earn more than their male counterparts, but the pay gap between men and women in families with three children was 19 per cent. He also argued that female graduates tend to choose subjects such as psychology or education, which lead to lower-earning careers, while few opt for maths or engineering, which are more likely to result in lucrative jobs.

    Leadership in large team activities generates the big bucks. Men will tend to out perform women in activities which reward aggressive, focused competitive effort and the ability to be “a leader of men”. This is because men have a higher testosterone-fueled desire to win.

    This requires “balls”, an attribute where men have a moderate but significant advantage over women. Although a recent study showed that women who were endowed with greater levels of testosterone did take greater risks in pursuit of greater rewards.

    Female MBA students with higher levels of the “male” hormone testosterone were far more likely than those with lower levels to choose finance careers such as investment banking that can be lucrative but also risky, a team at Northwestern University, and the University of Chicago found.

    “This study has significant implications for how the effects of testosterone could impact actual risk-taking in financial markets, because many of these students will go on to become major players in the financial world,” University of Chicago’s Luigi Zingales, who worked on the study, said in a statement. “Furthermore, it could shed some light on gender differences in career choices. Future studies should further explore the mechanisms through which testosterone affects the brain.”

    But there is a sunny flip side of patriarchy for women. Nature designed men to take more risks than women, in order to reap the rewards of high-status. However not every man can be a winner, and consequently the men who lose can lose big. Thats why the ranks of the low-status tend to be densely populated by men. Women tend to cluster towards the middle of SES distributions, as befits a group that tends to be risk-averse.

    Losing men, on the other hand, tend to hit the skids harder than women. Tom Waits, playing a bum in the “Fisher King”, explained how the rules of patriarchy worked for men trying to keep a foot on the rungs of the ladder:

    See, I’m what you call kind of a moral traffic light, really…

    See, guy goes to work every day, eight hours a day, seven days a week. Gets his nuts so tight in a vice……he starts questioning the very fabric of his existence.

    Then one day, about quitting time……boss calls him in the office and says: ” Hey, Bob, why don’t you come in here and kiss my ass for me?” Well, he says, ” Hell with it. I don’t care what happens. I just want to see the expression on his face…as I jam this pair of scissors into his arm.”

    Then he thinks of me.

    He says, “Wait a minute. I got both my arms. I got both my legs. At least I’m not begging for a living.”

    Sure enough, Bob’s gonna put those scissors down and pucker right up.

  26. moz

    I’m with Ken: the problem has been stated, but no suggested solutions. I agree that there appears to be a problem.

    I definitely see women asking for less than men and getting paid less, and have a friend who got a ~30% pay rise when she discovered that someone who worked for her was getting significantly more than she was. But the mere fact that she got more when she asked for it suggests to me that the problem was not on the employers side.

    Women choose low-paying professions, and low-paying areas within professions. I’ve seen this too many times to accept that it’s the system to blame. The question of whether we can redesign higher-paying roles to attract more women is interesting, but I haven’t seen any solutions so far. Perhaps it’s better to ask whether we can reform work to make it more attractive to everyone. It’s like flexitime – why would you only offer that to women? At the same time, some jobs just aren’t that flexible. Driving a mining truck is hard to do part time from Sydney, so the wage reflects that. Complaining that women are less likely to take those jobs doesn’t help… women don’t want them at the price.

  27. Laura

    Ken said: “business schools in Australia teach managers to base employment decisions on merit regardless of gender”

    Do they? They don’t appear to be doing it very effectively. I would hazard a guess that lip service paid to the idea of merit regardless of gender without actually going into how workplace notions of ‘merit’ tend to be strongly gendered.

  28. Me

    Laura, who cares what business schools teach. High flying women in business are just as bad as the men. The real issue is why corporate greed by both men and women is financially rewarded whilst teachers and nurse (both men and women) live on poor incomes yet perform vital jobs. A middle class woman making huge profits in a greedy corporate environment is way ahead of working class men doing an honest days work.

  29. Karl

    you’re being unhelpful, Me

    This is not about class. How could it be? The topic is how incomes vary across society. How on earth could that be related to social class?

  30. Anthony

    “the problem has been stated, but no suggested solutions. I agree that there appears to be a problem.”

    Surely the solution has been stated: let’s pay women equal pay for work of equal value.

    “Women choose low-paying professions, and low-paying areas within professions.”

    But this is circular. Why are those professions low paying in the first place? Because they are feminine.

  31. Iain

    Me makes a decent point in the last post. It is perhaps not that many women earn too little, it is that many men (and some women) earn too much. Part of the pay gap is certainly caused by women being less interested in overpaid jobs in finance. For example, women lawyers are more likely to be in lower paid jobs in government or the community sector.

    I propose compulsory 6 month maternity and paternity leave for all new parents as one way of reigning back excess workaholism.

  32. Me

    Anthony. Iused to work on a turf farm. Never met any women there. Trust me, labouring is one of the lowest paid jobs around and there are virtually no women and even fewer lining up to join it. So the idea that low paid jobs are feminine is not real. Again, class is more of an issue than gender. Most of the women on this board are middle class women who have little idea of the lack of opportunities for working class men and women.

  33. Peter

    Eva Cox said in part:

    These types of jobs are paid less than similar skill jobs usually done by men; e.g. child care versus car care because feminised skills are undervalued

    She basically destroys any credibility she has with this comment. As a ‘white male’ who stayed at home, raised a kid *and* fixed the car I can assure you raising kids is much easier. It seems the trend these days is to assert – with no evidence at all – that raising kids is ‘hard’. I say rubbish. And who is she – or anyone for that matter – to say what a job is ‘worth’. A job is only worth what someone else is prepared to pay for it, regardless of what anyone thinks.

    Those studies that assert that women do more work around the home are also full of crap. They always ignore what men do. Most guys I know are for ever fixing stuff, painting and what not. These studies are so biased its not funny, and only someone who has an axe to grind would believe them. Take housework, my wife (god bless her) can take a whole day cleaning the kitchen whereas I can do it in 15 minutes. Sure her kitchen is cleaner than mine, but in reality within a week there is no difference. I work on the 80/20 rule while she – and many women I’d wager – work on the 20/80 rule. So how do you compare. The answer is you can’t and you would be a fool to even try.

    This reminds me of those idiot academics who are forever creating lists of jobs and what their relative worth should be. Not surprisingly, academics, government employees and other self important types were near the top of the list, while people that do real work – like car mechanics – were near the bottom.

    Attempts to make pay rates ‘fairer’ will in fact have the exact opposite effect. You can’t game the market.

  34. Ken Lovell

    Well Helen having a partner living in Manila who can’t even get a visa to visit me because the Australian government believes he’ll disappear into the great black economy forever means I’m not especially ‘happy with the way things are’ in Australia. However I confess that trying to help our family, who live in a squat in the Manila slums with no running water and no toilet, means I don’t get as fussed as others about starting salaries for graduate lawyers in Australia. I’m more concerned to work out what to do about my partner’s older brother, just diagnosed with TB, and his wife, who has beri-beri.

    I guess there’s only so much inequality I can get worked up about at any one time. I did my washing and ironing before I cooked my dinner BTW, and I’ve just given an online lecture. We casual middle class workers have to work all kinds of funny hours. Enjoy your domestic tasks.

  35. anecdotes 'r' us

    Me and Peter, I have trouble taking you seriously so I won’t.

    The fact that this is even mildly controversial and remains unsolved after 30 years tells you all you need to know about Australia circa 2009.

  36. Anthony

    I do trust you Me (“Me” – that can’t be a real name, shirley? [And I'll stop calling you Shirley]) But the aggregate figures I suspect will show that women workers are over-represented in low paying jobs, the gender breakdown of turf farm workers notwithstanding

  37. Anthony

    “This reminds me of those idiot academics who are forever creating lists of jobs and what their relative worth should be. ”

    This fascinates me. Can you name names?

  38. visas'r'us

    Hey, Ken, what about a spouse visa ? For your partner that is.

  39. PatrickB

    “By “system” I mean the definable rules by which the workplace operates, things we as a society can have explicit control over. By “culture” I mean the collective actions/views/etc of all the individuals, something we as a society have very little control over.”

    This seems like a wholly artificial and fairly weak analysis. The two spheres (if indeed they are separate) have a symbiotic relationship. I don’t think one leaves the workplace system and reappears in the unregulated, spontaneous culture.
    The “definable rules” of the workplace will have been formulated with a mind to the biases of the dominant culture. Even where there are laws that specifically outlaw certain biases these biases still have force. Recent research has shown that ethnicity and race influence success in gaining work.As gender bias is still deeply ingrained in the culture, it’s difficult to understand why the workplace wouldn’t be as biased against women as the rest of the world. I do agree that we need more solutions, the statistics have been well known for years. I think a good place to start would be the traditional workplace. Technology could play a significant role in breaking up the traditional workplace and thus provide some scope for a much more fluid definitions of roles within the workplace. This could lead to a breaking down of stereotypes of the “good” employee.
    As to those who think that our present system is the result of “inherent economic efficiency”, sorry but there is just as much failure and waste and just as little responsibility as there always has been. If natural selection worked at the same pace as economic evolution we’ll all still be amoebas (which would make typing very difficult), nothing against amoebas mind.

  40. Helen

    Back from the greasy shitwork: Don’t play the oppression olympics Ken. One, not all women workers are in the graduate-Lawyer class, as your polemic-paying ass well knows. Two, I’m aware that this trope is brought up every time the situation with Western women workers is brought up. If women can only express authentic (straw)feminism by remaining as honest toilers in the lower echelons and lose their (straw)feminist proletarian credentials by aiming at doing higher work, well, gosh, we’ll have no women in higher positions in business and government. And how is that going to benefit other women? So I’m really not interested in bashing Australian women for trying to sort out their situation vis a vis a highly privileged group – Australian men – by reference to a less privileged group – Poor residents of Manila.

    You might like to think about the fact that the Philippines is a strongly Catholic nation with a relatively conservative social structure. Does this help? or hinder? Meanwhile, the rest of us are talking about Australia for the moment.

  41. Peter

    No. 34.

    It’s only controversial with those who have an axe to grind. If you didn’t have an axe to grind, the following links may help clear things up. As usual, studies claiming to compare apples with apples, rarely do. These links are for the US experience but I have no doubt the situation in Aus is similar:

    What Pay Gap
    Most or All of The Pay Gap Disappears After Controlling for Marriage and Having Children

  42. Kersebleptes

    Jack Strocchi has great big comments, doesn’t he?

  43. Peter

    Oh look, another one – for the UK this time:
    There is No Gender Pay Gap in the UK: Having Children Is Decisive Factor, Not Being a Woman.

    Why do ‘progressives’ insist on believing this sort of easily debunked nonsense.

  44. Anthony

    “And who is she – or anyone for that matter – to say what a job is ‘worth’. A job is only worth what someone else is prepared to pay for it, regardless of what anyone thinks.”

    Well, you’ve answered your own question: someone has to say what a job is worth. Let’s think deeply and seriously about who: someone who has a prejudice against the job applicant because of their gender, race or class? Or someone who has decided that the work is worth something regardless of the person who provides the labour?

  45. Me

    Helen. Your attitude of dismissing the situation in Manila is so reflective of western feminists. Of course you are not interested because it undermines the arguments made by western feminists about careers and self advancement. Rich women executives in Rio Tinto are not a sign of progress. They are a sign that women as well as men can be sucked into the corporate machine and me, me, me mentality. Western corporations pillage nations likes Indonesia and the Philippines. They are increasingly having women in positions of power overseeing this pillaging. Is this a sign of progress? No way.

  46. moz

    Anthony,

    “Surely the solution has been stated: let’s pay women equal pay for work of equal value.”

    It would be nice if you could suggest a value system other than money that we could use. Otherwise your comment is tautologically true. Perhaps a skim of Marylin Waring’s book?

    “Women choose low-paying professions, and low-paying areas within professions.”
    But this is circular. Why are those professions low paying in the first place? Because they are feminine.

    You have tried to make it circular, but my point stands. When men moved into computer programming wages rose. A “feminine” profession became masculine. Now that women dominate chemical engineering wages have… risen. Apparently the argument is not as circular as you would like. As mentioned above, manual labouring is dominated by men and is low paid. Is that therefore a feminine profession? By all means, nursing and teaching (for example) became female-dominated and wages fell, relatively speaking.

    I don’t believe you can reasonably say that people should automatically get a pay rise just for working in mostly female professions. Especially when we talk areas within professions. To justify that you’ll need a systematic explanation, and one that can be widely applied. If “all women should be paid more” then chemical engineers will be even more overpaid. Why is that good? Saying that you dislike the current pay setting system, fine, what do you suggest instead? Would a guaranteed minimum income work better?

    I’m not adverse to new ideas, I’m just sad that after seeing this stuff for 20 years no forward progress seems to have been made. 100 years ago women got the vote, but apparently 20 years of “pay us more” … no progress. Eva Cox, sure, she’s old and stuck in her ways, but younger people? What’s their excuse? Why no new solutions?

    Twenty years ago I used to respond to the “not enough female engineers” complaint by first suggesting that the objector study engineering if she thought it was so important, then suggest a draft – force women to enter professions to make up the numbers. I trust your ideas are better than mine…

  47. Ken Lovell

    Helen since you’re obviously determined to invent arguments that haven’t been made and pick a fight that doesn’t interest me I’ll leave you to it. However I note that we are up to comment #45 and I’ve yet to read a single constructive suggestion from anybody about what somebody should do to change the existing situation.

  48. Fine

    “Twenty years ago I used to respond to the “not enough female engineers” complaint by first suggesting that the objector study engineering if she thought it was so important, then suggest a draft – force women to enter professions to make up the numbers. I trust your ideas are better than mine…”

    *Sigh* In the mid ’90s the VCA School of Film and TV were concerned that not enough women were being selected to study there. It’s very competitive to get into and often takes several attempts. They decided to try to find out why and discovered that once women didn’t get in on their first attempt they didn’t try again, whereas men often kept trying until they were selected. Further research found that that when the men were rejected they decided they’d get in the next time, whereas women tended to think it was because they were failures. So promising women who failed on the first attempt were given support and mentoring so that they would keep trying. Guess what? Fairly equal numbers started be selected after a couple of years. Y’see, there’s this thing called gender which effects behaviour and a lot of that behaviour can be changed with a bit of effort, once it’s been admitted to.

    This may have something to do with why women tend not to ask for pay rises, or apply fo senior jobs as often as men. But you can keep on believing whatever is convenient for you.

  49. Helen

    Ken, with all due respect, if all you have for a topic is that you think it’s not valid and why don’t we have an instant fix, really, go and read somewhere else and let others try to have a constructive discussion. Thanks, Fine, that illustrates something we find so hard to describe, but which is very real, the relative lack of entitlement or bumptioussness or whatever that boys gain as they grow up.

    To those wishing to describe Eva Cox as old and past it, maybe we could refrain from elder-bashing? Have you achieved as much in your lifetime?

  50. Born Under Punches

    Before I can take this article or any of its strident defenders seriously, I’d like to see something (anything) supporting the claim that new women get paid less as new graduates within a given field than men.

    Can anybody provide this to me?

  51. tigtog

    @ Peter,

    Your figures don’t debunk the gender gap in earnings, they fully confirm it. I know several families who have organised their child-rearing lives so that the children are spaced two years apart and the first year of parental leave is taken by the mother, then the next year by the father, rinse and repeat, so that their careers stay in step.

    This does of course involve the father taking at least half of the pay cut that mothers generally do, but it also means that the mother maintains at least some career momentum. That is what a truly egalitarian sharing of the family/career balance entails.

    However, these couples are few and far between. It also seems only possible in families where both couples are librarians, teachers, lawyers or doctors. What exactly is the reason that other workplaces don’t organise themselves so that most families find it possible to organise their lives this way, if not for gender expectations both within and outside the family?

    It’s all very well to say “traditional gender roles” but what happens if a couple have done the traditional gender role for 10 or more years and then the breadwinner dies unexpectedly? How is the stay-at-home-partner mother expected to provide for her family at anything like the level they are accustomed to if she’s been out of the workplace entirely for that time? At least if both parents have taken turns to both be primary child-carer and maintain their careers then the family will be in a better financial situation if one of the parents dies. There is also less likely to be dependence and resultant acrimony in the case of divorce.

  52. desipis

    So promising women who failed on the first attempt were given support and mentoring so that they would keep trying.

    One would hope that all promising people who failed on the first attempt were offered support and mentoring and the system wasn’t biased against men in order to acheive a false equality. I have no problem broadening a processes to help include those who exhibit traits typically associated with women (or any other group), as long as it doesn’t corrupt the original process (e.g certain jobs require phyiscal strength so there’s no point in altering a job criteria to include weaker people for the sake of diversity). However I don’t think there’s a need to explicitly discriminate on the basis of gender in order to acheive fairness.

  53. Rachel

    The whole point of Mark’s post is that nothing much has changed in almost 30 years so the mere publicising of the matter doesn’t seem to be having much concrete impact.

    Well I don’t believe it begins and ends with a ‘Blame The Wimmins’ attitude which appears to be dominating the comments in this thread! I don’t profess to have all the answers, but in reply would ask whether “30 years” is sufficient time in order to overturn what seem to be (from some of the comments here in any case) deep rooted antipathy to women achieving full equality in the workplace?

  54. Peter

    Fine,

    I think it is worth pointing out that the process you describe is not entirely cost free. You realize, I hope, that by providing extra encouragement to women you are in fact discriminating against the more marginal guy – the one that missed out because the gal was given an extra helping hand. How is this fair on that guy?

  55. Desipis

    Why do ‘progressives’ insist on believing this sort of easily debunked nonsense.

    Same reason most ideological groups go off course, the people involved will typically feel connected through the “what”, not the “why”. When circumstances change and the “why” no longer makes sense, they still feel connected to the “what”, persuing it while being supported by their fellow group members. So feminists will always chase the better deal for women regardless of whether it’s about equality or truth.

    To be fair though, progressives usually trot out less nonsense than conservatives do.

  56. Rachel

    However I note that we are up to comment #45 and I’ve yet to read a single constructive suggestion from anybody about what somebody should do to change the existing situation.

    I’m beginning to sense this is the stock standard ‘wash the hands’ reply to a problem that will require multi-pronged action across our society – men and women.

    I have to say I’m very disappointed that today’s batch of men are seemingly prepared to give up so easily.

  57. Labor Outsider

    This thread is s*itting me to tears.

    Could we at least have some discussion based on empirical evidence?

    Here is the conclusion from a fairly recent UK paper by a well known labour economist Alan Manning and co-author Joanna Swaffield.

    “This paper has argued that an understanding of the gender pay gap in Britain needs to focus on the explanation of the gender gap in early-career wage growth that causes women who entered the labour market with the same average level of pay as men to be approximately 25 log points behind 10 years later. Human capital theory can explain at most half of this (primarily because of gender differences in the receipt of on-the-job training, and because of modest differences in accumulated labour market experience). Job shopping theories seem to be able to explain at most 1.5 log points and the ‘psychological’ hypothesis of Babcock and Laschever (2003) seems to explain little more than half a log point. There remains a large unexplained component. This gender gap in wage growth means that, although men and women have similar earnings when entering the labour market, the women will be something like 12% behind the men ten years later even if they have been in continuous full-time employment, have had no children and do not want any.

    What theories might be of use in explaining this large residual component to the gender gap in early-career wage growth? A simple ‘discrimination’ view does not seem very helpful as the gender pay gap is zero on labour market entry though it is perhaps now more difficult to exercise prejudice on entry to jobs. But, there some other possibilities.

    First, differences in the ambitions of men and women could be important. A number of papers (e.g. Vella, 1994, Swaffield, 2000, Chevalier, 2004) find that differences in ambitions about how important is career (relative to family, for example) and what one seeks in a job (e.g. money versus helping people) can help to ‘explain’ the gender pay gap. However these papers tend to use information on ambitions approximately contemporaneous with that on wages so reverse causality may be a problem.

    A second possibility is that theories of statistical discrimination might have some explanatory power. We have sought to explain the wage growth of individual women using their individual experiences and plans but some of this (e.g. future fertility plans) might be private information that is hard for employers to know in which case all women will be judged on the basis of ‘averages’. Lazear and Rosen (1990) construct one such theory in which the greater likelihood of women quitting induces employers to make less investment in them and to promote them less often (see Pekkarinen and Vartianen, 2004, for an application of these ideas to Finnish metalworkers). One could argue that this particular mechanism is controlled for here once we introduce on-the-job training and promotions but one could construct other theories of statistical discrimination that would account for gender differences in wage growth within jobs.

    Whether these or other explanations can explain the residual 12 point wage gap faced by career women after 10 years in the labour market is something we leave for future research.”

    Bottom line?

    I haven’t seen a similar study in Australia but I wouldn’t be surprised if the same conclusions hold here.

    It is all well and good to document the gender pay gap, but policy-led attempts to narrow it first have to understand the causes of the gap.

    Note that some of the factors above suggest that until/unless deeper cultural/workplace/social structural factors alter, one would not expect to see a complete closing of the gender pay gap.

    Certainly the policy – pay women the same for equal work – is a bit besides the point. The problem, most often, is that men and women are not doing the same work, even within the same industrial sector. And the explanations for why are a complex combination of different prefences, more intermittent employment patterns, statistical and actual discrimination, reduced likelihood of promotion/investment in training by the firm (related to the other factors), etc. Few of these are amenable to simple regulatory solutions outside of the public sector.

  58. Chris

    tigtog @ 50 said:

    However, these couples are few and far between. It also seems only possible in families where both couples are librarians, teachers, lawyers or doctors.

    Perhaps its rare because in your example the mother’s right to return to work is at least theoretically protected by law (parental leave) whereas the father’s leave falling in the second year is not and so it is something they have to specifically negotiate with their employer. Having paternity leave protected by law for the second year of a child’s life even if it was unpaid would lead to more father’s taking it up and I think a more even up take of domestic work would result.

    One slightly crazy idea for encouraging more equality in wages would be public disclosure of all wages. Everyone can then easily find out what people doing similar work are paid. Might as well just publish all tax returns as well at the same time.

  59. PatrickB

    “I’ve yet to read a single constructive suggestion from anybody about what somebody should do to change the existing situation.”

    Err … I suggested using technology to break up the conventional workplace. What I mean is a wholesale abandonment of large, central city office towers for small, perhaps even home based workplaces. I work in IT and it’s astounding that there isn’t much of a push to have workers carry out most of their work from home. With the current range of technologies this is entirely feasible, the barrier is purely the mentality of the mainly male managerial class. To be quite blunt, this class see the presence of bodies in space as the only measure of productivity. They congratulate themselves in having done the job with the biggest team. No thought is given to the amount of wasted time and energy devoted to trying, usually with marginal success, to manage these bloated teams. They are so removed from the actual problem at hand that they can’t really be sure what is going on. They are presented with reports containing figures that they can’t contextualise. Does the project need 2 people or 20 or 200? Most managers haven’t got a clue. The best projects are where the managerial layer is virtually non-existent, the best manager is hands on with the rest of the team at least 50% of the time.
    So there you have it, get people out of offices, into smaller, self managed teams and work practices will change and so will the culture of work and this I think will have an impact on the roles of men and women in the workplace.

  60. tigtog

    @ Desipis,

    However I don’t think there’s a need to explicitly discriminate on the basis of gender in order to acheive [sic] fairness.

    The following cartoon is about the racist axis of the gender/race/class hierarchy, but it’s certainly parelleled in the cases of class and gender as well.

    [note from tigtog: posting the cartoon was an error in judgement, it could never not become a derail. It has been deleted and responses that refer to it also.]

  61. PatrickB

    “One slightly crazy idea for encouraging more equality in wages would be public disclosure of all wages. Everyone can then easily find out what people doing similar work are paid. Might as well just publish all tax returns as well at the same time.”

    Damn good idea if you ask me. If you’re in the PS everyone knows you wage by what your level is. The whole “don’t tell anyone what you earn” is an obvious distortion of the market that favours employers.

  62. Grumphy

    57! High five! Until all wage data is publically available and indexed by not only job title but a brief description of general duties, none of the hurf-durfing about how women allegedly just suck at bargaining and how men allegedly just don’t hire anyone who they don’t think they can spend time at the pub with will remain completely irrelevant. The labour market is too obscured to function as it should, and that’s pretty much the first thing that has to be knocked on the head before structural inequity of any kind can be properly addressed.

    And if you’re* against pay disclosure, then let me just say I am very very suspicious of your motives for holding such a position :|

    With that out of the way, I have to address Strocchi’s claim that dangerous jobs attract a pay bonus, because that is complete and utter bulldust sourced from a romanticised view of manly men chopping trees and such. Dangerous, labourious jobs attract a pay penalty, for the most part, mainly because they’re freakin’ dangerous. Also because they’re frequently low-skilled, meaning that only the desperate and dim apply. Such people have stuff-all bargaining power, so pay and benefits remain low. The rest of the post wasn’t much better, but at midnight I really don’t have the motivation to smack down old, poorly researched claims about Teh Hormones and how they make the world go ’round.

    *the General You’re, y’all

  63. Desipis

    @57, Yes I think the publicising of wage data (or at the very least anonomised but specific aggregates by the ABS) would be an important step to acheiving wage fairness. The notion that discussing income should be a taboo is one cultural thing we should definately change.
    tigtog,

    [note from tigtog: The rest of this comment has been deleted. My posting the cartoon was an error in judgement, it could never not become a derail. It has been deleted and responses that refer to it also.]

  64. Yobbo

    @tigtogs cartoon.

    [note from tigtog: posting the cartoon was an error in judgement, it could never not become a derail. It has been deleted and responses that refer to it also.]

  65. tssk

    OK. I’m going by annecdote here. This may seem sexist but in my experience in a workplace that requires highly skilled motivated people working to very tight if not impossible deadlines women generally

    1 Are more reliable

    2 Are harder working

    3 Are less likely to clock watch

    4 Are less likely to waste time

    5 Are less likely to take sick leave

    6 Are more likely to accept overtime

    7 Are more efficient

    I could go on and and but I think we all know the dirty little secret of the Australian workplace. (And I say this as a man) Women are used to working at least 25% harder to get half the recognition. They generally work double shifts (finishing work only to have to do housework and cook dinner as well). And they don’t waste time on bloody discussions about fantasy football!

  66. adrian

    What Patrick B and tssk said. The managerial class are the biggest waste of space and the biggest impedement to change in the entire workplace.

  67. tigtog

    Mark, my apologies for posting something that was, in hindsight, nothing but an invitation to derail the thread. I’ve deleted it and responses to it.

    To everybody: further discussion of the cartoon I posted does not belong in this thread.

  68. sg

    Jesus H Christ, I knew this thread would go this way – 2 comments in the first 5 claiming that the reason women are paid less is that they don’t work as hard or they don’t get the same qualifications or they take time out of work.

    My partner was paid less than a male colleague who had less qualifications and less experience than her. She found out a year after she started working at the company, where pay was secret. She had never taken time off, had followed the classic pathway through education and work experience for her career, and was older than him by a couple of years. She worked damn hard to get there too.

    She also attempted to negotiate the best pay she could when she started, and the man who interviewed her refused. She found out a year later that the same man offered her younger, less experienced male colleague the top wage without him having to ask. It wasn’t even an example of the supposed “women are weaker negotiators” – it was a straight out gender-based gift from a man to a man.

    So desipis, rationalist, etc. – you need to get out more. Or employ your cynicism a little less selectively.

  69. moz

    Fine@47: the women I talked to were invariably free from any actual knowledge about engineering. From not being interested in engineering generally and not knowing what was required to get in through to not having any idea what the engineering school offered in the way of support, they were angrily ignorant. I still think my point is quite valid: if you think it’s critical that we have more female X, why are you not trying to become an X? Why stop at the first hurdle? Especially if that hurdle is “there aren’t many female X”?

    FWIW the school had a variety of official programs (WISE, for example) as well as unofficial ones (not mentoring as much as good awareness of individual students). FFS, the electrical eng dept at Canterbury made their own female lecturer only to have her bought out by the govt to work for their women in technical careers stuff. A lot of work went into that PhD, and not just from the candidate.

    This stuff has been going on for way more than 20 years and it’s clearly not enough. To put it another way, what are *you* doing to address the problem.

  70. Karl

    Dictum

    Hitherto philosophers have described the world. The point, however, is to hector it.

  71. Laura

    Helpful comment from labor outsider, thanks for that

  72. GoTroppo

    I’ll add my two cents to the public disclosure of incomes. Not only would it help with pay equity but it hinder any return to the “Work Choices” debacle as individuals would have greater leverage in negotiating a fair wage – and there’s no advantage in that to employers.

    But is it possible? Well, by all accounts the Norwegians have been doing it for over a century. So maybe it’s time we started…

  73. sg

    my partner was definitely screwed over by the hidden pay in her work. It enabled the bosses to do things they wouldn’t have been willing to risk if the pay had been open. By the time she found out it was too late to make any kind of informal case for change, but if she had known when she started there she could obviously have protested her starting wage.

    The best way though would be if employers just grew up and joined the 20th century.

  74. Paul Norton

    Labor Outsider, thanks for that important and interesting information. It seems to suggest that institutional discrimination is more important than intentional discrimination in explaining the gender gap.

  75. Grumphy

    I know anecdote isn’t data, but I can at least point to institutional factors in the relative absence of women from my workplace. Part of it is an age distribution thing – the two other professional females in my work unit were at kid-having age and did the usual thing. They’ll probably be back eventually, but even in the PS its a struggle to get back into the swing of things. Your desk disappears, your files get…filed, that sort of thing. Our boss likes an even gender distribution in the office and makes an effort to achieve that, but fails to notice that when its even, the female jobs are still mostly early career or office admin, and the male jobs are later career and never admin ever. There are no career-threatening females in the work unit, basically. Maybe its the age thing again, maybe not. Hard to tell.

    Secondly, our work unit is pretty flexible in terms of assigning tasks, but the men got there first and have dibs on the project work – the hard science, the most career-advancey stuff. So while I get fair crack at helping out and plenty of training opportunities and adequate promotion, what I mostly do with my science degree is communications and teaching work. Girl stuff for the girl, because ‘girls are better at that’. Well no, the men in the office just don’t want to do that work. I’m not overly resentful given that I’ve developed some useful skills (public speaking in particular), but I’m not ‘good at that’ really, and in the end it isn’t the career path I trained for. I just don’t have the luxury of fobbing the work off on someone else, and in this economic environment there’s no way in hell I’m up and leaving any time soon (and lets face it, science communication is woefully underdone). I’m just going to have to do my time and hope I eventually get the chance to do some actual science down the track.

    What does royally piss me off, though, is being handed office admin work when the admin girl isn’t around. I’ve had to get pretty stroppy to nip that behaviour in the bud. I’m also (ironically to some) the one worker least likely to stand around gossiping :/

  76. Cooper

    government 7%

    If this discrepency does indeed exist, it can only be in the upper echelons of the Govt system where some level of negotiation is possible. Amongst the minions, the pay scales are rigid and it doesn’t matter whether you’re male or female.

  77. Jack Strocchi

    # 41 Kersebleptes Aug 25th, 2009 at 9:58 pm says:

    Jack Strocchi has great big comments, doesn’t he?

    I admit do elaborating the argument a bit beyond typical comment length of three pars. But in self-defence most of my comments are quote heavy.

    In the comment in question the quote/comment ration was 432/802 words ie > 50% was sourced from not-me. The sources were reputable (Tom Waits!).

    So perhaps commenters would like to engage using facts and logic sourced from credible authorities. Or perhaps they just want to indulge in pointless griping and sniping.

    Just musin’.

  78. Chris

    Cooper @ 75 – I’d guess this difference occurs because there are more women in poorer paid positions than men. They’re not comparing the salaries of people doing the same job, but averages of everyone in that sector.

    GoTroppo @ 71 – I think the obvious issue around publication of tax returns/salaries is privacy. Should everyone be able to find out if I’m employed or not, what government benefits I receive etc? And as the article you linked to points out it can turn into a bit of a circus for the tabloids. You could end up with google map overlays that show the household income on top of each house :-)

    sg @ 67 – I ended up in the curious position for a while of doing a similar job to my wife for the same employer but getting paid significantly more. Not a recipe for domestic harmony ;-) In my experience you get the biggest wage rises when you change jobs or your current employer really wants to keep you and thinks you might leave. And in our case my wife had been with the same employer for many years and I’d moved around a bit (and part of it was simply luck with the dotcom period). However our wages have been converging over time even with a maternity leave gap in the middle – she’s a lot more active about lobbying for payrises than me these days.

  79. Fine

    Desipis @51 and Peter @ 53. Yes, it would be unfortunate if a marginal man misses out on selection. But, I think it’s even more unfortunate if a whole swathe of women keep missing out over time. The question is; where does the most serious problem lie and how do you solve it?

    Moz @ 68, I’m not saying the exact solution works for every problem. My point is, is that once it was recognised as a problem at an institutional level, not just a problem for the individual women, then a solution could be found. To answer the questions; ‘what’s to be done?’, the first step is recognising that there’s a structural problem, instead of constructing the problem as belonging to the individual women (they don’t want to do engineering, women’s jobs aren’t as valuable as men’s, it’s because women work part-time, let the market solve it etc), which is what a lot of commenters here are doing.

  80. joe2

    “Dangerous, labourious jobs attract a pay penalty, for the most part, mainly because they’re freakin’ dangerous. Also because they’re frequently low-skilled, meaning that only the desperate and dim apply.”

    I must say that I get a bit jack of this high skilled/ low skilled division description in our workforce and the ugly, quite prejudiced, views that it seems to engender. Such attitudes may well be part of the root cause of why, in many areas of work, where probably more women are involved, there is such a poor pay rate compared to the average.

  81. Chris

    Fine @ 77 – I think the an interesting experiment now would be to also provide the men who marginally failed to get accepted with mentoring and encouragement, and see if the acceptance proportions stayed the same. ie. determine if the the original theory that it was a problem of persistence of applicants or if the mentoring is compensating for some other issue that was causing the difference.

    It comes down to whether you think the male/female imbalance is more problem or if getting the best people into the course is more important (and it may well turn out that you can do both at the same time).

  82. Sean

    By chance I read this just this morning, and it is entirely relevant: “Is There Anything Good About Men?”

    Some relevant quotes:

    “… the feminist critique of society. This critique started when some women systematically looked up at the top of society and saw men everywhere…

    Seeing all this, the feminists thought, wow, men dominate everything, so society is set up to favor men. It must be great to be a man.

    The mistake in that way of thinking is to look only at the top. If one were to look downward to the bottom of society instead, one finds mostly men there too. Who’s in prison, all over the world, as criminals or political prisoners? The population on Death Row has never approached 51% female. Who’s homeless? Again, mostly men. Whom does society use for bad or dangerous jobs? US Department of Labor statistics report that 93% of the people killed on the job are men…”

    There is a minimum wage but no maximum. Hence the high-achieving men can pull the male average up while the low-achieving ones can’t pull it down. The result? Men will get higher average salaries than women, even if there is no average difference on any relevant input.

    Today, sure enough, women get higher college grades but lower salaries than men. There is much discussion about what all this means and what should be done about it. But as you see, both facts could be just a statistical quirk stemming from male extremity.”

    Speaking of anecdotes, when I was a house-husband, the only people who ever expressed any disapproval were middle aged/older women. Men of the same age even reacted with a tragic sort of regret that they had missed out on such a thing. “We all thought work was so bloody important”, said one retired barrister to me as I walked past his house with the baby carrier on my back one sunny spring weekday. But me own mum said of me and my brother (who had expressed a willingness to do the same) that she had “raised a pair of poofs”. Joking, she said, joking. All the truly withering, you-useless-layabout-bastard looks were from middle aged women seeing me at the supermarket on a Tuesday morning with a baby strapped to me.

    I suppose I could get away with my male ego in tact partly because of extrememly macho endeavours undertaken in the years previous. I’m afraid there won’t be many young hetero men out there, looking at current, Gen Y female attitudes and popular culture, and thinking they will remain attractive breeding options if they opt out of traditional male roles.

  83. Sean

    Doh! Forgot to past in the URL!

    http://www.psy.fsu.edu/~baumeistertice/goodaboutmen.htm

    Men, eh?!?

  84. Fine

    Chris, it depends on how you define the ‘best people’. And no, it’s not either/or. Again, gender expectations play into this. See the point that the men applied repeatedly which helped in their success and the women didn’t, which helped in their failure. Again, see that the reasons for this were gendered.

  85. Chris

    Fine @ 82 – agreed that best is really hard to define and it can be hard to tell for many years (eg employment/graduation results). If its simply a matter of just getting women to repeatedly try, something as simple as adding something to the rejection letter to those who marginally fail to get accepted saying that they *almost* got in and please try again next year may be sufficient.

    If its not, then perhaps there other aspects which the mentoring is compensating for. I see some possible parallels with getting women into IT courses. The emphasis used to be on encouraging girls (some of it through mentoring) in the last couple of high school years to consider IT and while that helps its more widely accepted now that its too late for many by then. The programs need to be run in primary school or early high school before many career expectations get set and ensure that girls who are interested in IT do the subjects they need to get into the courses.

  86. Chookie

    Some of you might find this article about the librarians’ pay equity case enlightening. The way women’s work becomes undervalued is not always easy to trace.

  87. Fine

    Chris, the women who had been rejected were already receiving and encouraging rejection letter and a follow up phone call, but it wasn’t enough. The support had to be more active and intense. Interestingly, after a few years they dropped this program and gender equality pretty much remained. You could conjecture that was because a critical mass of women in the course had been attained. It was normalised so that made it easier for women to aspire to the course.

  88. derrida derider

    Well I’ve read all 86 comments, and I’ll never get those minutes of my life back. In the whole thing there is only one – just one – worth reading. That one is, of course, LO’s at 56. Characteristically everyone ignored it, preferring to continue implying each other were either selfish middle-class feminist harpies or unreconstructed chauvinist pigs. Can we try for a bit less heat and a lot more light?

    BTW, Allan Manning is both a very respected labour economist and definitely a modern lefty. As for Eva, I’ve had dealings with her over the years and I won’t take any “evidence” she adduces on trust. She’s a great shit-stirrer (we definitely need them) but she’s no statistician or econometrician.

  89. Helen

    Being a statistician or econometrician is not the only way to arrive at an accurate criticism of your society. You are simply framing it in such a way as to exclude observations which you don’t like. Many statisticians / econometricians have come up with plenty of wrongness over the years.

  90. Helen

    Sean, you surely are aware by now that people of both genders police gender boundaries, or enforce patriarchal norms to put it another way. Otherwise there’d be no word for feminist, as all women would be. Geddit?

    And the fact that patriarchy benefits certain men more than others is hardly a fact that’s gone unnoticed in feminist thinking over the years. In fact, it’s another good reason to be feminist.

  91. Grumphy

    Chris @77; there’s no reason that salary details need to be linked to a location, employee name or even an employer name (although they’d have to be linked to the relevant ABN in the ATO’s records, presumably). All that’s needed is some basic info about job tasks next to a dollar figure received:

    Business #X
    CEO: $crapload
    2IC: 0.6 of a $crapload
    Sales folk: $55K
    Receptionist: $35K
    etc

    You could maybe get fancy with fringe benefits stuff, but I don’t see any particular reason to. Taxable income in the absence of salary packaging should be sufficient.

    The market would then be transparent enough for people to realistically be able to spot both active and structural discrimination.

  92. Chris

    Fine @ 86 – thats pretty interesting. I’m generally not a fan of quota like systems, but they are simple (and cheap to do) and it sounds like a quota run for a few years might have worked just as well – just needed to get a critical mass.

  93. Delight

    For those interested you can get a gender breakdown of graduate pay from this website. Almost all professions show higher paid male graduates.

    [moderator note: link which caused computer crash deleted ~tigtog]

  94. Sean

    I think you need to review the logic of that first paragraph Helen. Would feminism have nothing left to do if only men policed gender boundaries? In any case it is such a totally artifical scenario which you profer that a sneering “geddit” hardly follows. “If a spaceship lands on the MCG during the grand final it won’t matter who won, geddit?” I offered that personal story up as (only one) of the things to be “done” before women are earning the same money on average as men from paid employment.

    If we decide that is actually necessary and good. We already have equal pay for equal work. It may be that to achieve equal-work-in-paid-employement, and thus equal earnings per member of gender from paid employment, we may be forcing many women and men into roles which they don’t desire.

    And the fact that patriarchy benefits certain men more than others

    Actually, the point of the linked argument is that men’s role as society’s risk takers benefits a few, and destroys many more. Not that homeless men are slightly less privileged than Mr (and Mrs) Gates.

    The only -ist I will wear is humanist and even then, maybe.

  95. Delight

    Sorry my link didn’t work

    http://svc071.wic016v.server-web.com/gradsonline/

    Is this link any better?

    If not go to http://www.goingtouni.gov.au/Main/CoursesAndProviders/GettingStarted/QualificationsAndFieldsOfEducation/FieldsOfEducation.htm

    and click on the side bar link to gradsonline.

  96. rainne

    Sean, I’m pretty sure that Helen meant that if only women policed gender boundaries (as your anecdote about meeting dispproval only from women appears to imply you believe) then feminism would have no work to do.

    I don’t even understand the rest. We would be forcing people into roles they don’t desire if we encouraged equal pay in paid employment because…women don’t want to be forced into the horrible position of having financial equality? Or because men don’t want to be forced into the horrible position of not having a financial advantage? Or because you’re envisioning some sort of system where everyone works a mandated number of hours per day in a mandated job and no-one has the time to walk through a sunny afternoon with their baby carrier on their back?

    And for those of you who keep stating that we already have equal pay for equal work, or that refuse to believe that male graduates get paid more than female…do any of you want to back up those positions? Or are you happier just proclaiming that it can’t be true?

  97. Helen

    Rainne, sorry about my confusing statement, I meant that as both men and women support patriarchal norms (in the guise of “traditional roles” and essentialist notions of ability and inclination) we have the distinction between feminist women and others, whereas if women were all en masse opposed to them then we’d all be feminists and there would be no name for it, probably! Kind of a frolic of my own there, doesn’t really add much to anything, so sorry for the derail!

    As well as backing up some o’ them assertions, I think some other commenters need to read the linked article by Eva Cox. I could be wrong, but some comments read like the writer hasn’t bothered to read it and address the points therein.

  98. Sean

    Rainne,

    I fully accept that if the article I linked above is correct, it is only partially so.

    For eg, as Labour Outsider says above, there is some evidence that women who do want to commit themselves to paid employment in certain industries and/or firms, are disadvantaged by their employer’s “playing the odds” that they may leave employment for an extended period of motherhood.

    Taking a macro view though, there is also evidence that people’s statistical tendency to choose traditional gender roles for themselves is a matter of choice. I’d refer you to the words “if” and “may” in my last comment, and perhaps you could engage on that basis, since you clearly do in fact understand the argument perfectly well. A large part of the disparity in average wages is due to a disparity in hours worked in paid employment. Men do more. They are also more likely to choose the workaholic lifestyle that leads to the very high salaries.

    Notwithstanding what LO said about possible under-investment in potential mothers, in theory our society is now set up for equitable pay dependant on your contribution, in the private sphere. The large part of the disparity is because men (as a statistical whole) contribute more to the entity doing the paying, ie the private employer.

    Talk about financial equality is almost meaningless in a society that is economically structured that way. There are very rich and self made women with whom I do not have finanical equality, because I have different priorities. We’re both bucking the gender statistical trend. Possibly this is only because of structural obstacles and artificial gender indoctrination. Possibly not, though.

    If the basics of how we run our economy and reward economic effort remain the same, then yes you would have to mandate equal contribution to the employer.

    My own feeling is that, so long as we are careful to remove all the structural obstacles and social “though shalt nots”* and allow people to choose, as much as possible, what they find fulfilling, we shouldn’t be too concerned if more men than women choose to concentrate on paid employment.

    *I’ll accept that we haven’t, entirely.

  99. Mindy

    “because men (as a statistical whole) contribute more to the entity doing the paying”

    got anything to back this up with?

  100. Helen

    …And further to Mindy: that plays into the frame where only paid work counts and the unpaid is externalised. I realise this does not matter to employers where they continue to reap the benefits, but this system is under severe strain.

  101. rainne

    Gotcha, Helen, thanks.

    Sean, I agree that if we removed all the structural and social obstacles that affect our so-called ‘choices’ around career and family and pay structure, there shouldn’t be much room for concern vis-a-vis who concentrated on paid employment. I think we would disagree about the degree to which that’s possible, though. Can you back up your ‘there is statistical evidence’ claim?

    As for ‘if’ and ‘may’, I don’t see that acknowledging your qualifying language makes a difference to my question. But if it helps:
    “We wouldmay be forcing people into roles they don’t desire if we encouraged equal pay in paid employment because…women don’t want to be forced into the horrible position of having financial equality? Or because men don’t want to be forced into the horrible position of not having a financial advantage? Or because you’re envisioning some sort of system where everyone works a mandated number of hours per day in a mandated job and no-one has the time to walk through a sunny afternoon with their baby carrier on their back? men naturally and of free choosing prefer to spend their hours in paid employment and women in unpaid employment?”

  102. Matt C

    A large part of the disparity in average wages is due to a disparity in hours worked in paid employment.

    You’re right that this is a significant factor.
    However, it doesn’t completely explain the gender pay gap.

    Most calculations of the gender pay gap are done using average weekly ordinary time earnings for full time adults (AWOTE). This excludes non-ordinary time (ie. overtime and bonus) payments.

    The ABS also calculates average hourly rates of pay by gender for both ordinary time and over time. The average non-managerial ordinary time hourly rate of pay for males is $31.00. For females it is $27.60. (See ABS 6306002a, Employee Hours and Earnings). In other words, the average ordinary time hourly rate of pay for non-managerial females is 89% of the male rate, meaning there is a gap of 11%. This is more than half the aggregate gender pay gap.

    Therefore, the fact that men work more hours than women must account for less than half of the aggregate gender pay gap.

  103. Sean

    Mindy, ABS figures for eg 2007, men worked on average 38.5 hours and women 29. As everyone acknowldges, when we also factor in responsibility, men are far more likely to be in upper management. I think I’m entitled to assume some passing familiarity with the facts aren’t I?

    Helen, you’re right of course, but we are talking about rates of pay. I’ve stated my opposition to structural and social obstacles to people’s choices re the priority of paid work in their lives. But what can be done to pay people for unpaid work???? How much will my firm pay my wife to be currently raising our kid? Nothing, thanks. How much do I pay her? Pretty much everything I’ve got. For it is also a statistical truism that women in Australia control most household discretionary spending, which is why TV advertising generally adopts the female gaze.

    Strangely, that situation did not reverse itself during my tenure as house husband >.>

  104. Matt C

    Mindy, ABS figures for eg 2007, men worked on average 38.5 hours and women 29. As everyone acknowldges, when we also factor in responsibility, men are far more likely to be in upper management.

    Sean, the figures I quoted above ($31/hour for men, $27.60 for women) are hourly rates of ordinary time pay for non-managerial adults. The effects of long hours and managerial responsibility are removed, yet an 11% gender pay gap persists.

  105. Desipis

    Matt C,

    Last time I looked at the data, that 11% can be mostly explained by pay differences in different industries, along with a difference in average years of experience.

  106. Lacquered Studio

    Sean, love your post…but that quote about the proportion of males in prison isn’t doing you any favours. That’s not workplace sexism; that’s just guys committing more crime than girls.

  107. desipis

    That’s not workplace sexism; that’s just guys committing more crime than girls.

    And how is that not institutionalised sexism that causes men to be pushed towards criminal activity? There are other factors involved too, such as greater sentances for men than for women for the same crime, police are more likely to investigate men than women for a crime, etc.

  108. moz

    Laquered@105: so criminal activity is another area of sexist discrimination that needs to be addressed. Why are there no programs promoting criminality to young women? I note that we’re well on the way to equal criminality in motor vehicle use, but not in theft. Why is that?

    There’s also a glaring discrepancy in early literacy that’s not being addressed very well. And that difference feeds directly into the above caught-criminals one. Perhaps we could address the issue there?

  109. Anthony

    dd@87: “Characteristically everyone ignored it,”

    Laura didn’t

  110. Lacquered Studio

    Why are there no programs promoting criminality to young women?

    That’s the spirit. If we could just get more girls in jail, blokes wouldn’t look so bad. Sheesh.

  111. Lacquered Studio

    And desipis,

    Sorry, but how can “institutionalised sexism” against men possibly “push” men into committing “criminal activity”? Never to this day have I heard such a fraudulent, the-system-made-me-do-it excuse.

  112. desipis

    Lacquered Studio,

    I was just applying the logic used to state that “the system” is responsible for driving women’s career choices to state that “the system” is responsible for driving men’s criminal choices.

  113. tigtog

    @desipis

    Women “choosing” less well remunerated employment areas is behaviour that garners a lot of social approval for various reasons that have already been outlined upthread.

    Men committing crime is full-on antisocial and only approved of by other social outcasts.

    A very poor exercise in “logic” to cast them as directly comparable in any way.

  114. moz

    tigtog@112: been to the movies recently? Seen any television? Looks at any “men’s magazines”? All have sections that are heavy on the “promote criminality” element. Action movies… because solving problems by shooting people blowing stuff up is how manly men do things.

  115. desipis

    tigtog,
    Men receive social approval for risky behaviours, independance from ‘the man’, and assertion of power regardless of the legality (or sanity) of their actions. They are also socialised to see phyiscal assertiveness as key to their worth as a ‘man’. This comes from the mainstream community, not just ‘social outcasts’; look at how criminals, mainly male criminals, are often glamorised in popular culture.

    Secondly men bear the pressure of being the bread winner, and face much more social condemnation for failing in that role, than for acting as a criminal. Thus they will turn to crime to be seen as adequately providing for their family.

  116. Mark

    Update: SocProf at The Global Sociology Blog, noting the appearance of sexism in the comments thread attached to this thread, which doesn’t surprise me in the slightest, but is as disappointing as it is predictable.

  117. tigtog

    @ moz,

    Action movies are (a) fantasies (b) the protagonist is usually not a criminal, even if law enforcement is chasing him due to some misunderstanding promulgated by the nefarious baddies, and (c) the happy ending is all about vindication from either mainstream society or the ruling elite. Most of the manly men I see blowing stuff up are non-glamorised villains and the ultimately victorious secret agents who pursue them are the ones being glamorised.

    The social pressures on women to be less competitive/ambitious in their career choices are all about settling for a “realistic” careeer path, not a fantasy one.

    @desipis,

    I certainly observe the socialisation of men into approved risk-taking behaviour, but to equate that with automatic approval of criminal actions is pulling a long bow. There is a subculture that glamorises and valorises criminals, but it’s a distinct minority and it’s largely confined to the “colourful Sydney racing identity” type criminal, who tend to serve rather less time in prison than your average petty larcenists and violent thugs, so they’re hardly the ones to refer to when attempting to account for more men in prison.

  118. desipis

    tigtog,

    Are you arguing an essentialist position that men are inherently more criminal than women, or do you have some other social factor(s) in mind?

  119. Lynda Hopgood

    Sorry; I’ve come a bit late to this and I apologise if I am doubling up on something someone else has said (I skimmed a lot of the comments).

    I have a perspective on this related to my own area of work. Twenty-odd years ago, Personal Assistants to Members of Parliament were almost exclusively women. That is because the role was considered to be mostly a reception and administrative one, with the politics done by the Member and the PA just looked after the office. They were largely remunerated as secretaries (ie fairly low waged).

    Then a couple of women PAs who were politically active within their parties decided they wanted to run for parliament themselves and were successful: suddenly it wasn’t just seen as an office job – it was a stepping-stone for those with political ambitions.

    What happened next was that blokes started getting these jobs and – guess what? Yep, all of a sudden the job was so much more “important” than it was before, which meant that pay levels started rising dramatically.

    So what is still essentially a reception/office assistant position is now paid between $50,000 and $75,000 a year.

    Show me a receptionist/office assistant in any other profession who earns anywhere near that!

  120. Jack Strocchi

    Mark B. says:

    Eva Cox has published a useful corrective to many of the myths which serve to excuse, obscure and justify what is a continuing disgrace:

    I wonder if myth-busting Eva Cox bothered to mention about what happens to all those tons of filthy lucre than men earn after they take it home.

    The constant femninist harping on dwindling pay gaps between women and men ignores a rather large elephant in the room: women tend to control more of household spending than men. A study sponsored by Whartons called “men buy, women shop” found that women have the final say on the vast majority of household spending:

    Women spend $4 trillion annually and account for 83% of U.S. consumer spending, which makes up two-thirds of the nation’s gross national product, according to WomenCertified, a women’s consumer advocacy and retail training organization headquartered in Hollywood, Fla., which also worked on the study.

    Think about it, females – at least those in so-called patriarchally oppressive relationships – tend to control the most of the flow of discretionary consumer spending on major items of household consumption – food, household appliances, home improvements, school selection. Maybe the male has the last say on cars. I dunno though. Most guys I know would rather drive sports cars but settle for SUVs.

    And not only do women tend to do more of the household spending, they also enjoy the experience than men:

    “Women tend to be more invested in the shopping experience on many dimensions,” says Robert Price, chief marketing officer at CVS Caremark and a member of the Baker advisory board. “Men want to go to Sears, buy a specific tool and get out.”

    As one female shopper between the ages of 18 and 35 told the researchers: “I love shopping. I love shopping even when I have a deadline. I just love shopping.”

    Unlike men who generally can’t wait to get out of the store:

    Compare that to this response from a male in the same age group who described how men approach retailing: “We’re going to this store and we buy it and we leave because we want to do something else.”

    I dont know about you but this report has the ring of truth about it.

    Of course everyone has known this for as long as anyone can remember. It took a generation of feminist academics to “unknow” it.

    Women not only tend to spend more than men, they also tend to inherit more than men. Women tend to out-live their spouses, or take them to the cleaners in a divorce, they do tend to wind up owning a pretty fair whack of the financial legacy. A MassMutual Financial Group study concludes that geezer females will inherit the earth:

    * Women will assume 90% of all assets.

    * Senior women are among the group of Americans aged 50 and older who control a household net worth of $19 trillion, own more than three-fourths of the nation’s financial wealth and own 70% of all money market accounts and certificates of deposit assets.

    I dont begrudge the ladies their day in the sun once hubbie has shuffled off the stage. But can we please stop the pretence that women are being left high and dry by the patriarchal captialist economy”?

    In our family I make all the big ecisions like what the official Newman Family stance is on nuclear disarmament, while my wife makes all the little decisions, like where we’ll live and where’ll we send our kids to school.

    Paul Newman

  121. tigtog

    @desipis,

    You do like moving the goalposts, don’t you?

    I’mnot making any essentialist argument. I’m arguing against your claim that an alleged male choice to transgress social norms can be validly compared to an alleged female choice to conform to social norms.

  122. Nick

    So your only solution for women, Jack @ 120, is that they bloody well better make sure to hook up with a higher-earning man…

  123. Gary Franceschini

    To a good many of the posters on this thread:

    The plural of “anecdote” is not “data.”

    /With thanks to a poster on Crikey

  124. Jack Strocchi

    # 122 Nick Aug 26th, 2009 at 11:29 pm

    So your only solution for women, Jack @ 120, is that they bloody well better make sure to hook up with a higher-earning man…

    There is no “problem” here needing to be solved.

    In most OECD economies about 90% of the pay disparity b/w men and women can be explained by standard neo-classical human capital theory, as it relates to occupation choice, risk-preferences, career commitment etc. Such differences are productivity-optimizing and unlikely to change much given the current sexual division of labour.

    The remaining 10% or so it most likely due to psychological factors: men’s more “economistic” (aggressive) attitudes and (money-making) aptitudes. By their nature such variables are difficult to objectively measure.

    But they are there sure enough, as anyone who has worked with Alpha-males in full flight can testify. Will-to-win and instinct for the jugular are a big part of winning.

    The most likely cause of these gender-based psychological differentials is the structure and function of the male brain. Which in turn can be traced back to our genetic hard-wiring.

    I expect that if you tested the top 10% of the (mostly male) money makers in society you would find them to have a strikingly high readings for testosterone. More than enough to account for 10% pay disparity.

    In any case, however much a male earns, if he has a family he will have to hand over the vast majority to wifey if he wants his kids brought up right. And wifey will get the cash in the end, either in the divorce courts or in testament.

    Maybe its time liberals worried about something else besides trifling pay differences. Such as the likely extinction of their special culture as females of the species forget to breed in striving to star the glass ceiling.

  125. Nabakov

    Interesting to see how many here have completely ignored the central premise of the original post “unequal pay for work of equal value” in favour of riding hobby horses to tilt at straw windmills.

    And as usual Jack “biology is destiny” Strocchi is leading the charge over the wrong hill and into “Carry On Up The Khyber.”

    As I’ve noted before, we won’t achieve true equality in the workplace until Parkinson’s Law applies to all sexes. I wanna see as many women as incompetent as me promoted into similar positions.

    And let’s face it, if yer a white anglo saxon male in receipt of a half decent education who doesn’t get the life you think you deserve, who ya gonna blame? Why everyone else who’s not like you. Starting with the chicks, chinks and darkies.

    Always amusing how those so ready to extol rugged WASP individualism are always so quick to blame others for blocking their own paths to glory.

    Overeducated, underemployed and menopausal. And it’s so often the blokes who are the real drama queens here.

  126. Nabakov

    Yo Gary #123

    “anecdata’ is a much more elegant formulation.

  127. desipis

    tigtog,

    I disagree that men engaging in illegal activity is transgresing a social norm.

  128. Jack Strocchi

    #125 Nabakov Aug 27th, 2009 at 12:33 am

    As I’ve noted before, we won’t achieve true equality in the workplace until Parkinson’s Law applies to all sexes. I wanna see as many women as incompetent as me promoted into similar positions

    I think Nabakov meant to refer to the Peter Principle, rather than Parkinson’s Law. I’m afraid things go very rapidly downhill in the rest of his comment.

    Although, confusingly, both laws do start with “P” and refer to government work. So perhaps we shouldn’t be too hard on him.

    [indulgent smile]

  129. Jacques de Molay

    Sean @ 82,

    “Speaking of anecdotes, when I was a house-husband, the only people who ever expressed any disapproval were middle aged/older women.”

    I’ve had something similar happen too. I remember when in my late teens during a stint of unemployment our neighbour (an old woman who btw still warns everyone to keep an eye on those Japanese people!) used to rubbish me to my mother about me being unemployed. Even though she has never worked a day in her life. A young fella across the road used to cop it too he was another “useless layabout good for nothing” but funnily enough became a “good boy” when he got a job.

    On the whole crime thing I remember reading a blog article by a femi-nazi type who I’ll refrain from naming about how rape was a problem for women and solely women. She didn’t like it when presented with the facts that it’s mainly a male problem when you include prisoners into the statistics. I still think extreme feminists do far more damage to feminism than right-wingers can.

  130. Nabakov

    Yup. You’re right here Jack. I did get ‘em mixed up,

    Care to follow up with a doubly fallacious proposition?

    George Bush, Bill Gates. Eh, what’s the difference?

    And let’s not forget your classic Schiller vs Nietzsche quote fuckup. Against unthinking name-dropping the gods themselves struggle in vain.

    (another amused snicker)

  131. Nabakov

    And for those folks that have recently joined us, if you care to click on my doubly fallacious proposition link above and keep scrolling down, you will be treated to the kinda hilarious self-knotting spectacle that has turned “strocchi” into a classic punchline amongst much of the old school Aus blogosphere. The reasonable financially OK man’s Graeme Bird. But without the energy, wit or crazed vision.

  132. Helen

    Think about it, females

    Really your contempt for women is so palpable it’s not possible to give credence to anything you say.

  133. Helen

    Jacques de M, did you miss the explanation upthread? Antifeminist women police traditional gender roles, or patriarchal mores, just as some men espouse feminist views. And if you dont mind your argument would be better served not bandying about the word “feminazi”, thanks. Your interlocutor was probably objecting to you trying to turn a conversation about rape to centre “what about the men” again, as people who use the term “feminazi” tend to do. I you took the time out to read some feminist blogs you’d see that prison rape has not only been roundly condemned just recently but also the practice of treating it as a joke, or OK as a punishment, which is endemic to men of my acquaintance and those who comment in the media.

  134. bee

    ugh. all this noise. i don’t know what to do! i am so easily swayed and so malleable. tell us how to arrange equal pay and overcome gender biases. most of the time i don’t even realise i am being unethical, or being biased. then eva gives me a hiding again. but i seem to be a slow learner? sigh. even if i personally am doing enough (housework etc) am i still to blame? maybe i am supposed to give up privileges but i don’t feel like i have any. i am just a worker bee. sigh x 2

  135. Sean

    Re criminality in men etc:

    Baumeister is making an essentialist point. He is saying that men’s greater tendencies to be at both extremes of the social strata is due to their greater risk taking. As I say, I think he’s only partly correct. Further he hypothosises that the risk taking has created our culture, rather than vice versa, being biologically driven behaviour.

    Re Cox and less pay for exactly the same work:

    I did read the article, and though she has tried to make this point she has not done so. For eg that women earn less in the mining industry – it is just too broad.

    I am more interested by evidence provided in this comments thread about women graduates getting less in the same field as male graduates. My experience of professional life has been that an intake of grads at the same firm in the same city will all be paid the same. From there it’s essentially about how much money you’re raking in. As Tigtog alludes, this must have something to do with women being statistically more likely to take jobs which are lower paid for some economic reason. In a big law firm for eg the “knowledge management lawyers” don’t earn as much as the people living in their offices and raking in fees by the truckload.

    The question I’m asking is whether this all due to sexist social pressure, or whether inherent gender differences in motivation make it statistically more likely that a woman will place less emphasis on earning a real shit tin of cash (or seeing how fast she can get her ute around a corner)? I suspect there’s still a good bit of the former and actually more of the latter, but I’m open to ideas.

    I’m also not saying there is anything wrong with bucking that statistical trend. To pre-nominate myself for an Agincourt, when the screachers try to apply the slippery slope argument to gay marriage = death of teh species from not breeedin’, they’re obviously talking bollocks. Most people are just straight. We don’t say that gay people will not have achieved equality until 50% of people are gay. If you see what I mean?

  136. Pavlov's Cat

    Helen at #132, that had me spluttering too until I realised it was not a command to ‘females’ to ‘think about it’, but rather a mispunctuation, in this case a comma splice. What Jack Strocchi actually meant to say was either ‘Think about it: females … tend to control …’ or ‘Think about it. Females … tend to control …’

    And people think punctuation isn’t important. Pffft.

    Mind you, his contempt for women is indeed palpable still. But that is the Strocchiverse for you, where breeding females keep particular ideologies going (ideology being genetic, you understand) and quantitative analysis involves equations like ‘testosterone = cash’.

  137. rainne

    Bee, on the off chance that you’re serious about ‘telling you what to do’ (and I note that other men here have been all ‘But you’re not proving us with a solution so why mention the problem’ as well), here’s something actual and material you can do:

    When other men, or women, imply or state outright that women don’t actually get paid less, or if they do, they get paid less because they are worth less, act in the wrong ways, have failed to evolve correctly, don’t work as hard, get all the money in ‘divorce court’ anyway, are privileged because they get the job of spending their husband’s money on the groceries or should just stop worrying about this trivial issue, call them the fuck out on their crap.

    Then maybe you won’t be supporting the endemic sexism that actually causes this problem.

    Sean, I’m (genuinely!) interested in how you know that grads get paid the same. In the big law firm where I worked until recently, disclosing salaries was a sackable offence.

  138. Sean

    Well gee Rainne. Do you always do exactly what you’re told? You must have made good friends among your peer group and then gone out for a few tongue loosening sherberts?*

    Ever seen several partners defect en masse to another firm? Think they weren’t having quite a few “sackable” conversations before hand?

    It was a while ago, but I seem to remember that there may have been a stern talk about not discussing such things, as people from different cities were all training together or something. Whatever. Thus ensuring that it was the first topic of conversation at dinner, but it didn’t last long as we were all on the same starting salary. Boring.

    Do you have evidence of grads in the same firm getting different pay according to gender?

    * I suppose I must have met a teetotal lawyer, but I can’t remember it.

  139. Pollytickedoff

    “Thus ensuring that it was the first topic of conversation at dinner, but it didn’t last long as we were all on the same starting salary”

    Well lucky you. Isn’t it a shame that the experience of others working for professional firms are that women DO NOT get the same starting salary. In addition the women in professional firms where I have worked have not been given the training and networking opportunities that are available to their male colleagues because it is not considered worth the investment because they’ll ‘go off and have babies’.

    Just because you have not witnessed this happening does not mean that it does not happen.

  140. Sean

    Polly – Which others? Reasonably recently?

    I mean, on the under-investment in training thing*, the management can hide behind a barrage of convenient and possibly post-hoc excuses about individual performance etc etc, but gender based pay for people straight out of uni into the same job would be pretty easy to prosecute.

    *Which we have discussed in detail up-thread; no doubt you read all that, and the appearance of hostility in your comment is not intended but is rather just that internet problem of rapid drafting.

    Thanks! :)

  141. Fine

    Sean do you realise you come across as incredibly smug and snarky? Not sure if that’s your intention, but that’s how you’re working the room. Rainne asked you a reasonable question in good faith and she copped sarcasm. Why bother with that?

  142. Bee

    Thank you Rainne. I was serious. But I think more than calling them out needs to be done. I am thinking of auditing all responsibilities and roles in the hive and working out who is getting paid for what, or not. Problem is, I neither have the clout nor the networks to get this done, as a simple worker bee. But at the next staff meeting I will ask. Problem is the staff meetings aren’t worth jack to instigating change. The dilemma of being the honey-kicker. sigh.

  143. Sean

    I’m afraid I didn’t quite take it that way, Fine. I’ve asked a couple of times for an example of graduates at the same firm in the same job getting gender based pay. I’m genuinely interested in that, as it is not my experience, and would be pretty clear evidence of blatant sexism without any cover from excuses about hours/years worked, performance, danger pay etc etc. All I get in return is implication that I must be telling porkies about my own experiences. Anyway the answer was not sarcastic; company policy doesn’t stop people groping each other in the broom cupboard or discussing pay. If you want to see sarcasm, try comment #96. In fact I was just congratulating myself for the resolute way I’ve stayed on topic in response.

    So thanks for your advice, but OTOH, thpfffffff!

  144. Nick

    “I am more interested by evidence provided in this comments thread about women graduates getting less in the same field as male graduates.”

    Here you go, Sean (and others):

    Table 4: Median starting salaries of bachelor degree graduates in first full-time employment and aged less than 25

    “company policy doesn’t stop people [...] discussing pay”

    No, but it obviously reduces it to a game of chinese whispers. People can and do fib about the exact size of their raise when they know the person/s they’re discussing with received less etc.

  145. rainne

    Yeah, my ‘(genuinely!)’ was there to indicate that I was, in fact, asking a genuine question and not playing gotcha. And I did read Sean’s response as sarcastic, so thanks Fine. Sean, my experience, based on exactly the same evidence, is different from yours. The difference in starting salaries is not entirely gender-based, in that it depended on one’s pre-law salary and therefore varied between women as well but certainly favoured men. Two years in, and this is in a context where everyone was 20-something, no-one had family commitments, the number of hours worked did not favour men, and billable hours did not factor into pay, there was a significant disparity. You can discount that if you will, or assume that the men were somehow better workers. But my experience is as valid as yours.

    Bee, you’ve just given me two reasons why you can’t do the things you want to do to effect change, so why not try my suggestion?

  146. Sean

    Nick, I never disputed that stat. It could be explained by a greater proportion of female graduates taking government jobs than private sector, or private sector jobs with civilised hours. The reason for them tending to do so is the discussion we were having above.

    The unanswered question is about the same job at the same firm, and the firm says “our starting salary for male civil engineers straight from uni is $47K and for women, $45K”.

    I’m not saying there’s no way that has happened any time recently. I would be surprised if it was still statistically significant, but then I aint like that bloke on the chicken ad. Stuff shocks me all the time. Show me the cases.

    PS: my anec-data is that people get less open about pay as they go up the ladder. When you’ve just started there’s no sense that it would be poor form to boast, or I’ve-had-a-shit-year-and-I-don’t-want-to-talk-about-it.

  147. Sean

    You can discount that if you will…But my experience is as valid as yours.

    Didn’t & don’t, and of course it is.

    I am surprised about the pre-law salary thing. I see that such a system could import gender inequities from one industry into another, possibly Are men more likely to be mature age stsudents? I only ask because most of the grads I started with didn’t have a pre-law salary.

  148. Nick

    “Nick, I never disputed that stat. It could be explained by a greater proportion of female graduates taking government jobs than private sector, or private sector jobs with civilised hours.”

    It could also be explained by the companies that pay more for starting graduates taking on more men. Are you (or anyone else) arguing that more female graduates than male would choose to take a lower-paying job in the goverment sector (or private sector, for that matter), compared to a higher paying job in the private sector? Or, that they wish to work more “civilised hours”?

  149. Delight

    Company policy doesn’t stop people discussing pay, nor does it stop gender pay discrepancies apparently.

  150. Jacques de Molay

    Helen @ 133,

    She was objecting to me mentioning men. She said she wanted to talk about rape but as it turned out she really only wanted to talk about women being raped because you know it’s an issue that only women have to deal with. I have no doubt the vast majority of feminists condemn men being raped in prison.

  151. Sean

    It could also be explained by the companies that pay more for starting graduates taking on more men.

    Quite possibly yes.

    Are you (or anyone else) arguing that more female graduates than male would choose to take a lower-paying job in the goverment sector (or private sector, for that matter), compared to a higher paying job in the private sector? Or, that they wish to work more “civilised hours”?

    Quite possibly, yes.

    Women DO work less hours, significantly so, we’ve been through that. Government jobs tend to be more enlightened on flexible arrangements, part time work etc etc. The only real question is to what extent women take less well paid work that leaves more space for other things because (a) they prefer the other things, c.f. (b) they have no choice because eg of the assumptions & lack of advancement Polly mentioned, an unsupportive or actively hostile spouse, internalised social expectations etc.

  152. Nick

    “Women DO work less hours, significantly so, we’ve been through that.”

    That’s irrelevant. The table linked to above shows figures for those men and women who commenced full-time employment after graduation.

    “Quite possibly yes.”

    (No. 1) Consider also that there are significantly more female than male graduates in Australia. I’d like to have some detailed degree-specific figures on this, and then see how they correlate with those for starting full-time graduates salaries.

    “Quite possibly, yes.”

    (No. 2) Well, I don’t think you’re arguing it, even if you’re not certain ;)

    “It could be explained…”, with not even a single piece of anecdatum(!) in support, doesn’t suffice as an argument.

  153. Chris

    One other factor to consider when looking at salaries is the work conditions offered which can vary quite a bit between employers – eg you’ll probably get much better job security in the public service but perhaps with a lower salary. Another could be paid maternity leave provisions and job flexibility – perhaps something which which women value more than men. And its not that something needs to be important to all men or all women, but if enough do its going to show up in the stats.

    The only way you can really see what discrimination there is if you get access to individual company employee records otherwise its all pretty much speculation :-)

  154. desipis

    That’s irrelevant. The table linked to above shows figures for those men and women who commenced full-time employment after graduation.

    It’s relevant because many positions, especially high paying graduate ones, will demand much longer hours than the standard ‘full-time’ hours.

    “It could be explained…”, with not even a single piece of anecdatum(!) in support, doesn’t suffice as an argument.

    I don’t think Sean’s point was that he knew the exact dynamics behind the difference in pay, but rather that there are more possibilities than just “pay difference => workplace discrimination” and that the burden of evidence is on those who would claim that discrimination is the cause.

  155. Nick

    I should have been more specific about what’s very much not relevant (to the figures above): Sean went on to mention flexibility, part-time work etc.

    “It’s relevant because many positions, especially high paying graduate ones, will demand much longer hours than the standard ‘full-time’ hours.”

    And no, it’s still not relevant, unless you assume to begin with, like Sean (“inherent gender differences in motivation”), that more women have chosen not to apply for those higher-paying, longer-hour, full-time graduate positions, rather than getting knocked back from them (and so didn’t get to work those long hours).

    I asked him if he was arguing based on that initial assumption (which he’s continued to), and if so, I’d like to see him back it up.

    Otherwise, why not also suggest it might be because women ‘are lazier’, ‘drink less coffee’, or ‘take less risks’? They’re equally valid possibilities when based on nothing but conjecture.

  156. desipis

    They’re equally valid possibilities when based on nothing but conjecture.

    As is the conjecture that women (on average) have the same behaviours, work-life balance views, ambitions, etc when it comes to graduate employment as men do (on average).

  157. Jarrah

    Nick, those stats do not support your argument. Sean’s point remains unanswered, and it’s a valid question because Eva Cox brings it up: “new graduates often show clear gender differences” but doesn’t appear to have anything to support it.

    Several times commenters have given links to statistical studies showing that women don’t in fact earn less for equal work, yet those who think pay gaps are mostly down to systemic or individual discrimination have studiously ignored them. Why?

  158. Sean

    unless you assume to begin with, like Sean (“inherent gender differences in motivation”)

    The confirmation bias flows like water in these threads. I very clearly wasn’t assuming anything. Nick, you could usefully look up concepts like “rational enquiry”, “hypothesis” and “discussion” before proceeding much further. That is not sarcasm btw though I accept it may be pompous.

    I have “anec-data” (!) of women who were corporate machines and for whom Australia wasn’t big enough, and of others with the same abilities who left that world to become a “professional man hunter” (the colourful phrase employed by one in her exit interview) because they felt the womb-clock ticking. Is it relevant?

    But since you asked:

    Rachel Gali Cinamon1 and Yisrael Rich2

    (1) Tel Aviv University, Israel
    (2) Bar Ilan University, Israel

    Abstract In this study we explored between- and within-gender differences in the importance of life roles and their implications for work–family conflict. In earlier research (Cinamon & Rich, 2002) we found 3 profiles of workers who differ in attributions of importance to work and family roles: persons who assigned high importance to both the work role and the family role (Dual profile); participants who ascribed high importance to the work role and low importance to the family role (Work profile); and participants who attributed high importance to the family role and low importance to the work role (Family profile). We used these profiles to clarify the relationship between gender and work–family conflict. Participants were 126 married men and 87 married women who were employed in computer or law firms. Significant between- and within-gender differences were found in the distribution of participants to profiles. Men were equally distributed throughout the profiles, whereas women were underrepresented in the Work category. More women than men fit the Family profile, and more men than women fit the Work profile.

    Here’s another quote from the speech I first linked to above, though this one’s mainly pre-emptive and for Helen (get your shot glass out, ma’am):

    …throughout the entire history of the human race, maybe 80% of women but only 40% of men reproduced.

    Right now our field is having a lively debate about how much behavior can be explained by evolutionary theory. But if evolution explains anything at all, it explains things related to reproduction, because reproduction is at the heart of natural selection. Basically, the traits that were most effective for reproduction would be at the center of evolutionary psychology. It would be shocking if these vastly different reproductive odds for men and women failed to produce some personality differences.

  159. Nick

    Sean, you’ve written a few times that you’re interested in the pay discrepancies between graduate salaries, and that you don’t dispute the existence of these discrepancies.

    You tell me whether anecdata and small-survey studies of (only married!) women somewhat further into their careers are relevant to those women who’ve just accepted their first full-time position after completing university.

    Were they family-oriented enough right then, at the beginning of their careers, that it affected their choice of company, job, hours and salary?

    If so, does this reconcile the pay gap for graduate salaries (you wrote you suspect it largely does), bearing in mind that there are far more female graduates than men, and only a finite number of job positions in the workforce?

  160. Nick

    (female graduates than [male])

  161. Sean

    We were actually discussing general discrepancies in pay per person by gender, and my HYPOTHESIS was that maybe, partly, women are less likely to be motivated by making extreme amounts of money. The Isreali study seems to back that idea up somewhat; I do like your brave attempt to bat it away. And immediately after I mentioned confirmation bias! Chutzpah!

    But yes the graduate thing is interesting. Scott Meefukt, mate. I dare say there are a number of reasons. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that, if married women put family ahead of work more often, that a younger women might more often put the subject of her job (teaching primary school kids) ahead of the object (moolah), if that’s a valid way to put it.

    I was interested that female ENGINEERS were earning MORE than male ones, given the reputation of the industry, and one of the worst areas of male advantage was in art & design! Then again, the former is quite structured in essence and practice and the latter, not. Do me a favour and read that speech above, and see what he has to say about the expression of crazy-arsed talent and hopeless abject failure in men. It’s all quite interesting. Then again OTOH would art & design include advertising? Those guys are enlightenment itself.

    It would be rooly truly interesting if Graduate Careers Australia could do an in depth follow-up, and provide more detailed info on the sources of those pay discrepancies. I wonder if Ms Broderick can ask them to?

  162. Nick

    Nick, those stats do not support your argument. Sean’s point remains unanswered, it’s a valid question because Eva Cox brings it up: “new graduates often show clear gender differences” but doesn’t appear to have anything to support it.

    Jarrah, Eva Cox was clearly referring to gender differences in pay, and those stats are what support it.

  163. Nick

    Sean, looks like we’ve well and truly entered the boring end of the thread, but to bring up confirmation bias, and then breathlessly link to the abstract of a study inapposite to the subject currently in question ie. graduate salaries, because it appeared to back up your hypothesis…need I continue…

  164. Jack Strocchi

    # 131 Nabakov Aug 27th, 2009 at 4:44 am

    “strocchi”…a classic punchline amongst much of the old school Aus blogosphere.

    That self-inflating estimation is unusually conceited, even by Nabakov’s cringe-inducing standards. The trolling of a handful of anonymous middle-aged men on one or two Left-liberal sites does not constitutes the summa of “much of the old school Aus blogosphere”.

    I am happy to admit to saying some wrong-headed things on the internet and saying some of them in foolish ways. I would even grudgingly acknowledge the literary benefits of having my style held up to public ridicule. Its an effective form of editorial supervision, going by its falling and failing incidence.

    Blogger needs a more objective standard of evaluation to asess their worth. Anyone can be a Monday morning quarter-back. And snarks are a dime a dozen in the Blogosphere. The more interesting question is tracking bloggers confirmed/refuted prediction ratio.

    As I always say whenever these he-said, she-said spats break out (all-too frequently when Nabakov takes the feminine role): show me the money! Which in intellectual blog terms means, never mind the bollocking, who was ahead of the curve on the big, hard calls?

    On this score I am happy to point to the score board on issues like the eg Intervention, financial bubble (called 09 JUN 03), Howard-Rudd me-too, severity of AUS recession, demoralisation of Left-liberalism (“Wets”) esp in Europe. Not to mention the past six US and AUS federal elections.

    To up the ante a little I usually challenge my snarky interlocutor to come up with some predictive hits of their own, as opposed to dredging the mustier archives of the internet for some harmless gaffe.

    At that point, for some reason, the cat gets their tongue.

  165. Matt C

    For those genuinely interested in this subject, there are a number of submissions to the House of Representatives pay equity enquiry available here: http://www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/ewr/payequity/subs.htm

    These submissions cover pretty much all points of the debate (from the extremes of “the gender pay gap is all due to discrimination” to “there is no gender pay gap”), and so I’m sure that all commenters on this thread would find something to agree with.

  166. Matt C

    The federal Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency has also launched a ‘tool’ to help organisations examine their payroll data to see where gender inequities might exist: http://www.eowa.gov.au/Pay_Equity/Pay_Equity_Audit_Tool/Tool.asp

    Disclosure: I had a role in developing the tool when I worked for the WA Department of Commerce (nee Department of Consumer and Employment Protection).

  167. The Groke

    Wow, a tool that increases our chance of earning equal pay, as opposed to one that tries to “explain” why that’s not appropriate. Boom-tish! Try the veal, it’ll be here all week!

  168. The Groke

    Public service announcement from the PSA/CPSU:

    Equal Pay Day – September 1 – wear RED
    24 August 2009

    Equal Pay Day: 1st September 2009

    We ask all members of the PSA/CPSU to wear RED on Tuesday the 1st of September to mark Equal Pay Day.

    This is the date that illustrates the number of extra days that women have to work beyond the end of the financial year to be paid the same as their male counterparts.
    So women are in the red:
    Women Earn Less

    * As at May 2009 women earned 82% of male average earnings.

    * If current earning patterns continue, the average 25 year old male would earn $2.4 million over the next 40 years while the average 25 year old female would earn $1.5 million.

    More here.

  169. Nick

    Boom-tish, Helen.

    31/8/2009: SBS World News – Women still earning less

    The classic examples that we still hear unfortunately, “Oh look, you know, he’s a guy, he’s a got a wife and two kids at home. He needs to be paid more”.

  170. Fitzroyalty

    Comment no 15 best here: “Instead of turning more women into wage slaves how about we encourage careerist men to drop the work addiction.” All men are not exploiters. All women are not exploited. Men need their own gender liberation akin to feminism to make them realise how much they are dehumanised under capitalism. Men need to start demanding work / life balance and refusing to work unhealthy hours and conditions.

  171. Fitzroyalty

    ps great info on wage differences in Australia over 40 years http://apo.org.au/commentary/gender-divide-forty-years