Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Ramesh Ponnuru on the sources, and reality of the Gender Wage Gap:
Economist Diana Furchtgott-Roth cites a 2005 study by economists June O’Neill and Dave O’Neill, which found that for the most part “the gender gap is attributable to choices made by women concerning the amount of time and energy to devote to a career.” They continue: “There is no gender gap in wages among men and women with similar family roles.”

In addition to being more likely to seek part-time work, women are also more likely to have gaps in their employment history and to enter lower-paying fields. The consulting company Consad, in a 2009 report for the Labor Department, found that these factors account for most of the pay gap. Correct for them, and men make only 5 percent to 7 percent more than women for the same work.

Even the American Association of University Women, in a recent report playing up the pay gap, conceded that 5 percent is a reasonable estimate of the difference between men’s and women’s wages that cannot be explained by choice of occupation, employment history and the like.

Not even that smaller gap can be attributed wholly to employer discrimination. Lawson, although she favors “legislative solutions,” also writes that women are less likely than men to drive hard bargains in salary negotiations. If true, that would explain part of the gap, as well.

To say that women’s choices result in their being paid less, on average, than men is not to deny that unfair social conditions may constrain those choices. Perhaps men should do more of the work of running households and raising children, and boys should be brought up with that expectation. Perhaps child care should be made more affordable. Perhaps efforts should be made to make sure college women aren’t being steered toward majors that won’t prepare them for lucrative careers.

Carrie Lukas, who has written often about the pay gap for the conservative Independent Women’s Forum, says “it’s a mistake to default to the idea that it’s all discrimination.” She agrees with Lawson, however, that women should be less reticent about demanding higher pay: “As parents of daughters we can make a difference in that.”
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