Matthew Yglesias has a great post up on gender and pay discrepancy. According to recent research, the gender pay gap begins right after college. And (one of the more striking findings) the gap persists even when you compare recent graduates within a specific major. So we can’t explain the pay discrepancy via the usual suspects: women earn less because they have voluntarily chosen to take breaks in their careers (the pay gap is there at the very beginning of their careers) and/or women earn less because they tend to self-select into lower-earning professions (the pay gap is there for recent graduates even when variables like field of study are controlled).
The particularly nice thing about Yglesias’s reporting of these findings is his taking to task of a certain kind of pay-gap skepticism:
“Now obviously some people are going to be very resistant to this conclusion. They’ll think that in a competitive labor market with many employers and many workers, employers who discriminate against women in their salary offerings will be at a disadvantage. No firm will want to disadvantage itself in this way, thus the discrimination shouldn’t exist. Consequently, this apparently effect is almost certainly due to some other variable that’s not accounted for. So it’s worth pointing out that by this logic, the gender disparity in employment that existed in 1961 wouldn’t exist either. But obviously it did.”