Skip

The missing 23 cents?
May 18, 2007 10:10 AM   Subscribe

Do Women and Men Earn Equal Pay in 2007? Are women truly earning 77 cents for every dollar that men earn in the same jobs, as some activists, including restaurant owners in Oregon, claim? Or are women earning 23 cents less on the dollar based on total income because men traditionally spend more time on the workplace during their lives, relocate more often for jobs and accept dangerous jobs that pay more? That's one man's take on it.
posted by CameraObscura (98 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oregon plan to drop their prices for female customers by 23 cents. The restaurants want to raise awareness about women earning 23 percent less than men in the workplace.

The American Association of American Women, which is sponsoring the event, says that when the new prices go into effect, 23 percent of the 2007 will have passed, thus, that's the number of extra days women will have to work in 2007 to catch up with men.
In that case, then women will only recive a 17% discount over the whole year.
posted by delmoi at 10:18 AM on May 18, 2007


Math makes my brain hurt. Can't the women just cook the food themselves?

[i keed]
posted by NationalKato at 10:20 AM on May 18, 2007


That 23% discount sure looks like Take-Your-Husband/Boyfriend-Out-To-Dinner Night to me!
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:23 AM on May 18, 2007


If an employer has to pay a man one dollar for the same work a woman would do for 59 cents, why would anyone hire a man?
I've pointed this out to a female coworker once and was told it's a fact that women earn less for the same work and I should go look it up (she incidently, was making more than I was and had the same title). It's nice to see some evidence backing up the other side of argument.
posted by Crash at 10:26 AM on May 18, 2007


"Men make decisions that result in their making more money. On the other hand, women make decisions that earn them better lives (e.g., more family and friend time)."

I agree with this statement. However, the reasons that women and men end up making different choices is pretty clearly influenced by society. Men face almost no pressure to chose between being a "good care giver" and a "good wage earner" - in fact, for men those are often seen as the same thing.!

But there's also discrimination against men. For example, try getting hired as a male dental hygienist, nursery school teacher or cocktail waiter, or try selling clothing at Wal-Mart Stores.

Notice that this list is all low-paying jobs. I'm so glad men have difficulty getting hired at minimum wage!

the 80 fields (e.g., financial analysis, radiation therapy, statistics and most engineering fields) in which women now earn more than men.

Let's look at engineering. The female engineers in my firm may have a higher average salary than the men, but there's only 4 female engineers in my department of 50. When we compare the sample sizes (4 vs. 46), it's pretty obvious that the "average salary" isn't going to tell the whole story.
posted by muddgirl at 10:27 AM on May 18, 2007 [4 favorites]


A short take on this issue from the International Women's Forum:

Gender Wage Gap Is Feminist Fiction

A study of the gender wage gap conducted by economist June O' Neill, former director of the Congressional Budget Office, found that women earn 98 percent of what men do when controlled for experience, education, and number of years on the job.

IIRC, N.O.W. generally uses the 77% figure.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:27 AM on May 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


ah, yes Farrell, famous propionate of positive incest.

Big friends of the Cato institute as well. I have a hard time viewing his stuff with any amount of dispassion.
posted by edgeways at 10:31 AM on May 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Some things he has advocated for make sense, but for me his annoying index is high
posted by edgeways at 10:32 AM on May 18, 2007


Having worked in human resources, I can tell you that sex discrimination starts before you even talk about hiring someone. And yes, we're talking office work, not "dangerous jobs". This becomes more apparent the higher up in a given organization as you go- top end managerial positions are not equally distributed.

And no, it's not a matter of "time" and "family", because the high end folks usually are running around with a month of vacation a year at least.
posted by yeloson at 10:42 AM on May 18, 2007


I forsee an uptick in drag night meetings at some restaurants...

The things men will do to save a few bucks is amazing.
posted by drstein at 10:55 AM on May 18, 2007


Anecdotal: My wife works in the financial services field, has a serious, old-school professional accreditation, has worked for the same company for over a decade, has worked her way up from "Peon, third class" to "Peon-Wrangler, First Class," and earns considerably more money than I ever have. Yet she has discovered more than once that she is paid less than some of her newly-hired, inexperienced, inept male peers and even subordinates.

Which doesn't prove that gender-based discrimination is the operating principle in this case, of course. But when people say that there is still a gender-wage-gap, I tend to believe it.
posted by Western Infidels at 10:58 AM on May 18, 2007


Are you in the US, Western Infidels? I thought that sort of blatant disparity was outlawed by the Equal Pay Act.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 11:09 AM on May 18, 2007


muddgirl: Notice that this list is all low-paying jobs. I'm so glad men have difficulty getting hired at minimum wage!
Perhaps dental hygienists and cocktail waitresses earn more than you realize. Not CEO wages, perhaps, but many times more than minimum wage.
posted by Western Infidels at 11:10 AM on May 18, 2007


I'll tell you who really gets discriminated against—the unemployed. You should see the average salary of those guys.
posted by designbot at 11:15 AM on May 18, 2007


hoverboards don't work on water: Are you in the US, Western Infidels? I thought that sort of blatant disparity was outlawed by the Equal Pay Act.
I am indeed. We haven't really discussed or investigated legal remedies. I'm a pretty timid person, and too much of that has rubbed off on her, if that makes any sense.
posted by Western Infidels at 11:19 AM on May 18, 2007


If an employer has to pay a man one dollar for the same work a woman would do for 59 cents, why would anyone hire a man?

That's a ridiculous argument. Compare: If a hamburger from McDonald's has 300 calories and costs $.89 and and a filet mignon has 300 calories and costs $3, why would anyone buy the steak?

Not that women are McDonald's hamburgers. The point is that the supposedly rational agents that this argument depends on are going to be making other value judgments besides simple cost. If there is a perception that women don't work as well/hard/long/whatever as men, then their work will be in less demand and therefore priced lower.

Put another way, it is only the activist who is saying that the woman is doing the "same work". In the eyes of the employer, they are doing 77% of the work.
posted by DU at 11:20 AM on May 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


If an employer has to pay a man one dollar for the same work a woman would do for 59 cents, why would anyone hire a man?

If a woman is only paid 59 cents to do the same work a man does for a dollar, why would any woman work?
posted by clearlynuts at 11:31 AM on May 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


International Women's Forum? Can we try some organization not devoted to putting wimmens back in the kitchen, please?

Instead I'd like to suggest this series about the gender wage gap myths and realities by economist echidne.
posted by emjaybee at 11:39 AM on May 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


women do the work that american men will not do. But cngress now wants to give them amnesty and make it possible for them to become ciitizens.
posted by Postroad at 11:43 AM on May 18, 2007 [4 favorites]


This is interesting stuff, thanks, CameraObscura.

I've frequently seen an additional reason given to explain part of the pay disparity - that women are more averse than men to confidently asserting their value to employers. The idea is that this translates into a pay disparity because men are more aggressive during initial salary negotiations and subsequent discussions of pay raises.

I have no idea if this is an accurate generalization, although my personal, entirely anecdotal experience suggests that there is some truth to the concept.
posted by lalex at 11:44 AM on May 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


Yet she has discovered more than once that she is paid less than some of her newly-hired, inexperienced, inept male peers and even subordinates.

disclaimer: I don't disagree with the idea of a wage gap. I do, in fact, think it exists.

However, when I was working in the software industry in the 1998-2005 timeframe, I had this exact situation happen to me. Newly-hired, inexperienced, and sometimes even inept peers and even subordinates were paid higher than me, and I'm a dude.

In that case it had to do with increasingly competitive salaries in the industry. I'm not saying your wife's case isn't discrimination, just that that can happen for different reasons. IIRC, it was happening at law firms and investment banks all over the place during that time period, too.
posted by gurple at 11:48 AM on May 18, 2007


Well, there's that thing where women's clothing is more expensive for more or less the same thing (applies to haircuts, too). So there are various hidden expenses that cost women on an economic basis as well, not just the wage thing. (I remember the battles over pay equity in the 70s very well-- industry and the business world generally fought it tooth and nail. Took lawsuits and strikes to get legislation passed barring sex discrimination, otherwise we'd still be living with it).
posted by jokeefe at 11:58 AM on May 18, 2007


Perhaps dental hygienists and cocktail waitresses earn more than you realize. Not CEO wages, perhaps, but many times more than minimum wage.posted by Western Infidels

Not to bash you over the head Western Infidels (especially in the light of your other comments here) but you could have picked a better comparison!

CEO wages are not remotely comparable with, say, those of a dental hygienist. The latter's rates, on the other hand, are not exactly a world removed from the minimum wage!

In fact, I thought the article's author was being weirdly sarcastic when he solemnly pointed out discrimmination against men... as nursey school teachers!
posted by Jody Tresidder at 12:02 PM on May 18, 2007


In fact, I thought the article's author was being weirdly sarcastic when he solemnly pointed out discrimmination against men... as nursey school teachers!

Yeah. There's a world of difference between being discriminated against because your gender is considered "not good enough" for a certain job, and being discriminated against because a certain job is considered "not good enough" for your gender. They both hurt for the discriminatee, but the societal intent behind them is very different.
posted by vorfeed at 12:18 PM on May 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


>Well, there's that thing where women's clothing is more expensive for more or less the same thing (applies to haircuts, too).


My gf's haircut is a quartly 90-minute ordeal involving lots of time and effort from a person more skilled than my barber. My haircut is a monthly quicky. At the end of the year I am certain I pay more. Thats 10-12 haircuts at $25 or more. Take my gf's 4 50 dollar haircuts and she pays less per year and less per minute of haircut. Although depending on various factors it could be that she pays more that given year, but its close. Its certainly not 2x or 3x or 4x.

I'm not expert on women's clothing but even a cursory glance shows that its much more complex and made of more exotic materials than men's clothing. No wonder it costs more. More time and labor to make them, market them, etc. Its not really a conspiracy. I would not call them basically the same thing. This little outfit from Target I have on is bottom of the barrel cheap, simple, and no woman would be caught dead in it.
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:19 PM on May 18, 2007


I once dated someone I worked with at a temp job. I had more experience than him & met him while I was training him & other people in the department how to use a computer program. He asked me to deposit his paycheck one day, and I was surprised to see that he was being paid $5 an hour more than me. I called the agency who had hired us and told them I was angry & wanted to know what the deal was. Rather than address my question, they promptly scolded me, saying, "You should not be talking about salaries with other employees." as though I had betrayed them.

So yeah, I know it does happen. It's one of the reasons I started working for myself. I tend to pay women more. But then again, I'm my only employee.
posted by miss lynnster at 12:23 PM on May 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


miss lynnster writes "Rather than address my question, they promptly scolded me, saying, 'You should not be talking about salaries with other employees.' as though I had betrayed them. "

FWIW, that's illegal in the state of California. State law prohibits an employer from denying an employee the right to discuss salary/wages with anyone.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:31 PM on May 18, 2007


And yes, being a woman is HELLA more expensive. Take my night job being a jazz singer for example. Your act depends on your image as much as your voice. Gotta have a fancy outfit & shoes. Can't wear the same one to each gig. Gotta have your nails done, can't have people see them looking gross. Gotta fix your hair, and half of the time people try to tell you that you should have a makeup artist to do your makeup. And people will not hesitate to dissect all of these details in length with you at your gigs, either. I've had people tell me all about how my dress wasn't right or I needed a flower in my hair or... my favorite... that I have a great voice & I could really be somebody if only I got a nosejob. Thing is... NONE OF THIS HAS TO DO WITH HOW WELL I SING.

Who wants to spend all of their gig money on manicures & outfits just for the gig? And meanwhile, I'll call my male instrumentalists about a gig & they always ask the same question, "Uhhhh. Do I have to wear a suit?" Cuz they all own ONE SUIT and yeah, okay, so they may have to bathe but that's about it for their stage-worthy maintenance regimine.

Lordy, just once I'd like to be able to say "Do I have to wear a suit" and have that be more than enough effort.
posted by miss lynnster at 12:36 PM on May 18, 2007


I know. That's why I threatened to file a complaint about them & made them pay me the same. And then a bit later I quit the job and never worked for them again.
posted by miss lynnster at 12:38 PM on May 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


miss lynnster writes "I know. That's why I threatened to file a complaint about them & made them pay me the same. And then a bit later I quit the job and never worked for them again."

Good deal. Not enough people will stand up for themselves in that sort of situation, if they even know their rights.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:39 PM on May 18, 2007


WesternInfidels, my impression of the financial industry is that people get the big pay jumps when they move to a new firm and that subsequent (non-bonus) salary increases occur in smaller increments. It's possible that the disparity between your wife's salary and those of the new hires has to do with the fact that she's been there for 10 years - it'd be interesting to know if the new female hires are paid less than their male counterparts.
posted by lalex at 12:45 PM on May 18, 2007


As muddgirl noted, there are a lot of social factors in North America that contribute to the gender differences in average earnings: for example, women often take part-time work in order to fulfill childcare and eldercare responsibilities; women are overrepresented in lower-paying job sectors (retail, clerical, child care) with little job security and poor/no benefits; women tend to be the ones who take time off to have/raise children, thus losing out on education, promotions and career advancement when compared to men who are less likely to be stay-at-home parents.

This is on top of sneaky employers like miss lynnster's temp agency who *actually* pay women less than men.

It's a lot less simple than women literally earning $.77 to the dollar. But in a way, it's more insidious, because the problems are systemic and harder to combat. They're part of the larger culture.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:53 PM on May 18, 2007 [3 favorites]




because if he's doing it intentionally he's sexist. chances are he only hires women because he feels he has to to avoid a discrimination suit.

Yet she has discovered more than once that she is paid less than some of her newly-hired, inexperienced, inept male peers and even subordinates.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there are an absolute ton of reasons something like this could happen. discrimination is certainly a possibility, but so is a rising rate of pay in the market. often, pay raises will be reflected more in the rate of newcomers who know what the market pays than it will in entrenched longtime employees who may not know the market well or may not feel that they have much opportunity to move on to a better paying competitor's office. if they don't have to give you a pay raise they won't, but if they can't grow their staff without paying more, then more is what they'll pay. additionally, this makes it even harder for a long time employee to get their raise without resorting to drastic measures because these new higher paid employees are depleting the yearly budget.

posted by shmegegge at 12:54 PM on May 18, 2007


Hmmm. I left my old job because one of my peers, who was less qualified than me, took the office that I deserved through seniority and was making more money than me. My new job gave me a huge raise, after which I was making way more than her, and I have on office.

Of course much of that is due to the old boss treating the women that flirted and played grabass with him very well.

My generalized caveat to the whole argument: There are hundreds of little intangible things that go into what you make at a certain job, and saying "less pay for the same work becuase you are a women" rarely is true in my experience and apparently others here.
posted by Big_B at 12:54 PM on May 18, 2007


ok, that comment was supposed to start off with the quote about "why would an employer pay a man when he can pay a woman less?" me and my bad html.
posted by shmegegge at 12:55 PM on May 18, 2007


shmegegge explained it much better than me, thanks!
posted by Big_B at 12:56 PM on May 18, 2007


There are hundreds of little intangible things that go into what you make at a certain job, and saying "less pay for the same work because you are a women" rarely is true in my experience and apparently others here.

The plural of "anecdote" is not "data".

It makes more sense to frame it as, "Less pay for the same work, because you are stereotypically seen by society as someone who will always value another minute of family/personal time over another dollar in pay."
posted by muddgirl at 1:04 PM on May 18, 2007 [4 favorites]


I would also point out that in the U.S. an employer never knows when a woman of child bearing age might just decide to get knocked up and force the family and medical leave act down his throat. Men are much less likely to pull this stunt. Believe me a manager of any gender will think of this if they interview a younger woman with a wedding, or even an engagement ring. "Do I want to train her, and then lose her when she decides to be a mommy?"
posted by Megafly at 1:11 PM on May 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


Jody Tresidder: CEO wages are not remotely comparable with, say, those of a dental hygienist. The latter's rates, on the other hand, are not exactly a world removed from the minimum wage!
I guess I'm just confusing things by bringing up CEOs. Sorry. I only meant that muddgirl's characterization of dental hygienists and cocktail waiters/tresses as "low-paying" and "minimum wage" may have been mistaken.

My employment arrangement has been tenuous and sporadic lately, and a dental hygienist's $25 to $50 an hour sounds pretty good to me right about now.
posted by Western Infidels at 1:19 PM on May 18, 2007


Well to be honest, I also think it's that a lot of women do not think about their value. They want to do a good job and keep plugging away and trying to make people happy without wanting to make waves. In my experience, they do that much more so than men anyhow.
posted by miss lynnster at 1:19 PM on May 18, 2007


How salaries are determined is extremely complex, pointing out a single incident as proof of or against a wage gap is as faulty as pointing out a hot or cold day as evidence of global warming. The larger studies are more credible, but it's almost impossible to accurately account for all the variables involved.

It's my experience that in the majority of corporate America, people are paid what they demand, not what they're worth. When hiring a candidate, a company needs to consider what they need to pay against what their peers will pay. If they offer below market value, they'll be rejected. For an existing employee, the company only cares about paying enough to keep the employee. Compentency isn't a factor, since obviously the company didn't think the person was inept when they offered them the position. When this happens, you'll often see people with the same position being paid drastically different amounts (regardless of sex).

Similiarly, I've seen companies where 99% of the promotions came about because the employee asked for it. Often, promotions came about because someone submitted their resume internally to HR for an open position above them. More than once I've seen jealous coworkers (who were too lazy to apply for the same position) complain about the move without fully understanding what occurred.

I don't deny that sex discrimination exists , but I don't believe it's as wide spread as some of the studies claim.
posted by Crash at 1:22 PM on May 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


And yes, being a woman is HELLA more expensive.

That's not inherently obvious. For instance, men are still largely expected to demonstrate their virility through wealth in order to obtain a woman in much of America. This plays out through the purchasing of fast and fancy cars or even just a car period in order to take a girl out. They are expected to be a capable handyman. They will be expected to purchase gifts/meals/paying for dates in order to woo a woman, often at younger ages the girlfriend moves in with the guy at largely his expense. After marriage, it still is expected that most guys become the provider. A guy could choose not to do these and numerous other cultural expectations, but as long as it remains largely the expectation of woman that a man will compete for her affections only a few rather crafty or manipulative men can get away with it.

A woman's extraneous cost in fashion is fairly unnecessary and vain. There's a huge banquet of nerdy or lonely men that would easily trade the social expectations of beauty for the affection they must fight for. Hygienic costs do seem higher for women. Plus a single mother has a much higher cost of living both in time and raw currency than most men.
posted by kigpig at 1:22 PM on May 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


My employment arrangement has been tenuous and sporadic lately, and a dental hygienist's $25 to $50 an hour sounds pretty good to me right about now.posted by Western Infidels

Point entirely taken, western infidels

It was only the CEO thing (and I'm sure as hell not sneering at that upper $50 an hour!!!)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 1:34 PM on May 18, 2007


I would also point out that in the U.S. an employer never knows when a woman of child bearing age might just decide to get knocked up and force the family and medical leave act down his throat. Men are much less likely to pull this stunt. Believe me a manager of any gender will think of this if they interview a younger woman with a wedding, or even an engagement ring. "Do I want to train her, and then lose her when she decides to be a mommy?"

What? You mean that three or four weeks of so-called maternity leave in America? Give me a break. Here, it's six months minimum. And not only that....

Wait a minute. You're having us on, right? Because nobody would really come on Mefi and seriously make that argument, would they? Oh, well played, sir. You really had me going there for a minute. Heh.
posted by jokeefe at 1:50 PM on May 18, 2007


For instance, men are still largely expected to demonstrate their virility through wealth in order to obtain a woman in much of America.

"Obtain a woman"? You know, I'd best just leave this thread to its own devices, or my head really will explode, and soon.
posted by jokeefe at 1:51 PM on May 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


There's a huge banquet of nerdy or lonely men

Mmmmm.... banquet.
posted by jokeefe at 1:52 PM on May 18, 2007


Women need to quit complaining about this alleged pay gap, because the WHO says they will live longer. ;-)

And Western Infidels - I have seen that happen. What pay rate would a woman hired into the same position get? Is it the same as the guys she sees being hired? It's common for that to happen.. newer employees are brought on at a higher pay rate, while those that have been there longer are paid less. Happens to both sexes.

Perhaps it's time for her to ask for a raise to something equal to that of the new hires?
posted by drstein at 2:07 PM on May 18, 2007


"Obtain a woman"? You know, I'd best just leave this thread to its own devices, or my head really will explode, and soon.

Coalesce a relationship? I think you're reading some implication of human possession that is actually just a product of having never been taught grammar in school and having spent much college life working when I wasn't taking science/engineering type courses. I would say exactly the same in reverse, i.e. a woman obtain a man.

Or are you angry because you believe monogamous relationships are a form of slavery and saw me suggesting only having one lover? In which case kudos to you.
posted by kigpig at 2:17 PM on May 18, 2007


Men may earn most of the money: what you have to ask, to understand what is going on, is which sex makes most of the spending decisons.
posted by Phanx at 2:27 PM on May 18, 2007


Yeah, "obtain" a woman got me too. We're talking about how much it costs to make a wage as a woman. My stated expenses were relevant to my profession as compared to those expenses necessary for men in the same profession. But in comparison, you went on about how much more expensive it is because a man needs money to obtain a woman and that her expenses are superficial and only to attract men or something? Totally irrelevant to the subject.

I was talking about professional expenses, not people thinking they need money to get laid by chicks.
posted by miss lynnster at 2:33 PM on May 18, 2007


is which sex makes most of the spending decisons.

Oh no you di'int. Boys love their toys as much as girls do. If you want to start getting into gender stereotypes, then lets talk about the wide screen TV my man just purchased.

After marriage, it still is expected that most guys become the provider. A guy could choose not to do these and numerous other cultural expectations, but as long as it remains largely the expectation of woman that a man will compete for her affections only a few rather crafty or manipulative men can get away with it.

Then join us, sir, in our fight to equalize gender relations. It turns out you're a feminist and you didn't even know it! (Most of us want to free men from the constricting gender roles ascribed by society, as well).

(BTW, I'm the wage earner in my household while my fiance gets his master's degree, so your argument frankly makes me lmao).
posted by muddgirl at 2:42 PM on May 18, 2007


what you have to ask, to understand what is going on, is which sex makes most of the spending decisons

Women are quite happy being in that position, so I doubt they want to discuss it.
posted by Potsy at 2:49 PM on May 18, 2007


Shoulda previewed. I was proven right already.
posted by Potsy at 2:50 PM on May 18, 2007


This is a coarse inference, but on a broad scale males still demonstrate less risk-aversion. They're more likely to gamble, commit suicide at greater rates, break the law more frequently, and take jobs with higher risk factors. Risk-friendliness may have a higher market value, but it also entails a far greater chance of dying early, at work, bankrupt, on foreign soil, or in a prison cell.

I run an internet startup on the east coast - a pale image of Silicon Valley, true - but still have the opportunity to network among founders and investors. With some exceptions, the people that are willing to become founders and CEOs are the same ones who are willing to subsist without health insurance, scrounge on food, travel, and living conditions, and sacrifice interpersonal relationships and personal development, all to chase high-risk, high-reward outcomes. These inherently volatile positions attract, most often, the very young and very male.

Far more often, I see women and older men working in the venture capital and investment firms that back startups from a comparatively safe and risk-averse position.
posted by kid ichorous at 3:13 PM on May 18, 2007


These inherently volatile positions attract, most often, the very young and very male.

Do you think this is a function of "nature" or "nurture"? Because seriously, that's what some of us are trying to combat.

Women are quite happy being in that position, so I doubt they want to discuss it.

I need to get the hell out of this thread before I do something risky. It wouldn't be "proper" for a fine lady like me to argue with such a strong and handsome gentleman like you. Oh lordy, protect my fragile being from such scandalous discussions!
posted by muddgirl at 3:28 PM on May 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


I couldn't say whether risk-aversion is burned in by nature or nurture, but as far as I know, it's pretty well established that, on the whole, men take more risks than women, hence the higher highs, and lower lows.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 3:49 PM on May 18, 2007


I was talking about professional expenses, not people thinking they need money to get laid by chicks.

I admit I read fast while at work and did not catch the above. However, I mentioned nothing about getting laid. I presumed that most humans desire affection and relations, a large chunk of whom it involves the other gender. I don't see where lonliness = horniness.

Then join us, sir, in our fight to equalize gender relations. It turns out you're a feminist and you didn't even know it! (Most of us want to free men from the constricting gender roles ascribed by society, as well).

(BTW, I'm the wage earner in my household while my fiance gets his master's degree, so your argument frankly makes me lmao).


that's great if you do. Of course, if you're husband is getting his masters' degree I imagine that you too are part of a narrow educated fraction of the population that may naturally rise above social codes. Unfortunately most people don't and each gender sets up constraints upon the others freedom in unfortunate ways.

And in fact I am on the side of equalizing gender roles. I don't disagree with the wage disparity even since I experience many men that in private fully don't respect women or view them patronizingly and would be willingly discriminatory. I also happen to think this is in large part because they have little choice but to compete to prove their worth to women to gain basic affections. And as a result resent them. Where I heavily diverge from feminism is I see this as a power women have to dictate the rules here. When what we loosely call love (which yes does involve sex though is not limited to it) is no longer viewed as an act of hostility or a reward to be given to the genetic successes, but something that should be afforded to anyone willing to contribute positively to their fellow humans...a basic human need and something we should establish as a right...then the gender discrimination begins to go away (this comports with the feminist view on sociology, no? i.e. people learn aggressive and other deleterious behaviors because of the society they experience them in. Or hell, pavlovian conditioning...if treating women right reaps the rewards, the majority of men will learn to treat women right).

Okay, I realize I diverged way off topic. I'm done.
posted by kigpig at 3:54 PM on May 18, 2007


Do you think this is a function of "nature" or "nurture"? Because seriously, that's what some of us are trying to combat.

Well, humans are primates, and primate males are more specialized towards risky and violent behavior.

I don't care for superficial gender roles, but there's a certain level at which attempts to forcibly set nature to "balance" are not only stepping on autonomy, they're treading on biology. Unless you doubt evolution and believe in a benevolent creationism, there's no reason to believe that humans must all be "fabricated" with equal tendencies for aggression and risk. We're willing to make these observations about arachnids, and even other primates, but there's a great taboo about extending this reasoning to our own species.

One good reason for this taboo is that such observations were used in the recent past to support government-sanctioned discrimination. However, I do not believe that preserving equal protection under the law requires that we retroactively try to torture out some kind of natural equalities. The fourteenth amendment needs no kind of natural groundings or proof from the sciences - it's a fiat from the people.
posted by kid ichorous at 3:59 PM on May 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


muddgirl: You saying you're unhappy controlling 80% of all spending decisions?
posted by Potsy at 4:05 PM on May 18, 2007


Men apparently feeling they need to spend money to find love has absolutely nothing to do with women making less an hour even when they are equally valid members of the workforce. So yeah, you did diverge a bit.
posted by miss lynnster at 4:13 PM on May 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't care for superficial gender roles, but there's a certain level at which attempts to forcibly set nature to "balance" are not only stepping on autonomy, they're treading on biology.

I don't care for diseases, but there's a certain level at which attempts to forcibly cure people of what may kill them is treading on natural selection.

...there's no reason to believe that humans must all be "fabricated" with equal tendencies for aggression and risk.

No, but I think we can recognize that a) the genetic variation between any two people is much greater than the genetic variation between the average man and the average woman, and b) when faced with a risky decision, different genders are socialized to weigh the costs and benefits differently.

I also happen to think this is in large part because they have little choice but to compete to prove their worth to women to gain basic affections.

There's two sides to that coin, sweetheart. If women were encouraged their entire lives to grow up and support themselves, support their children, and support their families (the way men are); if they're given positive role models to emulate, and not the trashy, codependent women that were so popular on TV in the 80s and 90s, then they won't feel like they have to "trap" rich men, or however you'd like to put it.

Furthermore, for every example you can find of a "gold-digger," I'll find you a middle-aged successful man who dumps his wife for a younger, more attractive woman. I'm gladly hopeful that I live in an age where women are encouraged to be as self-sufficient as men are.

Potsy: That article must be a joke. "Women purchase 51 per cent of all consumer electronics today. They also make almost 50 per cent of all business travel purchases." Well, 52% of people who buy things are women, so that makes sense, no? What do they mean by "influence?" How do they keep track of purchases made from a general fund controlled by couples? Where are they getting their statistics?

I would never argue with the fact that women have significant amounts of purchasing power. However, I do take issue with your tone implying that women are spending men's money. I'm backed up by your article, actually: "single women make up the second largest group of homebuyers (sic) after couples."
posted by muddgirl at 4:24 PM on May 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well, humans are primates, and primate males are more specialized towards risky and violent behavior.

You can't really extrapolate from the behaviour of certain groups of primates to create a model of human relations. The fact is that some individuals are more risk averse than others, and it isn't specifically tied to gender: the difference between individuals is greater than the difference between groups. Your average female mountain climber is likely more attuned towards risk than your average male database designer, for example.

Potsy, that 80% of all spending decisions-- the ability to choose one brand of dishsoap over another doesn't really correalate to economic equality, does it? Most women make spending decisions in the domestic context, don't they?

This whole defensive "women really hold the reins of power" argument is a bit tiresome. And men who feel downtrodden because they can't afford Hugh Hefner's thousand dollar a week "girlfriends" perhaps need to reorganize their priorities? (This is not a personal hit at anyone here, just a general observation.)
posted by jokeefe at 4:36 PM on May 18, 2007


Or, you know, what muddgirl said. Her analysis of that article is way better than mine (of course I could have actually read it before posting....)

And this:

I don't care for diseases, but there's a certain level at which attempts to forcibly cure people of what may kill them is treading on natural selection.

Cazart!
posted by jokeefe at 4:39 PM on May 18, 2007


You know, I'd like to take the "of course it's cause they take time off to have babies!" argument out back and shoot it with this: Pay gap starts within one year of leaving college but it does continue to get bigger.

By way of summary: yes there is such a thing as a pay gap; the severity and direction changes with the field (engineering firms like having women engineers on the payroll and are willing to pay a premium, medical offices are willing to pay a premium for a woman doctor); in many companies this is compounded by a tendency to promote males; although many women take time out of the workforce, that alone does not explain the discrepancy; I think almost all rational people will agree that if two people can do the same job with the same level of quality, they deserve to be paid the same regardless of their gender (or race for that matter).

True story. I was working while he was in school (I had already completed my degree). The person who was coming over to discuss "investment opportunities" turned out to be selling life insurance. That's not an investment because you have to die to collect, but not my point. She wanted to sell a policy for each of us, and even though I was at that point the sole breadwinner of the family, the policy she proposed was half the coverage his was. Never mind that if he died, I'd be ok financially but he'd be screwed. All the coverage he should have needed at that point was enough to pay off his student loans and bury him. Clearly the man must be worth twice as much because he's a man? Needless to say we didn't buy any insurance that day.
posted by ilsa at 4:43 PM on May 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


No, but I think we can recognize that a) the genetic variation between any two people is much greater than the genetic variation between the average man and the average woman

I don't grant that, at all, in fact.

You have 42 chromosomes, 1 of which is always an X chromosome, and one of which is either X or Y.

Women never have a Y chromosome, men always do - right there you're starting with a MASSIVE genetic difference, never mind standard variation between individuals. In fact, it turns out that the genetic difference between the average male and his female 'twin' is approximately the same as between the average male and his chimpanzee 'twin'.

This is not to suggest that women are inferior - rather the opposite, in fact, owing to the difficulty the Y chromosome has shedding genetic 'dead weight' - but I think you greatly underestimate the differences between the sexes.

I also think that most people place too little emphasis on the effect of hormones on the brain - they act as *global modifiers* on your neural network affecting not only your perception of events but also your memory of them and reactions to them. Males having almost universally higher levels of testosterone creates significant behavioral differences that are going to make them more attractive for some positions than others. If those positions happen to be ones that society values more highly, that's not really anybody's fault - it's just life.

Does discrimination exist? Sure. Are women probably moderately underpaid, on the whole? Absolutely.

Does it bother me that people conflate those two things with the rest of the above? More than you know.
posted by Ryvar at 4:57 PM on May 18, 2007


the difference between individuals is greater than the difference between groups. Your average female mountain climber is likely more attuned towards risk than your average male database designer, for example.

You're conflating genetic difference with neural configuration differences. The genetic difference between individuals is NOT in some cases greater than the difference between groups, and that fact has nothing to do with the difference in the *experiences* and resultant neural configurations of your example female mountain climber and DBA.
posted by Ryvar at 5:00 PM on May 18, 2007


I tremble before the manliness of the Y chromosone.

"If those positions happen to be ones that society values more highly, that's not really anybody's fault - it's just life completely culturally determined."

That's better.
posted by jokeefe at 5:02 PM on May 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


You're conflating genetic difference with neural configuration differences. The genetic difference between individuals is NOT in some cases greater than the difference between groups, and that fact has nothing to do with the difference in the *experiences* and resultant neural configurations of your example female mountain climber and DBA.

You know, I'm so giddy at the dual prospect of a long weekend AND getting a ride home today that I don't even understand what you mean by that comment.

But nevermind! I'm going to curtsey and leave the room now, giggling adorably and twisting a curl around my finger as I do so.
posted by jokeefe at 5:04 PM on May 18, 2007


"it's just life completely culturally determined."

The value of a position is not determined by culture, it is determined economics, which is governed by the amount of demand for a given service or product. So, again, it's just life.
posted by Ryvar at 5:08 PM on May 18, 2007


There's two sides to that coin, sweetheart. If women were encouraged their entire lives to grow up and support themselves, support their children, and support their families (the way men are); if they're given positive role models to emulate, and not the trashy, codependent women that were so popular on TV in the 80s and 90s, then they won't feel like they have to "trap" rich men, or however you'd like to put it.

Furthermore, for every example you can find of a "gold-digger," I'll find you a middle-aged successful man who dumps his wife for a younger, more attractive woman. I'm gladly hopeful that I live in an age where women are encouraged to be as self-sufficient as men are.


I assume when you say 'sweetheart' that you're trying to be hostile but I don't see where what you're saying disagrees with what I said outside of maybe the 'gold-digger' comment because that usually refers to a conscious effort to manipulate.

As to miss lynster, I pointed out that I quickly read your comment. I pieced together clothing + lounge singer and thought you were expanding the argument to include social costs of having to dress nice as a woman having missed the reference as a second job. Probably the reason I did is because I don't believe the costs are necessary through most employment but rather a product of the entertainment fields which are a fashion and dependent on expectations of beauty. But if you were working at say a uniformed job, a corporate job, etc...the costs would be relatively the same.

However, I do still believe that social economic costs, are a real form of currency that isn't accounted for in any earnings studies. For instance, many business owners have a sort of scratch each others back policy wherein they do favors, something which has a price tag on it, for each other. Even in minimum wage slave labor service, people 'hook their friends up' with deals. Similarly, the service which we receive is relative to our likability and connections as well as the tips received. I'm not positive when included in earnings which gender benefits from this more though it was in contrast to the dressing nice idea that I brought up that in turn there is a actualized earning potential past monetary even if not desired by the receiver. I'm confident it heavily favors the ruling class, whites, and beautiful people though. I focused on the romantic aspect of cost too much but this was the original intention of my post before derailment.
posted by kigpig at 5:15 PM on May 18, 2007


Women never have a Y chromosome, men always do.

Really?

I'd like to add that nothing pisses me off more than having to pay the rest of my earning life for baby making that I did not perpetrate. I also find that the group most reluctant to address ANY potential wage/employment disadvantages (due to race, class or gender) are those who have the most societal privilege.

If those positions happen to be ones that society values more highly, that's not really anybody's fault - it's just life.

Hormones, you say? I bet if I start juicing, I can get that sweet Sales Manager position I was aiming for!
posted by SassHat at 6:21 PM on May 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


I'm fairly sure my two female bosses make more money than me.

I'm also fairly certain that the female aviator in the Navy who was the same rank as me was making the exact same amount of money. But now that I think about it, she had a husband and a son - she was making more than me because she received a family separation allowance.
posted by matty at 7:00 PM on May 18, 2007


Sasshat: while it occurred to me that someone might bring up intersexed people, I didn't think - given the extreme rarity of it - that it was really germane to the topic at hand.
posted by Ryvar at 7:50 PM on May 18, 2007


muddgirl wrote: If you want to start getting into gender stereotypes, then lets talk about the wide screen TV my man just purchased.

And we can talk about the one I purchased only after my SO essentially told me we were buying it, when I just wanted to spend $700 on a camera, then decided she'd rather have a bigger one. We could also talk about how I have to get approval for any moderately large purchase I make, lest I be scolded, but if she wants to spend $2000 and have nothing to show for it, I'm the bad guy if I say something.

To her credit, approval is almost always forthcoming. ;)
posted by wierdo at 9:10 PM on May 18, 2007


I strongly STRONGLY dislike any argument that starts with "women are like [x]" or "men are like [y]" or basically anything that tries to explain that a statistical observation of societal tendencies proves anything. it is part of what perpetuates gender and sexual stereotyping on both sides.

here's the deal: part of living in a tolerant culture is ignoring what the cultural tendency leans toward, and recognizing that anything resembling equality starts with the simple standpoint that any individual has the right to deviate from the accepted norms (within legal bounds) if he or she is most comfortable doing so. So if a woman says she wants to earn the same as a similarly qualified man in the same position, it doesn't matter if her husband buys all her dinners for her. Similarly, if a man doesn't want the personal burden of being labeled a "bread winner" it shouldn't matter how much he makes at work. You should not have to live your personal life to fit someone else's ideals in order to be treated the way you'd like. How we live our personal lives is between us and the people we personally interact with. How we live our professional lives is between us and our coworkers/clients/patients/employers/etc... If I want to feel like an accomplished partner based on doing things like buying my girlfriend dinner or opening doors for her, that's between me and her. It should bear no impact on my salary or hers. So arguments that imply that some measure of statistically predictable control over spending money for one or the other gender somehow justifies anything drives me up the fucking wall.

no, i am not trying to draw attention to any particular comment. if a comment here seems directly addressed by my comment, that's a coincidence because I'm responding to a general impression I've gotten from some of what I've read in here. also, I'm not just talking about what guys are saying, or what girls are saying. I hate any and all arguments that start with "yeah, well you get blah so quit complaining."
posted by shmegegge at 10:45 PM on May 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


miss lynnster-

So you have obviously quit your job as a singer and went as an instrumentalist, right? ‘Cuz no man fronting a band has the same image concerns beyond how they sing.

muddgirl-

I don't care for superficial gender roles, but there's a certain level at which attempts to forcibly set nature to "balance" are not only stepping on autonomy, they're treading on biology.

I don't care for diseases, but there's a certain level at which attempts to forcibly cure people of what may kill them is treading on natural selection.


Yeah, because superficial gender roles and disease are equivalent.

Unless you were mentioning instances were treating a person without a reasonable increase in quality of life might lead to a drug resistant strain of the disease, but I doubt one of the thornier issues in bioethics was really your point.

(BTW, I'm the wage earner in my household while my fiance gets his master's degree, so your argument frankly makes me lmao).

The plural of "anecdote" is not "data".


Further, show me an equivalent instance of a male gold-digger for every female, and you might have a point. As it is, at least women do have the option to become more self-sufficent and not reliant on men. There really isn’t a proactive stance a man can take with relation to kigpig’s point.


I'd be curious how the supposed pay differences scale with relation to gender and race and age, but that wouldn't make as sexy of a headline.
posted by quintessencesluglord at 10:56 PM on May 18, 2007


Initial salary negotiation determines your salary, often for your entire career at a given company. Being aggressive in negotiation gives you an advantage. Being tall gives you an advantage (up to 10%?), and being slightly overweight gives you an advantage. I'd assume that the first two traits at least favor men on average. That's not to say that cultural prejudices specifically against the female gender don't factor into the argument, and I'd like to say such prejudices are confined to a small (male) segment of the populace. However, I've heard women flatly state that they would pay men more in the legal profession, and I'm sure it applies to other professions as well. The AMA supposedly did not want to allow female doctors specifically because they feared a decrease in the salary and value of their profession. This is definitely something that is going to take a long time to fix, if ever.

Megafly's point, while perhaps phrased a bit atavistically, is an accurate representation of how a manager is likely to react to a maternity leave situation. They'll comply with the law, maybe even support the law (and their employee), but they aren't going to be happy about it. I suspect they'd probably react just as badly to men taking FMLA leave, but biology doesn't compel men to take a pregnancy related leave. That is unfair, but I don't know how to craft a social policy to fix it.

The other issue I see affecting women's salaries, is that two of the most female dominated professions, teaching and nursing, require collective bargaining agreements, but are usually not willing or able to strike.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:15 PM on May 18, 2007


jokeefe:

"If those positions happen to be ones that society values more highly, that's not really anybody's fault - it's just life completely culturally determined."

Why is it so unlikely that men and women may have some innate behavioral and cognitive differences, just as we have physical ones? Before you ask, I don't have any proof that these kinds of genetic differences exist. In the case of gender, it's pretty hard to design a study that can control for either nature or nurture, so this question won't be answered definitively anytime soon.

My opinion on the matter is that gender differences are attributable to a healthy mix of both nature and nurture. I'm not going to say "50/50", because I don't know, but they are both well-represented. I like to think that this is obvious, but I'm surprised by how many people fall squarely to either side.

muddgirl:

No, but I think we can recognize that a) the genetic variation between any two people is much greater than the genetic variation between the average man and the average woman, and b) when faced with a risky decision, different genders are socialized to weigh the costs and benefits differently.

OK, first (a). What is the average man or woman? What's a pretty weird concept when you're talking about genetics. And as for "genetic variation", you're losing sight of the forest for the trees. My nose may be very differently shaped from some other guy's nose, but women are able to make babies come out of their vaginas! Hey, I don't have a vagina! Right off that bat, I think that's a huge genetic difference. Not all genes are of equal importance.

So excepting that pesky physical stuff, men and women are very similar? Well, look at it this way: Genetically speaking, they're all physical traits. Considering that evolution relies very much of reproduction, it's hard to compartmentalize. Everything relates to reproduction. When you radically vary the mechanics of reproduction, you often create an evolutionary incentive to vary behavior.

A simple example is the fact that children represent a much larger investment on the part of the mother than the father simply as a virtue of the physical process. Aside from the obvious limits it places on a pregnant woman's activities, perhaps the greatest is that she can't get pregnant when she's already pregnant!

And let's not brush aside all those "inconveniences". In our hunter-gatherer days, i.e. the majority of our evolutionary history, the nutritional commitment and difficulty traveling were real issues. Death of the mother and/or child during child birth has been (and continues to be, in many parts of the world) a real danger, owing to our species' uncanny intelligence.

Suffice to say, men are not nearly so constrained by the mechanics of reproduction. This is a simple and obvious explanation for the commonly observed fact that men are far less choosy about sexual partners than women, on average.

And now for (b). Yes, I agree that genders are socialized to respond differently to risk. The same goes for promiscuity, despite the example I just gave. Like I said before, nature AND nurture.

It gets a bit more complicated than that, though. There's no reason to assume that the distribution of nature and nurture is the same throughout all our various differences. In fact, they may even be in opposition for some traits, or wholely determined by one or the other.

But here's a funny perspective: I think it is our nature to nurture our nature. In other words, I think it is common to see some traits for which men and women have different genetic tendencies. Society in turn will exaggerate these differences. But this tendency itself may be in our nature. Which is not even to say that is a good thing!

I would also like to say that I don't have an ax to grind or a bone to pick, and mean no offense to anyone here. This is just my opinion on the matter, and I've tried to stay clear of agendas other than understanding what's going on. I understand that women are going to feel touchy about this because when issues of "nature vs. nurture" come up, the unspoken assumption is that we're talking about whether the genders are equal or men are superior. In my opinion, this is a really facile approach that paves over the rich differences that we can all profit from, so long as we maintain mutual respect. I like to think of men and women as apples and oranges when it comes to the question of which is "better".
posted by Edgewise at 12:42 AM on May 19, 2007


I don't care for diseases, but there's a certain level at which attempts to forcibly cure people of what may kill them is treading on natural selection.

I know you typed this ironically, but it's partially true, and not because of natural selection. "Forcing" a cure, for anything, on anyone, is a gross violation of personal autonomy. Just because you happen to think that you know better, and that you know how to make other people *better,* doesn't give you the right to impose change upon anyone, no matter how you analogize their behavior to "disease."

Do you think this is a function of "nature" or "nurture"? Because seriously, that's what some of us are trying to combat.

If you sincerely want to combat it, it would be easier to see it as an entirely mutable product of social conditioning, wouldn't it? This would make your goal not only feasible, but positively righteous, because you're just disabusing people from cultural "brainwashing," right? A very noble and romantic idea, but also a dangerous one, one shared with the conservative crusaders who think that gay people can and should somehow be "fixed."
posted by kid ichorous at 12:55 AM on May 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


But nevermind! I'm going to curtsey and leave the room now, giggling adorably and twisting a curl around my finger as I do so.

And you can do much better than that. Ryvar's rebuttal did not seem like an ad-hominem, nor misogyny, and it's not fair to ignore what he actually said and to pretend otherwise.
posted by kid ichorous at 1:00 AM on May 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Edgewise: As I've said before here, it's not that we're not willing to admit that "men and women may have some innate behavioral and cognitive differences, just as we have physical ones." Rather, because of the fact that there are non-innate differences, differences caused by culture and society, we think it's currently damn near impossible to tell what purportedly biological differences are real. Gender programming begins very, very early - think about the first question people ask after the birth of a baby, the ways people make sure the gender of their babies and young kids are obvious, the prejudices people have with regards to what toys or subjects a kid of a given gender will like, etc. And then extrapolate: how does this treatment affect attitudes as we grow up? There have been any number of experiments that indicate that men and women with equal qualifications are treated differently. Here, have some data. There's a lot more where that came from, not to mention studies comparing genders across cultures. [Why, for example, do Icelandic girls not lag behind their male counterparts in math?] Basically, when you take a look at all the research, it's pretty damn obvious that sex discrimination does exist, although these days it's mostly unconscious.

So sure, any decent scientist will admit there might be biological differences that'll persist even after all other factors have been removed. But we're obviously not to the point yet where we've eradicated sexism and all the social/cultural differences that are rooted in things other than biology and natural inclinations. Culture is a pretty huge confounding variable, and so the real meaning of studies talking about female facility with words or male mental manipulation of 3D objects is somewhat unclear. Unfortunately, emphasizing the "oh, but sex differences are natural" thing at this point serves primarily to convince people that they don't need to struggle for any further equality, because this is as good as it's going to get. People like you tend to overemphasize these possible [and not solidly proven] biological differences over the [very real] differences brought on by discrimination, and that encourages complacence and derision towards those of us who're actively trying to make a difference. And really, speaking as someone who wants to make sure that capable women and men have equal chances at doing the things they want to do, that's really not OK.
posted by ubersturm at 1:19 AM on May 19, 2007 [4 favorites]


ubersturm, I would agree with almost everything you said. I would take it a step further, and go so far as to say that culture and genetics will probably never be untangled until technology makes them synonymous.

However, I never meant to suggest that nature is innately "good", and that we cannot struggle against it. In fact, I tried to imply that what is natural is not necessarily good. To elaborate, our environment has changed so quickly that many of our ancient instincts are not well adapted to the world we've created.

And yet...I don't expect there to ever be a level playing field. It's really easy for me to say that as a straight white male, to shrug my shoulders and say "well SOMEBODY'S gotta come out on top". I'll cop to that. My preference is for a level playing field, but I don't think human nature makes that possible. And by human nature, I don't mean the just capabilities by which we are judged, but also the prejudices of those doing the judging. This is not an excuse for complacence, but simply an understanding of reality (as I see it). We can strive for perfection without expecting it.

I've often wondered why domestic roles are given such short shrift. Which came first, disrespect for women or disrespect for domesticity? Which drove the other? I mean, work is work, and rearing children could be as challenging and varied work as anything I do with computers. Sometimes it's dull and annoying, but so is my job.

One factor to the lack of respect given to domestic roles is the inherent financial dependence. I don't know if there's a good solution for this part of it. But besides that (and yes, I know that's big), I feel that the underlying problem which needs to be addressed more than giving everyone the same options is giving domestic roles and women in general their due respect.

I don't feel the urge to be a homemaker (quite the contrary), but I assume this is largely socialized. Or is it all about the money? I can understand this; if a woman devotes herself to homemaking in this day and age, she is especially vulnerable in the case of divorce due to a lack of marketable skills. Income equals options, and thus freedom.

In addition, while I think there are certain tendencies towards differences, I'm all for variation and nontraditional lifestyles. If it doesn't suit her, I don't think a woman should have to be a homemaker, and should be judged professionally according to her work. Well, according to the arguments made by the original post, this is nearly the case. I suspect things are not quite so unprejudiced as they claim, but certainly they are correct that you can attribute a lot of the gap to behavioral differences.

Now comes the argument that these behaviors are a product of socialization. Well, I agree with that, but I think women have to be careful about where they point their fingers. They may be used to feeling discriminated against by men, but I think women are even more guilty of defining women's roles (in this day and age) than men. And women have a lot to do with defining manhood, too. I can speak to that on a personal level, starting with my mother and continuing through all the women I've wanted to impress. In light of my own experiences, I can say that statements like this miss the mark:

Men apparently feeling they need to spend money to find love has absolutely nothing to do with women making less an hour even when they are equally valid members of the workforce. So yeah, you did diverge a bit.

This "apparent" feeling has to do with the courtship hoops that women expect men to jump through (part nature, part nurture...yes, yes). Sex and reproduction are probably as important to us as money and professional achievement. In fact, they are inextricably bound. The quoted statement reflects a lack of understanding of what makes men tick, and a trivialization of the importance of reproduction to a living organism. So even though kigpig admits to diverging, I disagree with you both.
posted by Edgewise at 2:31 AM on May 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


One more thing...

...women making less an hour even when they are equally valid members of the workforce.

No disrespect, but in pure economic terms, the point of the original post is that (in nicer terms) women are not equally productive members of the workforce. I don't like the word validity here, because that's implying a broader judgment about the person's worth. Thankfully, nobody seems to be making any such claim.
posted by Edgewise at 2:37 AM on May 19, 2007


If you sincerely want to combat it, it would be easier to see it as an entirely mutable product of social conditioning, wouldn't it? This would make your goal not only feasible, but positively righteous, because you're just disabusing people from cultural "brainwashing," right? A very noble and romantic idea, but also a dangerous one, one shared with the conservative crusaders who think that gay people can and should somehow be "fixed."

In general, I agree with you, except I would point out that we know a lot more about what aspects of homosexuality are fixed (i.e. sexual preference) than gender. I suspect that gender, being vaster than sexuality, is more socially flexible. Well, some people conflate the two, but that's another topic. But back to agreeing with you, I think there's only so far you can fight human nature before you lose, so there is a breaking point.
posted by Edgewise at 2:43 AM on May 19, 2007


ubersturm, I looked at those articles you linked to. Two links didn't work, and the first one was basically incomprehensible to me. The fourth one, which tries to distinguish between gender biases and gender trait biases, while quite interesting, strikes me as hopeless. You can't compare a masculine woman to a man and assume they only differ significantly in terms of gender. There's a lot more going on than is easily quantifiable, just as a feminine man is nothing like an actual woman.

Note that by "looked at" I don't mean "read". Those are some long articles! However, I do appreciate you injecting some hard data into the discussion, even if I do come off as dismissive of this particular study.
posted by Edgewise at 3:00 AM on May 19, 2007


I'm amazed no one has pointed out a central game played by employers to dispute any wage gap. The idea is NOT "same pay for the same job"-- it's the same pay for the same WORK. Employers will often mess around with job titles-- calling a women an "executive assistant" and a man performing the identical duties a "manager." Then they can go to their published pay scales and say "see- ALL managers are on the same scale, and executive assistants all on the same scale" (And oh look at that-- 80% of the managers are men and 80% of the EAs are women. Well, the women must want the flexibility the position gives them.) You can play this game even with seemingly vastly different jobs (for instance, waitress and construction worker-- arbitrarily assigning the higher risk of construction work a greater value than the significant customer service needs of waiting tables. And before anyone says that risking your life should be more valuable, let me point out that I believe I have read that the most common construction job held by women--flagger--is also the most risky, and yet the lowest paid.)

I think one of the best comments here was an early one-- If a woman only makes 59c for every $1 a man makes, why would any woman work. It's a vicious circle. I make less money than my husband, so if one of us has to quit to raise the kid, obviously it's going to be me. Simple economics indeed.
posted by nax at 7:12 AM on May 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Same pay for the same work.
Nothing complex here that requires expounding upon nature/nurture arguments.
When anyone works for equal treatment, everyone wins.
Don't buy the arguments of "the great invisible hand."
posted by nofundy at 8:39 AM on May 19, 2007


calling a women an "executive assistant" and a man performing the identical duties a "manager."

When I worked at Kodak, a notably huge company at the time and under a lot of pressure to create equality in the workplace they came up with a similar plan but the opposite result. See, Kodak like the car plants of Detroit, had a lot of lifers there. As was typical from their generation, the engineering was dominated by men and the secretarial or HR type of positions dominated by women. This caused a large pay gap. As a result they implemented a policy where they renamed the secretaries, "executive assistant" and raised most of their pay up to scale with the engineers.
posted by kigpig at 9:26 AM on May 19, 2007


I'm bowing out of this thread, since shmegegge said what I've been trying to say, backwards, and in heels. First, I'll apologize for implying that dental hygenists and cocktail waitresses make minimum wage.
posted by muddgirl at 9:42 AM on May 19, 2007


Edgewise: Sorry, the JSTOR articles might not be visible unless you're at an institution with subscriptions - forgot about that. The key's to look at the conclusions - for example, in the last one [the masculine/feminine woman one], they said that in the end, what they saw was discrimination on the basis of gender, not traits [supporting all the other similar studies where resumes with identical info but male/female names were evaluated.] It's important to remember that we're just talking about resumes with lists of identical qualifications here, not comparing real-life people, and that in these sort of experiments, as little as possible differs between the male and female resumes beyond the name. Also, I linked to those studies because they all had pretty extensive introductions that had citations of a lot of other related studies - the point being that discrimination purely on the basis of gender has been observed in research many times, and in many ways.

Regarding socialization: of course women are involved in socialization! They grow up hearing the same sorts of ideas about gender as guys, so really, it's no surprise that they're at least as involved in passing on those same ideas and prejudices to the next generation! [I'm too lazy to find the study right now, but there was yet another variation on the identical-but-gendered-resumes study where the reactions of female or male evaluators were also measured, and the women very definitely also had a bias towards the resume with the male name.] Saying that socialization's a problem isn't a way to blame it all on men. Rather, it's a way to say that most of us probably have some unexamined prejudices related to gender, and that we need to watch out for them.

Again, we may never hit a "level playing field." But too often, people hear those sort of sentiments and say "well, fine then, this is as close as we're going to get, we'll stop here." It becomes an excuse to cop out and to explain away the remaining [very real] discrimination and sexism and natural and inevitable. And that's the problem, because I really don't think we've hit the point where "striving for perfection" is pointless yet. There's still a lot that we can - and should! - do. We aren't helpless in the the face of nature and society, and if we value the ideal of making things as fair as humanly possible, we've got our work cut out for us.
posted by ubersturm at 10:35 AM on May 19, 2007 [3 favorites]


A lot of it can be traced to starting salaries, since raises are generally a percentage of current salary. If she negotiates 33K right out of college and he negotiates 35K, it doesn't seem like a big difference. But 10 years worth of 5% raises later, the gap is pretty significant.
posted by selfmedicating at 11:13 AM on May 19, 2007


Whaaaaa? LOUNGE SINGER!!???????? LOUNGE SINGER!!!!!!!!!!???????

Ohhhhh no you di'nt.

Just to clarify... I am a jazz singer. If you do not know how that is any different, let me explain with examples. These are jazz singers. THESE are lounge singers. The difference should seem somewhat clear upon viewing.

With all due respect to the infamous Marty & Elayne, who happen to be the first people I sang with on a drunken dare & I owe 'em for that support.
posted by miss lynnster at 12:40 PM on May 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


So you have obviously quit your job as a singer and went as an instrumentalist, right? ‘Cuz no man fronting a band has the same image concerns beyond how they sing.

Honey, if I was an instrumentalist there would still be higher expectations of my appearance as a female onstage, it would only be any less due to the fact that I could hide behind an instrument out of view. Since people couldn't see my hands holding a microphone I might not have to get my nails done & if I was hidden behind a piano I might be able to get away with some laziness without people noticing.

Trust me, my male singing compadres still have their ONE SUIT. If that. The other night I went to a friend's gig to watch her stand in a fancy dress doing duets with a guy who looked like he just got out of bed. And y'know what? Nobody commented on his lame ass appearance, but I heard someone at the table next to me say that they wish she'd fixed her hair better. She sang a million times better than the guy did, but that's what they chose to talk about. And the man looked like he was headed for a freaking sports bar, which was totally inappropriate stage attire.

SO FREAKING ANNOYING. GRRRR.
posted by miss lynnster at 1:06 PM on May 19, 2007


Again, we may never hit a "level playing field." [...] There's still a lot that we can - and should! - do. We aren't helpless in the the face of nature and society, and if we value the ideal of making things as fair as humanly possible, we've got our work cut out for us.

So, let me pose an example where there should be minimal mingling of nature and nurture. Let's think about the expected outcomes for a child raised in South Carolina versus Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Let's suppose that, judging by standardized test scores and average incomes, there is a wider achievement gap between states than between genders in the same state. We could probably bear this out with a day's research, but for the sake of argument let's make this an axiom.

So, John Doe from South Carolina is less likely to take the SAT than Jane from Cambridge; if he does, his scores in math and reading will most likely be lower. Jane is more likely to go to a top-tier school, and needn't look beyond her own backyard to find one. Beyond college, some of the nation's most prestigious law firms, hospitals, and research are there too.

So, how do we make things fair between Jane and John? Some ideas:

1. Should schools in Cambridge, MA be forced by the federal government to accept higher quotas of students from South Carolina?

2. Should law firms in Cambridge, MA be forced to accept more applicants from South Carolina? Should Jane "lose her spot" to John, proverbially speaking, because of her geographic privilege?

3. Should the federal government take money from Cambridge, MA and re-direct it to schools in South Carolina?

4. How would you rectify John's decision to forgo law school and to join the military? He's been pressured to do so by his immediate culture, lack of educational opportunity, and inferior economic prospects, but how do you change his mind?

If you want to make things as fair as possible, suppose that the disparities that resulted from geography and region of birth exceeded those of gender and race. How would you plan to resolve them? Would it the job of the federal government to make sure that every state performs on par with every other?
posted by kid ichorous at 4:02 PM on May 19, 2007


Kid Ichorous, where your argument breaks down is that a lot of families who want their children to succeed will move to where they can get the best educational resources, although I suppose the argument could be made that gender reassignment surgery could be an opportunity for women to achieve equitable pay.

Miss Lynster, Thanks for the jazz singer links. I had a lesbian acquaintance who lived in Chicago who wore slacks and subdued makeup to job interviews, and constantly got the message that her appearance wasn't 'professional' enough. Her appearance was definitely above the average standards for a man in her trade however.
posted by BrotherCaine at 7:08 PM on May 19, 2007


Kid Ichorous, where your argument breaks down is that a lot of families who want their children to succeed will move to where they can get the best educational resources, although I suppose the argument could be made that gender reassignment surgery could be an opportunity for women to achieve equitable pay.

BrotherCaine, putting aside the fact that adults already raised in a trailer park will not benefit from Cambridge's public schools or colleges, do you really think that most families from South Carolina can just uproot and move into Cambridge or Boston, MA, and afford the third highest rent in the country? Isn't this a bit like telling Mexican citizens that their domestic economic and educational problems are of no concern, since they always have the option of jumping the border?
posted by kid ichorous at 4:02 AM on May 20, 2007


There are intermediate steps between trailer park and Boston. My parents repeatedly found good schools for my sister and I on what was (at that time) a lower middle class income. I'll accept your point that poverty and geography drastically limit people's ability to move up the class hierarchy, but they limit women's ability as much or more than men's ability on top of an existing cultural gap. Anyway, I'm too tired to articulate my point, so I'll come back Monday.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:18 AM on May 20, 2007


OMG the stupid is thick like tar in this thread (almost said ichor, but didn't mean it like that).

I'm staying out, lest my temper get the best of me, aside from this snark:

"Never mind that if he died, I'd be ok financially but he'd be screwed."

Screwed or not (your fetishes are your problem), I have a feeling that if he died, his ledger would be forever in the black.
posted by klangklangston at 10:45 AM on May 20, 2007


« Older ericlovesshrek@timanderic.com   |   the sound of two machines talking Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post