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02/08/2012

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Great post and one of my favorite snarky pictures!

Actually, I believe when you factor in industry, job, skill level, etc., it turns out that single women earn as much or slightly more than men while working moms earn less. The catch is that there are many other legitimate reasons for that rather than unfairness.

Not to sneak in my own post on this topic but I thought you might enjoy comparing: http://ls-workgirl.blogspot.com/2010/09/poor-working-moms.html

I think it's unfortunate to focus on the items you highlighted in your blog post. While women are certainly different from men and don't want to be treated like men in the workplace, they want to be compensated for the results delivered by talents, skills and competencies they offer. As an HR Professional for over 25 years, the biases of decision makers can be very subtle and it is necessary to challenge our status quo of doing business.

Thanks for the comment Pat. I completely agree that individuals - irrespective of gender, race or any other characteristic - should be compensated for the results delivered by their talents, skills and competencies. I recognize that cases of gender pay discrimination do exist, and I do not support discrimination based on protected characteristics in any form.

In order to make real progress on eliminating the gender pay gap, we have to have a correct understanding of what the gap is in terms of dollars per hour, and we also have to understand the legitimate non-discriminatory factors that cause differences in earnings between men and women.

A man and a woman working in the same job title with the same level of responsibility with the same education, experience, etc., should have the same compensation. But that's not the situation the "77 Cents" statistic refers to. That statistic refers to the average of all women in all occupations and industries relative to the average of all men in all occupations and industries.

We know that a man working in a low-wage industry earns less than a man working in a high-wage industry. So why should we be surprised that a woman working in a low-wage industry earns less than a man working in a high-wage industry? Is it because of gender discrimination? It's likely due to the fact that in one industry wages tend to be low relative to the other industry.

Abstracting away from these kinds of differences (occupational choice, industry, etc.) confuses the gender pay gap discussion. We aren't able to separate out what the real discriminatory difference in earnings is from those differences created by legitimate, nondiscriminatory factors.

I don't think we can make any real progress on eliminating the gender pay gap until we understand what it really is, and automatically assuming that any difference between the earnings of men and women - without controlling for legitimate explanatory factors - will not advance our understanding of what's going on and will not help us to eliminate gender pay discrimination.

Thanks for this post. The wage gap drives me utterly insane. In real life I see people making different decisions and (surprise!) they get different outcomes.

As it should be.

I've observed both sides talking past each other on this issue for too many decades to count. This continues the established trend. Don't expect the miscommunications to change, either, because there is too darn much money to be made for both sides by sticking to half-truths and arguing over the extreme margins when the facts exist in the center.

Howard Risher's breakthrough research on the topic was buried many years ago. It was too objective, reliable and persuasive to be popular, because it proved both polar position to be wrong. Oh, each side is accurate in what it claims, but neither claim tells the whole truth. All else held equal (accounting for each of your differences), gender pay discrimination exists and continues, but by no more than ~14%, I'd say. Still bad, but still not 23%. And that 14% female discount was among COMPENSATION professionals.

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