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Equal Pay For A Whole Lot Less Work?
That's my problem with what a lot of women are really asking for when they quote that old "75 cents on the dollar" figure that women supposedly make compared to men.

Sorry, but simpy having a vagina doesn't mean you're automatically going to make less money. In fact, in Australia, they found that women make more than men when they take "traditionally male" jobs. Bettina Arndt explains in Australia's Herald Sun:

So, what if the average woman in Australia earns $300 less per week than the average man.

That statistic fails to take in account the hours worked. In fact, the average Australian Joe Blow works almost twice as many hours as the average Jenny Blow, according to data HILDA, the Household Income and Labor Dynamics in Australia survey.

Since he's putting in twice as many hours, I hope Joe Blow would earn far more.

Not only does he work far longer hours, he's also far more likely to take on hazardous jobs such as mining, construction, trucking, he's more likely to be willing to move overseas, or to an undesirable location on demand and has trained for more technical jobs with less people contact.

In fact, the wage gap hasn't much to do with discrimination, or conservative governments trying to keep women in their place.

Differences in the way men and women behave in the workplace largely determine how much they earn.

Women are more likely to balance income with a desire for safety, fulfilment, flexibility and proximity to home.

These lifestyle advantages lead to more people competing for jobs and thus lower pay.

Wage gaps tend to disappear when women put in the same hours and have the same experience, training and work history as men.

In Australia, similarly trained men and women under 30 show similar earnings. It is only in the older age groups that wage gaps start to widen, according to Mark Woden at the Melbourne Institute.

Yet men and women still tend not to have the same training.

A London School of Economics study of more than 10,000 British graduates found the men started off earning 12 per cent more than the women.

The reason? Most of the women had majored in the social sciences, while many men chose engineering, maths and computing.

While more than half the women said their primary interest was a socially useful job, men were twice as likely to mention salary.

...Women are making choices. Yes, these choices are constrained by their family responsibilities. That's the reason they work those shorter hours and seek the lower paid, but more flexible work closer to home.

I like to call this the "Thank you for raising children who won't grow up to carjack the rest of us" plan. You have kids, you'd better be up for it. If you're not, go heavy on the spermicide, thank you.

Recent statistics reported by Robert Pear in The New York Times say mothers and fathers today are spending more time with their kids than most people probably think -- if the parents were honest in their reportage. Self-reported sexual statistics are notoriously dubious. I'd say parental guilt could likewise be a motivator for fudging the stats; in this case, based on analysis of thousands of personal diaries. Here they are:

Despite the surge of women into the work force, mothers are spending at least as much time with their children today as they did 40 years ago, and the amount of child care and housework performed by fathers has sharply increased, researchers say...

...At first, the authors say, “it seems reasonable to expect that parental investment in child-rearing would have declined” since 1965, when 60 percent of all children lived in families with a breadwinner father and a stay-at-home mother. Only about 30 percent of children now live in such families. With more mothers in paid jobs, many policy makers have assumed that parents must have less time to interact with their children.

But, the researchers say, the conventional wisdom is not borne out by the data they collected from families asked to account for their time. The researchers found, to their surprise, that married and single parents spent more time teaching, playing with and caring for their children than parents did 40 years ago.

For married mothers, the time spent on child care activities increased to an average of 12.9 hours a week in 2000, from 10.6 hours in 1965. For married fathers, the time spent on child care more than doubled, to 6.5 hours a week, from 2.6 hours. Single mothers reported spending 11.8 hours a week on child care, up from 7.5 hours in 1965.

“As the hours of paid work went up for mothers, their hours of housework declined,” said Ms. Bianchi, a former president of the Population Association of America. “It was almost a one-for-one trade.”

Meaghan O. Perlowski, a 32-year-old mother of three in Des Moines, said in an interview, “Spending time with my kids is my highest priority, but it’s a juggling act.”

Ms. Perlowski, who is a full-time pharmaceutical sales representative, said she did grocery shopping and errands on her lunch hour and cut back on housework so she would have more time with her children.

“We don’t worry much about keeping the house spotless,” she said. “It’s sometimes a mess, cluttered with school papers, backpacks and toys, but that’s O.K.”

Fathers have picked up some of the slack. Married fathers are spending more time on housework: an average of 9.7 hours a week in 2000, up from 4.4 hours in 1965. That increase was more than offset by the decline in time devoted to housework by married mothers: 19.4 hours a week in 2000, down from 34.5 hours in 1965.

Again, however, if "spending time with my kids" is your highest priority -- male or female, you're going to be a different kind of worker than somebody without. And you should be compensated accordingly.

Australian link via iFeminists

Posted by aalkon at October 17, 2006 10:50 AM

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I could argue, Amy, that your final par is recidivist claptrap - justifying employers peering over their pince-nez spectacles to enquire whether 'Miss Brown intends to start a family soon?' before considering her for that highly paid, overseas technical trucking job.

However, I'm bored silly with that line.

My "new" feminist theory is that all women should grab all the education/training they can before kids. Then get ready to bank it for a decade or so.
Unless you're very, very fortunate and sorted, you'll be screwed one way or the other when you "make" your kids a priority during your late twenties and thirties.

Just get ready to roar back when they've gone.

I'm going to cheer on the rebirth of the temporarily back sliding boomer woman.

(My grand theory doesn't appear to work for late returners to science, jobs involving physical strength or dewey looks. But I've only been thinking since breakfast...)

Posted by: jody tresidder at October 17, 2006 5:40 AM

Well, I'm sure that does make employers less sanguine about hiring women -- a problem for intentionally barren women like me, but then, life isn't fair, and I accept that.

See my comment below this entry for how I dealt with not being rich or connected right out of school:

Posted by: Amy Alkon at October 17, 2006 5:52 AM

Okay, just read your link.

And I'd amend your Horatio Alger last line to:

"No mule, no 40 acres - but no kids either,!"

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at October 17, 2006 6:31 AM

I have friends who are kids. I just avoid extruding any.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at October 17, 2006 7:14 AM

> However, I'm bored silly
> with that line.

You too?

Listen, why are employers expected to blindly support whatever path in life people choose to take? Shouldn't employers prefer people who'll give foremost attention to their careers? Employers are investors, after all.

Posted by: Crid at October 17, 2006 7:56 AM

Just a quick comment. Some of us work harder because we have kids. I have been both only responsible for myself and responsible for a family since I have been in the work force. I have a solid focus in mind now, that is to work my ass off to make sure those kids will always be provided for and have opurtunities I never had as a child. Before that I was not opposed to laying out a day here and there for various reasons. Now I hord my sick days for real emergencies. I work to advance my career and improve my place in life because as I go so do those children go, and they are dependant on me. We all would like more time with our children, but regardless I will make sure the time I have is not taken up by the daily struggles that my childhood were spent with. Having a widowed mother, who was legally blind, and eight siblings and never enough money. Every parent worth a damn wants better for their children than they had, this should make them better workers I would think. I guess not such a quick comment after all.

Posted by: PVMACIAS at October 17, 2006 8:14 AM

Sorry about the repeats my computer was not cooperating.

Posted by: PVMACIAS at October 17, 2006 8:17 AM

"Shouldn't employers prefer people who'll give foremost attention to their careers?"

C'mon, Crid, you can do better than that!

(Said more politely than it sounds).

They should, they try and they often screw up because their preferences are blinkered by convention. Anyway, it's not the "blind" employers one should worry about: it's the ones with the extra special vision who "know" a vagina equals flabby committment (if you'll excuse the image).

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at October 17, 2006 8:34 AM

Oh yeah, should mention I am a father not a mother, so maybe my feelings on the subject may not jive with the female populace. But the way I see it a parent is a parent.

Posted by: PVMACIAS at October 17, 2006 8:55 AM

Some discrimination is sheer bloody-mindedness. I worked at one outfit that young married men with young children in preference to other people simply because they put up with being screwed over better.

Posted by: opit at October 17, 2006 12:19 PM

Great, Jody-- now all I can think of is flabby vaginas! (SFW)

Posted by: Melissa at October 17, 2006 12:26 PM

You have no idea how tentatively my finger hovered over your link!

Here's one in return (NSFW!) which fits with the, er...theme. I've read quite a few of your comments, so I don't think it's too much of a risk to say you might find it very, very funny too? I hope so!...(via Metafilter).

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at October 17, 2006 1:32 PM

"But the way I see it a parent is a parent."

Unfortunately, not every employer sees it that way. Here at the law school I attend, we talk about our job interviews, especially the on-campus interviews. One interviewer asked a male student if he and his wife planned to have kids. The student said yes; the interviewer discussed how his wife enjoyed being home with the kids. A female student later answered "yes" to the same question posed by the same interviewer, who responded that they were looking for someone who wanted to focus more on their career. You'd think that comment is too blatantly sexist to truly have come from a lawyer - until you hear more and more stories from women who are sexually harrassed during first round job interviews, etc. It's a very traditional field, where in their arrogance, many men feel entitled to say exactly what they're thinking. It's been enlightening.

Posted by: Michelle at October 17, 2006 3:25 PM

Jody - thank you for yet another reason to move to Canada.

Posted by: Michelle at October 17, 2006 3:36 PM

Ok-- that was hilarious! Thanks, Jody!

Posted by: Melissa at October 17, 2006 4:33 PM

The flabby vaginas of the world need to draw vaginal strength from the Mothership, the Great Hovering Purple Pussy, which has unfortunately decamped for the East coast, having a hot date with the Washington Monument.
Michelle, I'm not sure what those interviewing lawyers were exhibiting was 'sexism.' If the female applicant sat down, and they immediately widened their eyes and barked, "A broad? No fuckin' way! You'll go all weepy in the courtroom and lose cases, plus your clock'll line up with all the other skirts, and once a month we'll all get our asses kicked. No, chicks are good for food and kids, and teaching maybe." Telling a woman she can't do the job 'cause she's a woman, THAT would be sexism.
They seemed to be saying in interview-code, look, we're looking for someone who'll work insane hours and make this job their priority. In return, (presumably) they throw money at you with a snow shovel. A woman who gets pregnant and then helping raise kids (in their first few years especially) is not going to have the same kind of time available as one who goes childless - I submit it isn't sexist to point this out, though I just had Scotty raise all shields to full.
I also submit an employer can offer relatively unpleasant conditions, within the law, of course, in return for a lot of money. 60+ hours a week, like that. I've never had one, but I had many clients in DC and Seattle who did. I don't believe all the money they made was worth it to them, speaking as an outside observer. I didn't/don't want a job like that, so I don't have one. But I don't demand to be paid as though I do.
A related field - medical internships. I have several friends, and one close relative, who are doctors. Internship/residency is a bitch, and you have to depend on the others on your team. I mentioned what happened when one of your fellow interns get pregnant and my MD friend, a woman, immediately said with some emotion, "Oh, god, we HATE that." No, I didn't find that sexist either. The interns weren't anti-motherhood, anti-woman-power, anti-whatever, they now just have to take up your slack. That's it. But this attitude is frequently denounced as sexist.
This MD friend is also a Jewish girl, 5'10, broad shoulders, pointy chin and big boobs, so seeing Amy's pic for the first time was like re-encountering an old friend. Hermana!
OK, let the flaming begin.

Posted by: Cat brother at October 18, 2006 6:16 AM

(sound of crickets chirping)
Or everyone else has just moved past this post.
(Tumbleweed blows by)

Posted by: Cat brother at October 18, 2006 9:06 AM

"They seemed to be saying in interview-code..."

Yes, but they only said it to the woman, not to the man.

Posted by: Michelle at October 18, 2006 3:58 PM

Amy, I usually love your stuff, but you hit a bad, sore spot deep in my heart. I'm a physician assistant with a master's degree...although I haven't looked up the exact stats for my personal degree (which has trended in later years to be a largely female specialty), I CAN tell you that female physicians, doing the same hours, with the same education, same specialty, and same time in practice make on average $22,000 less than male counterparts, as published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. Please, please, I understand that feminism is out of control...but we still need it in some sectors as a tool for equality.

Posted by: mariat753 at October 18, 2006 4:03 PM

"I CAN tell you that female physicians, doing the same hours, with the same education, same specialty, and same time in practice make on average $22,000 less than male counterparts, as published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine."

Help, that's depressing, Maria!

A more general - and less useful - observation I wanted to make about Cat Brother's comments: a woman's decision to have kids is rarely going to be ideal for an employer. Ever.

Whereas my husband's status (i.e. safely married with kids)was a plus factor in our scientific "brain drain" move from the UK to the US.

But, I have to say, your comments blow apart all my (self-admitted) defensive mumblings about accepting career inequality when it's your own choice. As it was in my own case.

There is simply no reasonable response to your figures. Just outrage!

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at October 19, 2006 8:51 AM

A discrepancy like that with same work experience, same education, and same hours worked is indeed outrageous, I have no problem seconding that. I believe my point on interning still stands, however.
Yes, Jody, kids'll not rarely, but NEVER be ideal for employers. Ideal for employers is a bunch of automatons that don't want raises and work weekends and never leave 'till they're fired and all that. My point was more, there are jobs that I wouldn't take, ones that are basically a devil's bargain for a lot of money for unpleasantly long hours, (what I would consider) unpleasant work and a working lifestyle that necessarily curtails your life outside of work. Now, everyone would like to make a lot of money, but few people want to work like that. And nobody's being cudgelled into these jobs, you have to compete to get in there. So, I say, if someone wants to pay people in the mid-six-figures to work 70-hour weeks as a lawyer, or 10 hours a week sticking their dick in a beehive, let them offer that money. I don't want either of those jobs, so I don't have to sweat their side effects. I think it's unfair to say, I want to work 40 hours a week as a lawyer, but be paid as though I was working 70.
It kind of reminds me of the Chris Rock bit about 'pushing' drugs...."Man, you don't have to PUSH drugs, you just got to OFFER drugs....ain't no dealers sayin', Man, I got all this crack takin' up space in my apartment, how'm I gonna get rid of it?" So, I just say no.

Posted by: Cat brother at October 19, 2006 10:12 AM

Cat Brother,
Some fair points.

Except - you want to get back to "the Man" arguing that "he" owns your life even if you've chosen a low totem pole job?

You want to get back to Upton Sinclair territory?

Do you think the ONLY benefits women in the workforce have achieved are tampax machines in the rest rooms and a friendly wink from the supervisor when they mess up an order because they've got their period?

Some of my rights are yours too - even if you don't "extrude brats" - as Amy would say!

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at October 19, 2006 11:56 AM

"you want to get back to "the Man" arguing that "he" owns your life even if you've chosen a low totem pole job?"
Well, no, and I don't think my post can be construed that way. I, for one, am sick of The Man, keepin' me dowwwwnnn..
I'm saying, employers can choose to offer unpleasant jobs for a lot of money. Might be lawyering, might be roofing in the summer, which here in SC, I can tell you, is a bitch. If a job is more unpleasant or requires longer hours (within labor law) than you're comfortable with, you need to seek other employment. I don't think this puts me on the side of The Man. Some people are up for working those jobs, and I say, let them have 'em.
I think there need to be rules in general for employment, for employee safety and dignity. So, no breathing asbestos, and no supervisors grabbing your ass. Where other peoples' lives are at risk, there need to be rules for the employees - I think doctors and nurses in general should be bound to work fewer hours per week, so they don't get tired and kill someone, for example. Firemen should have fitness requirements, so they don't drop my mother if they're carrying her out of a burning building.
This post started, however, regarding equal pay for equal work. If 2 people are doing the same work, time spent, units constructed, whatever, same pay. Whether one is female, or gay, or left-handed, 1 leg and a kickstand, Eskimo, doesn't matter, same pay. If this is not going on in a certain arena, it should be corrected.
If one of those people works more, that person should be payed more. Or if productivity is measured another way, whoever's more productive gets payed more.
"even if you don't "extrude brats" - as Amy would say!" Yes, she does say that. I'm not trying to get her to brat-truding mode, I just keep trying to talk her into going through the motions, so to speak.

Posted by: Cat brother at October 19, 2006 12:30 PM

Here's your weak point, Cat Brother:

"I think doctors and nurses in general should be bound to work fewer hours per week, so they don't get tired and kill someone, for example.."

Why SHOULD the system change if, as you also say: "some people are up for working those jobs"?

Presumably, not many shattered young medical professionals ARE dropping patients (or not enough to be a problem)because they reckon it would crimp a very rewarding career curve. Heck, the hours required have been a major complaint for years and it seems to be perpetuated as a sort of baptism by fire for the next generation! (And no doubt originally based on when young male interns did 0000.0001 hours of housework a week in the good ol' days.)

So where is the force of your "shoulds"?

You also talk as if personal dignity is something that is automatically considered your right by employers. Get outta here!

Look, my main point here - is how did we get to Maria's outrageous inequality of pay example?

My not unreasonable guess is the gimlet-eyed exploitation of female employee vulnerability based on their annoying brat-extruding proclivities.

Or do you have a better theory?

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at October 19, 2006 1:30 PM

I am all for legislating work conditions where my health (doctors, firemen) or the health of the worker (“go down that shaft filled with asbestos fiber and labor for hours!”) is at stake. Really, if they want to mandate minimum doctor’s/nurse’s hours, I am SO allright with that. Medical personnel should only be able to work so many hours per week, firemen/women should have stringent fitness standards.
"My not unreasonable guess is the gimlet-eyed exploitation of female employee vulnerability based on their annoying brat-extruding proclivities."
Or do you have a better theory?"
Why they don’t, or won’t, is deeper than ‘the Patriarchy’ or ‘the System,’ and worthy of a doctoral dissertation, certainly more than I want to get into here, not least because you and I are the only two still reading this thread. It has a lot to do with entrenched attitudes with both men and women, and the cultures of the hospitals/firehouses, but I’m not defending it. It sucks and it should change. Nobody here is arguing for it. But that was ‘inequality of pay in hospitals,’ not in general.
The ‘force of my shoulds’ comes from being ready to protest for, vote for, and walk off the job for, job law that I find fair. I think medical personnel should be foursquare behind me on this, for instance. They have the power to walk off the job, they have the power. I found it depressing to listen to a call-in radio show, and hear nurses defend working 100-hour weeks in the name of ‘continuity of care.’ But doctors can elect to work in places where they’ll make less money, but work fewer hours, and give better care.
I do NOT, on the other hand, think jobs can be regulated if employment laws are being observed, if nobody else is put at risk and you yourself are not at risk. If a lawyer wants to sign up for a job that entails 60+ hours a week, let them. I am libertarian on this point. If you believe that someone who works 40 hours at that same job should be paid the same as the person working 60, please say so explicitly. If so, I respectfully disagree with you. If there are women doctors doing the same work and being paid less than their male counterparts, let’s fix THAT. Paying women in general who work less the same as men and women who work more is not a solution, and is unfair to those other men and women..
“You also talk as if personal dignity is something that is automatically considered your right by employers. Get outta here!”
No, I said it was something I believed in. (Except for MY future female employees, who will wear white cross trainers, garter belts, and those kind of hussar-looking majorette tops, with all the braid (you listening, Amy?)) But even here, I think this is something difficult to legislate. There are jobs that prima facie involve what many people think would be an abdication of dignity. Think of Hooter’s waitresses, or a volunteer for the Santorum campaign. You have to wear a tight t-shirt and be a hot chick to work at Hooters, a situation most women would find undignified. I’m still working on what you have to be to campaign for Santorum….Point is, if you want to, I’m all for you working at Hooters. Nobody’s clubbing girls off buses to go work for Hooters. I don’t want to work at Hooters, even though I’ve got the legs for it, and nobody’s making me.
If I made half a million a year at a law firm, one of the senior partners would probably say, re a certain client, “Look, this guy’s kind of an asshole, so kiss his ass a little, get him out the door, we all make money.” That shit ain’t dignified. I don’t want to do it, so I don’t. I also get around town on a mountain bike, not a Saab. But I support the right of someone, male or female, who wants to kiss that ass, and no, I don’t think we can legislate against it.
So, correct the errors of the past, but don’t compound them with errors in the present.

Posted by: Cat brother at October 19, 2006 6:20 PM

Cat Brother,
Yeah, just you and me and some chickens here (misquote from a Marx Bros movie).

I think you talk a lot of sense. So this is just my polite thanks - see you elsewhere!

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at October 19, 2006 6:55 PM

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