Pay gap: not simply about which professions women choose

Are women paid less than men because they choose to be, by gravitating to lower-paying jobs like teaching and social work?*

That is what some Republicans who voted down the equal pay bill this month would have you believe. “There’s a disparity not because female engineers are making less than male engineers at the same company with comparable experience,” the Republican National Committee said this month. “The disparity exists because a female social worker makes less than a male engineer.”

But a majority of the pay gap between men and women actually comes from differences within occupations, not between them — and widens in the highest-paying ones like business, law and medicine, according to data from Claudia Goldin, a Harvard University labor economist and a leading scholar on women and the economy.

It is related to disproportionate rewards in long hours cultures.

Occupations that most value long hours, face time at the office and being on call — like business, law and surgery — tend to have the widest pay gaps. That is because those employers pay people who spend longer hours at the office disproportionately more than they pay people who don’t, Dr. Goldin found. A lawyer who works 80 hours a week at a big corporate law firm is paid more than double one who works 40 hours a week as an in-house counsel at a small business.

For more, go here.

*Blogger’s note: even if it was due to differences in profession, there’s no reason to think this would be due solely to choices of course.

Thanks, Jender-Mom!