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April 23, 2007

Study says: It's the Patriarchy[tm]!! Cue the Vagina Warriors!!

It's a pretty damning headline and opening from AP

Women make less 1 year after college

NEW YORK - Women make only 80 percent of the salaries their male peers do one year after college; after 10 years in the work force, the gap between their pay widens further, according to a study released Monday.

The study, by the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation, found that 10 years after college, women earn only 69 percent of what men earn.

At the Yahoo link provided above, this AP article is accompanied on the left sidebar with a Reuters photo of a bow-tied graduation cap captioned thusly:
A dramatic pay gap emerges between women and men in America the year after they graduate from college and widens over the ensuing decade, according to research released on Monday.
The study is to be released today and it will be interesting to see what it really says outside the usual sturm und drang headlines and breathless, handwringing prose from "news" organizations like AP. I've always been a bit suspicious of the advocacy tact of policy by statistic without offering up the methodology by which the statistic was developed, regardless of study. My rule-of-thumb has been if the study appears to contradict common sense, then it needs to be further scrutinized.

Running through the different coverages of this study, I ran across more details from that purveyor of vast-rightwinger-conspiracy rantings, the Los Angeles Times (for a non-subscription look at the article, click here.)

Analyzing U.S. Department of Education data on 19,000 men and women, Hill's team found that one year out of college, women in 1994 earned 80% of what their male counterparts made. By 2003, a decade after graduation, they had fallen further behind, to 69% of men's incomes.

Controlling for the number of hours worked, parenthood and other factors, college-educated women still earned 12% less than their male peers, according to the report.

Ah, so the dramatic 20-31% "gap" is pretty much the apples/oranges fiction. While 12% shouldn't be ignored, maybe we should take the claims of "We also need to take a hard look at sex discrimination in the workplace, which is affecting young women just as it affected their mothers and grandmothers" with just a shake or two of ye old salt mill in light of the lead "20-31% gap".
Previous studies have found that more women than men are earning college degrees and that the salaries of college-educated women have risen much faster than those of male graduates.
Good news, right? Or maybe not.
Students' individual choices explain part of the gap, Hill said.
How much of the 12% is due to the dreaded individual choices? Not stated in the article.
Engineering and computer science majors typically command higher salaries than those with education or English degrees. Yet those technical fields still draw fewer women than men nationwide — 18% of undergraduate engineering majors and 39% of mathematics majors were women in 2000, according to the Department of Education.
Of course, this begs the questions ... is the goal of "how much money can I make?" the primary reason someone decides on a major? Should it be? Does this study actually interview both men and women on their motivations on why they chose one major over another?
The authors urge colleges to do more to encourage women to consider scientific and technological majors and to aim for higher-paying jobs in those fields.
Are colleges discouraging women from those fields? Obviously, women are currently out performing men when it comes to obtaining degrees just not the "correct" ones.
Even among those with the same technical degree, such as mathematics, female graduates often become teachers, earning less than men who move into industry
What were/are women's motivations to go more into teaching than into industry? Is it an internal choice based on what individual women find fulfilling or is it imposed by outside sources?

This isn't a frivolous question. While money is a great motivator for the choices people make in choosing careers, it is not the only, nor even the most significant, factor. Law enforcement, teaching, social workers ... just some of the careers where money is, in fact, a negative motivator of choice.

If that "12% gap" is explained by individual choices and those individual choices are based on individual motivating factors other than money, should solutions involve top-down legislative "cures"?

Hill and her colleagues argue that tougher legislation is needed to erase the pay gap.
Tougher legislation to erase ... what, exactly? How does one legally crawl into an individual's mind and force them to reject something they find fulfilling in favor of something they have already considered and rejected?
The American Assn. of University Women is backing two bills before Congress that would require equal pay for comparable but not identical jobs, and eliminate provisions allowing some employers to discipline workers who discuss their wages with co-workers.
Ah! And just who would be incharge of deciding what are "comparable" jobs, using what criteria and criteria developed by whom?.

Indeed, the authors of this study are proposing yet another politically motivated Federal bureaucracy to impose "solutions" based on fuzzy, ideological standards of what American society "should look like" regardless of what individuals might want or choose.

Also there's nothing in the article to indicate that the study even touched women-owned businesses

As of 2005, there are an estimated 10.1 million majority-owned, privately-held, women-owned firms in the U.S., employing 18.2 million people and generating $2.32 trillion in sales. Women-owned businesses account for 28 percent of all businesses in the United States and represent about 775,000 new startups per year and account for 55 percent of new startups.

Between 1997 and 2002, women-owned firms grew by 19.8 percent while all U.S. firms grew by seven percent. Employment increased by 30 percent—1½ times the U.S. rate—and sales grew by 40 percent—the same rate as all firms in the U.S.

Between 1997 and 2004, the number of privately held firms owned by women of color grew by 54.6 percent. Meanwhile, the overall number of firms in the United States grew by only 9 percent over this period. Women's business ownership is up among all groups, but the number of Hispanic (up 63.9 percent) and Asian owned firms (69.3 percent) has grown especially fast. An estimated one in five (21 percent) women-owned businesses are owned by women of color.

84.8 percent of all businesses owned by women are sole proprietorships. Sole proprietorships operated by women in the United States underwent dramatic increases from 1990 to 1998 in terms of numbers, gross receipts and net income.

Then, again, examining or including such information just might derail the meme of The White Patriarchy™ out to Oppress Womyn and People of Color.
"Legislation has made a difference in the past," Hill said. It wasn't so long ago that law schools and medical schools could bar women from enrolling, she said, or fire women who became pregnant. "That's no longer true."
How long ago was that, Ms. Hill? Surely it was before those same law schools started engaging in such White Male Heteronormative Privilege bashing challenging courses in critical race theory and female jurisprudence?

This is, of course, not to say that sex discrimination, or even race discrimination, does not exist. It most certainly does. However, it exists on the micro level, not the macro. There is nothing in this article, even if we were to accept the 12% as a result solely of sex discrimination, to indicate it is the result of institutional discrimination.

I'm sure the usual Vagina Warriors will seize on this "study" and raise cries of TOTBAL (there ought to be a law)! Yet, let me propose one question that should be uppermost in the minds of those who posit that vaginas are the critical factor in pay scale differences --

If an employer is only concerned about the bottom line, why would s/he hire a man at all to perform a job where an equally qualified woman will do it for 69% of pay?

Common sense, people. Common sense.

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Posted by Darleen at April 23, 2007 07:38 AM


"If an employer is only concerned about the bottom line, why would s/he hire a man at all to perform a job where an equally qualified woman will do it for 69% of pay?"

A fine question which could be buttressed by further asking: If women can be hired so cheaply, why outsource corporate fuctions to Malaysia? Why hire illegal immigrants? Why downsize? Why invest in labor-saving technology?

No Vagina Warrior has ever answered these questions without resorting to cliches like "old-boy's network" and whatnot. The functioning of businesses really isn't their strong point; I don't know why anyone persists in pretending that it is.

Posted by: Q30 at April 23, 2007 11:09 AM

The feminists who continue to scream about discrimination being the reason for the wage gap don't want the truth; I don't think they can handle the truth.

Posted by: Jamila Akil at April 23, 2007 06:33 PM

The VW's don't want women to be equal to men, they want to be men, to replace men and take for themselves all our sweet, sweet omnipotence.

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

Posted by: Pablo at April 23, 2007 09:14 PM

Higher paying professions (Doctors, Lawyers, Traders, Engineers, Business Owners etc..) pay more than others (Teachers, Social Workers, Administrators, etc...) for many reasons. To become such a professional is expensive and risky. One must typically achieve at the top 10% to be eligible. Once there, competition is fierce but the value of the work performed is high. All this comes at a high personal cost - travel, continuing education, competition, long hours, demanding clients, low margins for error, severe consequences arising from error, poor sleep, stress, limited social life, broken relationships, poor health, etc... While I have known many women who are capable of performing these high paying jobs, I have met few who are willing to pay the high personal cost. Those who are, are paid as well as their male counterparts. They are also single and without children.

Posted by: Mike Kvetan at April 24, 2007 10:57 AM

There is another way to look at the differences in degrees: the free market. Let's assume there are equal demands for engineers and English majors. Let's say that there are 100 jobs for each. Now, more women than men get degrees. Let's say that the numers are 110 women and 90 men (an arbitrary ratio designed to amke a point.) Of the 110 women, suppose that 20 choose engineering and 90 choose English. Suppose on the men's side, 75 choose engineering and 15 choose English.

We now have an imbalance. We have 105 English majors (90+15) and 95 engineering majors (75 + 20.) That means that there is labor surplus in the English field and a shortage in the engineer field. With all other things being equal, the market will drive wages for engineers higher and English majors lower. That's the way market forces work.

While the numbers I used were fictional, the concept is the same. more women than men get degrees, but womens degrees aren't in the high-demand type fields. As a result, you get the effect I showed.

Posted by: Steve L. at April 24, 2007 12:56 PM

An interesting Ad Council ad from Jeff G's place:

"By the 6th Grade, many girls lose interest in math and science. For fun ideas to keep her interest alive visit www.girlsgotech.org"

Remember when liberalism was all about being free to be yourself? Not anymore, ladies. Putting gas in the car isn't enough enough anymore. You're going to have to learn how to rebuild the engine, or the patriarchy wins.

Posted by: Pablo at April 24, 2007 01:32 PM

The question to ask is: "Did they compare male CIS degree-holders with female CIS degree-holders? Did a man with a degree in Women's Studies make more than a woman with a degree in Women's Studies? Did the male chemists get more then the female chemists? Did the male communications majors get more than the female communications majors?

"If the study did not control for the major in the awarded degree, it is utterly meaningless."

Posted by: John at April 24, 2007 05:23 PM

All I know is my wife says she makes more that the guys in her office, some of whom have been there longer, they are all have computer science degrees, but my wife pursued a different specialty once in the job field.

My Sister, who is in management in insurance makes as much or more than her peers in like jobs. (they actually sat around and talked about income...frankly I think that's in poor form)

My mother has her own private practice in Psychiatric care. She determines how much she makes.

My wife out earns me. My sister out earns my brother in-law. My mother has out earned my fathers total lifetime income in around 10 years of her private practice. (of course my Dad stopped working once her practice got in full swing, still he had worked for over 20 years before he "retired")

My grandmother was an educator, she made the same amount as the new principle of her school by the time she retired. To her knowledge the male teachers weren't payed more than the female teachers if they were hired at the same time and had the same experience and educational levels.

In my family only the women have achieved college degrees. My grandmother has a masters, my mother a masters and then some, she's just shy of her doctorate. (she's a Nurse Practitioner in Psychiatry) My sister has bachelors degree, and my wife has a bachelors.

Yeah, the women in my family have it hard, they are soooo discriminated against, things are just so unequal for them.

Posted by: Rich at April 24, 2007 07:42 PM

My wife could make more than I, if she were inclined to ditch me and the kids and go full-bore on career. She's a comptroller (finance type) and I'm an engineer. If it weren't for me and that pesky family, I have no doubt she could be making a few hundred grand a year as a CFO.


Anyway, there's not much holding her back, other than those pesky choices. And The Man, of course.

Posted by: Slartibartfast at May 2, 2007 09:43 AM