Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Kiwiblog readers solve gender pay gap. Hurrah!

Although he thinks there is no problem, David Farrar of Kiwiblog has written about the gender pay gap research released by Pansy Wong yesterday and widely reported today.

While Farrar says it is "disappointing" that there is evidence female graduates are paid less than male graduates only a year after completing their degrees, he doesn't think it is due to discrimination. Assumedly it is just those mischevious magical elves again, just mysteriously playing with people's pay so that women are on average mysteriously paid less than men. Nothing to see here, move right along.

Anyway, despite his scepticism about gender being relevant to this problem, Farrar does endorse the next research project the Ministry of Women's Affairs is going to undertake in this area; a large longitudinal study over the next ten years. I agree that this seems like a pretty good idea. Shame this Government scrapped the Pay and Employment Equity Unit that wasn't just measuring the problem but was actually looking at the reasons and possible solutions.

Farrar doesn't posit any ways to resolve the gender pay gap, putting it down to women taking time out of the workforce to have children, and/or "different professions having different gender compositions". Such shallow analysis that doesn't ask why it is predominantly women who take that time out, when most children have two parents at least at the start of their lives, or why different professions have different gender compositions (and what effect that has).

But that's ok, because the Kiwiblog commenters, who some label the sewer, come to the riding to the rescue. They know precisely what to do. Here's a few ideas:
  • Women are not agressive enough in their pay negotiations/accept lower pay/are less motivated by money/are less ambitious
  • "men, as a group, simply prove themselves better in the fields of management and commerce than women and earn their larger salaries"
  • Women dare to take leave to have/care for children, whereas men are much less likely to do so. And even if they haven't taken leave yet they might in the future, so why would you pay them as much as a man? Maybe we should get rid of maternity leave, that would solve that problem.
  • Women don't want to have careers and men do
  • The only way to address the issue is to pay women more than men, which would mean men are more likely to be hired over women (yeah I didn't understand that one either)
  • Men are more loyal employees than women (because they don't take maternity leave)
  • Men change jobs more often with the aim of getting higher salaries
  • It's the jobs women are choosing, they just pay less (magically. For no reason)
  • Male graduates are more likely to have had previous management jobs before studying (no evidence provided for this)
  • Men are more likely to be in senior positions, therefore a few highly paid men drag the average up
  • Pansy Wong should have been fired "years ago" (she's been in the job since Nov 2008)
  • Women have lower self-esteem and higher voices than men
  • Women need to work like men - "no chatty phone calls, no gossip with the girls, no slacking off, no shopping breaks, work an extra hour at the end of each day, don’t get coffee and NEVER clean up after an office shout, even if someone drops cake on the floor at your feet and expects you to pick it up. ...Finally, if you are working part time with children, you have to work extra hours at home, and be available for urgent work."
So basically women need to be men to get paid the same as men for doing the same work. Right. That solves that then.

Danyl, oh thank goodness for Danyl, adds a jolt of sanity, suggesting that we could look at having "a government body that audits large employers and looks for gender discrimination and publicises results (ie this company has a 15% gender pay gap between comparable jobs)."

According to the Kiwiblog commenters, there is sexism in the way men and women are treated at work, but guess what, it's not quite what you or I might expect. Apparently:
  • Unskilled men are paid less than unskilled women, so actually this gender pay gap stuff it's all just BS (no evidence provided for this out there claim)
  • Men can't get hired in clerical jobs because women keep them out
  • Making Pansy Wong Minister of Women's Affairs in the first place discriminated against non-Asian males
And I'll leave the last word to the appropriately named TripeWryter:
Discrimination in the workplace?: try being a middle-aged, educated, white male …


Idiot/Savant said...

It's the jobs women are choosing, they just pay less

Well, that one specifically is crap - this study compared men and women in similar professions, and reported the gap as universal across all professions studied.

Men are more likely to be in senior positions, therefore a few highly paid men drag the average up

Ignoring the broader point that this in itself is an example of gender discrimination in action, the study compared the pay rates of new graduates in their first five years. Highly-paid CEOs are not part of the study, and have no bearing on the results.

By focusing on graduates, the study effectively controls for many of the factors traditionally cited to defend the gender pay-gap. It compares within professions and largely removes seniority and children from the equation. Any differences are highly likely to be due to discrimination. The fact that those difference emerge so quickly and strongly ought to be deeply disturbing.

Idiot/Savant said...

Danyl, oh thank goodness for Danyl, adds a jolt of sanity, suggesting that we could look at having "a government body that audits large employers and looks for gender discrimination and publicises results (ie this company has a 15% gender pay gap between comparable jobs)."

Didn't we used to have one of those for the public service? I wonder what happened to it...?

stargazer said...

and for a little more sanity, gordon campbell.

Flynn the Cat said...

"no chatty phone calls, no gossip ..., no slacking off, no shopping breaks, work an extra hour at the end of each day..."

Heh. Exactly. Perfect description of what a coworker of mine should... oh wait, they're male. Nevermind then.

Psycho Milt said...

Gordon Campbell starts out by disparaging organised labour ("every major advance in workplace conditions has been through outside intervention, usually forced upon employers by government") and moves on to treating the assumption that average pay differences are caused by discrimination as though it were conclusively proven. DPF at least avoids that egregious failure - his view that the study "does lend credence to the theory that there is discrimination in pay rates" is accurate, ie the study is evidence suggesting the existence of discrimination, not proof of it.

sophia b said...

so men are more loyal becuase they change jobs more?
seriously, first creationists, now this. my brain has broken.

Julie said...

I guess I'm pretty sceptical about the idea that the gender pay gap isn't about discrimination, at least in part. Even the causes that aren't discrimination on the face of it actually boil down to it sometimes, e.g. why do more women than men take time out due to child-stuff? Often the decision is made based on sexist ideas about who should do that work, or pragmatic decisions about who earns less (which just brings us back to the problem of why do women earn less to start with), or school or family-influenced decisions that boys and girls make when they are young that lead their expectations around what will happen when they have kids.

I find it hard to believe that those who have faced overt discrimination in our society historically (women, Maori, Pasifika in particular) are now just magically paid less.

Psycho Milt said...

I guess a definition of discrimination would be useful, then. When I hear that women are paid less due to "discrimination," I hear that employers are deliberately taking measures to pay women less, or someone else (govt, husband, parents, you name it) is deliberately taking measures that result in them earning less. Evidence of that is singularly lacking, and explanations I've seen tend to fall back on vague concepts like "society expects..."

James said...

If private companies decide to pay different rates based on gender then thats their right.It may be silly,shortsighted and offensive to others but its their property/business and they have every right to do so.

Don't like it...? Work elsewhere,don't buy their product,peacefully protest but don't get the States in to whield the big violent stick of regulation...its none of their business.We all, as private citizens, have the right to discriminate for whatever reason.Its called the right to liberty...meaning the right to be free from the coercive decisions of others.

In the adult movie industry Women generally are payed far more then Men...anyone going to protest about that?

James said...

When an employer thinks about hiring someone its natural that he's going to consider the possibility that a female of child bearing years could become a liability what with paid maturnity leave and the prospect of never returning to work afterwards while her job was held open.

Add the fact that hes not allowed to ask the simple and just question "Are you planning to have children in the next few years" and its no suprise that a male applicant would seem the safer option and consequently have more chance of earning and advancing over time.

Maybe if the empployer was allow ed to ask that question (as he morally should be able to)women would find themselves in a better situation...?

Psycho Milt said...

Its called the right to liberty

Only by Ayn Rand enthusiasts. For most people, it's called libertarian bullshit.

stargazer said...

um, james, you know it's just as possible and becoming increasingly likely that men will also take their share of parental leave if their partner has a baby, right? it would be really nice if it was equally likely, and that's one of the points about the gender pay gap, but just as a simple matter of basic intelligence, you should be considering that possibility for all candidates. and just for the record, the lawyer next door to us had a baby at 60, so yeah, age doesn't come into the equation really. all men may fall into this category.

Julie said...

James is an old troll AnneE, he pops up from time to time for no apparent reason, gets rebutted, then disappears again. Doesn't seem to learn but.

I've been thinking quite a bit about this whole attitude that apparently employers see every female applicant as a walking womb just waiting to be filled. Are there any people out there who have a role in hiring who can confirm or deny if that's on their mind in that decision-making process?