One Weird Trick for Keeping Female Employees From Quitting
March 20, 2016 5:17 PM   Subscribe

Pay Women More! A new global study of women in their 30s found they don’t leave jobs because they’re worried about family obligations. They leave because employers won't pay and promote them. “Surprisingly,” reads the report, “young women identified finding a higher paying job, a lack of learning and development, and a shortage of interesting and meaningful work as the primary reasons why they may leave.”

The reason the work authors use the word "surprisingly" is because it's clear that managers are out of touch with what motivates female millenials. From the HBR coverage linked below:

Leaders believe that the majority of women around the age of 30 leave because they are struggling to balance work and life or planning to have children, whereas men leave because of compensation. However, according to women themselves (and in sharp contrast to the perceptions of their leaders), the primary factor influencing their decision to leave their organizations is pay. In fact, women are actually more likely to leave because of compensation than men.

Additional coverage of the ICEDR study at HBR, Forbes, and Fast Company.
posted by frumiousb (52 comments total) 53 users marked this as a favorite
 
Well, if this is interpreted any way I've ever seen management interpret any sort of survey or study.... Since management will likely find the cost of increasing workers pay for any reason incongruous with proffit, they'll take this study and decide it is easier to change womens' biology instead - or at least trying to do so is cheaper lip service to the study.
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:37 PM on March 20, 2016


If your primary concern is enabling mothers to stay in the workforce, paying women more money solves that problem, too

YES, THIS. I work full-time because my job is reasonably interesting and pays enough to cover childcare expenses. At any of my previous jobs, I would have left without a second thought.

I also work because I'm terrified of what might happen if I attempt to re-enter the workforce after three or four years of stay-at-home parenting, but that's a slightly different subject.
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:49 PM on March 20, 2016 [15 favorites]


It's funny how far companies will go to improve employee retention in ways that don't involve paying more. Someone at my job was complaining that everyone was leaving in 1-2 years and was blaming it on the rural town that the lab was based in. I was just thinking "You know, some people like living in places like that, and they're all transferring to other labs in that same area. Maybe you just don't pay them enough."
posted by Mitrovarr at 5:51 PM on March 20, 2016 [28 favorites]


I would actually say that thought out loud next time, Mitrovarr. If it doesn't occur to employers that this is an issue, they'll keep losing employees and things will never change.
posted by Jubey at 5:55 PM on March 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's funny how far companies will go to improve employee retention in ways that don't involve paying more.

I once heard it said that management is the art of getting the benefits of paying employees what they're worth without actually doing so.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:55 PM on March 20, 2016 [35 favorites]


This is an interesting counterpoint to the article this weekend about how women entering a field causes salaries to drop. We collectively seem so determined to pay women less that low retention is just one cost along the way.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:56 PM on March 20, 2016 [48 favorites]


Jubey: I would actually say that thought out loud next time, Mitrovarr. If it doesn't occur to employers that this is an issue, they'll keep losing employees and things will never change.

I think I did mention something along those lines. I am cautious, though, because my long-term goals at this job are more to get experience and as good a recommendation as possible, so I can move into something else someday. Ironically, it's mostly because they don't pay me enough.
posted by Mitrovarr at 6:03 PM on March 20, 2016 [7 favorites]


Aw, isn't that cute? Women think they're people too, and want to be paid and promoted as such.

Would would have thunk?
posted by [insert clever name here] at 6:05 PM on March 20, 2016 [11 favorites]


It's funny how far companies will go to improve employee retention in ways that don't involve paying more. Someone at my job was complaining that everyone was leaving in 1-2 years and was blaming it on the rural town that the lab was based in. I was just thinking "You know, some people like living in places like that, and they're all transferring to other labs in that same area. Maybe you just don't pay them enough."

Sounds so familiar. Rural area here as well. Last week our CEO and another manger were in our part of the office lamenting (and ranting a bit) about losing yet another employee in a time where we are extremely understaffed because we're going through a big growth spurt as well as the lack of applications to our job postings. As well as the ones we do get are lacking in quality. We sat there and listened as the CEO disparaged 'the people in the area' blah blah. We just sat at our desks and silently shook our heads. No concept whatsoever that the main factor is extremely low pay. Like your asking people to do a physical labor type job at minimum wage for gosh sake with the added factor that there is absolutely no mechisnism for that pay to even increase over time. The cluelessness is astounding at times. There are a lot of minimum wage type jobs around here that are much easier.

I get paid more then minimum for what I do but it isn't even close to an industry standard. I'm there primarily for experience at this point because when I took the job I was in a situation of desperation for a type of job that could get me back into the workforce after a few years absence and as well as in field I want to pursue. It's been a couple of years and I've got some good stuff for a resume which is why I'm now going into full on look for something else mode. Granted there are some pretty bad management issues that make me want to leave as well but pay is a primary factor. The BS I have to deal with versus pay ratio just won't work long term.

I'm hopeful about finding something else close by but since it's rural there's only a couple of other good places. If those don't pan out I'll go farther afield which is fine because even what would be considered a low wage for the work would be much more then this place pays.
posted by Jalliah at 6:15 PM on March 20, 2016 [7 favorites]


I think the hard thing for managers is that pay isn't something which will necessarily make people stay, but it is something which will make people leave. And they (we) confuse the two. In any given job, there is a magic threshold where you might not be paid the best in your job class, but you're paid enough to feel satisfied. Then other factors like training and flexibility kick in. Too many folks think that they only need to supply the attractors and not meet the salary threshold (wishful thinking).
posted by frumiousb at 6:23 PM on March 20, 2016 [15 favorites]


If your primary concern is enabling mothers to stay in the workforce

Is that anybody's, though? Primary concern? I mean, as far as I can tell, "retaining women" and "increasing diversity" are tertiary concerns, to be served inasmuch as they don't impact the bottom line. So like, sure, we'll launch a working group! Pay people more, though, that sounds like it costs money.
posted by Diablevert at 6:27 PM on March 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


This is an interesting counterpoint to the article this weekend about how women entering a field causes salaries to drop. We collectively seem so determined to pay women less that low retention is just one cost along the way.

Was that linked on Metafilter? My gut feeling would be that if you have twice the pool of candidates the average salary will drop, but I assume the article addresses that.
posted by Justinian at 6:27 PM on March 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


I wholeheartedly agree with the report. However, I think "Surprise #2" at the beginning is central, and while I agree that as in all generations, millenial women are not always treated equally to men, I think many of these issues hit at all millenials regardless of gender.

Millenials are entering the workforce with a good deal more education than preceding generations. They're also carrying far more student debt. And there is no denying that they were the generation hit hardest by the recession.

They are dealing with a boomer generation that is often less educated and that is often far less technologically capable. A boomer generation that is very fond of promotion by age/tenure, not promotion on the basis of merit or skill or education.

For many millenials, the default is to take on a new role's responsibilities sans compensation, and to do them for years before finally receiving a seemingly reluctant promotion from an employer, no matter how capable or talented or accomplished one might be. I have experienced this twice already personally. I know several contemporaries who have experienced the same.

The era of the "unpaid internship," or the "unpaid promotion."

It is a common millennial experience to be treated as a raw expendable resource to meet some work goal... not as an apprentice who wants to learn and develop skills, or as someone who can bring education and career ambition to the table.

For so many millenials, the only way up is to job-hop. To constantly have to scrap your way upward. The dream of working one's whole life with a company and receiving a generous pension or reward is just that... a pipe dream to us. Most of us expect to work and job-hop until we are in our 80s.

By all means, pay millenial females equally. Let's focus on sexism here, too. But there is a generational issue here as well overall (as the report correctly points out).
posted by Old Man McKay at 6:41 PM on March 20, 2016 [45 favorites]


My company is fairly willing to raise pay, but our management is unwilling to listen to the people on the ground about what would actually solve ongoing problems with our workflow. So they've retained several talented women for a few years in our department who would have left sooner. However, we are all in agreement that we've been thinking of looking, especially if the one manager who serves as our buffer/support leaves. The rest of management has no idea and will be shocked if that happens, because, again, they refuse to take our concerns seriously. While at the same time constantly talking about valuing employee input, doing satisfaction surveys (I have a whole separate rant on these) and so on.

But it's their own fault. And those of you like Jalliah in low-paying jobs, you are not responsible for bringing this to the attention of your employers. Pay is actually the low-hanging fruit of retaining employees, the first thing you can look at/try if you're having turnover issues.

But as I'm finding out, it's not the only thing that makes an employee want to stay.
posted by emjaybee at 6:45 PM on March 20, 2016 [5 favorites]


I honestly don't think anyone cares about retention any more. Easy come, easy go, for one thing. For another thing, for every person that quits, you save money by overloading whoever can't get hired elsewhere to remain, and those people are trapped anyway so they're retained!
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:58 PM on March 20, 2016 [8 favorites]


Was that linked on Metafilter? My gut feeling would be that if you have twice the pool of candidates the average salary will drop, but I assume the article addresses that.

I don't know if it was linked here or not, though it sure seems like the kind of article that would be: As Women Take Over a Male-Dominated Field, the Pay Drops. It gets at your objection from a few directions, in that pay drops when women come into a field, drops for fields dominated by women, is lower for women who are in the same field as men, and rises when women leave a field. Whatever is going on isn't going to be explained as simply as market forces based on the number of candidates.
A new study from researchers at Cornell University found that the difference between the occupations and industries in which men and women work has recently become the single largest cause of the gender pay gap, accounting for more than half of it. In fact, another study shows, when women enter fields in greater numbers, pay declines — for the very same jobs that more men were doing before. ...

Still, even when women join men in the same fields, the pay gap remains. Men and women are paid differently not just when they do different jobs but also when they do the same work. Research by Claudia Goldin, a Harvard economist, has found that a pay gap persists within occupations. Female physicians, for instance, earn 71 percent of what male physicians earn, and lawyers earn 82 percent.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:59 PM on March 20, 2016 [21 favorites]


I honestly don't think anyone cares about retention any more. Easy come, easy go, for one thing.

And if they don't come easy, you moan about a "skills shortage".
posted by Reyturner at 7:05 PM on March 20, 2016 [26 favorites]


I honestly don't think anyone cares about retention any more. Easy come, easy go, for one thing.

If they're smart, they care. Recruitment and retraining are nearly always more expensive than retaining the employee in the first place. But often you can get the budget for recruitment, but not for salary increments. Because KPIs.
posted by frumiousb at 7:12 PM on March 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


Recruitment and retraining are nearly always more expensive than retaining the employee in the first place

Most places I've worked handle this by leaving the position vacant (distributing their work over 3-4 exempt employees, who pick up ~12 extra hours per week) for 12-18 months .
posted by pullayup at 7:19 PM on March 20, 2016 [18 favorites]


Recruitment and retraining are nearly always more expensive than retaining the employee in the first place

But salaries go to ... the employee. That's the person who, if you're managing efficiently, you want to be underpaid and afraid to leave, rather than comfortably paid and happy to stay. Because "afraid to leave" gives you more power than "content to stay ... for now."
posted by spacewrench at 8:26 PM on March 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


But salaries go to ... the employee. That's the person who, if you're managing efficiently, you want to be underpaid and afraid to leave, rather than comfortably paid and happy to stay. Because "afraid to leave" gives you more power than "content to stay ... for now."

I think that's a big part of why everyone's asking their employees to sign non-compete agreements. Not being able to use any of the skills or experience you got at your last job at your next job is a pretty good way to make someone afraid of leaving.
posted by Mitrovarr at 8:45 PM on March 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Actually, the two properties mentioned (expecting workers to do the work of higher positions without giving them the right job titles or pay and non-compete agreements) kind of go hand in hand.

How to be a shitty employer in 2016:

1. Use the slack job market to hire desperate new grads for positions they're overqualified for.

2. Have them do the work commensurate with their skill and training without paying them appropriately or giving them the right job titles.

3. Prevent them from using the experience they get to find an employer who will pay them appropriately by using non-compete agreements.

4. Rely on debt to keep them from either going back to college to switch fields or just quitting the job market entirely.

5. (Keep all of the) Profit!
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:10 PM on March 20, 2016 [15 favorites]


But as I'm finding out, it's not the only thing that makes an employee want to stay.

This. I have to deal with some shitty, hideous, subtle sexism regularly. Most recent was last Thursday when I stood in front of my manager with an armful of six different LONG small-print legal documents for various things and had him loudly tell me in front of everyone I hadn't done proper analysis on them (which is bullshit btw, as I'd spent hours reading them and making tons of notes in the margins summarizing all the small print. Plus, I'm already familiar with wtf I was reading, given its my job and I've been doing it for over a decade). The kicker is, not only had he not even read them himself, he didn't even know what they were fucking for. This didn't stop him from loudly telling me I'd done it wrong, like I'm an idiot, so everyone can hear. He's done this before, and has insisted on things when I know for a fact (BECAUSE I READ THE DOCUMENTS AND HE DOESN'T) he is simply wrong. Flat-out wrong. He will almost literally shout me down about how I'm wrong even if I quote him the actual document. He just will. not. be. wrong. about. anything.

The thing is, he likes me. He gave me a great year end review and a good pay bump. He does this shit all the time, like almost a weekly basis and I never hear him speak other guys in such a condescending and demeaning way (believe me, I've watched for it). And just as emjaybee says, my company really wants to do the right thing and give everyone a voice, etc.

But how is a person like me supposed to bring this kind of thing up? Telling my boss or his boss (also male) is a huge risk for me, professionally, because men get predictably defensive if it's suggested they might not be as egalitarian as they like to think they are. And the "anonymous" employee survey is ridiculous because it's so easy to figure out which person gives the bad feedback. So it sucks, because I love my actual job and I'd love to stay there, but I have to weigh in my head whether it's worth the humiliation/degredation/not being taken seriously/being dismissed/being condescended to or any one of the other things that I've had to put up with in so many jobs. And there's no guarantee that the next place would be any better because 9 times out of 10 the boss is a man and male bosses, in my experience, have a huge glaring blind spot that they're unable to honestly examine when it comes to how they treat women in the workplace, regardless of how they pay them.

I have a manager from my last job that moved on to a new place. He and I are still good friends and we just had lunch last week. He likes to regularly check in with where I'm at professionally and what my future career plans are. I suspect if a position at the place he works now opens up, he'll try to recruit me. And I would likely take it. I would actually take a decent-sized paycut to work with him as my manager. Because I know he's decent and he'll treat me like a human being and won't degrade or demoralize me. And I fully understand that I'm in a position of privilege to be able to say that. Even so, I'm still almost certainly paid less than what my male equivalent would be. But at this point, being treated like an equal and valued colleague who has things to bring to the table is worth some amount of money to me. I used to think that somehow being paid more would make all the other low-level stuff I've had to deal with okay, but as it turns out, it doesn't for me. This is not to be dismissive of women who aren't paid enough by virtue of being women or in a job that is a traditionally women's role (and therefore paid less), because I'm absolutely not doing that. Being able to make a living wage and support yourself in a job is super important and companies absolutely need to look at pay disparities, full stop. But let's not forget that it doesn't stop there. Treating female employees like capable human beings is, weirdly, also pretty important.
posted by triggerfinger at 9:14 PM on March 20, 2016 [51 favorites]


For privileged hetero couples I know, these days the decision about which partner stays home with the kids is fundamentally financial. If his position pays more, which it usually does, they tend to decide that she’ll be the one to stay home when child care is too expensive. It’s gendered, but less because of roles at home and more because of pay at work. Pay inequity and caregiving obligations are actually not two separate workplace issues facing women: They are one and the same.

I wish I could get that last line, like, tattooed on my forehead or something. I can't tell you how many couples I know agreed on something along the lines of, whichever of them was doing better financially when they had kids would be the one to stay in the workplace and keep forging ahead, naively thinking that the playing field was level. I know I did. But by some amazing fucking coincidence, every woman I know has since fallen behind her husband in terms of earning power...
posted by town of cats at 9:20 PM on March 20, 2016 [37 favorites]


The promise of trickle-down feminism in the New York article leaves a very bitter taste in my mouth.
posted by thetortoise at 11:14 PM on March 20, 2016


So, more personal anecdotes:

Pay is a large part of it. What's another part? Being reminded frequently or constantly that you don't matter.

Regarding saying it out loud, that's not generally a recipe for career advancement. I like to solve problems, or at least acknowledge that they exist. This did not make me popular with my managers, in spite of frequently billing 120% of the hours I was expected to bill. They want problems (and the employees who have them) to go away.

I remember one of my managers telling me discreetly that one of my female coworkers was not promoted, solely because she wanted to go home at 5:00. If I wasn't in the field all the time, I would have wanted to go home at 5:00. Working harder never got us ahead. I thought the one who wanted to leave at 5:00 was a far better person to work with and would more happily have been managed by her. Obviously, because she's intelligent, she left to get more pay and respect elsewhere. By the time I left my company, they were starting to only hire people who had family or ties to the area, because they didn't seem to understand or care that their terrible work environment was driving us to all leave.

For many millenials, the default is to take on a new role's responsibilities sans compensation, and to do them for years before finally receiving a seemingly reluctant promotion from an employer, no matter how capable or talented or accomplished one might be.

This, all the time. The proper response from all of us is, fuck you, pay me. Promote me first. I saw so many people, my wife included, have the prospect of a promotion dangled over their heads to make them jump. The smart people just left. My old company, at the time I left it, was in the middle of a mass-exodus of all the smart young people.

Since I heard a lot of things at that company, I heard about some of the more reasonable senior managers who got into the upper boardrooms: Dissent wasn't really tolerated there, either. So they had to be enthusiastic boosters of the existing powers to get moved up themselves, or keep their heads down. Again, no problem solving. Dissenters got sidelined quickly. Also, want to guess roughly what percentage of the board and shareholders wasn't old white guys?

It wasn't high.

Bring back the 90% marginal tax rates on high wage earners. Destroy all incentive to let people amass more than small amounts of wealth. Ratchet that way the hell up. I'll settle for never making more than $150,000 per year in my life. It is likely to result in more employment and less management squeezing the little people to make themselves rich. And if it doesn't, we at least get more revenue to plow back into social programs.
posted by Strudel at 12:20 AM on March 21, 2016 [25 favorites]


The (already) high marginal tax rates are a huge reason why talented women leave the workforce, Strudel, and if you raise them higher, even more will leave. Talented women are as a rule married to talented, hard working men (and yes, we form policies around rules, not exceptions) and talented hard working men push the family income into upper brackets by themselves. Make their wives pay well over 50% federal, state, local and FICA tax from the first cent they earn (easily possible in California, New York and other high tax places), funding a nanny or high quality child care from that net, and, guess what, they have to be earning a heck of lot to want to work a management / professional job (50+ hours a week and regular travel), when they can downshift and do part time or full-time stay at home mom-ing.
posted by MattD at 1:23 AM on March 21, 2016


That's a new one. I've never heard "to encourage more talented women to stay in the workforce!" as a justification for lowering marginal tax rates (from a historically low level) on the wealthy before!
posted by Justinian at 2:43 AM on March 21, 2016 [41 favorites]


Sorry for the derail into tennis, but came across this, and it seems appropriately horrible to share in a discussion about wage (in)equality: Novak Djokovic believes men should be awarded more prize money than women following a row sparked by comments from the chief executive of Indian Wells, Raymond Moore.
posted by sapagan at 3:24 AM on March 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


And there's no guarantee that the next place would be any better because 9 times out of 10 the boss is a man and male bosses, in my experience, have a huge glaring blind spot that they're unable to honestly examine when it comes to how they treat women in the workplace, regardless of how they pay them.

And I have learned that unfortunately there is no guarentee that even with a woman as a boss the same sort of shyte doesn't happen either. We get it constantly and yes sexism is part of it sadly. Last week she was not only disparging of everyone, including me but demanding things that literally can't be done. She just doesn't understand what she is talking about is flatly refusing to have any discussion about why the inventory software system that she chose to implement does not and will not do what she wants or not work properly if we only use it in part of the company. She knows best of course. I'm just an idiot.

I'm going to work this week with a resignation letter in my back pocket. I'm hoping not to have to use because I would really like to not go through the stress of not having something else before I hand it in but things are approaching the untenable. I just can not do what she wants.
posted by Jalliah at 3:46 AM on March 21, 2016


Ya know, this really isn't anything new or having only to do with the millennial generation: this is something women have been dealing with pretty much forever, all the way back to when the first woman entered the workforce. I can see two cavemen talking about it: "Thagette think she deserve same size hunk of mastodon meat Thag get! But Thagette just woman, she no need same size meat; Thag deserve more, 'cause Thag got family to support!

The only thing new here is, oh look: yet another survey telling us what we already know.
posted by easily confused at 4:36 AM on March 21, 2016 [5 favorites]


Yaknow MattD, I don't have time to dissect your comment because I'm late for work already, but what you just said makes absolutely zero sense to me. Like, I'm pretty sure that's not even how marginal tax rates work, to begin with. I really can't follow your chain of logic at all.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:52 AM on March 21, 2016 [8 favorites]


MattD: Make their wives pay well over 50% federal, state, local and FICA tax from the first cent they earn

Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The: I'm pretty sure that's not even how marginal tax rates work, to begin with.

It's not how they work, but it's how they look if you take it for granted that the husband's will be the primary income. It makes no sense at all if you see husband's and wife's careers and incomes as being equally important.
posted by jon1270 at 5:37 AM on March 21, 2016 [16 favorites]


MattD, why are you counting the husband's salary first and the wife's second? The wife could be the one pushing the husband into the 50% tax bracket. (Similarly, you are paying for daycare so both parents can work.)

And of course lots of these talented women actually do want to work. The problem isn't the tax bracket, the problem is the lack of maternity leave and affordable daycare.
posted by jeather at 5:43 AM on March 21, 2016 [14 favorites]


Is that anybody's, though? Primary concern? I mean, as far as I can tell, "retaining women" and "increasing diversity" are tertiary concerns, to be served inasmuch as they don't impact the bottom line. So like, sure, we'll launch a working group! Pay people more, though, that sounds like it costs money.

A working group (or "committee" or "task force") is a nice way to (1) look like you're doing something (2) load up the time of the people who have the greatest complaints so they will have less energy for making demands (3) have a built-in excuse for the status quo ("How can you say we're not doing something? We have a TASK FORCE!").

Generally this is going to land the most on the people with an interest in the issue, so if a workplace is (e.g.) 3% minority, then those diverse members are going to get the most loaded with requests to serve on the Diversity Committee, the Multicultural Committee, and so forth. (Also, such work is generally unpaid and unlikely to factor in to annual reviews, bonuses, raises, promotions, etc.)
posted by theorique at 5:53 AM on March 21, 2016 [8 favorites]


It's not how they work, but it's how they look if you take it for granted that the husband's will be the primary income. It makes no sense at all if you see husband's and wife's careers and incomes as being equally important.

The people I know for whom this has been a real issue are where the husband is well-paid, and the wife is considering returning to work after having children. That's a small minority of households, obviously, but for them the math is all about the costs mentioned above (childcare, marginal tax rates, etc) and combined with the lower wages for women also discussed above can be a disincentive for women returning to the workforce. (I also know one couple where the woman is the one in the high bracket and her husband is the one doing the math on whether or not it is worth it for him to work, but that is an even less common situation, though more common than it used to be.)

For the vast majority of households, where the women's wages are essential (and quite possibly the only household income) and household incomes aren't high, this isn't a relevant question. And in any case you fix this by making wages and taxes more equitable, rather than defaulting to another round of destructive tax cuts for the wealthy.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:04 AM on March 21, 2016 [6 favorites]


I honestly don't think anyone cares about retention any more. Easy come, easy go, for one thing.

If they're smart, they care.


I concur, but I'm saying that a lot of people aren't smart about this.

Recruitment and retraining are nearly always more expensive than retaining the employee in the first place.

Most places I've worked handle this by leaving the position vacant (distributing their work over 3-4 exempt employees, who pick up ~12 extra hours per week) for 12-18 months .


Or like I said, leave the position vacant. And my job has currently decided to no longer hire anyone permanently--they'll only do contracts for a few months or a year, including the high level management ones that take a year and a half to get good at. There is no justifiable reason to do that other than being cheap. I don't know the financial situation of our department, but this isn't 2008, we can't be THAT BROKE, can we?
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:05 AM on March 21, 2016


Most places I've worked handle this by leaving the position vacant (distributing their work over 3-4 exempt employees, who pick up ~12 extra hours per week) for 12-18 months .

Yes, and this highlights another issue with our culture of overwork. In addition to the multiple problems to the employee of working long hours, the effective lowering of salaries, etc; people who work unpaid overtime to pick up the slack enable companies to not have to put much work into reforming a culture that causes employee turnover to be so high. Because there are always people who will grind themselves to the bone to get the work done in the interest of being a "team player", even though, as someone mentioned above, it is also my experience (and there's been research that backs it up) that working lots of unpaid overtime gets you bupkis in terms of career advancement. But it does enable companies to ignore the hard work of addressing real issues around employee satisfaction and remain chronically understaffed/underresourced as a way to boost their bottom line.
posted by triggerfinger at 6:49 AM on March 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


No one can just step into a job and be productive on day, week, or even month one. The cost of training over and over never seems to be a concern. So much investment is lost when someone leaves after a year. And really, do you want your employees going day to day worrying about their personal finances, and not your company's?
posted by Brocktoon at 6:54 AM on March 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


And really, do you want your employees going day to day worrying about their personal finances, and not your company's?

Yes, you absolutely do! Because an employee who is just barely scraping by and working 3 peoples' jobs is too exhausted and terrified to notice that your CEO makes 80x the salary of anyone else or to raise a stink about all the other shady bullshit your company does.

Oh were you talking about non-sociopathic companies? Do we even have them anymore?
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:22 AM on March 21, 2016 [6 favorites]


Let me put this way for my current job: if you're talking about going into Toronto to a pro basketball game and the nice restaurants you're going to eat at while I'm worried about having to pay for antibiotics for a sick cat, I'm not as invested in the job as you'd like me to be.
posted by Kitteh at 8:44 AM on March 21, 2016 [10 favorites]


I once gave notice at a job and they immediately offered me a $10K raise if I stayed for another year. I said back date the raise to when I started a year earlier and then we might have a deal. We had no deal.

Don't tell me you've underpaid me for a year and then expect me to stay unless you make it right.
posted by srboisvert at 9:01 AM on March 21, 2016 [13 favorites]


The (already) high marginal tax rates are a huge reason why talented women leave the workforce, Strudel, and if you raise them higher, even more will leave.

I didn't think I would need to write this, but wow. Enough people are piling on, but I want to write it anyway.

If that many women are being paid enough to trigger the top marginal tax rates, problem fucking solved. Let's not pretend that this is an issue for anybody outside of the top 20% of wage-earning Americans. If it became a problem for a plurality of women, we really would be a country of mostly wealthy people.

Also...you can file taxes separately instead of jointly.

Anyway, yeah, marginal tax rates kick in later, after you're already doing well enough. The whole point of eventually getting taxes up to 90% was to disincentivize making crazy high amounts of money money - and paying people further down the pay scale more, because otherwise the government would just scoop up all the extra. Or maybe at least quit it with the damn wage theft.

Not paying overtime is wage theft, full stop, I don't care if you're a doctor or a manager or a janitor. And it hurts us all because companies, like my old company, were disincentivized to hire more people, because they didn't have to pay me 150% time after 40 hours. My company, unlike many others, paid the employees below manager rank at the regular rate for hours billed (not worked, billed, huge distinction in a billable hours field) at the regular rate. Why hire more people to handle the workload if you can squeeze the regular people a little harder and get it done anyway? Then you pay less health insurance, etc. I know for a fact their calculus for hiring people would have changed if they had to pay overtime. There is very, very rarely a good reason for anybody to work more than 40 hours a week, and it encourages hiring fewer people, which is actually not good for the economy.

Given how much "extra time," posted about on the blue previously, that women put in and are not paid for, overtime is one of those issues that affects everybody, but winds up hurting women more, because of course it does.
posted by Strudel at 9:52 AM on March 21, 2016 [11 favorites]


And I have learned that unfortunately there is no guarentee that even with a woman as a boss the same sort of shyte doesn't happen either.

After a string of three terrible women bosses, I started to wonder if I was some sort of secret self-hating misogynist because I was afraid to work for a woman again. Having later gotten a few good ones, I now have the theory that the women who are the pioneers in a male-dominated field/management are subject to such terrible stresses that the decent ones give up and only the raging assholes manage to stick it out. Being assholes, they are especially terrible to other women, whom they see as threats for the limited amount of space allowed to women in their company.

Unfortunately, many industries are still stuck at the "only a few pioneering women in management" stage, so it's assholes everywhere.
posted by emjaybee at 10:15 AM on March 21, 2016 [8 favorites]


Emjaybee: That manager who told me the other woman was not getting promoted because she left at 5:00 was also a woman. They both had kids, too. Amusingly enough, the woman who left at 5:00 was the one who had a husband who cooked and cleaned and I suspect also took more of an active role in the child-rearing.

It's not just pioneering, it's that that kind of behavior is "great" lower/middle management - you seem to be solving problems and getting productivity out of employees without paying more, so you get promoted. I'm assuming they're rational actors: they're doing what they need to do to get promoted, as managers always have. Sometimes people make the rational choice to leave. Other times, they make the rational choice to do what is expected.

These seemingly rational choices lead us down a path where few people really benefit. That's the thing to understand about our many problematic systems. It all seems like rational choices when you only have your small piece of the puzzle. Big picture looks grim.
posted by Strudel at 10:24 AM on March 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


"No one can just step into a job and be productive on day, week, or even month one. The cost of training over and over never seems to be a concern."

Oh, that's easily solved: only hire people who already know how to do the job, because they don't want to train you!
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:30 PM on March 21, 2016 [1 favorite]




I love this. The corporate conversation about women and diversity has focused for too long on work/life balance and all the things women are doing wrong (not leaning in) when in my experience we are definitely leaning so far in and doing everything possible to make people pay attention while watching white male counterparts sail up the corporate ladder because they have the right "soft skills."

Yes, pay women and give them opportunity instead of blaming the talent drain on kids. This is so obvious I can't believe it took this long to be stated clearly.
posted by rainydayfilms at 4:07 AM on March 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


Young women earn more than young men.

Well, in very specific and limited circumstances, which the context in those links makes pretty clear. From the WSJ article:
In 2008, single, childless women between ages 22 and 30 were earning more than their male counterparts in most U.S. cities, with incomes that were 8% greater on average, according to an analysis of Census Bureau data released Wednesday by Reach Advisors, a consumer-research firm in Slingerlands, N.Y.
[...]
While these particular women earn more than their male peers, women on the whole haven't reached equal status in any particular job or education level. For instance, women with a bachelor's degree had median earnings of $39,571 between 2006 and 2008, compared with $59,079 for men at the same education level, according to the Census.

At every education level, from high-school dropouts to Ph.D.s, women continue to earn less than their male peers.

Also, women tend to see wages stagnate or fall after they have children.
In other words, the bigger picture shows that a woman in her 20s living in a large city makes a tiny bit more than her male counterpart on average, but (education being equal) overall women can expect to earn well under 70% what men are earning. And as the article says--and more importantly, is one of the points of the FPP--the wage fall-off really starts to hit women who are starting to have kids. And here's the Grauniad article:
Women in their 20s have reversed the gender pay gap, but their earning power is still overtaken by men later in life. Figures compiled by the Press Association have shown that between the ages of 22 and 29, a woman will typically earn £1,111 more per annum than her male counterparts.

Using data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), PA analysed the comparative earnings of men and women between 2006 and 2013. Statistics for 2014 have yet to be verified and were excluded.

While younger women in their 20s came out top in the earning stakes, the story was vastly different for workers in their 30s. A man turning 30 in 2006 would have brought in on average £8,775 more than a woman of the same age.
This makes the divide even more stark, with women making just over £1100 more per year for an eight-year span in their 20s, but making almost £8800 less in their 30s. That's almost an entire decade of minor "advantages" wiped out in almost exactly the space of a single year's salary. And it gets worse, according to the article:
The study also found that the income of teenage female workers had plummeted in the downturn, falling 33 times faster than that of their male counterparts.

The average full-time salary for 16- to 17-year-old females fell from £9,750 in 2006 to just £7,176 in 2013. Over the same period, 16- to 17-year-old males saw their income dip marginally from £8,639 to £8,561. It means young women’s salaries fell by more than a quarter (26.4%) over an eight-year period, compared with a drop of only 1% for young men.

Smethers described the decline in income as a worrying trend. “Women have been suffering [from the economic downturn] more than men because they had even less job security,” she said. “They were more at risk and thus worse hit when the recession struck.”
So there you have the real story: for a brief period in their 20s, women who live in large cities have a very slight pay advantage on average, which is completely wiped out with a single year's worth of salary when they turn 30. For almost the entire rest of their lives, they'll be at very large pay disadvantage, they'll always have less job security, and they will be severely economically punished for bearing children. And we haven't even gotten into workplace misogyny and harassment, urban/suburban/divide, racial disparities, the lack of protections for LGBT women, and any of a number of other effects on pay.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:49 AM on March 22, 2016 [9 favorites]




A proper reckoning: Feminist economics deserves recognition as a distinct branch of the discipline
In 2014 only 12% of American economics professors were female, and only one woman (Elinor Ostrom) has won the Nobel prize for economics.[1,2,3] But in terms of focus, economists have embraced some feminist causes. Papers abound on the “pay gap” (American women earned 21% less than men for full-time work in 2014), and the extra growth that could be unlocked if only women worked and earned more. A recent paper, for instance, claimed that eliminating gender discrimination in Saudi Arabia could bring its GDP per person almost level with America’s. (Feminists, of course, consider gender equality a worthy goal irrespective of its impact on GDP.) That raises a question. Does “Feminist economics”, which has its own journal, really bring anything distinctive?

Defining it as a look at the economy from a female perspective provides one straightforward answer. Feminist analyses of public policy note, for example, that men gain most from income-tax cuts, whereas women are most likely to plug the gap left by the state as care for the elderly is cut. Even if such a combination spurs economic growth, if it worsens inequality between sexes, then perhaps policymakers should think twice...

Economics as commonly practised often misses out another important element of inequality between the sexes: unpaid work. The main measure of economic activity, GDP, counts housework when it is paid, but excludes it when it is done free of charge. This is an arbitrary distinction, and leads to perverse outcomes. As Paul Samuelson, an economist, pointed out, a country’s GDP falls when a man marries his maid.

The usual defence is that measuring unpaid work is hard. But Norway, for one, used to do it; it only stopped so that its figures could be compared with other, less progressive countries. Diane Coyle, an economist and author of “GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History”, asks whether statistical agencies have not bothered to collect data on unpaid housework precisely because women do most of it. Marilyn Waring, a feminist economist, has suggested that the system of measuring GDP was designed by men to keep women “in their place”.

Women in the OECD, a club of rich countries, spend roughly 5% more time working than men. But they spend roughly twice as much time on unpaid work, and only two-thirds the time men do in paid work. By leaving unpaid work out of the national accounts, the feminist argument goes, economists not only diminish women’s contribution, but also gloss over the staggering inequality in who does it.

Ignoring unpaid work also misrepresents the significance of particular kinds of economic activity. Ms Waring thinks that raising well-cared-for children is just as important to society as making buildings or cars. Yet as long as the former is excluded from official measures of output, investing resources in it seems like less of a priority. Of course, in a perfectly equal world, men would do much more child-rearing than they do now. In the meantime, it is women who are disadvantaged by economists’ failure to measure the value of parenting properly.
also see...
More Smiles? More Money - "What would happen if, at long last, women and especially mothers were paid the market rate for their services? ... Capital accumulation depended on unwaged household work: giving birth to the future workforce, yes, but also feeding husbands, children, and parents, cleaning up after them, placating them when the world frustrated their ambitions, and so on... Economists have known for a long time that women do a lot of work for free in times of social need. Remarkably, they have used this fact against women as part of the rationale behind massive neoliberal retrenchment: Why fund state services when you know that women will supply them for free?" (via triggerfinger)

Home economics - "This meant that for decades, the American Wife gave American businesses a big, fat bonus. Her time at home made possible the American Worker's time at work. This unspoken yet well-understood business contract is now broken. Moreover, it doesn't look like we're going back to it anytime soon. Nor should we. American families look different today. Wives—and women more generally—work outside the home because they need to and because they want to."

and btw...
Economics doesn't need a feminist revolution - "The Economist has called for greater recognition by forming a distinct branch of economics, feminist economics, devoted to women's role in the economy. A separate field for women undermines the problem it's trying to address. If properly accounted for, women would contribute more than 50% to the economy. Why should their contribution be relegated to a sub-discipline? It should be the norm to account for all areas of economics. Each existing sub-discipline, would be richer if it was smarter in how it captured women... Perhaps the issue isn't the economics profession, it's that policy makers, on both political sides, are reluctant to embrace economic research and craft policy that can achieve true parity."
posted by kliuless at 10:42 PM on March 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


Alyssa Davis and Elise Gould: Closing the pay gap and beyond
This report begins by examining the gender wage gap along a variety of dimensions—such as by wage percentile, race and ethnicity, and educational attainment—and discusses ways to eliminate the gap. It then shows how wage growth for women and men has failed to keep up with productivity gains in recent decades—a trend that has done much to harm women’s wages. The report concludes by presenting a comprehensive policy agenda aimed at fostering broad-based wage growth.

Key findings include:
  • The gender wage gap is a persistent economic problem. In 2014, the hourly wage of the median woman ($15.21) was 82.9 percent that of the median man ($18.35).
  • The gender wage gap exists at every decile in the wage distribution, at every level of educational attainment, and in the majority of occupations.
  • Women of color are disproportionately affected by wage inequalities: As compared with the hourly wage of the median white man, the median black woman earns 65.1 percent as much, and the median Hispanic woman earns 58.9 percent as much.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:28 PM on April 12, 2016


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