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"Are women paid less than men for the same work?" (Economist)

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article snip - https://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2017/08/daily-chart?fsrc=scn/fb/te/bl/ed/
article full - https://www.economist.com/news/business/21725586-wider-top-narrower-bottom-wage-gap-between-men-and-women-varies-depending

Quote

 

....

In Britain, as in other European countries, the average gap in pay between men and women in exactly the same jobs is tiny or non-existent, according to data for 8.7m employees worldwide gathered by Korn Ferry, a consultancy. The difference is also narrow in each of the 16 job levels in the database—except, crucially, in the highest one, in which men in some countries are indeed paid a lot more than women (see chart).
....

 


I have seen people mumble about these numbers for a long time but I think from now on, if someone brings this up, I'm going to link that article. The answer is "pretty much no"; the differences in pay are really small. The "women only get paid 0.80c for every dollar a man makes" saying that goes around is simply incorrect. However if the question is about the distribution of women then that is a different debate with a different answer. There are less women in higher positions in government, business, STEM fields, etc.

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Yea they've done this type of analysis repeatedly and the general findings are always that on an apples to apples basis women make the same as men.  I've even seen the pendulum swing the other direction, suggesting that young-single-childless women in cities make 8% more than men.  There's also the fact that women enroll and graduate from college in higher numbers than men. 

I still think there are issues in the workplace revolving around upper management and board positions being male dominated.  But the last time I saw that brought up some people were arguing for quotas, which I believe is a disgustingly hamfisted "fix" which would invariably cause more issues than it would solve. 

I don't want to suggest that our generation is better than previous generations (even if that's true), multiple studies have shown that our generation believes in fairness/equity.  We've seen a mostly positive trend towards inclusion and acceptance of various religious/racial/ethic/sexual orientation etc. I do expect that as more people in our generation begin to climb corporate ladders we'll see representation change.  I don't think it will ever be 50/50 and to suggest that we force this number (like we're the prime minister of canada) isn't the correct solution.

Semi-Rant: No one ever gives a shit about the gender gap in shitty/dangerous positions.  The logging industry, sanitation, oil/gas drilling and fishing all are male dominated but I've yet to see a single person complain about the lack of women in those areas... As soon as we bring up CEO's and other highly paid positions suddenly it's always "we need more women" and "STEM fields need to be more accommodating for women".  My thoughts on that always waffle somewhere between reasonable and complete asshole. 

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https://www.recode.net/2017/8/10/16125452/google-sundar-pichai-fire-james-damore-diversity-memo

Google will be making the management meeting available to replay and will be live streaming it today.

Quote

“It was a cordial discussion, considering the topic, and you could see how you could argue both sides on the face of it,” said one source. “But I think Damore’s focus on biology really made it clear that he had crossed the line.”

What turned the tide, said sources, was when it was noted that if Damore’s dubious contentions about women’s skills were replaced by those about race or religion, there would be no debate.

In fact, Wojcicki said as much in her essay:

“For instance, what if we replaced the word ‘women’ in the memo with another group? What if the memo said that biological differences amongst Black, Hispanic, or LGBTQ employees explained their underrepresentation in tech and leadership roles? Would some people still be discussing the merit of the memo’s arguments or would there be a universal call for swift action against its author? I don’t ask this to compare one group to another, but rather to point out that the language of discrimination can take many different forms and none are acceptable or productive.”

 

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Are there biological differences between men and women? No shit there are.  Do those prevent a woman from being able to sit in front of a computer in an air conditioned facility and code? Not so far as I can tell.  But women do have children and that can affect their ability to work longer hours as well as time off for maternity leave or their choices for work in general. 

Here's a nice timely article written by a woman suggesting that while women can and do work in tech, they often aren't as passionate about the field, willing to dedicate their spare time learning and experimenting with new technologies.  I'm not sure I even agree with her sentiments on that front, but she does call out the biological element and actually sides with the ex-google employee. 

Quote

Most smart people can be taught to build a basic workstation and hook it up to a server. But the more complicated the problems get, the more knowledge and skill they require, and the people who acquire that sort of expertise are the ones who are most passionately interested in those sorts of problems. A company like Google, which turns down many more applicants than it hires, is going to select heavily for that sort of passion. If more men have it than women, the workforce will be mostly men.

Women seem to have less affinity for mechanical things than men, a preference that shows up even in extremely young children. These preferences show up across cultures, and indeed, the less sexist a society is overall, the more you seem to see women splitting off into fields that emphasize people, and words, and caring. These are averages, not prophecies about individuals.

Well, Damore’s analysis leans very heavily on the biological explanations, and as persuasive as I find them, I also know that the story is more complicated than that.

Again, I think people need to understand that a perfect 50/50 split in every field isn't going to happen and shouldn't be something we arbitrarily force.  There's a huge gender disparity in the nursing field but I don't see rallies of men on college campuses saying "We need more men in nursing - down with the matriarchy"

A better and more constructive use of everyone's time is to provide better options for children's daycare and family leave for both men and women in equal measure.  I know plenty of Europe goes a bit overboard with this, but I can absolutely see the benefits of some parental leave being mandated federally. 

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Well I can tell this is going to be a complete shitshow:

https://www.npr.org/2018/10/01/653318005/california-becomes-1st-state-to-require-women-on-corporate-boards

Quote

California will be the first state to require publicly traded companies to have at least one woman on their board of directors.

The law, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday, requires public companies whose principal executive offices are located in California to comply by the end of 2019. The minimum is two female directors if the company has five directors on its board, or three women if it has seven directors by the close of 2021.

I have a feeling this will end up at the supreme court, I also have a feeling that this will be overturned because you cannot force businesses to hire women (or men) and just because the company is public doesn't mean the state and federal government are given complete control over these businesses.  I really hate quotas because it undercuts the legitimacy of the people that benefit from them.  Also this law will invariably push more corporations to incorporate in states other than California, probably further cementing Delaware as the corporate capital of the US. 

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It feels very ham-fisted and I have to imagine that some of the women that end up in this position will have twice the uphill battle because of it because some will feel they only got the position because of the law on top of the garden variety gender discrimination.

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Full of issues, but I understand Gov. Brown's stance on the subject. I expect the bill to killed at some point.

 

Quote

In his statement on signing the bill into law, the California governor pointedly cc'ed the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and wrote: "I don't minimize the potential flaws that indeed may prove fatal to [the law's] ultimate implementation. Nevertheless, recent events in Washington, D.C.—and beyond—make it crystal clear that many are not getting the message."

He noted that as far back as 1886, corporations have been considered persons as far as the 14th Amendment is considered.

"Given all the special privileges that corporations have enjoyed for so long, it's high time corporate boards include the people who constitute more than half the 'persons' in America," Brown wrote.

 

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Cruising around the internet I stumbled across a link to this article from Freakonomics about the gender wage gap - specifically at Uber. 

Summary: Men earn 7% more than women driving for uber, even though uber is an algorithm and does not discriminate by gender.  Uber's own data scientists/economists determined it was due to 3 factors:

  1. 20% attributed to - Time/Location.  Generally men took more lucrative shifts like 3am when the bars close, or airport trips.  Women often took lucrative trips Sunday afternoons. 
  2. 30% attributed to - Experience.  Men made an average of 50% more uber trips than women over the same time period.  Additionally the attrition rate for women was 76% vs 63% for men.  The uber driver population is roughly 70% men and 30% women.
  3. 50% attributed to - Speed.  Men drive an average of 2% faster than women (nationally) which allows them to complete more jobs per hour and earn more. 

http://freakonomics.com/podcast/what-can-uber-teach-us-about-the-gender-pay-gap/

Sidenote: I have a healthy skepticism of freakonomics, they do some good work but they've also taken some very... interesting stances in the past.  I think they're generally pretty good, and for articles like this one with hard data, I'd take their reporting at face value. 

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Summary: Men earn 7% more than women driving for uber, even though uber is an algorithm and does not discriminate by gender.  Uber's own data scientists/economists determined it was due to 3 factors:

I think this is the most interesting aspect. My personal opinion is that there definitely is a wage gap caused by gender discrimination among other things, but it does not describe the whole wage gap. I believe there are some inherent gender disparities that cause the wage gap and I don't think that it would be fair to men to address those aspects. I believe in equal pay for equal work, but I'm very much against equal pay for gender disparities. 

More data in gender neutral professionals would definitely help illustrate what is due to gender disparate and discrimination so that we aren't forcing poorly written affirmative action type laws into the rule books.

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While I have a feeling it would be incredibly difficult, I think one of the best solutions involve increased transparency for worker pay.  One of the few things I respect about the government sector is that their jobs tend to operate on a very strict set of guidelines when it comes to pay - generally it's a very systematic tier system where you can know that everyone on tier X is making between $Y0,000 - $Z0,000.  If companies were forced to follow that tier style system, and publicly post what titles/positions qualified for which salaries that might alleviate some of the complaints about gender wage disparity.  Of course the counter argument that many of these business would probably make is that certain individuals are "better" at their jobs and deserve higher wages than other individuals. 

At least with the uber example we have something very clear cut and some reasonable explanations for why a gender wage gab exists in this instance.  From a data science perspective the larger number of variables at a more traditional workplace does cause issues.  Not to mention this doesn't really address occupational gender disparity (larger number of female nurses and school teachers). 

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