# Here's What The Gender Pay Gap Looks Like

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A nice summary of the data was published today over at fivethirtyeight.com, the site launched by Nate Silver of freakishly accurate election predicting fame.

http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/heres-what-the-gender-pay-gap-looks-like-by-income-level/

A few relevant tidbits:

* The average woman would have had to work all last year and into April this year to earn as much as the average man did in 2014 alone.

* The gap is largest at the 95th percentile, with women earning only 79 percent of what men earn in the same income level. The narrowing of the wage gap for low-income earners is largely due to the minimum wage, which is the same for men and women.

* The lowest-wage occupations remain disproportionately female.

We've covered some of this ground in other threads already, but what do you think causes this?

What is the best way to address the gap and what obstacles exist that prevent us from doing so?

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One thing that might help is more jobs, and less non-compete style agreements that artificially lower wages in general.
I don't know where the jobs come from, but if they weren't so scarce more women may feel able to leave poor-paying positions.

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Is the picture still same when hourly rates and job description are compared within the the same organisation? I suspect part of the picture is that many women are taking up the more poorly paid positions that are offered in more poorly paying firms..

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I believe there's some truth to that, but we need to acknowledge that the wage gap persists even when viewed within category (within Org is probably too granular to see on a population level and would vary company to company where it can actually be measured).

* 10 cents: The size of the average wage gap in the 10 largest low-wage job categories. In the 10 largest low-wage occupations, women working full time were typically paid only 90.4 percent of what their male counterparts were paid each week an average wage gap of 9.6 cents.

* Three: The number of job categories out of 111 in which the median weekly earnings of women working full time were *not* lower than those of men: computer occupations; wholesale and retail buyers; and bakers.

The 10 largest low-wage occupations and the percentage of women in each occupation are: childcare workers (95%); home health aides (89%); maids and housekeepers (88%); personal care aides (84%); cashiers (72%); waiters and waitresses (70%); combined food preparers and servers (65%); bartenders (58%); food preparation workers (56%); and hand packers and packagers (49%).

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I think the gender pay gap is something that is very difficult to properly measure.

Another poster made the point that you have to compare by job description.

Also, by corporation. Some companies are notorious for paying more than other companies.

Further, you would need to compare by performance. The best performer in the office is probably going to be paid more than your average performer in the office.

Then there is years experience, education, specific skills and other potential value to the organization.

IMO the data is meaningless if you simply compare all female job holders vs all male job holders.

I suspect there are organizations where a "good ole boy" system is in place and the male workers are treated differently and paid better than females. But I also suspect that there are companies and organizations that try to be fair.

I just don't know a feasible way to accurately measure the true gap.

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We obviously need a 25% tax on men. It should kick in on a male's 18th birthday and last there entire life. Then there should be a 25% minimum estate tax applied at the death of all males. There, problem solved.

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I think the real measure of potential gender bias is not relative pay but the presence, or absence of, gender-influenced selection.bias

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We obviously need a 25% tax on men. It should kick in on a male's 18th birthday and last there entire life. Then there should be a 25% minimum estate tax applied at the death of all males. There, problem solved.

Well, that escalated quickly.

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We obviously need a 25% tax on men. It should kick in on a male's 18th birthday and last there entire life. Then there should be a 25% minimum estate tax applied at the death of all males. There, problem solved.

But realistically a man on minimum wage earns exactly the same as a woman on minimum wage if you tax him he would earn less than women. Also don't forget that many of the most successful American entrepreneurs are men http://www.forbes.com/forbes-400/#tab:overall_page:12.

For instance over here the male unemployment rate is higher than the female unemployment rate but men still earn more. But I think this is largely to do with the classical idea of men inheriting land/business and therefore being able to work from home. Now I went and looked at the American statistics and apparently 9.2% of black or African American women are unemployed however 10% of black or African American men are unemployed. https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/LNS14000031 https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/LNS14000032

What I mean is that if a man starts off poor it is actually far harder for him to work his way up the ladder than a woman who is comparatively poor.

Edited by fiveworlds
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But realistically a man on minimum wage earns exactly the same as a woman on minimum wage if you tax him he would earn less than women. Also don't forget that many of the most successful American entrepreneurs are men http://www.forbes.com/forbes-400/#tab:overall_page:12.

For instance over here the male unemployment rate is higher than the female unemployment rate but men still earn more. But I think this is largely to do with the classical idea of men inheriting land/business and therefore being able to work from home. Now I went and looked at the American statistics and apparently 9.2% of black or African American women are unemployed however 10% of black or African American men are unemployed. https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/LNS14000031 https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/LNS14000032

What I mean is that if a man starts off poor it is actually far harder for him to work his way up the ladder than a woman who is comparatively poor.

Obviously you don't understand fairness and governments role in correcting injustice. My tax proposal takes care of all of that instantly. It also has the added benefit of allowing the government to grow bigger and more intrusive thereby providing government a better understand our needs and allowing government to shower us with benefits.

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Perhaps this would all be relevant if we were only talking about the minimum wage. Since the OP shows clearly a consistent trend across all income percentiles and additionally since it's hardly the only dataset our meta-analysis out there leading to the same conclusion, I recommend we broaden the discussion a bit and ignore obvious trolling like the above.

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I've read an article before, I don't know of this http://www.npr.org/2011/02/14/133599768/ask-for-a-raise-most-women-hesitate was the same one, but it was the same idea.

Men are more likely to ask for raises and more aggressive in salary negotiation and that when women do aggressively negotiate they are more likely to be perceived in a negative way instead of positive way versus men.

Also, while the numbers are improving, women make up a small portion of high paying jobs compared to men. For doctors and lawyers, women are about 33% and for engineers, women are about 20%.

Women are not going into the higher paying fields proportionally so I think that if there are two males per every female in the higher paying fields, it clearly favors men in likelihood of rasies, promotions going to men.

I think that some of it is cultural. There isn't as much emphasis on females getting excited about certain studies at an early age and thus ending up with certain high paying careers.

I think some of it is natural too though, and that there isn't perfectly equally interest in all subject by both genders.

I think progress is being made though. I think continuing to get females interested in science and math and all studies that perhaps they weren't pushed toward decades ago while young is helping.

I don't know how easy it is to quantify the gap and how meaningful some of the stats are, but I think you can't go wrong with trying to present oppurtunity as early as possible to get interested and excited in all fields.

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while the numbers are improving, women make up a small portion of high paying jobs compared to men. For doctors and lawyers, women are about 33% and for engineers, women are about 20%.

Women are not going into the higher paying fields proportionally...

We cannot really make comments here since we don't know whether or not women are choosing not to go into those fields or if they're making attempts and being filtered out of the process (although, we do have a significant amount of data indicating the latter is more likely true).

One of the more remarkable and discouraging facts about the U.S. economy is that even while women have increasingly entered the workforce, they still make less than comparable men on a variety of metrics. Even though women now outnumber men in college, there is still a difference in earnings.

<snip>

Consider a paper published in 2000 by Harvard University economist Claudia Goldin and Princeton University economist Cecilia Rouse. They looked at how gender biases might affect auditions for seats in a symphony orchestra. Goldin and Rouse found that making the audition blind by having the musician play behind a screen resulted in the hiring of many more female musicians. The orchestra staff appeared to have an unconscious bias against female applicants.

The new paper, by economists Victor Lavy and Edith Sand of the University of Warwick and Tel Aviv University, respectively, looks at how this kind of bias from teachers might affect the future educational path of students. Specifically, they look at the implicit gender biases of primary school teachers.

<snip>

Lavy and Sand find that these gender biases do exist and they have long-term effects. Male students that had more biased teachers do better on standardized tests later in their schools years. And the opposite happens for female students: they will do less well. And the effects aren’t just limited to test scores. Boys with biased primary school teachers are more likely to take math classes in high school and girls are less likely. Considering that these courses serve as a base for further course in math and science, this could explain future gaps. The authors show a strong correlation between test scores and future earnings.

And the effect is larger for certain kinds of students. In particular, girls that come from a family with a large difference in education levels are more affected by the early gender bias. In other words, if a girl’s father is more educated than her mother, she’ll be more affected by the gender bias of an early teacher.

Helpful data and evidence showing the actual gender pay trend: https://s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/documents/1350163/women_education_workforce.pdf

Harvard study on differences in orchestra selection when listeners do and don't know gender of player: http://public.econ.duke.edu/~hf14/teaching/povertydisc/readings/goldin-rouse99.pdf

Tel-Aviv study around teacher bias: http://www.nber.org/papers/w20909

I don't know how easy it is to quantify the gap and how meaningful some of the stats are, but I think you can't go wrong with trying to present oppurtunity as early as possible to get interested and excited in all fields.

Indeed!
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Perhaps this would all be relevant if we were only talking about the minimum wage. Since the OP shows clearly a consistent trend across all income percentiles and additionally since it's hardly the only dataset our meta-analysis out there leading to the same conclusion, I recommend we broaden the discussion a bit and ignore obvious trolling like the above.

So is talk all this topic is going to be? Hasn't pay inequality been around far too long for us to just simply talk? I provide a concrete proposal to fix the problem and I get accused of trolling. What's a person have to do to get some action?

So you don't like my tax proposal. Okay, here is another. The source of all good things, the government, should establish a ministry of salary, wage, and benefits. This ministry would participate in every salary, wage, and benefit decision for every single person in the country. The gender gap would be closed in an instant. Tom get's paid more then Mary? Well that can be easily be corrected. Maids get paid less than garbage collectors? Again fixed in an instant. Now this will likely require a large bureaucracy so taxes will have to go up, but think of all the fairness those taxes will buy. Think of the productivity gains. No need to go to all those affirmative action or cultural diversity meetings any more.

Why stop at gender gaps. What about education gaps. People with high school degrees get paid less then those with college degrees? Students with low grades get paid less than those with high grades? The illiterate get paid less than the literate? All that can be fixed. What about political gaps? Liberals get paid less than conservatives. Can't let that stand. Conservatives get paid less than liberals. Well that one only makes sense. Race gaps, gone. The list just goes on and on. Here is the best gap to close of them all. The employed get paid more than the unemployed? Where is the fairness in that?

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Two points.

One - Applying a punishing tax to the currently unaffected group (males) isn't likely the best path toward addressing a real discrepancy in pay for females across income levels and job types. Smarter solutions clearly exist even if you're unaware of / unfamiliar with them. We can discuss those maturely, unless of course you're just trolling.

Two - There exist reasonable options to improve the situation between "do nothing / maintain status quo / bury head in sand and pretend nothing is wrong" and "implement overwhelming fascist style governmental control over every hiring and promotion transaction in every job in every location across the country." Do you have an interest in exploring those, or (again) are you just trolling?

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Two points.

One - Applying a punishing tax to the currently unaffected group (males) isn't likely the best path toward addressing a real discrepancy in pay for females across income levels and job types. Smarter solutions clearly exist even if you're unaware of / unfamiliar with them. We can discuss those maturely, unless of course you're just trolling.

Two - There exist reasonable options to improve the situation between "do nothing / maintain status quo / bury head in sand and pretend nothing is wrong" and "implement overwhelming fascist style governmental control over every hiring and promotion transaction in every job in every location across the country." Do you have an interest in exploring those, or (again) are you just trolling?

Well quit pussyfooting. Let's here those reasonable options.

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Happy to share. Would like you to please first confirm you're not merely trolling.

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Well quit pussyfooting. Let's here those reasonable options.

What's with the attitude? Does every conversation have to be a bad-tempered battle?

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He's not the only one involved in this discussion.

Do the rest of us have to confirm we're not trolling for you to share those options ?

Be careful though, some members will jump all over your proposals, while providing none of their own ( its happened to my proposals in other threads ).

It seems they don't want to fix problems, just want us to all wallow in collective guilt.

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I'd like to hear ideas from others. I'd like to see some of the ideas below moved forward. I'd like to know which readers here feel have the best chances of success and which are likely to face the most insurmountable obstacles.

• Enhance enforcement of existing discrimination and equal pay laws
• Make the salaries tied to specific positions more transparent (for both internal staff and external candidates), and do more to make open discussion of salaries among employees less restricted, subject to retaliation, and taboo
• Have companies conduct regular pay audits and proactively mitigate disparities unrelated to experience and performance. Monitor promotions to ensure they are unbiased
• Consider no longer allowing negotiation of salary during hiring. If you want this job, this is what it pays. You can negotiate how much is base salary and how much is equity, but not total comp amount
• Conduct open and transparent calibration sessions when deciding on merit increases and bonuses
• Improve programs for paid medical leave, extend protected maternity leave, and pass paid sick days legislation
• Offer childcare and early education to the families of workers and support fair scheduling practices that limit last minute shift changes and minimize perpetual on-call statuses
• Since others have noted above women are more likely to work minimum wage jobs, we should also raise the minimum wage, including the minimum wage of restaurant and similarly tipped workers

I'm sure there are more and likely even better out there, but these are at least a start.

Time and again impossible problems are solved when we realize they're merely tough decisions waiting to be made.

Edited by iNow
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• Enhance enforcement of existing discrimination and equal pay laws

So this seems tough. I'm not familiar with the current enforcement level but with something as difficult to accurately ascertain as pay discrimination this might just be an invitation for frivolous law suits that only ends up funneling money to lawyers.

Objectively proving pay discrimination for a specific individual can be pretty tough. And regarding equal pay laws, I really don't know how that would help. Because of the way that salary negotiation/raises work there are so many moving parts that how would you accurately determine that someone was discriminating because a new employee was a female or if they didn't negotiate as well or didn't have one or two very important skill sets of another hire? I'm sure there would be some more obvious ones but how often is discrimination obvious versus subtle?

For the law to be effective I'm afraid it would nearly require draconian government oversight.

• Make the salaries tied to specific positions more transparent (for both internal staff and external candidates), and do more to make open discussion of salaries among employees less restricted, subject to retaliation, and taboo

I think this is a good idea. I've always found it interesting that corporations want you to tell them your previous salary but they typically aren't going to tell you what they pay current employees at specific positions. They might give a vague range... They want the upperhand in the negotiations and it's a way to ensure they have it. Promoting this culture would be difficult, some firms I'm sure would adopt it but there would be some that wouldn't, and in those cases people should recognize that and steer clear of those organizations.

• Have companies conduct regular pay audits and proactively mitigate disparities unrelated to experience and performance. Monitor promotions to ensure they are unbiased

So this I don't think would be efficient or effective.

Adding further regulation and laws which is going to create departments and "make work" doesn't seem helpful. And cost is always passed down to the consumer anyway. Further, one size fits all solutions typically don't fit anyone. How are these new regulations going to work for companies with thousands of employees versus a company with 8 employees?

And you are again faced with the near impossibility of objectively determining gender pay discrimination on a case by case basis. How can you prove performance discrepancies? And there are other things outside of experience and performance. Some employees work more hours than others even if they are salary.

And how are you going to monitor promotions? Will there be an agency that oversees this or will this all be on the honor system?

• Consider no longer allowing negotiation of salary during hiring. If you want this job, this is what it pays. You can negotiate how much is base salary and how much is equity, but not total comp amount

I don't like this at all. Are annual raises going to then by standard as well, no negotiation or difference based upon aptitude or performance or work ethic? Because if they are than it is a fundamentally flawed system, and if it isn't than it defeats the point of not negotiating on the initial salary.

• Conduct open and transparent calibration sessions when deciding on merit increases and bonuses

So this seems a lot like your second point which for the most parts seems fine. Unless we are talking about instituting an agency for oversight. If this is just a cultural change of corporations to add more transparency to pay, raises, bonuses etc than I don't think it's a bad idea.

• Improve programs for paid medical leave, extend protected maternity leave, and pass paid sick days legislation

Other than maternity leave I'm not sure how this is gender related?

• Offer childcare and early education to the families of workers and support fair scheduling practices that limit last minute shift changes and minimize perpetual on-call statuses

None of this seems bad, I think it comes down to avoiding organizations that notoriously treat workers poorly though.

• Since others have noted above women are more likely to work minimum wage jobs, we should also raise the minimum wage, including the minimum wage of restaurant and similarly tipped workers

I don't see how this helps the gender pay gap. Paying people more at the lower end might provide a slight uptick in the gap since women make up the majority on this end of the spectrum, but it will be small and it will IMO miss the point. I think the point, or goal is to encourage, promote and increase the percentage of women in higher paying fields which will also decrease the women in lower paying fields.

Hopefully it doesn't come across as me just being a contrarian. Several of the ideas are good, but some just seem to miss the mark IMO. It is a difficult thing to measure accurately and and even more difficult thing to resolve.

IMO the best solution is doing what we can as early as we can. Meaning programs in schools that get girls interested in math, science and any other field that maybe traditionally was considered for men. Trying to make the cultural changes at a young age to foster the idea that females do belong in these fields.

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Be careful though, some members will jump all over your proposals, while providing none of their own ( its happened to my proposals in other threads ).

Lol. It seems you were correct.

j/k Skeptic. I appreciate your willingness to share your thoughts. Let me try to clarify where I can. I suspect I'm rather more familiar with this space than many here and probably have made some implicit assumptions that aren't immediately clear to others.

Deep breath. Long post ahead, but I did try to be clear, organized, and logical so please bear with me...

So this seems tough. I'm not familiar with the current enforcement level...

There are existing policies and reporting requirements in place for companies that address many of these issues. There's the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Equal Pay Act and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, as well as an update known as the Paycheck Fairness Act being proposed (and actively blocked) right now to further strengthen and close obvious loopholes in those others.

Note also that it's not a challenge of "ascertaining pay discrimination" so much as it is a problem of staffing and following of existing laws. We have the employment data and numbers in hand already. It can be done without changes to existing reporting requirements of companies and through existing tools. We just have to staff the review and enforcement side to analyze the data coming in and actually do something about it (precisely as the laws intended). What happens instead, though, is powerful lobbyists and empty-suit politicians who are entirely bought and paid for and "the invisible hand of the free market can cure anything!" types stand in the way, The budgets in place to support these acts and efforts continually get slashed and the laws become feckless well-intentioned words on a page with no backbone of support. The point, though, is that the laws we need to address the problem are there already, as well as the data to do it well.

Sure... It's no panacea, but starting with better enforcement of laws already on the books would be a certain win to millions and millions of working women (and minorities) and their families, and consequently our economy as a whole.

[Re: Conducting pay audits and monitoring promotions for bias...]

So this I don't think would be efficient or effective. Adding further regulation and laws which is going to create departments and "make work" doesn't seem helpful.

I'm talking about companies doing this, not the government, and it's really not difficult. You're essentially mapping performance and tenure data against pay and gender data. I could knock this out in Excel in like 5 minutes. Now, the process could be improved/expanded upon with a regulation making this required of companies, but that's not what I was thinking. This data already exists in HR systems, analytics tools and reporting teams are already in place to pull and share it in most organizations on at least a monthly basis. They have gender information, performance information, tenure information, starting salary, promotion history, etc. It's incredibly simple to do this work and to show trends and deltas (I promise, your companies legal and HR teams do it already... if 40% of your workforce is female, but 80% of your raises are going to the males, the CEO and board of directors know about it).

The core question here is not about accessing the information, but about doing something with it... The question is whether or not someone in leadership chooses to act on that information and correct obvious biases or chooses to ignore it due to biases of their own.

And how are you going to monitor promotions?

Again, it's already right there in your HR system. On day X, employee A was paid this much at this grade level. On day X+n, employee A was paid this other amount at this higher grade level... Now, just compare that information against tenure, experience, and performance to look for problems. HR does this already and has the data and shares it (at least quarterly) with executives. It's already happening, so my recommendation is more about what should follow from these existing efforts.

[Re: Considering no more negotiation at the point of hiring...]

I don't like this at all. Are annual raises going to then by standard as well, no negotiation or difference based upon aptitude or performance or work ethic?

(TBH, this isn't my favorite idea, either, but it would help so...) My response here is that if the individuals performance or aptitude or work ethic are truly that much higher, then they should be applying for a higher level position that accounts for those traits and characteristics from the start.

If instead they choose not to apply for a higher level position for some reason, then they need to accept what the lower level position pays. This addresses the known issue of women tending to be less effective negotiators than men and the underlying idea here is that the company pays for the value of the position itself... how critical it is to their strategy and bottom line and ability to compete... not the value of the person filling it. Again, not my favorite idea, but an idea that without a doubt would address the core issue under discussion regarding inequality and bias of pay across the genders.

[Re: Conducting open and transparent calibration sessions during review and promotion season...]

So this seems a lot like your second point which for the most parts seems fine. Unless we are talking about instituting an agency for oversight.

I'm not personally against requiring it of companies, but a requirement isn't needed for this to be an effective way to improve the situation. The calibration process is simple and tools exist today in HR already to further simplify it. The idea is that a team of leaders agrees on the ratings and compensation decisions for employees instead of just one person who makes the original recommendation. Again, this already happens and HR already reviews this information, but what I'm saying is that peers outside of HR and leaders in the business should also be involved in this process. If a manager wants to give a score of "Top Performer" or give a member of their team a 15% raise, that's fine, but they should be able to defend their recommendation and get buy-in from their peers and leaders. This is done during a Calibration session and the best run companies in the world do it already.

[Re: Improved paid leave and paid sick days...]

Other than maternity leave I'm not sure how this is gender related?

It's subtle, but it's there. Recall that females tend more frequently to be caregivers for family and children than males. This is fine, but it also means females at a disproportionate rate lose continuity in their career path, especially if companies terminate them for needing temporary time away (whether a few days for sickness or a few months for childbirth / infirm family members). By protecting this time, females would be able to deal more effectively with the family stuff and return to work at their existing level (instead of being demoted or punished for things unrelated to performance or pushed out of the organization entirely and forced to start anew at another company). Males would benefit from this, too, but it would be more common for females and would address a core factor impacting their long-term pay potential.

The thinking here applies similarly to the next point about fair scheduling practices. While the benefit would transcend genders, those in a care-taker role for family and children (most commonly, females) cannot always accommodate last minute changes in shift or a perpetual on-call status due to domestic responsibilities. This means they sometimes will have to turn down a shift or say no when called into work and that inherently disfavors people trying to manage both family and career relative to those without children or elders to care for ("you want me there in 5 minutes? but I don't have a babysitter... I definitely need the money and I care deeply about this job and my future with the company, but I'm sorry, I can't..."). This ties in closely with the idea to help around childcare and early childhood education.

[Re: Increase minimum wage and minimum wage for tipped workers... ]

I don't see how this helps the gender pay gap. Paying people more at the lower end might provide a slight uptick in the gap since women make up the majority on this end of the spectrum, but it will be small and it will IMO miss the point.

In some ways, I agree, but I don't believe the affect will be as small as you think. The math is pretty straight forward. While gender pay inequalities exist at every income level, females do account for nearly 70% of all minimum wage workers. By addressing those workers at the bottom end of the spectrum the overall gender pay gap across the country would be significantly reduced and the lives of millions improved.

I think the point, or goal is to encourage, promote and increase the percentage of women in higher paying fields which will also decrease the women in lower paying fields.

A laudable goal, indeed, but unfortunately a bit peripheral to the central topic under discussion IMO since even within those higher paying fields women experience significant pay asymmetries. This remains true even when you control for other variables like experience, ability, and work ethic, so let's do both. Help more females into those better paying positions and take steps to help ensure they're being compensated equitably. Edited by iNow
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There are existing policies and reporting requirements in place for companies that address many of these issues. There's the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Equal Pay Act and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, as well as an update known as the Paycheck Fairness Act being proposed (and actively blocked) right now to further strengthen and close obvious loopholes in those others.

Note also that it's not a challenge of "ascertaining pay discrimination" so much as it is a problem of staffing and following of existing laws.

We just have to staff the review and enforcement side to analyze the data coming in and actually do something about it (precisely as the laws intended).

I think too often the idea of adding more laws to fix things seems like the approach but you point out yourself it is about enforcement and thus the funding to staff the agencies etc, which costs money, perhaps lots of money.

How big of a federal agency will need to be created to effectively enforce the current and potentially new laws?

How will corporate cooperation be forced? Penalties? What severity?

This type of approach just makes me nervous. Is a massive industry of beurocrats and lawyers going to be created that grows over time and we don't even know how effecient or effective it will be?

I would suggest baby steps with this type of approach. Start with the existing laws and figure out ways to start improving enforcement gradually versus massive overhaul type adjustments, not that you are are suggesting massive immediate overhauls.

(TBH, this isn't my favorite idea, either, but it would help so...) My response here is that if the individuals performance or aptitude or work ethic are truly that much higher, then they should be applying for a higher level position that accounts for those traits and characteristics from the start.

But there really is that much performance difference in the same position. As an example, engineers with the same degree, same experience level and in the same position will have very different quality and quantity of work output. The one who always leaves at 5 versus the one that gets there early and leaves when something is done. The one that does what is asked versus the one that doesn't need supervision because they are self motivated. I don't think you can simply define a position as having one level of pay and assume that it would be a different position if the performance was significantly different.

This is fine, but it also means females at a disproportionate rate lose continuity in their career path, especially if companies terminate them for needing temporary time away (whether a few days for sickness or a few months for childbirth / infirm family members). By protecting this time, females would be able to deal more effectively with the family stuff and return to work at their existing level (instead of being demoted or punished for things unrelated to performance or pushed out of the organization entirely and forced to start anew at another company). Males would benefit from this, too, but it would be more common for females and would address a core factor impacting their long-term pay potential.

It is a cultural thing that women typically as you state are more often going to have the career interruptions. If we want a cultural shift of women taking similar career paths traditioinal of men than we should expect changes to this cultural norm as well, ie some men beginning to stay home versus be the bread winner, a family decision basically. I don't think it necessarily makes sense to expect we modify a culture in one way but then don't expect the related dynamics to change.

Also, some people choose not to have children. They are making a personal choice that they accept the consequences of as well as the positive, which is focus on career. If the opposite choice is made to have children shouldn't the individual accept both the positive and negative of that decision too?

I know there are plenty of instances where having children wasn't necessarily planned, but I believe that begins to tread into other issues that need to be focused on.

In some ways, I agree, but I don't believe the affect will be as small as you think. The math is pretty straight forward. While gender pay inequalities exist at every income level, females do account for nearly 70% of all minimum wage workers. By addressing those workers at the bottom end of the spectrum the overall gender pay gap across the country would be significantly reduced and the lives of millions improved.

Sources for my numbers:

http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2013/ted_20130325.htm

http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpswom2012.pdf

I had a hard time finding average data but on average women make 78% of men. So if the average female hourly rate is $20 men would be$25.

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