Economy · Race/Gender What will it take to achieve equal pay for women? Eric Ringham June 22, 2010, 5:00 AM Jun 22, 2010 19 comments New research finds that women in Minnesota still earn less than men doing the same work. Today’s Question: What will it take to achieve equal pay for women? ‹ Older How do you respond to panhandlers? Newer › Should Americans hear directly what’s on a general’s mind? Browse by category Education Health Economy Politics/Government Culture Religion/Ethics Science/Technology Transportation Race/Gender Environment/Energy Security International affairs Immigration Media Military About the blogger Eric Ringham firstname.lastname@example.org Alison It will take the recognition that there are historical pay disparities between fields that were traditionally ‘womens jobs’ and those that were ‘mens jobs’. We continue to reward jobs like child care, teaching, and social work at lower levels because those were traditionally jobs populated by women. Women continue to have a greater representation in those fields. Those professions started out in low pay hole that is impossible to climb out of if pay rate increases only keep pace with the traditionally male jobs. Steve the Cynic Stop overpaying men? Stephanie It will take an entire generation of women CEO’s and politicians to fight against inequality. However, if there are more men unemployed than women right now, maybe women are willing to take lower pay in exchange for job security. Steve the Cynic Stop overpaying men? To be more specific, not having read the details of the “research” alluded to in the question, I have to wonder whether the statistics are skewed by a small number of extremely pushy men at the top of the corporate food chain who demand way more “compensation” than their services are really worth, in terms of how much value they add to the overall well-being of humanity. Karl Danger Once the baby boomer generation is gone that will help quite a bit. Shane Well, it’s pretty tough to justify giving somebody a raise when they are gone for six months on maternity leave not making the company any money. There is no such thing as discrimination in the free market. You can shop around and get as much for your labor as possible. Khatti Well, according to Karl, my immediate death would help. If only I were more obliging… Frankly, I’m not sure I believe the survey. Since the late Nineties, when I did the implicit math behind a survey on domestic abuse–and discovered that 90 to 150% of the male population engaged in domestic abuse–I’ve come not to trust given statistics on subjects like rape, domestic abuse, and gender equity. While it’s amusing to believe that only the right has nut jobs, it’s not really true. Karl Danger Once the baby boomer generation is gone that will help. Lawrence This is a good question. At the present time, conservative and Tea Party activists are exerting enormous pressue on politicians to end affirmative action, quotas, and “reverse discrimination.” The Supreme Court, dominated now by conservative judicial appointees, in particular has ruled against companies and organizations, including primary and secondary education institutions for “reverse discrimination” within the last 10 years. Likewise, conservatives and Tea Party activists are bitterly anti-union–and unions, like affirmative action, have helped some women achieve pay equity. Women like Sara Palin, don’t help because these women encourage women to be equal to men, but they tell women that they can do this without affirmative action and unions, even though the research clearly suggests otherwise. Equality among gender and race has been illusive in America, requiring successive generations to have a little success here and there to move us forward. thomas It will happen naturally as boys disengage from education in elementary and secondary school and men choose not to go to college or other advanced education. Chris One of two ways… either the male CEO’s share their huge bonuses with all the broke people below him (men and women), or more women start becoming the greedy CEO’s. Jeff Girls will need to become more interested in math and science in high school and get college degrees in engineering and science. Bonnie Women need to do a better job of asking for more money, men are definitely more demanding in my experience. Our society needs to do a better job of valuing contributions fairly. Men aren’t afraid to take credit for, and get paid for, an accomplishment that was a team effort. Again in my experience, women are less likely to do that. I think this contributes to disparities. Philip Byrne I have not read this “new research” so it’s hard to know how to respond. The often quoted statistic that women make 78 cents for every dollar a man makes does not show that women earn less than men for doing the same work. It merely shows the average salary of women is 78% that of men but it doesn’ tell us why. Among the factors are that women tend to be in lower paying professions than men and also have on average fewer years of work experience than men. So from this statistic one cannot tell whether women are less well paid than men for doing the same work. Zebulun I am quite surprised at some of the men’s comments on this page: “Well, it’s pretty tough to justify giving somebody a raise when they are gone for six months on maternity leave not making the company any money. There is no such thing as discrimination in the free market. You can shop around and get as much for your labor as possible.” Really Shane? Your way of thinking couldn’t be more part of the problem! My question is: “why is it so hard to get the pay equalized?” Gerald Myking There is one aspect of this issue that has been overlooked. In the early days there was the question of need. There was a moral judgement when it came to hiring a woman. A family man was paid more than a woman or even a single man because other people were dependent on their income. It was also considered a disgrace to a man if his spouse went to work implying that he wasn’t man enough to take care of his family. The other view about a woman working was she and her spouse were greedy and therefore did not really need more money. These aberations became traditions. Traditions do not keep up with social change. That characteristic of discrimination still lingers. It will improve when all of us baby boomers are dead but it will not completely go away for some time. Nick T Answer: Communism. Rusty Hooks Stephanie damn near hit it on the head; security. Men have always tended to work in higher risk positions than women. Even in the same field, same job and same company, it’s far more likely that a male person will gamble his secure position by making bolder decisions and riskier solutions in his every day work life. The net result tends to be bonuses, better pay and recognition by superiors. It also results in a higher likelihood of being let go. There’s another variable that you never hear mentioned; Women cost more. Women go to the doctor, have to leave work early more often and have to leave in the midst of their work day for personal issues far more often than men. Often times when a person leaves in the middle of work, it costs an employer more. Meetings didn’t become the ugly, costly giant they are until the late 70s when a giant influx of women entered corporate America. Meetings are mostly for clarification, legalistic and strategic information and now for gender resolution issues. But we don’t care about the cost of things to others, we’re narcissists. All we care about is what WE get in life. The more important question that is never asked or explored would be; What is the cost of employing a women vs a man given equal compensation? Steve the Cynic Male employees are worth more, because they take more risks, huh? I think we could have done with a little less risk-taking when the banking system was racing toward the edge of a cliff about three years ago.