The New York Times and The Wage Gap Myth

By: Athena Brown

How disingenuous would it be if I made a claim that women were paid less than men because penis, then presented research that proved that wasn’t true, as proof that it was true?

The New York Times doesn’t come right out and say it, but take a look for yourself.  Here’s the link:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/24/upshot/the-pay-gap-is-because-of-gender-not-jobs.html?_r=4&abt=0002&abg=0

The title of the article is unmistakably clear: “The Wage Gap is Because of Gender, Not Jobs”.  Pretty definitive statement!  Definitely makes it sound as though there’s sexism involved – like you’re making less because you’re a woman, and not because of what the job pays for certain hours. But then they then link to a study in regards to this, which you can find here: http://scholar.harvard.edu/files/goldin/files/goldin_aeapress_2014_1.pdf

And this study proves the exact opposite.

From the very opening of the study:

—– —–
The gender gap in pay would be considerably reduced and might vanish altogether if firms did not have an incentive to disproportionately reward individuals who labored long hours and worked particular hours.
—– —–

^^^ First, this is what capitalism is all about. Work harder, work longer, and achieve more. Incentivizing through hard work, smart work, or innovation, is a cornerstone for modern economic theory. Also, there’s nothing to stop women from doing this (we’ll get to the exceptions regarding child care in a bit).

The wage gap probably would go away if we didn’t pay people more for working longer and harder. They actually tried that in Russia for a while. In 1993, they decided to quit doing it because it wasn’t working.

From early-on in the paper:

—– —–
Professional and graduate program enrollment increased for women so that about half of all law and medical enrollments today are women, and women lead men in fields such as the biological sciences, pharmacy, optometry, and veterinary medicine.
—– —–

^^^ While somewhat unrelated, this directly conflicts with other 3rd Waver claims that women have difficulty getting hired, simply because they’re women.

The paper goes on for a while to build the case that women are, in fact, paid less than men – and continues to claim that it’s for some other reason than simply number of hours worked or specific shifts that are chosen.

However, also see:

—– —–
The alternative reasons for the residual gender pay gap do not help illuminate why earnings differences by sex expand so greatly with age. They also do not explain why women without children generally have higher earnings than women with children and why the former’s earnings are almost equal to those of comparable men.
—– —–

^^^ Actually, that’s precisely what those alternative reasons explain. Women who choose to have children and start a family will not focus on work as much as women who choose not to have children (again, we’ll get more into this in just a bit). This confirms what we find in other studies – that women who are career oriented, and driven to succeed, do in fact make as much, if not more, than men.

More in regards to free-market competition:

—– —–
Jobs for which bargaining and competing matter the most, I will demonstrate, are also positions that have the greatest nonlinearities (meaning convexity) of pay with respect to time worked. Field and laboratory experiments often show that women shy away from competition [[Correct, which explains a lot]]. But these experiments do not consider the types of jobs that reward competition the most [[It’s perfectly reasonable to consider if someone is competition adverse, then more competition would make them moreadverse]]. Often those are winner-take-all positions, such as partner in a firm, tenured professor at a university, or top manager. These are also positions for which considerable work hours leads to a higher chance of obtaining the reward, and it is often the case that hours alone get rewarded [[Bingo – in these cases, it’s the hours worked, not because penis]]. Persistence in these positions and continuous time on the job probably matters far more to one’s success than a desire and ability to compete.
—– —–

Later we also see:

—– —–
If the individual’s past employment history was included, as it will be for specific occupations presented later, the coefficients [[the “wage gap”]] would be considerably smaller.
—– —–

^^^ Correct, because many positions pay “based on experience”.

The paper continues on about different factors that are not even slightly related to gender. Starting on page 13 of PDF reader, under the section titled “A Personnel Economics Theory of Occupational Pay Differences” – I won’t bother to continue responding to it point by point. From here on, the author lists out all the reasons for the pay gap – none of which have anything to do with sexist discrimination, and all of which are due to personal choice.

The crown jewel of this section:

—– —–
Differences in pay arise because of productivity differences in the workplace, not because of inherent differences in human capital across workers. Some workers want the amenity of flexibility or of lower hours and some firms may find it cheaper to provide.
—– —–

If men can do it, women can do it. Every single thing listed here is the result of a personalchoice, and is not because some evil misogynist woman-hating man is working in payroll and clicking away at his spreadsheet to make sure that anyone with a womanly sounding name earns less than someone with a manly sounding name.

It has nothing to do with patriarchy. It has nothing to do with sexism. It has nothing to do with gender discrimination. Yet look again at the title of the original article: “the wage gap is because of gender, not jobs“! The Third Wave Narrative is so strong, that research which debunks the narrative, can be used as a means of proving the narrative. I’ve seen something similar to this done when creationist point to a “Croco-duck” and claim the absence of such a thing disproves evolution, when in fact the existence of such a thing is what would disprove evolution.

However, the study does address what actually is the only point in regards to the wage gap: at home child care.

For whatever reason a woman may choose to bring another life into the world, if they are financially able, and want to have children, then of course they have a right to do so. The question then becomes – who takes care of the child at home? Who has to make career sacrifices? This is the only factor that does, as a matter of fact, impact women more so than men. It’s why the study makes mention of positions that reward “long hours” and “continuous work” – things that are not possible for a woman who has a kid waiting for her at home.

Because of the societal norms in place, men are expected to work longer hours and “tough it out”, then use part of their money to support their family (which can hardly be called an advantage). Women are encouraged to take care of the kids (though this is also not always an advantage). The actual choices made at home are still personal choices, and there is absolutely no reason a man and woman cohabitating can’t work out an arrangement they can both agree on (especially since the law allows her to divorce him, split half the assets between them, then force him to pay child support and alimony until the rest of forever).

However, the work hours for certain jobs are designed with career-focused people in mind!

Because men are more willing to fill these roles easier, this is where the wage gap happens. Again this isn’t because of sexism, patriarchy, or anything else, and women who don’t have children routinely make more at the end of a fiscal period than do men.

The paper proposes making small businesses more accepting of job flexibility for employees who have children. As a 4th Wave Feminist, I would agree that jobs should consider being more flexible for parents, but not just for women. If a man has children, and he wants to spend more time at home taking care of them, then his job should allow the same flexibility granted to women who have children. Society ought to congratulate people who actually want to spend time with their children this way.

Unfortunately, I don’t see there ever being a time when this will happen. This is being proposed in an economy where almost no one can survive. I’m sure at this point we’re all quite familiar with the 99% movement, and wealth income disparity in America. I have worked 3 jobs at once, and still was not able to get stable, so it seems unfathomable that anyone could ask parents to work less and spend more time at home raising his family. The bottom 80% of the American population are now struggling just to eat. So how would someone “choose” to come home early from work to spend time with the kids when the fridge is empty and they’re 1 paycheck away from losing the house? This is pretty much the story of America right now. It’s an economic issue, not a sexist or gender issue.

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