Alice in Gender-Gap Land

By Pia Hüttl, an Affiliate Fellow at Bruegel. Prior to this, Pia worked as a Trainee in the Monetary Policy Stance Division of the European Central Bank, and as a Blue Book Stagiaire at the Monetary policy, Exchange rate policy of the euro area, ERM II and Euro adoption Unit of DG ECFIN. Originally published at

The Gender Pay Gap Persists Worldwide….

More than 55 years after the United States passed the Equal Pay Act, and 45 years after similar legislation in the UK, equal pay is still far from being a reality. In a 2016 paper,  provide new empirical estimates delineating the extent of and trends in the gender wage gap and their potential explanations. The figure below shows the long-term trends in the gender pay gap over the 1955-2014 period. By 2014, women full-time workers earned about 79% of what men did on an annual basis and about 83% on a weekly basis.

Focusing on the US, the authors find that by 2010, conventional human capital variables continue to explain little of the gender wage gap, while gender differences in occupation and industry continue to be important. Moreover, the gender pay gap declined much more slowly at the top of the wage distribution than  in the middle or on the bottom and by 2010 was noticeably higher at the top. From a literature survey they conclude that many of the traditional explanations still hold up. Women’s work force interruptions and shorter hours remain significant in high-skilled occupations, possibly due to compensating differentials. Gender differences in occupations and industries, as well as differences in gender roles and the gender division of labour remain important, and research based on experimental evidence strongly suggests that discrimination cannot be discounted.

..From Finance..

In a study from 2010,  look at the financial industry and find that although male and female MBAs have nearly identical earnings at the outset of their careers, their earnings soon diverge. The male earnings advantage reaches almost 60 log points a decade after MBA completion.

The authors find that three proximate factors account for the large and rising gender gap in earnings: differences in training prior to MBA graduation, differences in career interruptions, and differences in weekly hours. The greater career discontinuity and shorter work hours for female MBAs are largely associated with motherhood. Controlling for these interruptions, they find no statistically significant difference in wages between male and female MBAs 10 years out.

 asks himself therefore if the gender wage gap is just the consequence of unmeasured differences in the characteristics of the male and the female labour force or is it the result of discrimination against women?

Research just published by  indirectly answers this question by examining another potential source of women’s discrimination in the labor market: the way they are treated when involved in misconduct. The authors find that following an incidence of misconduct, female advisers are 20% more likely to lose their jobs and 30% less likely to find new jobs relative to male advisers.

Females face harsher punishment despite engaging in less costly misconduct and despite a lower propensity towards repeat offenses. Compared to women, men are three times as likely to engage in misconduct, twice as likely to be repeat offenders, and to engage in misconduct that is 20% costlier.

..to Arts

 focus on a neglected sector when it comes to gendered income inequalities: artistic careers. Using the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP), a US-wide survey of 33,801 individuals who have received degrees in the arts, to assess the gendered earnings gap for artists and for non-artists, they find that the gendered earnings gap is comparable for artists and non-artists. Also, artistic careers are subject to some of the same social forces that drive disparity in other occupational realms.

Yet, surprisingly, the authors did not find the wage penalty to motherhood in the arts, which has been documented in virtually every other field. Reasons behind this may partially be related to artists’ ability to work from home and maintain flexible working hours. Another reason might be linked to the more liberal attitudes of artistically-oriented individuals. The authors cite previous research showing that artists tend to embrace more liberal ideals than those in other professions.

However, the authors also find that marriage and fatherhood significantly increase male artistic workers earnings, the so-called “fatherhood premium”, which can be observed in any other field too, without any such premium for female artistic workers.

 points to similar research in the film industry, stating that such differences are of interest, as they highlight deficiencies even in the more liberal environments, because cinema reflects our society, and what we are capable of imagining. In a recent paper,  look at Hollywood wage structures and discrimination. Using data from the international movie database (IMDB) for the period 1980 to 2013, the authors find that there are substantial wage differences among male and female actors in Hollywood, amounting to 20% after controlling for actor and film characteristics.

The Other Gap: Employment Rates of Women and Men

Reasons to promote inclusion of women into the workforce are straightforward. On 8 March, the  published a graph on this occasion:

Source: IMF blog 2017

Looking at US family income between 1979 and 2013,  from the Washington Center for Equitable Growth show that over the past four decades, women’s entry into the formal workforce has made the key difference for middle-class families and more vulnerable families on the brink.

Gender Norms and Marriage

 highlights, however, that single parenthood has been increasing for low-income Americans. The reason behind this is probably the persistence of old gender norms. Women are reluctant to marry men who don’t have secure, well-paying jobs and men are reluctant to marry women who make more than them.

He cites recent work by , who state that the structure of marriage and child-rearing in U.S. households has undergone two marked shifts in the last three decades: a steep decline in the prevalence of marriage among young adults, and a sharp rise in the fraction of children born to unmarried mothers or living in single-headed households.

They find that a potential contributor to both phenomena is the decline of labour-market opportunities faced by males, which make them less valuable as marital partners. In other words, in areas where men lost manufacturing jobs to international competition, single motherhood rose sharply.

Noah Smith adds that if this negative pattern is going to be reversed, gender norms will have to change. The way forward is to accelerate the shift toward a universal view of marriage as a cooperative, equal partnership. That cultural shift will be difficult for some, but doing nothing will be even more painful.

PS: And in case you wonder how the Trump-Clinton debates would have been perceived if the genders had been reversed, click .

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49 comments

  1. Kevin Smith

    Great link at the end to What if Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton Had Swapped Genders?
    Must see that off-Broadway if I get to Manhattan while it is on.

    1. PKMKII

      The responses to Hillary-as-man make sense; she’s stiff, distant, and mildly grating. That carries across regardless of gender. But the response to Trump-as-woman is much more fascinating and raises more questions. Is it just that the academic liberal audience had been primed to see and hear anything coming out of Trump as boorish, but when removed from his visage it just doesn’t sound so bad? Or is there a reverse of the assumed gender bias going on, wherein aggressiveness is seen as more threatening and dangerous coming from a man than a woman? I’d love to see them put on the performance in front of a bunch of flyover country Trump voters, see if their reaction is similar, if it hews to the reaction the producers assumed people would have, or if it would be something completely different.

  2. Adamski

    Gender gap. At least one of the couple should have a secure full-time job, shouldn’t they? Either the man or the woman. That’s not a question of gender roles.

  3. divadab

    Iron law of mammalian biology – sur males. We eat the sur male ruminants; wars are fought by sur males. The institution of marriage is one way of reducing the number of sur males – but it requires a useful social role for them. Fewer manufacturing jobs means more sur males who are redundant to their families as they can not provide.

    I expect more wars. And to see more police around. The traditional patriarchal social contract has been broken and the sur males are increasing. They can’t all OD on fentanyl.

    1. IDontKnow

      When ruminant populations are kept in control by predators (vs food supply) it is by eating females and young. Healthy males usually only suffer high predation during rut. It’s wars(physical, financial social), that foster uneven competition for mating privilege, that makes for sur males by restricting access.

      Late 20th/Modern warfare has reverted to the norm (before 19th century (Europe)) where women & children die in numbers not much less than to males if not larger. Most Iraqi deaths were civilians, among the civilians, women and children the greatest.

      1. divadab

        @Idontknow – I don’t know about that – try observing a herd of ruminants – one dominant male controls access to the females by, you know, dominating the other males. Subordinate males have little access to females – their role is peripheral and defensive – against predators. Ever seen a herd of horses surround and mash a dog or coyote?

        Yes predators hunt the weak – which include old and injured males which do not have the protection of the herd – unlike females and young, which do.

        And your thesis that pre-19th century warfare killed as many or more women and children than men is dubious – warfare was generally organized to happen after the harvest and was a way to get more territory, and spoils of war, which included women and children for keeping and for selling as slaves. Why else would Faroe Island male lineages be 87% nordic and female lineages 83% Celtic?

        Now if warfare involves carpet bombing population centers of course men, women, and children will die in equivalent numbers. But that is a recent “innovation”.

    2. MoiAussie

      China has a 6% sur of males largely due to female infanticide under the one child policy. As does India, for slightly different reasons. What’s scary is that China has a 17% sur of males in the under-15 population cohort. For Georgia it’s 15%, India 13%, Malaysia 12%, and Vietnam 10%.

      1. IDontKnow

        John Kennedy of the University of Kansas and Shi Yaojiang of Shaanxi Normal University have released a study claiming that the births of many of the girls may, in fact, simply not have been registered.

    3. GWilliard

      Thank you Divadab!

      Males are more labile, like the difference between a Chevy and a Porsche that can go from 0 to 60 in 5 seconds.

      That lability can be seen in how male roles and male prospects are more variable.

      The curve of male capacity is flatter — more dunces, more geniuses.

      Finnish Y chromosomes skew Mongol, because in prehistoric war (talk to ISIS) you kill the males and marry the females — talk about gender-varying life prospects!

      In a hunter-gatherer context, male labor is more specialized and diverse — some guy is going to be the village expert on getting honey from hives … and he’ll have some boy sidekicks whom he grooms for years in that delicate art.

      To help that work, boys stay neotenous maybe a year longer (‘immature’ is how overwhelming female elementary school teachers stupidly cast it) to facilitate such extra pedagogy. (A year in evolutionary-era human lifespans is a lot.)

      A key aspect of male variability is in terms of reproductive success. As Roy Baumeister points out, you have on average about twice as many female ancestors than male ones, because (once there was agricultural sur to fight over and leverage) some males monopolized reproductive opportunity.

      Another aspect of that lability is the males so much more readily group. For years, a guy is working solo on a farm. Then suddenly he’s coordinating closely with dozens of others fighting in a war. Proneness to identify with the ‘group as a whole’ means readiness to take low-status roles or face personal sacrifice. (In bonobos, it’s females who group — maybe a more peaceable result, but not so productive it would seems of the comi-tradegy that is civilization).

      One can go on. But the point is, like the contrast between Chevy and Porsches — there are contrasting maintenance costs to these very often hair-trigger male capacities toward logarithmic lability that are so key to social group prospects.

      A successful culture and a stable social order makes accounts for these maintenance costs and the value of having these capacities in reserve. Yes, taking such account looks like — from the standpoint of chiliastic contemporary liberalism — as insufferable “inequality”. But the patriarchal skew of Islam or Catholicism or Buddhism is a feature not a bug.

      Moynihan was right about the ghetto. Deliberately culturally destroying the African-American community by repeating in a new key the depatriachalization that was basic to slavery was not-so-secret purpose of Nixon’s embrace of both welfare and drug warring.

      Sure, we can take our hydrocarbon sur to decide that (instead of building suburbs and shopping malls or saving the ecology) we’re going to train a lot of bears to dance — which is to say produce a lot of Aren’t-We-Wonderful metrics that show ever more “gender equality”. But it’s going to to be an anthropological outlier in the scheme of things, and it’s going to require a lot policing and prisons and keeping out unwashed brown hordes who don’t buy into this vision of Beautiful Equality (oh, just for sexual identities; we don’t mean economic!) for white northerners and Death by Drone & Disease for brown southerners.

      Obviously, big sur and modern tech open up new possibilities for human relations — and by all means let’s explore.

      But a key problem is current Western demonization of male lability.

      One example: every man in the U.S. is literally one click of the mouse away from life in prison or and lifetime status as a social pariah based on wired-in sexual impulses that skew toward nubility. Take-home question: Who benefits?

      Male lability is so key to what the human is (good and bad, as if those can be untangled) that it has be to addressed squarely if those new possibilities of gender relations can be seriously engaged.

      1. divadab

        @GWIlliard – “The curve of male capacity is flatter — more dunces, more geniuses” – the distribution has fatter and longer tails – I quite agree. I would add that males are more fragile than females – primarily due to more opportunities for stuff to go wrong in developmental stages, pre- and post-partum. Hence higher male mortality in every age cohort and on average 8 years shorter lives.

        I don’t agree that the problem is “demonisation of male lability” – it’s more devaluing males and traditional male occupations in general: how many school districts have ended shop and ag programs in favor of computer training, for example? How many boys are identified as ADD or ADHD and drugged because they can;t sit still and obedient for hours at a time – they need activity and skills learning by doing not memory drills.

        Interestingly, in one Canadian Province for which I have data, the gender ratios of Canadian university and college students skew female at every level – but when you add in foreign students, they skew so strongly male (over 75%) that at the graduate level the overall numbers skew male.

        Finally – I’m not sure what you are saying about child porn but in most civilized jurisdictions it is recognized in law that a sixteen year-old is a junior adult – can leave school, get a job, consent to sex, just not vote at all or contract (including marriage) without parental consent. That this is not the case in the USA is symptomatic of many things but not least the complete abdication of judgement in favor of zero-tolerance policies by people who should know better. You know, adult humans. Adult humans who also know that wanting to have sex with pre-pubescent children is sick and wrong and people who cannot control these urges should be banished to Pedophile island and not allowed in society.

        Anyway nice to be able to air some infrequently-discussed-in public-other-than-in-a-bar-or-at-the-golf-course topics in this forum.

  4. Expat

    I don’t know all the facts, but I have heard serious sources discussing things like length of career, time in the office, and perceived “dedication” to the job or company. Women take time off to give birth. They stop working entirely or earlier. They work shorter hours to accommodate child care.

    Maternity leave: This is a social issue. We may eventually decide as a society (one day when Trump is gone) that companies should bear the burden for maternity leave both in a short form and extended form. But until that decision is made, companies do not all agree to bear the burden of losing female employees to motherhood.

    Shorter careers: Women tend to have shorter careers than men. They take extended breaks to raise their families or stop earlier.

    Shorter hours: Women work 5% less time than men. This explains a quarter of the pay gap. Women prefer jobs with stable, limited hours.

    On the side for women, the reduced stress of not competing in business may be the reason they live longer than men.

    I am not saying this is right or wrong, by the way, but there is a fundamental question here as to whether “equality” exists for what we are measuring or if we want to create “equality” by valuing women’s contribution to the home, family, and continuation of the human race. I sense that in a nation like America which does not even consider health and education as rights equality of pay is a pipe dream.

    1. jrs

      “Shorter careers: Women tend to have shorter careers than men. They take extended breaks to raise their families or stop earlier.”

      I’ve heard women hit age discrimination in the workplace sooner …

      1. Art Eclectic

        Yup. A 50+ woman goes right to the bottom of the resume pile. Which is stupid because at that age a woman is past child bearing and rearing, highly experienced, and has tremendous patience with your twenty something junior staff.

    2. Penny

      There is an implication of your questions and observations that no one is willing to look at. The rearing of children is both a private decision and a social duty. Parents can expect their children to look after them to some degree when they cannot look after themselves. But society can expect the children to be well behaved and to contribute to society. Women do this work–on their own behalf and on behalf of society. Some women do it really well; some women fail both on their own behalf and on society’s behalf. Nearly all research points the crucial role of the mother in the overall social value of the child; a mother raises a criminal, we all pay; a mother raises a genius who invents something we like, we all gain.

      We could socialize child rearing (as in the Nordic countries) and expect women to work within a couple of years of child bearing pretty much as long as men. Or we could pay women to rear their own children–a child benefit that is equivalent to the minimum wage.

      In the US, neither happens. Instead there is a game of lets pretend equivalence in which some women feel entitled to pay for work that is not equivalent to that undertaken by men and some men feel entitled to much higher pay because…hey they are not women.
      We need a new conversation; one that looks at ‘social reproduction’ and who does the work and how its paid for.

      1. reslez

        As you point out, having children and marrying penalizes women so a lot of us opt out. We don’t have kids, work the same hours but still don’t earn as much as men. The way it works is that the women don’t get promoted, so they opt into lower paying careers where the penalty for being female isn’t as high. Researchers should stop looking at the first 10 years of career as if that’s meaningful. Age discrimination hasn’t kicked in by then.

    3. Oregoncharles

      Equality needs to run both ways. One solution is for MEN to take comparable time off. Women (collectively) inherited from the previous system a more relaxed attitude to employment, which is enforced, as well, by child-bearing. I think that’s a GOOD thing, that men should also benefit from. We have an unemployment problem; socially, it’s undesirable to maximize career time.

      The biggest challenge is culture and attitudes; institutionally, we would do this by legally providing BOTH maternity and paternity leave – eg, one year each, PAID (maybe by the state, not the employer). I would expect mothers to take the first year, fathers the second, but we could leave that up to them. Maternity leave encourages nursing, which is better for children. Ideally, single parents (mostly mothers) would get two years – or state-guaranteed child care after the first year. (If you take two years off, your job won’t really be there – someone’s been doing it.)

      The most disturbing feature of the article is the statement that traditional attitudes toward gender roles in marriage persist and make for a lot of single mothers when male employment falls off (if he isn’t working, shouldn’t he be taking care of the kids?) I tried to bring this up the other day, but I think Yves misunderstood the point. There is evidence that it runs right to the top, among even educated career women (of interest because they usually set the precedent for “lower” classes.)

  5. PlutoniumKun

    Its a complex topic, and I think that article gives a small insight into it. In most cases I think variations within the genders are greater than the variations between them, so I think studies that look at things purely in male/female terms are never likely to give an answer. For whatever reason, in nearly every job I’ve been I’ve found myself as either a formal union rep, or an informal rep where there was no union, so I’m familiar with the types of complaints that are often made behind the scenes. Sexism undoubtedly exists in most organisations I’ve been involved with, but digging deeper there is often a lot more to it. One of the most common complaints I’ve had recently are from younger female staff members who accuse older females with families of milking informal parental benefits, leaving their more junior female staff to take the brunt of the extra work.

    The study about misconduct is interesting, it gives a completely different result to my personal anecdotal experience. I’ve personally known two cases of senior female staff who committed very serious misconduct – action was not taken because in once case it was deemed too embarrassing to the organisation to fire the only senior female in her role, and in another the person made extremely strong counter accusations of sexual harassment (almost certainly untrue), leading to a situation where it was deemed safer by the organisation to just quietly pay her off. But then again, I’ve often found men are better at using bullshit to avoid responsibility for incompetence. Women I think tend to be more direct and to own up to mistakes, which can act against them.

    1. ChrisPacific

      One of the most common complaints I’ve had recently are from younger female staff members who accuse older females with families of milking informal parental benefits, leaving their more junior female staff to take the brunt of the extra work.

      That could be a matter of perspective. I can see three potential complaints there:

      1) People [older females] are abusing informal family benefits
      2) There is more work to do than there are people available to do it
      3) Work falls disproportionately on junior staff.

      2 and 3 could be true even if 1 isn’t, and 1 also depends on how you define ‘abusing’ which different people might answer differently. Parenthood has a way of imposing hard constraints when things don’t go according to plan (for example, you can’t leave a small child at home alone no matter how critical competing work priorities might be) and companies may sometimes choose not to enforce certain policies when an otherwise valuable employee is unable to comply with them due to circumstances beyond their control. To a third party not familiar with the situation, that can look like favoritism, especially if they are expected to pick up the resulting slack.

  6. washunate

    Enjoyed the read because wage inequality is at the heart of our challenge in human society generally and the US in particular. But I’m a little disappointed that an article this long doesn’t succinctly address/elaborate a few areas.

    First, it’s important to define what is meant by a gender pay gap. The author appears to switch back and forth between being interested in differences between men and women in identical situations (credentials, years of experience, etc.) and differences that cause women on average to be different from men (childbirth, differing occupational concentrations, etc.).

    Second, how can the author explicitly discuss single parenthood and not mention the drug war specifically or the police state more generally? That is an oversight of such magnitude that it undermines the credibility of the whole piece.

    Third, how can the author casually claim that getting more women in the labor force would boost GDP and thus be Good without addressing the many problems caused by the two-income trap and groaf? Society would be better with fewer jobs that are of the breadwinner model rather than more jobs of the crappy model.

    Fourth, the author ignores the macro environment of wage inequality. As long as public policy allows (and even directly implements) paying some workers more than others for the same amount of work, then wages are going to be distributed unequally. There is no solution to pay gaps other than addressing the existence of wage inequality itself.

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      Third, how can the author casually claim that getting more women in the labor force would boost GDP and thus be Good without addressing the many problems caused by the two-income trap and groaf? Society would be better with fewer jobs that are of the breadwinner model rather than more jobs of the crappy model.

      By definition, more people in the labor force – well, more people earning a paycheck – increases GDP. Whether it increases social well-being is a different question. If we considered child-rearing to be a paying job when it is done by a parent, as we do when it is done by a non-relative, then GDP would go up and so would social welfare as all parents, male and female (and other), would be in a position to decide whether to work in the home or outside of it. Much as the breadwinner model has to recommend it, there is no going back to single-earner (multi-person) families on any kind of widespread scale.

      Fourth, the author ignores the macro environment of wage inequality. As long as public policy allows (and even directly implements) paying some workers more than others for the same amount of work, then wages are going to be distributed unequally. There is no solution to pay gaps other than addressing the existence of wage inequality itself.

      I presume by public policy you mean unions. Outside of the public sector, I am not aware of any other policy option to prevent unequal pay. Free labor markets and all.

      1. washunate

        I don’t quite follow here?

        On 3, the author stated authoritatively, but without explanation, that

        Reasons to promote inclusion of women into the workforce are straightforward.

        and then proceeded to link to a bland IMF chart about increasing GDP. This confuses two different issues: 1) erasing the outdated gender norm that only men can be breadwinners (and the more deeply embedded norm that gender identity is binary), and 2) increasing the labor force so that all adults in the household are expected to work in formal employment rather than one adult earning currency income while other adults perform work that takes place outside of formal employment.

        The author then claimed

        women’s entry into the formal workforce has made the key difference for middle-class families and more vulnerable families on the brink

        There’s not even a claim in here about which to have an exchange of ideas. The two income trap and the limits of growth simply aren’t considered. It is assumed that sending everybody into the labor force has made things better off when that’s precisely what is contentious. Families are made more vulnerable on the brink precisely because one income is insufficient to support a family for all but the top 20% (or even top 10%) of wage earners.

        On 4, I’m not talking about unions. I’m talking about direct public policy choices. The federal government directly pays for about 20% of GDP, with state and local layers adding to that, and contracting decisions pushing this influence even further. That involves direct payments to employers that pay for wages, wages at very different levels of compensation. That’s the kind of policy environment that interests me, where it’s not a market choice, but rather a payment from public sources.

      2. washunate

        Looking through the first cited study in more detail, the overall framing in this post bothers me, too. The first subheading here in bold states “The Gender Pay Gap Persists Worldwide….” as if it’s a static problem, but there has actually been lots of change over the past few decades. The authors behind the linked study put persistence in the context of decreasing overall magnitude: “Our overview of the US gender wage gap shows a substantially decreased but persistent wage gap between men and women” (pg 11).

        It’s also interesting that Figure 1 is referenced here, which is the initial chart using the unadjusted numbers that shows the largest gender gap. Figure 2 shows a smaller gap precisely because it includes adjustments for covariates (especially experience, race, industry, and occupation) suggesting female workers now make more than 90% of the wages of comparable male workers. And the least progress is at the high end of the wage scale, an outlier concentration that is problematic for a large number of reasons.

        The primary story here is not stasis of the older gender gap, but rather a narrowing of the female/male wage ratio as wage inequality manifests in other domains such as industry, occupation, and experience. Anyway, just some more thoughts on this front for consideration.

  7. Ranger Rick

    Right off the bat (p. 29) they estimate that half the gap is explained by occupational and locational choices.

    Yes, there is quite a gap indeed, but it is not systematic.

  8. Enquiring Mind

    Here are some supply and demand-related questions.
    How much of the gap is influenced by negotiating ability?
    In this era of expense control and earnings management, why do companies pay more than they have to?
    Would a profit-maximizing, or similarly motivated public company, for example, not hire more lower-cost employees?
    Would that not serve as a brake on some aspects of male pay and labor force participation?

    1. reslez

      There’s evidence that women are penalized when they try to negotiate.

      As for the rest of your intentionally naive questions: (1) humans are not rational, (2) the vast majority of companies are run by men, (3) management tends to hire people who resemble themselves.

  9. DJG

    It has occurred to me that much of the differential is related to motherhood, as indicated by the article. So our government (the U.S. government, ha ha ha, I should go into comedy writing) should have a policy of compensating / equalizing women’s wages through longer paid maternity leave and big subsidies for child care. If only we could approach child care in France, but then that would be French communist and we’re much too rugged for such things… U.S. babies don’t need child care when they should be reading the works of Uncle Milton Friedman.

    The two paragraphs about parity in the arts are interesting: But as someone who also works in the arts, I can assure that incomes are “depressed.” People don’t get paid much. So zero is equal to zero, and many artists have exceedingly lean years. The saying in theater is, You can make a killing but not a living.

    I commented the other day on Krugman’s column on infallibility, picking up a comment from someone who pointed out that black people at work aren’t allowed the tantrums. This posting also points out that white men get away with much more in the office. The observations about punishing women for misbehavior are remarkable. So let’s stop acting as if Trump is sui generis, a sport of nature. He’s out business class, with less of a filter.

  10. Jagger

    Reasons to promote inclusion of women into the workforce are straightforward.

    I have wondered if the primary business driver for workforce inclusion of woman in the 60s-70s was wage suppression using the guise of woman’s lib as cover. You know, the public rationale versus the private rationale.

    Just out of curiousity, what would happen if we incentivized half the women ( or just half the working population) out of the workforce with a guaranteed base income? What would happen to wages? What would happen to the children? Nice little mind puzzle to ponder.

    1. Dandelion

      What would happen to the women’s psyches trapped at home taking care of small children and performing all the drudge work of domestic labor? I don’t see why women should be shut out if the workforce (again) so that men have better wages. I do think we need to radically re-think how we raise children. But not that way.

      1. Art Eclectic

        Not all women want to balance a career and motherhood. Many do it because dual income is the only way they can afford to live in good school districts.

        Women need a viable choice to stay at home and raise a family if they want.

        Those women who choose career over motherhood shouldn’t get shafted on pay just because of gender.

      2. jrs

        reduced work weeks for everyone and they can split the housework/childcare. But even such an idealistic scheme (idealistic because we live in a slave labor economy not one built for human beings) assumes men are willing to do half the housework and child rearing if there are children. OTOH it assumes an equality that isn’t quite there yet socially, but maybe with millennials it’s getting there.

        1. Oregoncharles

          YES. I don’t understand why a reduced work week isn’t front and center in feminism. It’s a solution to most of the problems.

          Actually, I do understand: people with mortgages, etc. would be horrified. It would have to be accompanied by higher wages, or introduced quite slowly. France tried introducing it, but I think rather suddenly..

    2. Left in Wisconsin

      Just out of curiousity, what would happen if we incentivized half the women ( or just half the working population) out of the workforce with a guaranteed base income?

      Raising children IS WORK and should be compensated. I know that compensation for raising one’s own children runs counter to all of human history, but so does neoclassical economics. How is it possible that our society places a greater value (though for sure not a great value) on having a non-parent doing the parenting instead of the mom or dad?

      1. TK421

        Raising children IS WORK and should be compensated.

        If I worked as a chauffer, I would be paid. Should I be paid for driving myself to the store?

        1. reslez

          It seems like whenever there’s a gender topic, commenting standards take a nosedive.

          Driving yourself to 7-11 doesn’t create societal value for the next generation.

      2. Tim

        If you are married and the mom stays home she should be entitled to 50% of all savings and discretionary spending and in fact if you divorce then that is implemented by a judge in court.

        So it is already codified in marriage essentially, for those outside of marriage the question above is society should cover them if a spouse cannot? I think we call that welfare?

        It should not be enticing, Too much creates moral hazard, an incentive to have kids out of marriage, which is bad long term (how is the black culture/community fairing without any dads? Not good.). But we don’t want those who legitimately end up single with children to live below the poverty line either. It’s a real dilema, that will never have a good answer.

        1. jrs

          There are moral hazards either way, too little creates an incentive to stay in in the mild case marriages that just aren’t working and can’t be fixed (“staying together for the kids”), in the extreme case marriages that are outright abusive. On some level a husbands income shouldn’t be too enticing either.

  11. Stephen Douglas

    And, by paragraph number 2, we have the nonsense:

    From a literature survey they conclude that many of the traditional explanations still hold up. Women’s work force interruptions and shorter hours remain significant in high-skilled occupations, possibly due to compensating differentials.

    “From a literature survey?” What on earth?? Work force interruptions and shorter hours remain significant because of women’s choices to spend more time raising their children, among other personal and gender-based reasons. But this writer must add the nonsense “possibly due to compensating differentials.”

    What the devil is a compensating differential? Is it: I want to go to Sally’s ballet debut at her school? I want to take some time off to have my third child? I don’t want to possibly get killed on the oil rig and leave my children without a mother? The author hides behind nonsensical terms like “compensating differentials” so that she may put forth her already- concluded point of view.

    And then we have:

    Gender differences in occupations and industries, as well as differences in gender roles and the gender division of labour remain important, and research based on experimental evidence strongly suggests that discrimination cannot be discounted.

    Research based on experimental evidence????? Who did the research? What was the evidence? If it was experimental does that mean it was cobbled together from someone’s experimental theories? Or did the writer mean experiential instead of experimental?

    In short, the writer means nothing by this sentence, except to denigrate, cover-up and deny that huge body of non-experimental evidence that shows the gender pay gap is nonsense, being based on factors of time willing to spend at work, years willing to spend at work, willing to work in dangerous and/or dirty fields, willing to spend time doing calculations with your slide rule (I know, it’s not a slide rule any longer, but the modern day equivalents are just as nerdy and unattractive to many women).

    Yves, I know from things you have said in the past that you have anecdotal evidence of a gender gap in NYC’s financial world, but I worked in that world, too, and my own anecdotes differ. But, at any rate, our anecdotes matter not at all. The full spectrum of jobs in America call BS on this article’s starting paragraph and premise, thus making the rest of it undreadable.

    1. reslez

      You’re completely ignoring the chicken vs egg question.

      If I as a woman know I won’t be promoted or earn as much as men, why would I ever put in long hours? If as a semi-rational actor I look at senior management of Fortune 500s and see no one who looks like me, am I really going to self-evaluate as having any shot at a high-flying career?

      Then there’s the issue that women tend to make more realistic decisions for themselves than men do. Even if I start out with hyper-optimistic expectations, once I start getting demerits faster than men and hit the age-35 barrier when they do not, I’ll probably re-evaluate and start making different choices.

      As for your characterization of “nerdy” jobs requiring a slide rule, it seems like mass amnesia has erased the fact that computer programmers used to be overwhelmingly female. Only after the field was professionalized (read: masculinized) were women driven out.

  12. justanotherprogressive

    “Noah Smith adds that if this negative pattern is going to be reversed, gender norms will have to change. The way forward is to accelerate the shift toward a universal view of marriage as a cooperative, equal partnership. That cultural shift will be difficult for some, but doing nothing will be even more painful.”

    Hmmmm……if people start thinking that marriage should be a cooperative, equal partnership, what other societal areas will they think should be a cooperative, equal partnership? Better quash that thinking right away!!! Might lead to socialism…..

  13. TK421

    Very disappointing to see pay-gap hooey here at Cfdtrade of all places. What’s next, the Loch Ness Monster?

  14. makedoanmend

    I’ve never understood why gender should affect pay, just like I cannot understand how in the UK they get to pay under 18’s less for doing the same job. It’s just another form of exploitation. Someone, not unusually a rentier, benefits.

    Arguments against equal pay I understand completely. I wish I didn’t, but humans always find ways to justify inequality. Until inequality affects them. Then double standards flourish.

  15. Cat Burglar

    Will the large-donor Dems want to address gender-pay inequality? Here is an issue within the identity politics paradigm that can lever it apart from the centrist big money.

  16. Labor Geek

    The gap shrinks to about 5 percent IIRC using better methodology – controls for occupation, education, hours worked, etc. If one thinks that summarizing millions of individual employment relationships in this way can be done reliably in the first place. A separate question.

    I ask people to consider the death at work gap, determined in the same hamfisted all men vs all women methodology. It’s something like ten to one. These safety risks command wage premiums. This is one of many factors one sees reflected in the wage gap.

    Much of the gap is societal IMO – the so-called pink collar work that women have traditionally chosen (or alternately, was made available to them, glass ceilings etc). IMO we need to continue efforts to aid young women in STEM fields etc (for everyone’s sake) and also remove the stigma or genderization on certain occupations for men (nursing springs to mind) if want to see wage parity.

  17. Tim

    I’m all for abandoning norms that serve no purpose but to oppress.

    At the same time Female and Male traits are thousands of years in the making and there are real differences, not better or worse, just different, and most importantly COMPLIMENTARY. Men can’t multi-task well, woman can, but men tend to be better at a single minded focus towards achieving and completing a task regardless of the perceived discomfot level in doing so, are examples where you can see the complimentary nature of those different traits.

    Marriage and parenting should be a partnership. I cringe at the though of my kids growing up with just their mother. The complimentary perspective I am able to provide them as a Dad is a priceless advantage over their peers who are growing up without a father.

    Similarly in the workplace there are complimentary roles where, in some cases men typically do better than women and vice versa.

    The job should pay what the job pays for a person performing at the same relative level, regardless of their sex.

    So every time I see the top level gender pay gap irrespective of the job held I roll my eyes. Women and men will not and should not occupy the same types of jobs in equal percentages, so that static doesn’t mean anything by itself, and should not be considered a goal, and the perfect target will change over time as quantity and type of jobs change over time.

  18. Plebicus

    Focusing on gender pay gap issues among professional and arts sector employment is not a winning labour strategy in an era of increasing precarious employment and mass working class underemployment.

    I see these issues being pushed now, and I’m sorry but I cannot help but question the motivation. If there’s a maslov’s hierarchy of needs for societies, many elements more fundamental than these have since crumbled and require far more attention than professional pay gaps or corporate glass ceilings. I appreciate these issues are important, but I must be cynical when I see our presently dysfunctional global economy being framed in terms of far less fundamental problems.

    Sorry but I think the 1% are using this as a divisive wedge issue, and I think it’s working.

  19. ChrisPacific

    I had never heard of the fatherhood premium. Personally I feel less capable of handling work responsibilities than I did before I became a parent, largely due to having less ability to work long hours or travel and to taking more time off work. That’s partly by choice and partly not (due to some family health issues). When I look around I can see that I’m not typical, as many fathers do a lot of things for work that I would find either difficult or flat-out impossible. They are most likely not dealing with our particular challenges, but I don’t think that accounts for all of it. For example, if there is a need for a parent to stay home from work (no childcare/single parent household, school holidays, illness etc.) there is clearly a greater expectation that the mother will be the one to do it. It also seems clear that mothers are expected to work through illness when performing this role unless they are physically unable to do so.

    How capable I feel and how well I am compensated are not necessarily directly correlated, so it’s also possible that there is some conscious or unconscious bias at work among employers (if the fatherhood premium is in fact statistically significant).

  20. kgc

    I was a mother employed in financial services as a lawyer beginning in 1982. When I worked at S&C-where pay was determined solely by seniority-I earned what a man did. But my ability to become a partner was, shall we say, not that same as a man’s; women simply didn’t make partner except in trusts & estates and, to a limited extent, tax in those days. I remember partners gazing at my chest (I was nursing) and telling me I had other responsibilities when I had to leave early, i.e, after 6:00 but before 10:00. I also remember a client calling me in the office after 10:00 for no other reason than to win a bet: he’d laid money on my being there at that time, and he won.
    After I left S&C, I continued to work well over 2000 hours/year. Well over-I knew I had to outperform the men to keep my job, and my children’s father didn’t work or want to. One employer marked women employees with a W. So my children grew up largely without a mother.
    Children need both parents; most babies and toddlers need mothers even more than fathers.
    It’s crazy. We have to figure out how to take care of/nurture the next generation if we don’t want to die out.

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