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Department of Labor eliminating women's bureau?
January 10, 2002 10:16 AM   Subscribe

Department of Labor eliminating women's bureau? Posted on the CWA site is some info on how the Bush Administration is trying to close all of the regional offices of the Women's Bureau at the Labor Department. I guess, since we're being paid almost 73% of what men are, we should be grateful and assume that this 80 year institution has done all it can do for women?
posted by dejah420 (24 comments total)

 
It has always been my understanding that men and women in the same position make the same amount of money...the percentages come into play when you average out ALL of the salaries. There is more men in higher positions making more money...Bill Gates alone is probably responsible for a couple of those percentage points. Any thoughts?
posted by byort at 10:35 AM on January 10, 2002


No, I've been director level at 3 major corporations, and I can tell you that women are paid less than men, almost across the board. It's subtle, but easy to do in environments where discussing compensation is considered tacky. (Really, how many conversations have you ever had with a casual work acquaintance where you would be comfortable discussing your salary.)

A friend and I tried an experiment with a local 3-initial company. He and I have similiar experience, but I have more education and 3 more years on the ground. They offered me 2/3 of what they offered him. When I called them on it, they backed off quickly and said that they were just throwing preliminary numbers...and sent me another written offer that matched his.

Does that sort of thing happen all the time? You betcha. Stock option grants are smaller, COLI is often smaller, and women are considered "bitches" when they negotiate up.
posted by dejah420 at 10:46 AM on January 10, 2002


Well, it hasn't managed to fix it in 80 years... Perhaps it's time to scrap it and try a new approach?
posted by Nauip at 11:10 AM on January 10, 2002


I've worked places where discussing salary was grounds for dismissal.

"Scrapping it and trying a new approach" seems like a viable option, but I have a nagging feeling the Bush Administration will falter on the second half of that scenario.
posted by jennyb at 11:14 AM on January 10, 2002


To paraphrase my boss (a woman who makes long six-figures): If women make 70% of what men make, and I have a department that is made up of 50 men and 50 women, I'd fire all the men, hire 50 new women, and cut my payroll 15% in a day.

I'm sorry ladies, but it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to arbitrarily decide that women will earn 30% less than a man in the same job. I mean, why? It's silly. I hire staff, and the payrate is decided before I look at a single resume. If I want to change it, I have to go and spend half a day wheedling a crew of anal-rententive HR dinks. I've done it for a couple of really good candidates, but it's rarity.

But regardless, if you are offered 70% of a man's pay, don't accept the job. I wouldn't. If this is a real occurrence and not somebody's victimization trip, then women shouldn't accept the positions. Eventually companies that do this will have to raise salaries for women or go without employees.
posted by UncleFes at 11:26 AM on January 10, 2002


i'm curious how much male and female programmers make...?
posted by techgirl at 11:27 AM on January 10, 2002


That's my big concern as well Jennyb. This is the department of labor where all the stats about women in the workforce are generated, as well as arenas for gender specific discrimination information.

There aren't any proposals in the new budget for any sort of replacement programs, according to Ms. Adams at the DOL. (I just got off the phone with her.) Apparently, the division is considered "hostile to business" and we all know that anything hostile to corporate bottom-lines is not likely to last long in the Bush administration.

The US Government, brought to you by Marlboro, ADM and Monsanto. Stay tuned for the Coke State of the Nation address, followed by the Senatorial rebuttal brought to you by Exxon.
posted by dejah420 at 11:29 AM on January 10, 2002


You know, I bet less assertive people in general are paid less. Nice guys finish last. Jerks finish first.

But it's still better than an all-encompassing nanny state deciding who should be paid what. I'll take a mixed bag of bright spots and darks spots over a uniform, drab-gray mediocrity any time.

Women take their chances, along with the rest of us.
posted by dissent at 11:30 AM on January 10, 2002


and women are considered "bitches" when they negotiate up

well, that gets into a nice big can of worms...does society reward men for aggressive behavior, and punish women? [i'd say yes] Could many offered salaries be at least similar, but the agreed upon salary for men ends up higher as a result?

and the salary thing doesn't even touch on workplace equality, differences in acceptable clothing and comfort levels, sexual harrassment, etc...
posted by th3ph17 at 11:35 AM on January 10, 2002


The US Government, brought to you by Marlboro, ADM and Monsanto.

Not exactly a newsflash, there. And what of it? Bush does not decide your salary, or what I pay the people I hire. Otherwise, I agree - they're not likely to replace that department. But is it helping? Maybe scrapping it is the best solution.

In the end, remember that in the marketplace for skilled workers, it is the worker who holds the cards. Negotiate vigorously, don't sell yourself short, and you'll do well.
posted by UncleFes at 11:37 AM on January 10, 2002


Another point: I work for a company whose management tier is made up primarily of female executives, and I've seen men treated badly and forced out. The situations you describe can certainly go the other way.
posted by UncleFes at 11:48 AM on January 10, 2002


women are considered "bitches" when they negotiate up.

And men are often considered "bastards" or "assholes" for doing the same thing. In most companies I've worked for, anyone who rocks the boat or comes off as overly aggressive is considered a troublemaker regardless of gender.
posted by MrBaliHai at 12:07 PM on January 10, 2002


Really, how many conversations have you ever had with a casual work acquaintance where you would be comfortable discussing your salary.

I've never been uncomfortable discussing my salary with coworkers. In fact I've never really understood why so many people are uncomfortable with it, unless maybe they feel they're being taken advantage of. I suspect that the disparity between men's and women's salaries would be less pronounced if more people were more open about these matters.

I've worked places where discussing salary was grounds for dismissal.

I've always found this idea completely unacceptable. If a company wants to fire me for having an open conversation with a coworker, fine, I'll see them in court.

Not that I even have a job right now...
posted by homunculus at 12:40 PM on January 10, 2002


Well, here's what I know: I and two other apparently white men (I'm actually Native American, and one of the others was hispanic, but we look white to the eye) worked for Providian Financial as programmers, and were all paid in the range of 80k a year. They brought in two women into the *same position* who *already worked for the company* and they were paid about 50k. Seriously. The official explanation for this was apparently that that's what they were making in their other positions in the company in other departments, and they don't raise you when you transfer. which almost works as an explanation for one of them, but doesn't for the other, since her position previously was the exact same job title, just in a different department.
posted by akmonday at 12:51 PM on January 10, 2002


So Fes, you're basing your thoughts on gender and salary on an anecdote, told by a person working for a company unique in that its management is predominantly female, which is working in a field (marketing?) known for it's high percentage of women?
posted by Doug at 12:58 PM on January 10, 2002


As opposed to dejah420's exhaustive sample of four companies? When someone starts doing some valid statistical analysis around here, let me know. I'm just telling you what my boss said, the fact that she's a very successful female executive, the things I saw, and my opinion on the matter. I just find it difficult to believe that there's some vast corporate conspiracy to pay women as a sex less money. It's not only kind of silly, it doesn't make any business sense.

Not marketing; niche financial services and tax consulting. I run the the company's local marketing division.
posted by UncleFes at 1:14 PM on January 10, 2002


Any way you view the statistic it is still proof that women are discriminated against in the workplace (and it is unequal pay for the same job btw.)

The Religious Right will never be satisfied until women are relegated to second class citizens who are present and useful only in the kitchen and bedroom. As the new leaders of the Religious Right the Bush Administration goons are working towards that goal.

[sarcasm] Anything contrary to that aim is coming from lesbian feminazi troublemakers who want to emasculate men. [/sarcasm]
posted by nofundy at 1:16 PM on January 10, 2002


I've always found this idea completely unacceptable. If a company wants to fire me for having an open conversation with a coworker, fine, I'll see them in court.

I already worked there when that email went out, and I've been laid off since then.

Actually, the company laid off all the women in the department, and none of the men, despite the fact that the female writers (myself included) had more experience in the field and had been with the company longer than all but one of the male writers. I'm not claiming that isn't coincidental, but it's a coincidence that makes me really angry when I think about it too much.
posted by jennyb at 1:20 PM on January 10, 2002


When I was younger I worked for a boutique consulting firm. I was one of three junior consultants on staff at this firm, the other two were men. Though we were hired at slightly different salaries, we were all the same age. We all had similar experience. We were all billed at the same rate to the client. When we all got stock options at the same time, I got 2,000 options and they both got 5,000 options. When we all got raises at the same time, I got a 12% raise, they both got 30% raises. I ended up calling up the head of HR on the phone and telling him how upset I was and he ended up giving me a much larger raise as well.

Does this mean that all women are discriminated against in the workplace? I'm not sure. But it sure means I'm suspicious whenever I'm hired anyplace. I agree with dejah that talking about salaries more openly would help address this issue, but it raises so many other thorny issues and has the potential to demotivate workers left and right if they feel they're not being adequately, or worse, fairly, compensated.
posted by megnut at 1:31 PM on January 10, 2002


The Religious Right will never be satisfied until women are relegated to second class citizens who are present and useful only in the kitchen and bedroom. As the new leaders of the Religious Right the Bush Administration goons are working towards that goal.

Who is this mythical Religious Right? Religious conservatives are as fractured a political group as ever there was in America, and a very large part of them don't even vote, as I guess they consider politics to be "of the devil." This is like that argument that a mother who is a "stay at home mom" is being oppressed, and your statement implies this. Most of those women choose to leave their jobs to raise a family, and, the larger the family, the more time consuming the job. It is elitist of you to assume that a woman who is a homemaker is somehow inferior.

As for the federal government ensuring that women get fair pay... well, they are the least qualified to do this. Vigilance on the part of the employees, the media, and the threat of civil lawsuits is probably more effective in dealing with such an obvious disparity. (If it exists)
posted by insomnyuk at 1:52 PM on January 10, 2002


Any way you view the statistic it is still proof that women are discriminated against in the workplace

But that doesn't make any sense. WHY would any sane employer do so? If it's just to save money, then why not fire the men? It's irrational. And how can it still be going on with two entire generations of women fully integrated into the workplace? Are women administrators ALSO depriving women of their rightful wages? That makes even LESS sense.
posted by UncleFes at 2:03 PM on January 10, 2002


If it's just to save money, then why not fire the men?

That would be illegal, under the equal pay act.

But that doesn't make any sense. [...] It's irrational. [...] That makes even LESS sense.

That's why it's so infuriating to see it happening so consistently...
posted by muta at 4:18 PM on January 10, 2002


It's not unusual for people transferring jobs within many large organizations to gain positions at lower pay rates than people hired externally and then be "brought up to market" later on. It's one of the reasons many companies prefer hiring internally rather than externally.

Whenever I see numbers like those shown in the third link, I have to wonder what effect parenting has. Looking at The Big PictureTM, women who take maternity leave two or three times over the course of their life or who only work part time after having kids (like a number of mothers I know do) are not going to advance in pay as quickly as stay-at-work men do. (Yes, I know there are cases where men take care of the kids, but from what I've seen they're clearly in the minority.) Over time, such life decisions could add up. (To be clear, I'm not claiming discrimination doesn't go on. Although I haven't seen it directly, I'm sure it does. I'm just curious as to how major of a factor parental roles are.)
posted by mrbula at 4:45 PM on January 10, 2002


some people say that the gap is due more to less experience (a kid's good for a few years out of the workforce), working fewer hours (less overtime) on average and avoiding the most dangerous jobs. This seems reasonable to me, particularly given my experience hiring programmers, where the female candidates were extremely rare and much less experienced on average (granted, I'm a bit of a hard-ass there - I thought all of the female applicants were too inexperienced but also thought that about almost all of the more numerous male applicants). Compare that to the lower paying design, marketing & project management jobs which got many female applicants and it's no wonder we had a gender gap in pay.


That said, I don't think it's reasonable to extrapolate for the whole country from my experiences. Does anyone have a link to a recent study which compares the gap with an attempt to account for these differences?


posted by adamsc at 9:16 PM on January 10, 2002


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