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The Gender Pay Gap: Fact or Fiction?

Lilly Ledbetter, an Alabama Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. worker in Washington in 2009. The president signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act allowing women to sue retroactively for pay and other workplace discrimination. (AP)

Are women paid less than men for equal work? That question was the subject of a heated argument on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday. CNN contributor and Republican strategist Alex Castellanos repeatedly interrupted MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow as she tried to give an example of the type of policymaking that affects women.

Castellanos took issue with Maddow’s statement that women make 77 cents on the dollar for every dollar men make. Castellanos calls it an “old and discredited liberal myth” that women are paid less than men for equal work, saying the discrepancy stems from women taking different jobs and working fewer hours.

The Real Wage Gap

But CNN’s Lisa Sylvester found that even if you control for the hours worked, men make more than women — though the gap narrows to a five cent difference.

And Cornell economist Linda Barrington agrees. She told Here & Now‘s Robin Young that when men and women are doing the same job, with the same level of experience, education and work hours, women are paid about five percent less than men.

“It is a big gap and I think no one would say ‘I don’t want a five percent raise if it were offered,” she said.

But it is more complicated than that, especially when you get into what causes the five percent gap.

“Where the argument comes… is whether that last five percent is discrimination or is it that there are other things that we haven’t been able to control for that really explain the gap?” she said.

Barrington says one such factor that could influence women’s pay is the fact that they are less likely than men to  negotiate for higher starting salaries.

“There is evidence that men are much more likely… to negotiate for that first salary and that first salary gets compounded with every raise thereafter,” she said.

Is There Discrimination?

Barrington says that whether or not the five percent pay gap is a result of discrimination, there can also be discrimination taking place in other ways — even involving some of the factors, like education level and working hours — that studies control for.

For instance, she points to the fact that women are over 95 percent of speech pathologists and only 4.3 percent of air craft pilots and flight engineers.

“Yes that was a choice, but there’s social pressure and some discrimination that tracks women into certain jobs. So once you control for those jobs it doesn’t mean there’s no discrimination, it just means once those women become flight engineers, now how does their pay differ from men.”


There are other small factors that are hard to show statistically or in a court of law, says Barrington.  She says if women have fewer mentors at work, that could affect their pay in the long run.

She also cites an anecdote from graduate school. She says a male classmate told her in a study session that the professor would emphasize certain topics. When she asked the student how he knew, he said that the professor told him in a pick-up basketball game.

“That was a pickup basketball game with all male classmates and all male faculty. That kind of thing plays out in the long run, Barrington said.


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  • J Frog

    This article says the Obama Administration pays men a lot more than they pay women.  Are they paying women less or are they just hiring women for lower paying  jobs?  Discrimination?


  • Marc Prufer

    Rachel Maddow vindicated!  Perhaps, however; this incident could be just another example of the Perpetual Republican Lie Machine at work?  Alex knows better — he just wanted to blur the discussion and to not concede anything to a liberal, especially not on a topic over women’s rights.

    • Will Goodwin

      How was she vindicated?, she said that there is a 25% gender pay gap and the economist said 5-10%.

  • Laura

    I think you should also talk about the advantage of making less.  I, as a woman, feel that I might be making slightly less, but then don’t think twice when I leave the office to see a soccer game and the men are still there working.  I feel that any pay cut I have taken has been a gift which allows me  to have a meaningful career while actively parenting my kids.

    • TechProfFemale

      Not all of us are mothers, and many of us are working 50-60 hour weeks for much less than our highly compensated peers. Nothing’s changed in the 25 years I’ve been in the workforce.

      • MaleMatters

         Re: “many of us are working 50-60 hour weeks for much less than our highly compensated peers”

        Are you talking about unequal work for unequal pay?! Aren’t you concerned that this might make you look like a sucker? Why haven’t you sued? Or quit?

    • Elizabethd1

      To Laura … Have you ever considered how much “guilt” corporate higher ups feel about their large salaries, expense accounts, bonuses and other perks such as playing golf to “conduct business” or meet at a plush resort – in many cases, accompanied by their wives or playmates, etc.   Oh, by the way, how about single moms who have to work 2 or 3 jobs to just make ends meet while raising their children when a father abandoned those children, is disabled or otherwise not able to contribute to the household ?  Count yourself “blessed” for having the luxury to be the mom you think you should be but don’t assume everyone is as “blessed” as you are !    Open your heart and mind to the real struggles and challenges many women face and have compassion for them as well - not just men who “are still working” while you go to a soccer game. 

      • falling321

        You are talking about an entirely different issue.  If you are working 2-3 jobs in order to support your family, a man working the same jobs and the same hours would also be working the same 2-3 jobs to support the same size family.  Your issue is lack of the work skills which would enable you to find a better paying job.  Many of us are now working more than one job because Obama’s policies have driven many employers to hire only part time help, in order to avoid the increased costs associated with this administrations massive over regulation and the uncertainty over the rising costs of Obamacare.  Among the working poor, women actually have an advantage as they tend to be hired more often and for longer hours than their part time male counterparts, although once hired, males tend to advance more quickly as they do not take as much time off to care for children and are more often available to work extra hours when requested.

        Remember, it is NOT up to your employer to ensure you earn a living wage…it is up to YOU to make sure you are educated and have the skills needed to work a job that PAYS a living wage! 

        • freddy11976

          Scenario 1: A woman walks into a car dealership buys a car and puts down $1000 with $300/month payments for 3 years.

          Scenario 2: A man walks into the same dealership 5 minutes later and buys the exact same car from the exact same salesman and puts down $500 with $250/month payments for the same 3 years.

          Question: Is the salesman discriminating?

  • Thinkin15

    The wage gap is real. I have a friend who was in an important managerial position and responsible for directing others and boosting the bottom line. She found out that the newer, underling, was being quite a bit paid more with less experience and less responsibility. When she told the company that she knew about this pay difference they immediately raised her pay and hoped that she wouldn’t take legal action. They knew it was wrong and unfair and they loved her work. The trick is how to find out when it’s happening to you. 

    • Thinkin15

       Meant to add, the “underling” was a male and working under her.

      • MaleMatters

         Oops, I spoke too soon. But my points above still stand.

    • MaleMatters

       You didn’t say whether the “newer underling” was male or female. I as a man was once paid less than another man who came in six months after I did. This happens often. It’s only a concern for feminists when it happens to a woman who’s paid less than a newbie man.

      The point is, there are a lot of male Ledbetters out there.

      See “Will
      the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act Help Women?” at

      • Thinkin15

         Equal pay for equal work. Male or female, isn’t that what we all want? We’re all trying to pay our bills and save for the future. Why make it harder and dependent on which sex we are. That’s something that we can’t change. Millions of women are the sole bread winner for themselves and their families. It’s about survival.

  • Eugene

    How does physical attractiveness effect the compensation gap?

    • http://profiles.google.com/rickevans033050 Rick Evans

      Ask Kate Upton, Naomi Campbell or Cindy Crawford.

    • MaleMatters

      Businesses do tend to prefer the more attractive members of the sexes, depending on the job. Also, as a group, tall men as make more than short men.

    • Lee_hicks2001

       Physical attractiveness may get you the job; but as a decent looking women I can tell you that it causes problem when you reach a certain level in your career.   Men are afraid someone will think they are cheating with you so they don’t give you a that promotion, or important project.

  • J Frog

    We need qualified welders and machinists at our shop.  Over the years, I can count on one hand the number of women that have applied for these jobs (lots and lots and lots for clerical jobs).  Why do women not apply for these jobs?

  • Guillermina Prieto

    women at same professional level are paid less than men, YES we are!  When you are a woman and a hispanic, in the south (University at Postgraduate level) you are considered double minority.  Therefore your pay check is much less than only being a white female.

  • Steve

    First – as a male, let me say that I would have preferred to stay home to raise kids – but my wife’s power in the household prevailed.  Please don’t automatically characterize less employment as the result of some negative power differential within the household on women’s part.  It may, in fact, be evidence of a greater degree of choice – in our case, my wife has chosen to be less than fully engaged in employment…a choice that I, as a male, feel is generally deprived our gender.

    Second – My wife’s is an occupational therapist (OT) (a predominantly female profession) and she works alongside physical therapists (PT) (predominantly male).  One could argue that these are relatively comparable jobs.   The pay for OT’s lags behind that of PT’s.  

    Yet, my wife and I have noticed over the years what a HR nightmare the OT side of the therapy shop is, compared to the PT side of the shop.  I’d say that mainly the nightmare comes from employment being priority #2 (or below) for OT’s while it is generally priority #1 for PT’s.  This is, a factor in 

    I think the pay gap is a phenomenon that is similar to an insurance cost related to this gender related difference.  I don’t hear anyone arguing that insurance companies shouldn’t discriminate between my son & daughter when setting insurance rates.  

    The 5% difference is likely due to this market assigned cost of HR issues.  And actually, based on my own anecdotal evidence alone – that 5% seems fairly small.

  • MaleMatters

    Re: “CNN’s Lisa Sylvester found … the gap narrows to a five cent

    That difference is there because there is generally more pressure on men to earn a high wage than there is on women. Virtually all men feel they must have a good income not only to attract women but to gain society’s respect. Even many gay men want a highly paid job to get that respect.

    An in-depth look at the gender wage gap:

    Women’s “77 cents to men’s dollar” doesn’t mean, as pay-equity advocates want us to believe, women are paid less than men in the same jobs everywhere in the country. Nor does it mean that, even more incredibly in the vein of the stereotype “men are stronger than women,” every woman earns 23% less than every man, perhaps leading some of the more benighted to think Diane Sawyer of ABC News earns less than the young man walking back and forth on the street wearing a “Pizzas $5” sign.

    The figures are arrived at by comparing the sexes’ median incomes. They refer to the point at which 50% of workers earn above the figures and 50% below (which means, among other things, that a lot of women outearn a lot of men). They don’t account for the number of hours worked each week, experience, seniority, training, education or even the job description itself. They compare all women to all men, not people in the same job with the same experience. So a veteran male software designer’s salary is weighed against a first-year female teacher’s income.

    Strategically ignoring this over the decades has been less than productive:

    No law yet has closed the gender wage gap — not the 1963 Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, not Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, not the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act, not the 1991 amendments to Title VII, not affirmative action (which has benefited mostly white women, the group most vocal about the wage gap – http://tinyurl.com/74cooen), not diversity, not the countless state and local laws and regulations, not the horde of overseers at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and not the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act…. Nor will a “paycheck fairness” law work.

    That’s because pay-equity advocates continue to overlook the effects of female AND male behavior:

    Despite the 40-year-old demand for women’s equal pay, millions of wives still choose to have no pay at all. In fact, according to Dr. Scott Haltzman, author of “The Secrets of Happily Married Women,” stay-at-home wives, including the childless who represent an estimated 10 percent, constitute a growing niche. “In the past few years,” he says in a CNN report at http://tinyurl.com/6reowj, “many women who are well educated and trained for career tracks have decided instead to stay at home.” (“Census Bureau data show that 5.6 million mothers stayed home with their children in 2005, about 1.2 million more than did so a decade earlier….” at http://tinyurl.com/qqkaka. If indeed more women are staying at home, perhaps it’s because feminists and the media have told women for years that female workers are paid less than men in the same jobs — so why bother working if they’re going to be penalized and humiliated for being a woman. Yet, if “greedy, profit-obsessed” employers could get away with paying women less than men for the same work, they would not hire a man – ever.)
    As full-time mothers or homemakers, stay-at-home wives earn zero. How can they afford to do this while in many cases living in luxury? Because they’re supported by their husband, an “employer” who pays them to stay at home.

    The implication of this is probably obvious to 10-year-olds but seems incomprehensible to or is ignored by feminists and the liberal media: If millions of wives are able to accept NO wages, millions of other wives, whose husbands’ incomes range from moderate to high, are able to:

    -accept low wages
    -refuse overtime and promotions
    -choose jobs based on interest first, wages second — the reverse of what men tend to do
    -take more unpaid days off
    -avoid uncomfortable wage-bargaining (http://tinyurl.com/3a5nlay)
    -work part-time instead of full-time (“According to a 2009 UK study for the Centre for Policy Studies, only 12 percent of the 4,690 women surveyed wanted to work full time”: http://bit.ly/ihc0tl See also an Australian report at http://tinyurl.com/862kzes)


    Women are able to make these choices because they are supported — or anticipate being supported — by a husband who must earn more than if he’d chosen never to marry. (Still, even many men who shun marriage, unlike their female counterparts, feel their self worth is tied to their net worth.) This is how MEN help create the wage gap: as a group they pass up jobs that interest them for ones that pay well. If the roles were reversed so that men raised the children and women raised the income, men would average lower pay than women.

    Afterword: The power in money is not in earning it (there is only responsibility, sweat, and stress in earning money). The power in money is in SPENDING it. And, Warren Farrell says in The Myth of Male Power at http://www.warrenfarrell.org/TheBook/index.html, “Women control consumer spending by a wide margin in virtually every consumer category.” (Women’s control over spending, adds Farrell, gives women control over TV programs.)

    Excerpted from “Will the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act Help Women?” at http://malemattersusa.wordpress.com/2011/12/03/will-the-ledbetter-fair-pay-act-help-women/

    • falling321

      Excellent!  As one of those females, trained as a nurse, who chose to stay home after the birth of our first child, I do dispute the idea that I am paid no wages.  My husband provided food for my table, clothing for my back and a roof over my head in exchange for my providing full time care and attention to our children.  For us it worked out magnificantly.  He was freed up to spend more hours working and traveling, which he loved, and was able to move up the corporate ladder more quickly than his co-workers, who’s working wives constantly expected them home for dinner, mowing the lawn on the weekends, doing half the housework and taking half the care of the children.  While it wouldn’t work for all women, it certainly worked very well for us.  Yes, we made a lot of sacrifices and did without a lot that our friends had during the early years, but it has certainly paid off very well in the long run.  We all make choices in life and those choices have long range consequences.

  • LGodfrey1

    Some of the inequities are orchestrated, institutionalized, and promoted by corporations.  In the 1970s, a large ad agency in NYC created a position called an “account coordinator”.  This job would be essentially the same as an account executive, BUT it would  be compensated at a much lower rate AND it would be filled by women!  It was rationalized that women couldn’t actually be account executives because they were incapable of selling ads to clients, etc.  If you’ve watched “Mad Men” on AMC-TV, that’s a documentary!

  • Flavorchick

    As a food scientist, I was told by my male college advisor that “You’ll have to work twice as hard to get half as far.”  His words rang true until recently…I took a job that pays the same daily rate for all personnel – male OR female! 

  • Davis Straub


    Men’s wage income steady since 1975. Women up 39%.

  • Tim

    So how is the pay gap where the both of you work? I’m assuming colleges and journalism are more enlightened than most since they are way to the left. Comment?

  • Julie

    I love what you’re saying about Micro- inequities! It’s happening to my female coworkers and I. Our new male coworker gets invited to lunches and dinners with the male bosses while we are obviously ignored. This leads to extra support for his ideas. We need policies in office to mentor females and awareness training for executives in these issues.

    • falling321

      And you do know why this happens don’t you?  Because if females are invited to these lunches, instead of allowing the men to relax and have some fun, maybe comment about a woman sitting at the next table that they think is attractive, the males find themselves at the center of a lawsuit filed by a female coworker who took offense and there goes his job!  The day women decided that men could not be men, even on their lunch hour, was the day women quit being invited to these luncheons and dinners!  Certainly everyone should be included in business luncheons and dinners, but for quick, casual get togethers…it isn’t going to happen if women don’t stop looking for sexual harassment in every comment!

       Or even worse, the invited female automatically assumes that the male co-worker is “coming on” to her through the invitation alone and goes to HR with her complaint!

      Certainly in the work place a woman should never be subjected to sexual innuendo, unwanted touching, etc.  But when my husband did the hiring and firing for his office he had to have a male and female observer in his office every single time he called a female employee in to reprimand or fire her, or risk being falsely accused of sexual harrassment.  Can you really blame men for responding by omitting women from their casual outings? 

  • Davis Straub

    The argument on the radio effectively ignores overall inequality as seen by the URL in my previous post. We appear to be arguing about the crumbs falling off the table.

    Did women expect that pay equality would be accomplished by holding men’s pay down to a zero increase?

  • prof

    I am a full professor at an Ivy League institution.  When I complained years ago that I wasn’t making what some of my male colleagues, with the same education and doing the same work, were earning, I was told by my female dean that I needed to get my priorities straight and learn how to be happy, that I was lucky to have a great husband who earned more than I did and two children.  I have looked into the legal issues, but this kind of discrimination is very hard to prove or prosecute, especially when salaries are kept secret in an institution.  It is infuriating when a male colleague with half as many books and articles makes significantly more than I do, and when people say “You do what you do out of love not for monetary reasons.”  Really???  One can’t do both if one is female? 

    • falling321

      If your skills are that much higher than your male counterparts, you should easily be able to move to another place of employment where you abilities will be better compensated.  Not all employers think the way your dean does.

  • Valadezpm

    Perfect summary- it is a micro-inequity. My girlfriend makes more than I do and three of my closest friends have girlfriends that make more than they do. We are all in our mid 20′s

  • Rita

    I was struck that this discussion – like most examinations of this issue – skirted a deeper cultural component affecting women’s earning power.  As the speaker noted, women tend to enter less profitable professions, but why is “women’s work” undervalued in the market, even when there are higher educational requirements?  Why do we pay outrageous salaries for financial sector jobs with questionable social benefit, but resent teachers who get a living wage to educate our children?  Why are nurses (even those with highly developed or specialized skills) paid significantly less than doctors when they perform the bulk of patient care?  Why are social workers typically paid below-average wages when they often carry huge high-risk workloads?  Name any profession that has a large proportion of women and I can almost guarantee that it will have low status and low salaries.

    For my money, the real source of women’s relatively low earning power is the upside-down value structure in this country that denigrates relationship-based, socially productive work and lionizes aggressive, profit-driven professions.

    • btraven

      Move to my town in California.  Here, newly minted nurses with a BS can earn as much as a Primary Care Physician with many more years of training and longer hours.  Its supply and demand.

    • falling321

      I’m not sure where you get the idea that nurses with highly developed specialized skills earn less than a doctor!  The wife of a coworker earns in excess of $100 an hour as a private care nurse in the cardiac ICU….and she worked hard to earn that rare position.  She is also a mother and chooses to work only four weekend days a month so that she can spend her weeks at home with her two preschool age children.  At this time, she is making more working four days 10 hour days a month than her husband earns working full time as a dispatcher in a busy office.  We all make choices in life…it sounds like some women on here are whining because they chose to enter a lower wage, but union protected  profession or did not train for any profession at all.

      Just in the interest of full disclosure, I was a nurse, but I left work after the birth of our first child to become a full time mother, freeing my husband up to do what he loves…work!   And for us it has been a very successful choice, as he is now at the top of his profession after working the long hours and doing the travel necessary to get there and I am happily at home after having raised four beautiful and successful children.  In the early days we made a LOT of sacrifices and did without much that our friendss had, but it certainly paid off in the long run.  My choice wouldn’t be the right choice for all women, but for us it worked.

  • Auda Marie

    One area of discrepancy that wasn’t covered:  Why are jobs in the helping professions, i.e., social work, teaching, nursing, etc., all very important jobs, valued and paid so much less than jobs that typically don’t add much in the way of service, like sports, entertainment, investment and financial services?  I think the problem is in a society that doesn’t honor or appreciate the type of nurturing professions that are actually incredibly important in everyone’s life if they have children, want to be supported in their health challenges, etc.   Auda

    • inkc

      I think it’s more of an economy of scale, rather than a matter of value judgment.   

       An athlete or entertainer is receiving pay from thousands, if not millions of fans, yet teachers, nurses, and social workers are unable to perform their services for that many people.      As for financial advisors or investment advisors, the lower rungs of the ladder don’t make near as much as the rare C.E.O. whose pay makes the news.                                       Sad but true realities I’m afraid.

    • Max

       medical doctor is a helping profession.  Medicine requires mastery of a lot more than the worthy helping professions named. 

      As for entertainment and sports, if a teacher had very little competition and could find a way to reach thousands or hundreds of thousands of eager consumers, s/he could charge each one a little bit and amass a pile. The US has a market economy which determines who gets paid what.  The President and Congress do not run the economy, tho’ when it goes well they eagerly and wrongfully take credit.  There is no way to legislate GDP,  barring laws that would give us a centrally-planed economy. 

      In the USSR which was totally devoted to physical production, central planners paid MD’s and lawyers hardly anything.  I doubt they even had social workers.  Engineers and factory workers were top of the pile. 

      Lay aside forever the notion of a central planner to right what you see as wrong, unless you are willing to put the US on a centrally-planned economy. 

    • btraven

      I don’t know where you live, but here nurses and teachers are very well-paid, especially considering their entire package.   Nothing that an average man or woman does is going to compare to entertainers, athletes or top financial people.

    • Corey

      I, an American, have no problem with a huge discrepancy between “helpful” and “unhelpful” jobs. The fact is, this nation is a capitalist nation. So, if people want to pay an athlete millions of dollars, that’s their decision. People get paid what their employers feel they deserve to be paid. There is no shortage of teachers, nurses, social workers, at least in the area I live in. If these people working “helpful” jobs don’t have a problem making less money than the people doing “unhelpful”, who are you to say they should be paid more? Realistically speaking, you don’t have a say in the issue. There isn’t a fuss being made about it, there’s not going to be a change. If you have a problem with it, move to a socialist/communist country

    • falling321

      All of the professions you mention, social work, teaching, nursing, pay very well once you get past entry level positions.  And every single one of them would pay better even at entry level positions if those employed in these jobs would move past the union mentality and insist upon being paid according to their ability to produce results.  Then those who do their job well will find themselves in demand and will rise to the top of the pay scale and those who do not perform up to standard will be removed from those positions, leaving openings for new hires who are willing to work hard for ever increasing pay.  You cannot have the guarantee of a job, no matter how poor your skills might be AND increasing pay scales.  Higher wages come to those who take risks and perform at the top of their skill set, not those who settle into low demand, guaranteed positions.

  • btraven

    This was a pretty good discussion, going beyond the simplistic wage gap numbers.  Some of the helping professions where women are the majority have higher benefits and more job stability than are accounted for by salary numbers.   I think that Linda Barrington was right that the biggest problem is the top few percent of earners that have disproportionate salaries. Though this segment of the population is dominated by males, I care less about that than the fact there is a top few percent pillaging our society.

  • PDA

    The only way for women to be making less than men, if all things being equal, would be through discrimination. Why is this? A business owner would always take the lower pay employee to get the job done. To pay a high wage to a man is bad business. Although I am sure some businesses do discriminate I cannot believe it is wide spread enough to create a true wage gap.

    • Rita

       Why is it so hard to believe that businesses would pursue practices that don’t conform to a textbook model of rational decision making?   Have we learned nothing from the economic meltdown?  The practices that have brought down the economies of the US and Europe are fundamentally illogical.  Nevertheless, not only were they widely prevalent, but they still continue.  On a smaller scale, there is a growing body of research that convincingly shows that individual decision making is directed more by unconscious emotional factors than the dispassionate rationality that economic theory likes to assume.  If white men are running the show, they are more likely to be comfortable with other white men and act accordingly.  Discrimination doesn’t have to be deliberate or conscious to be discrimination.  But all works out the same to the person being discriminated against.

  • Lindholm

    When I hear of the wage gap between women and men, I always wonder if differences in seniority have been properly accounted for. In my business, higher ed, there are many women who earn less than men for the same job. However, starting pay is equal. As men retire in higher numbers women will continue to catch up. Am I naive to think this is generally true, a factor?

  • JenO

    Simply adding more day care opportunities will not take care of the problems the care giving parent has in the job market, although it would help.  In rural areas day care is often expensive enough to consider staying home when compared with the paying jobs available.  Even if you use day care, kids get sick and are not accepted, they need to go to the dentist, etc.  Someone has to stay home then, and employers do not look favorably on the excuse that ” my kid is sick.”

    I feel that the tone of this discussion has an urban bent and totally ignore the jobs and opportunities available in rural areas.

  • Monkeymedic67

    one thing I found interesting as I listened was the assumption that training opportunities which are limited by child care issues was presented as exclusively a woman’s issue.  Poppy cock!  I am a firefighter/paramedic and most of my career was as a single father.  So if I had to miss a class or some training opportunity, I happily set that aside to be a parent to my son whom I had full custody.  It was my choice to be involved with his mother, have him and seek full custody.  No matter how much I love my job, the real satisfaction I gain is as a father/parent.    I have had co workers demand and be successful with repeated bids to set seniority aside and give them a premium shift simply because they are single mothers.  I never sought out nor would have accepted that type of preferential treatment.  Maybe someone could address that little bit of discrimination.  I got a better shift because I did the unthinkable, I studied for my exams and as a result I scored higher.   When this very small handful of folks accepted the job offer, they accepted all conditions including seniority, pay, a shift bid process and benefits.   By the way, our union negotiates for ALL employees, black, white, Asian, Hispanic, male, female, transgender, tall, short, skinny, fat, bad employee and outstanding employee.  Thanks.  Love the show!

    • officegirl

      I can get preferential treatment because I am a single mother?! Sign me up!!

    • inkc

      I had the same thought when the guest mentioned that day care needs to be more readily available.    Some of us are able to stay at home with our infants/toddlers and prefer that over returning to work at this stage.    It’s a luxury of choice that some can excercise, and readily available day care would  not make a difference in this decision for some.     If only it was an option for all who desired this tough/rewarding option.

      • falling321

        Daycare actually used to be more affordable and readily accessable before the federal government demanded that in home daycare be regulated and meet all sorts of restrictions that most in home care providers were unable to meet without going to great expense or raising their prices outside of their neighborhoods ability to pay, so these providers quit and began working in other fields.  This vastly increased the cost and lowered the availability and quite frankly, the quality, of childcare.

  • sharon

    One issue that must be included in this conversation is the likelihood of double standards in the assessment of competence and likely performance as well. Women are expected to be less capable, and thus, less worthy of equal pay for the same job.

  • Will Goodwin

    I enjoyed your show, and I thought it was pretty fair to everybody except there was was no mention of the fact that women actually outspend men three to one in America. Surely that is relevant to a discussion of the relative ecomonic status of men and women.

  • Redrocklane

    I was making less than the men in the civil engineering field for 10 years.  I learned that when negotiating my pay, I had to push and then get it in writing (which I was glad i did, because I had to show the paper when it came time to call them on it).   When we started talking between us, we got in trouble.   once I did get a large raise in mechanical engineering.  The male boss said he had daughters and wanted to change the gap.  I was severely under paid and the raise was $7…A man who was paid a lot in the company didn’t get much that year.   The boss said he was a complainer and was over paid, comparing the work we each did.
    I could go on for may examples.  I’m now  55 and the engineering layoffs Las Vegas hit us bad.  I’m now substitute teaching.  Another very underpaid job.

  • Lee_hicks2001

    I wanted to share that the discrmination in the workplace is not always obvious even to those discriminating. Examples: we take a break in a meeting and the conversation continue in the bathroom. I can hear it some through the wall but I am not part of the conversation. I don’t get asked to lunch because it might start rumors. I don’t get asked to hang out at a hockey game.

  • http://www.motherscenter.org/ Valerie Young

    Excellent show, but a thorough discussion of women’s wages must address the economic impact of motherhood, as 80% of women are mothers by the age of 40.  Not only do women encounter blatant gender discrimination, they also lose earnings to discrimination against those with family responsibilities, disproportionately women in this country.   Motherhood is the single greatest indicator of poverty in old age.   Omitting this aspect of the gender wage gap was a grave oversight.


    Valerie Young
    Advocacy Coordinator
    National Association of Mothers’ Centers

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1632354043 Bill Griffin

    5 cent or 5% difference? Both are referenced.

    • falling321

      They are the same thing based on the dollar containing 100 pennies.  A five cent difference would mean women earns .95 cents for every dollar a man earns.  A 5% difference would mean the exact same thing as 95% of a dollar is .95 cents.

  • pvblivs

    She starts by saying 77 cents on the dollar.  But those data are clearly skewed because we find a discrepancy in the types of positions and in the number of hours worked.  We also find that she already knew about that and was deliberately not taking legitimate factors into account.  She was presenting a false argument and hoping she wouldn’t be called on it.  

    For my perspective, I don’t think businesses see workers as real people.  I think they see workers as tools to be used up and discarded for the least amount of money possible.  If women really made less for the same production, companies would hire women exclusively.  We already know that the pay gap is over-hyped.  There is good reason to believe it doesn’t exist at all.

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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