- Women earn less than men, but sexism is not always to blame.
- Many factors – including work experience, career choice, education and negotiation – play a role in the gender pay gap.
Tuesday is Equal Pay Day. April, which is celebrated every April, marks the day when the average American woman appears to have to work until the next calendar year to earn as much as the average American the year before.
That's the common opinion.
Every year, experts point out the problems involved in calculating the pay gap – which says that women earn about 80% of their male counterparts. And every year, they are inevitably beaten in the wrist for their alleged sexism and misogyny.
What is lost in the reflexive condemnation of someone who dares to contradict the group thinker on this issue is the ability to carefully explore the data – and the meaning behind it.
But such research requires a suspension of some ideas that are deeply rooted in the liberal zeitgeist. When we mention someone who points out that the choices women make play a role in their salaries, they deserve a victim-culprit, we lose the reality that underpins the data, and we reduce the chance of their being used correct.
PayScale, a company that deals with salaries, benefits, and compensation, has examined the various factors that contribute to wage disparity in the US in a recent report. The preamble to their report explains how they got their results:
"Between January 2016 and February 2018, more than 2 million people took PayScale's online salary survey with information about their industry, occupation, location, and other compensable factors using demographic information, including age and gender, and using this sample to provide insights into the controlled and unregulated gender pay gap. "
By comparing all working men to all working women, they found that women were 78 cents for each Earn dollars their male counterparts do. The caveat, and it's a big one, is as follows: The 78 cents figure reflects raw data. When PayScale compared similar men and women in similar occupations, the gender pay gap has shrunk and almost closed. PayScale found that women earned an average of 98 cents a dollar.
Christina Hoff Sommers has written carefully on this subject, in particular the way in which the data is often manipulated when presented in its raw state. In one piece for Time, she noted that the gender pay gap figure "does not take into account differences in occupations, positions, training, duration of employment or hours worked per week" and that, if these factors are taken into account, "the pay gap diminishes the point of disappearance."
Women's groups know that, Sommers wrote. And when you consider why women often choose to go into less lucrative areas, they find that "education and career choices are not really free for women – they are driven by strong sexist stereotypes."
Summer does not agree with this assessment. But for those who do, the focus should not be on raw, uncontrolled data spewing out an essentially meaningless number, but instead on ways to encourage women to choose majors and career paths that offer them greater financial stability.
Another key factor that is often not taken into consideration is the trial
Beth Fisher-Yoshida, Academic Head of Columbia's Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Program, by Phone.
Yoshida, who is also the academic coordinator at the WIN summit, a development conference that empowers professional women through negotiation skills, talked about the differences between men and women when it comes to negotiation.
"I've done research on women and negotiation, and one thing that emerges is that, especially among younger women who have no experience in negotiations, they often do not know what's negotiable and what's not." She said me. "As a rule, men are different for whom they can bargain and women think they can bargain."
The training of women in negotiations could change that. Pointing to a meaningless data point that misrepresents the pay gap every April does not.
The longer we refuse to be honest about the circumstances behind the data, the more we will ensure that wage differences – no matter what size – persist.