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The Modern American Man, Charted
July 18, 2014 8:52 AM   Subscribe

"This summer, All Things Considered is looking at the lives of men in America. By some measures, not much has changed over the past few decades — girls still do better in school, and men still make more money. In other areas, the shifts are profound." They made some charts.
posted by cmchap (51 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Hmmmm. Girls are doing better than boys in both science and math in high school, huh? It's almost like we have to rely on college-level hostility to keep the genders so unbalanced in the STEM fields.....
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:27 AM on July 18 [4 favorites]


It's worth considering these two familiar facts together: that men earn much more than women on average (without considering any of the many reasons why they earn more), and the average woman live several years longer than the average man.

Men also do all the most dangerous, life-threatening jobs. Those are jobs that all of us depend on men to do — police, firefighting, construction work, mining, etc. I'm not one of those men — I'm a 33-year-old man with a reasonably well-paying office job and good job security. I take it for granted that other men are risking their lives so I can enjoy my safe, comfortable, middle-class existence.

So it's not that I earn more than my female coworkers — we get paid equally. (If there were some irrational discount on women in the workforce, then any rational company would hire only women if at all possible. Obviously, that's not reality.) Those other men, who are risking life and limb, who are getting compensated for taking that risk, are pushing up the average earnings of men. Anyone who longs for their earnings should ask whether they'd actually be willing to take the physical risk — I certainly wouldn't be. This is as much about class as it is about gender.
posted by John Cohen at 9:30 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]


Why couldn't we depend on women to do them?
posted by josher71 at 9:32 AM on July 18 [8 favorites]


The article notes: "By the time high school rolls around, boys are earning worse grades than girls. They've been behind in that regard for decades, averaging about 0.2 GPA points lower since the 1970s." Actually, girls have been getting better grades than boys for 100 years. That Vox article describes a metastudy of 500 datasets going back to 1914: "In many cases, the effects were small. But no study found that boys were getting better grades, and the sheer consistency makes the results important, the researchers wrote."

Of course, most schoolteachers are women. Just imagine the outcry we'd hear if most schoolteachers were men, and boys had been getting better grades for a century.
posted by John Cohen at 9:36 AM on July 18 [2 favorites]


Wait, what? John Cohen, I'm not following your logic at all. (regarding your pay comments)
posted by agregoli at 9:36 AM on July 18


Er, police officer's salaries are most certainly not pushing up the average wages of men...
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:38 AM on July 18 [19 favorites]


John Cohen: the pay gap remains when you look at men and women in the same (safe, white collar) professions.
posted by you're a kitty! at 9:39 AM on July 18 [31 favorites]


So it's not that I earn more than my female coworkers — we get paid equally.

Study after study shows that this is not true.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:39 AM on July 18 [33 favorites]


However, it is likely that men being much more likely to have physical labor or dangerous occupations is the driving factor in the life expectancy gap.
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:40 AM on July 18


Nor are the salaries of roofers and drivers. As an aside, any danger in being a cop is almost entirely from spending so much time in cars. Cops are at only a marginally higher risk of nonvehicular homicide than the general public.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:42 AM on July 18


So it's not that I earn more than my female coworkers — we get paid equally. (If there were some irrational discount on women in the workforce, then any rational company would hire only women if at all possible. Obviously, that's not reality.) Those other men, who are risking life and limb, who are getting compensated for taking that risk, are pushing up the average earnings of men. Anyone who longs for their earnings should ask whether they'd actually be willing to take the physical risk — I certainly wouldn't be. This is as much about class as it is about gender.

Do you have any idea how much cops, firefighters, and construction workers actually make? Here's a hint: largely jack shit. Generally the most dangerous jobs also pay the least, for a whole bunch of reasons. Cops and firefighters can make a solid amount towards the end of their careers thanks to strog unions, but these are VERY MUCH working-class jobs.
posted by Itaxpica at 9:42 AM on July 18 [12 favorites]


...which is to say that the idea that the pay gap between men and women in sone way reflects men actually earning or deserving higher pay doesn't hold water.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:44 AM on July 18


Also, every life expectancy chart that shows the steady increase of expectancy over the past two or three centuries really should have a note reminding folks that people aren't really living longer - the increase is driven primarily by fewer infants dying.
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:45 AM on July 18 [11 favorites]


Do you have any idea how much cops, firefighters, and construction workers actually make? Here's a hint: largely jack shit.

Not that John Cohen is right (he's not--when you control per industry the gender wage gap remains), but this isn't true. Median patrol officer and firefighter salary is well above US median wage. There are also unusually generous benefits associated with the profession. They're not pulling down Wall St salaries, to be sure, but it's also not barely scraping by.
posted by yoink at 9:54 AM on July 18


Let me tell you about the time I lost an arm in a terrible accident involving a text editor.
posted by b1tr0t at 9:59 AM on July 18 [4 favorites]


(If there were some irrational discount on women in the workforce, then any rational company would hire only women if at all possible. Obviously, that's not reality.)

People who do hiring are not robots, and they do not make perfectly rational decisions; in other words, they are as influenced by prejudice as anyone else. Women are consistently underpaid for the exact same work as men; you really don't have to Google much to confirm this, so I won't do it for you, but there are multiple studies to this effect.

Also, one of the reasons fewer women work in building trades and other more-dangerous work is that when they do they experience a great deal of sexual harassment and even assault, as well as being paid less.

A U.S. Department of Labor study reported that 88 percent of women construction workers experienced sexual harassment on the job. Patricia Valoy of New York City quit her construction apprenticeship after facing constant harassment by coworkers. "Men would stop their work to stare and wolf whistle," she said. "On a few occasions I got called a 'bitch' for refusing to reply to inappropriate remarks. Some men felt the need to give me 'how to get fit' advice and make comments about my body. Once I was alone in the middle of a storage room when a construction worker blocked the doorway and refused to let me leave unless I accepted his request for a date. I worked on the site for a year until the stress of constantly being harassed, belittled and intimidated was not worth the effort."

Gender stereotypes that start in school and continue into employment restrict the numbers of women in nontraditional careers and keep women disproportionately clustered in jobs with lower pay and fewer benefits. Data show that women are rarely in the information pipeline to hear about construction apprenticeship opportunities. And when women participate in construction apprenticeships, they are less likely to complete their apprenticeships than men due to pervasive harassment, among other hurdles. Between 2006 and 2007, 51 percent of women left apprenticeship programs.

posted by emjaybee at 10:00 AM on July 18 [15 favorites]


So it's not that I earn more than my female coworkers — we get paid equally.

can you explain this furthe-- oops, apologies, the I Just Can't Even Express just pulled in and I don't want to be late for an appointment I have in Reality
posted by threeants at 10:01 AM on July 18 [24 favorites]


The only measure by which some cops and professional firefighters aren't well paid in absolute terms is base salaries.

When you incorporate compensation elements which very few middle income, and virtually no high income, people receive such as civil service tenure, overtime, shift differentials, and 20- or 25-year full pensions, the total compensation becomes very good in absolute terms. When you norm to education levels, given that cops and professional firemen typically are required to have only two years of college or an honorable discharge from one term of enlisted service, the compensation becomes spectacularly good.
posted by MattD at 10:04 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]


Firefighting is a more dangerous job, however. In Canada at least, at least ten forms of cancers in firefighters are considered occupational injuries (lung, brain, bladder, etc...). This is notable also because the firefighter population is generally much physically healthier otherwise than the general population.
posted by bonehead at 10:05 AM on July 18


Girls are doing better than boys in both science and math in high school, huh? It's almost like we have to rely on college-level hostility to keep the genders so unbalanced in the STEM fields.....

There's also the fact that there's a lot more latitude for class choice in college -- even if girls have been turned off of science and math by the time they hit high school, they still have to take at least a few of those classes.
posted by Etrigan at 10:06 AM on July 18


Um yes but there are both female firefighters and female cops so again I say wat.
posted by murphy slaw at 10:06 AM on July 18 [2 favorites]


Regarding the FPP: I assume or hope the people doing original research are well-attuned to this, but I was surprised the article didn't mention prison. 1 out of 18 US men are in prison (compared to "only" 1 out of 89 women), and surely this has huge implications for all the indicators examined.
posted by threeants at 10:08 AM on July 18 [6 favorites]


When you incorporate compensation elements which very few middle income, and virtually no high income, people receive such as civil service tenure, overtime, shift differentials, and 20- or 25-year full pensions, the total compensation becomes very good in absolute terms.

Assuming you don't get your pension stolen from you by corrupt city/state governments, of course. Which I wouldn't assume.
posted by emjaybee at 10:09 AM on July 18


Baltimore Police:

• 20 yrs 9 months to start academy
• High school diploma or G.E.D
• U.S Citizen
• Have a full valid drivers license from any state
Our starting pay is $43,136 per year. (Plus Benefits)
posted by josher71 at 10:10 AM on July 18


Yeah, and 43k is just about the median wage in the US (the median patrol officer salary is 55k, which is about the median household income). Not jack shit, not spectacularly good. The point is that it's def not the driving factor behind the income gap.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:14 AM on July 18


It seems like these multi-vectoral negative socioeconomic trends for men are often implicitly held up against income inequality as, like, "see, there's some parity, it's a shit sandwich for everyone in at least some way!" But really, it strikes me now that it's the very proof in the pudding of sexism that even despite "winning" in pretty much every relevant social indicator, women are still making significantly less money!
posted by threeants at 10:15 AM on July 18 [6 favorites]


Though really, 43k for Baltimore PD when you're working overtime trying to bag Barksdale does seem kinda low.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:17 AM on July 18 [8 favorites]


there are some cities in the U.S. — like Atlanta and Memphis — where young, single, childless women make more than similar men, largely because those men have less education

Oh, is that why? Because of education?...
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 10:23 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]


Though really, 43k for Baltimore PD when you're working overtime trying to bag Barksdale does seem kinda low.

You joke, but the Baltimore PD actually IS desperate for officers.
posted by josher71 at 10:24 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]


Of course, most schoolteachers are women. Just imagine the outcry we'd hear if most schoolteachers were men, and boys had been getting better grades for a century.

Did you seriously just intimate that the reason for better school performance of girls is a systematic pro-female bias among teachers?
posted by murphy slaw at 10:24 AM on July 18 [19 favorites]


Those are jobs that all of us depend on men to do

We "depend" on men to do them because until very recently, we used to legally make it so only men were allowed to do them. Your failure to even give a nod to that is interesting.
posted by rtha at 10:34 AM on July 18 [8 favorites]


Let me tell you about the time I lost an arm in a terrible accident involving a text editor.
posted by b1tr0t at 12:59 PM on July 18 [+] [!]


Walking into a bar in Emacstown while you're wearing a "VI 4 LYFE" t-shirt is not an "accident".
posted by McCoy Pauley at 10:45 AM on July 18 [11 favorites]


Not all m . . . never mind.
posted by spitbull at 10:46 AM on July 18


I hate to stop talking about John Cohen's fascinating theories but what I find interesting is how PAID WORK + HOUSEWORK + CHILD CARE time has remained almost completely constant in 50 years. The ratios have changed but both men and women spent around 50 hours on those things in 1965 and both men and women spend around 50 hours on those things today.

Well, parents, anyway I guess. Since the amount of CHILD CARE provided by most non-parents will be close to 0. I wonder how the ratios of housework and paid work look for men and women who are not parents?
posted by Justinian at 10:53 AM on July 18 [4 favorites]


Good news, everyone! Not only can women be firefighters, they can be firefighter calendar beefcakes!

Actually do consider this awesome, sarcastic tone is directed at the "women no fight fires ..." people.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:00 AM on July 18 [3 favorites]


Do you have any idea how much cops, firefighters, and construction workers actually make?

Depends. Construction work pays pretty well for a job that doesn't require a high school education. Semi-skilled workers make $20-25 around here, with the caveat that many of them do not work year round.

The base salary of a police officer is decent, somewhere in the $50k range, but some of them make in the six figures with overtime and off duty guard work.
posted by Ham Snadwich at 11:14 AM on July 18


You joke, but the Baltimore PD actually IS desperate for officers.

What I've heard is that the BPD is the training ground for all the surrounding counties. Cadets start with the BPD, then immediately start trying to get hired by the state police or one of the surrounding counties where the pay is higher and the work is less dangerous.
posted by Ham Snadwich at 11:16 AM on July 18


I found it interesting that more young men live with their parents than women do. This confirms what I've experienced. I think it's because young women living at home are usually treated like children, and young men are not. So you get women who would do anything rather than live at home, and men who see no reason to move out. (And to be fair, I think that it is much easier for women to find a shared living situation. People are leery of sharing a house/apartment with a strange man, but not so much with a strange woman.)
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 11:20 AM on July 18 [4 favorites]


Though really, 43k for Baltimore PD when you're working overtime trying to bag Barksdale does seem kinda low.

Good news about that...
posted by Ham Snadwich at 11:29 AM on July 18


b1tr0t: "Let me tell you about the time I lost an arm in a terrible accident involving a text editor."

we told you not to use emacs , man.
posted by boo_radley at 11:53 AM on July 18


b1tr0t: "Let me tell you about the time I lost an arm in a terrible accident involving a text editor."

we told you not to use emacs , man.


What? Emacs protects you with a nerf-like, multi-layered cocoon of parentheses. It's vi you have to watch out for—one stray : or ! or % and it'll take your head off. (Or arm.)
posted by The Tensor at 12:29 PM on July 18


MattD: The only measure by which some cops and professional firefighters aren't well paid in absolute terms is base salaries.

Funny enough, that's the only one they can feed their families with. You can't eat tenure or future pension guarantees.

More importantly, the whole reason cops and firefighters were brought into the conversation was in an effort to show that men are doing many of these dangerous jobs, and therefore we have to pay more for because they're dangerous jobs, hence the salary discrepancy. Yes, we do need to pay attention to total compensation, but the present value of future pension obligations to a prospective employee in this era of broken state and local budgets is not very high, while the premium we need to pay people to work a job that's many times more dangerous than other jobs they could qualify for is significant.

You can't on one hand say "but we have all these other things that make compensation better" and ignore the premium that has to be paid to get people to take dangerous jobs. I don't have an exact equation for how job risk translates into the amount we have to compensate people, but leaving it out of the equation while you talk up all these other parts of total compensation is misleading.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:32 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


the whole reason cops and firefighters were brought into the conversation was in an effort to show that men are doing many of these dangerous jobs, and therefore we have to pay more for because they're dangerous jobs, hence the salary discrepancy.

But as many have pointed out, that "whole reason" is specious nonsense. We know that even when you control for the particular fields they are employed in and the specific job duties they perform women are underpaid relative to men. Therefore the "men's salaries are higher because of DANGER" theory collapses on its face.

(This is not to address the "lets ignore total compensation because it's inconvenient to my argument" part of your comment because that, frankly, is crazypants).
posted by yoink at 12:47 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


yoink: But as many have pointed out, that "whole reason" is specious nonsense. We know that even when you control for the particular fields they are employed in and the specific job duties they perform women are underpaid relative to men. Therefore the "men's salaries are higher because of DANGER" theory collapses on its face.

Yeah, I wasn't endorsing that logic -- far from it. Just trying to say that even if you assume it arguendo, the "but firefighters really aren't underpaid" argument is still bullshit.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:48 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


It's so frustrating that the original article from NPR does not break these things down by race. Things get a whole lot more complicated when you factor in centuries of white supremacy compounded by the prison industrial complex, the erosion of labor rights, and the war on drugs.

Additionally, there is no mention to the wealth gap, which is even more important and stark than the income gap.
posted by Ouverture at 12:50 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


Though really, 43k for Baltimore PD when you're working overtime trying to bag Barksdale does seem kinda low.

You know how much you get for that overtime? McNulty was making bank.
posted by breakin' the law at 12:57 PM on July 18


Seriously, though, I have a friend who is a police officer. He makes more money than all of my other friends, save one. All of these other friends are educated, white-collar professionals. You're not going to get rich being a cop, but police officers are paid fairly well by the standards of any industry that is not Wall Street or Silicon Valley.

(Not saying this is the reason for the wage gap, and cop salaries do vary considerably by location.)
posted by breakin' the law at 1:01 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


Firefighter pay is more complex than it might seem at first. For example, here in Prince George's County, MD, most firefighters work 24 hours and are then off for 72 hours (there are some people on day work, like the guys at the shop who repair fire trucks). Many of the guys I know have side businesses in the building trades, which is feasible when you have those three-day blocks off. The base pay isn't great, especially for new hires, but there is a lot of opportunity to subsidize that pay with overtime and side work. That's an option that's generally not available to white collar professionals. But that's not the case everywhere. I believe that federal firefighters who work for Naval District Washington (Patuxent River Naval Air Station, the Washington Navy Yard, etc.) work 24 on/24 off, so they have fewer opportunities for side work.
posted by wintermind at 4:15 PM on July 18


Men also do all the most dangerous, life-threatening jobs. Those are jobs that all of us depend on men to do — police, firefighting, construction work, mining, etc.

1. Women do these jobs too.

2. They didn't always. I seem to remember lawsuit upon lawsuit in the 1970s from women trying to break into the "masculine" fields from which we were legally and traditionally excluded-- as construction workers, police officers, fire-fighters, in logging, mining-- all the jobs you list. And they faced fearsome opposition, too. Predictable harassment, abuse, hazing, etc.

3. As an American, you should be able to recall the efforts women have made to be allowed to fight alongside men, and join in active combat. It insults your female soldiers to erase them in such a way, no?
posted by jokeefe at 8:07 PM on July 18 [4 favorites]


Regarding the difference in lifespan between men and women:

Differences in life span between males and females are commonly observed across many species. For example, where the heterogametic sex (XY sex chromosomes) is male, as in humans and Drosophila, females tend to live longer than males.

source
posted by LindsayIrene at 8:11 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


What are the main theories regarding higher academic achievement for girls/women vs. boys/men? A cursory Googling comes up with: posted by baniak at 1:47 PM on July 20


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