More on the gender pay gap

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.”

4 thoughts on “More on the gender pay gap

  1. I’m trying to figure out what to make of the comments on the post. On the one hand, it seems inspiring that so many people are interested in the nitty gritty of what the study is concluding, how it came to that conclusion, and other possible relevant factors.

    On the other hand, it’s so frustrating to hear what people claim are other possible and plausible factors–women are less aggressive, women like other forms of compensation besides money more than men do, etc.

    Discussions on the pay gap could be a whole feminist topic itself, since it demonstrates so nicely how people epistemologies work when they comparing new claims to the bundle of premises they have about their society.

  2. Discussions of the pay gap, and discrimination in employment, should be THE feminist topic. These economic issues affect more women more profoundly, and have more bad fallout–e.g. in the child poverty rate–than any of the sexy issues that get much more attention.

    For the past few years for example there has been a class action discrimination suit against Walmart which will soon get to the Supreme Court. Heard about it? This suit involves 1.5 million women working for the US’s largest private employer. These women, because of Walmart’s practices, like most working class women, are stuck in boring, deadend, underpaid pink-collar jobs. Imagine: 8 am, go to your checkstand and scan customer’s stuff over and over and over and over and over and over…mid morining 15 minute break…come up for air then back to that checkstand for more of the same…over and over and over…in a 2′ X 2′ space–trapped, constrained, buried alive.

    Yes I do think not only the pay gap but even more importantly sex segregation should be a whole feminist topic

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