Wage Gap Re-think?

The Kitchen Chick sent me this fascinating article, on a new study which claims to show that the most significant pay gap is between men with traditional views on gender roles and *everybody else*, including men with non-traditional views. My first thought about how to explain this was that men with non-traditional views are more likely to be putting in substantial amounts of time on childcare– so they might work in lower-paid, more family-friendly work, or work fewer hours. But these possibilities have been ruled out: The authors have carefully compared people working in the same jobs, for the same hours and the same length of time. The explanations they suggest are that traditional men might be tougher salary negotiators, or that employers discriminate against those without traditional views. If the latter, then maybe there needs to be a new protected category for discrimination law? Other thoughts?

12 thoughts on “Wage Gap Re-think?

  1. perhaps being a greedy blowhard is part of “traditional values”? it certainly was at my most recent corporate job. :)

  2. I wonder if this isn’t a chicken or egg question. Which came first, the conservative attitude, or the privilege pay/position, which then warrants ‘conservation?’ I mean if you are making more money and perceive yourself as having an advantage, why wouldn’t you think that’s the way things should stay? I’m pretty sure that’s human nature — hard-wired into us as part of our survival instinct.

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  3. This reminded me so vividly of Val Plumwood’s Feminism and the Mastery of Nature. (It was my favorite book this year, so I confess I’m reminded of it all the time.) Plumwood makes the point, and I’m sure many others have made it too, that it’s not “Western privileged white males” per se who have taken the upper hand in relationships to women, workers, indigenous cultures, animals, and the environment. Rather, it’s a worldview, and our economic system rewards those who take the dominant roles as supported by that worldview. I really appreciate that this study makes it clear that Western white males – many, many of them; our own friends, husbands, sons – can be victims of this system too.

  4. I didn’t need a study to point out that white conservatives make more money than anyone else. It’s like somehow everyone is afraid the rest of us are going to break out into another Woodstock and ruin their company.

  5. This might sound bad, but I think unambitious men are more likely to be sympathetic for feminism. after all, they don’t want to fullfill the traditional male role of aggressive bread winner. this study still pretty much confirms the gender. as for chicken-egg, yeah, men at top want to preserve, and as i’m saying, men at bottom want to rationalize as well.

  6. I wonder if part of it is that management types simply perfer men who conform to the traditional picture of the man at work. Their work is, then, taken more seriously, rated higher, etc.

  7. M, I fit the first description — unambitious and feminist — though not the last — at the bottom and rationalizing. So my experience relates to part of your thesis, though not the whole, being a mere data point it’s no surprise.

    jj, your take sounds right, in that they seek to validate their own choices. In that sense women who make choices they made threaten their views, maybe that means gender was a bigger factor in their own choices than they are comfortable with.

  8. JJ, It certainly wouldn’t be surprising (and wouldn’t require a gender-gap “rethink”?) to learn that upper management (mostly males) reward traditional masculinity.
    It does worry me that people (not necessarily on this forum) are stating that the lesson learned is that sexist thinking equals more money for men. Are young men going to hear “hey, make sexist jokes at work and get a pay raise!” I just wanted to point out that traditional roles require of men ambition, not just submission from women. If assertive people self-advocate more, and if this is more acceptable in men, the results of this study are not at all surprising.
    Is anyone else worried about the “sexism pays” take on this survey?

  9. lga, I missed reading your comment before. I like the kind of explanation you describe. Though the world-view gets implemented by individuals, that there’s a world view reminds us that those implementing it may not be acting to further their own individual goals AND that it has a lot of other manifestations.

  10. […] Ask for equal pay! September 29, 2008 Filed under: Uncategorized — stoat @ 2:28 pm  In the run up to Equal Pay Day on the 30th Oct, Fawcett Society have an open letter to John Hutton MP (in the UK), Sec state for business enterprise and regulatory reform. In it, there are recommendations for closing the 17% gender pay gap, such as regular checks to monitor for inequalities (which would presumably help address other inequalities too, such as those Jender writes of here). […]

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