The best recent work on the alleged wage gap was done by Warren Farrell in his book Why Men Earn More: The Startling Truth Behind the Pay Gap And What Women Can Do About It. Warren's newest release--"How the AAUW Pay Equity Study Undermines Women"--details fallacies with the recent assertions of widespread wage discrimination against women. It is reprinted with permission below. Warren, whom I consider the intellectual wellspring of the men's movement, will be speaking at the Third National Men's Equality Congress July 13-14 in Washington D.C. Warren can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. How the AAUW Pay Equity Study Undermines Women By Warren Farrell, Ph.D. April 24 is Pay Equity Day. Hillary Clinton is leading a protest against the alleged discrimination behind the gender pay gap, and introducing the Paycheck Fairness Act. The AAUW (American Association of University Women) is publicizing a study that appears to document the discrimination against women reflected by the gap. And restaurants are giving discounts to women to help compensate and show support. When I was on the Board of the National Organization for Women in New York City in the seventies, I also led protests against the male-female pay gap. And I also assumed the gap reflected both discrimination against women and the undervaluing of women. Then one day I asked myself, "If we can pay women less for the same work, why would any one hire a man?" And if they did, wasn't there a punishment--called "going out of business?" In other words, did market forces contain a built-in punishment against discrimination? The answer to what the pay gap was really about became more than theoretical as two daughters entered my life. After a decade of research for Why Men Earn More, I discovered 25 differences in men and women's work-life choices. All 25 lead to men earning more money; and all 25 lead to women having better lives--lives more balanced between work and home. (Since real power is about having a better life, well, once again, the women have outsmarted us!) As it turns out, the road to high pay is a toll road. High pay is about trade-offs. Men's trade-offs include working more hours (women work more at home); taking more-dangerous, dirtier, and outdoor jobs (garbage collecting; construction; trucking); relocating and traveling; training for more-technical jobs with less people contact (engineering); taking late night shifts; working for more years; being absent less frequently... These are just ten of the twenty-five variables that must be controlled for before we have a reasonable case for discrimination. And they don't include three of the most important variables: one's specialty, sub-specialty and productivity. The AAUW study sees discrimination when women earn less in their first jobs after college graduation. I see it as more helpful to my daughters to know that women earn less because they are far more likely to major in languages, arts and social sciences, and men are far more likely to major in engineering, technology and the hard sciences that everyone knows ahead of time pay more. Now my daughters have a choice. Is the pay gap, then, about men and women's choices? Not quite. It's about parents' choices. Thus women who have never been married and are without children earn 117% as much as their male counterparts. (The 117% comparison controls for education, hours worked, and age.) Why? The decisions of never-married women without children are more like men's (e.g., they work longer hours and don't leave their careers), and never-married men's are more like women's (careers in arts, etc.). The result? The women out-earn the men. The crucial variable in the pay gap is family decisions, not work decisions. And the most important family variable is the division of labor once children are born: the tendency for children to lead to dad intensifying his work commitments and mom intensifying her family commitments. This is the major reason the pay gap goes from 20% to 31% as women and men get older--a reason not publicized in the current AAUW study. The pay gap, then, is not the problem. It is a reflection largely of family decisions that we may or may not wish to change. The law can still attend to discrimination, but not by starting with the assumption that the pay gap means discrimination. Does the change in division of labor once children arrive imply mothers sacrifice careers? Not quite. Polls of people in their twenties find both sexes would prefer sacrificing pay for more family time. In fact, men in their twenties are more willing to sacrifice pay for family than women (70% of men; 63% of women). The next generation's discussion may not be "who sacrifices career?" but "who sacrifices being the primary parent?" The real discrimination may be discrimination against dad's option to raise children. Don't women, though, earn less than men in the same job? Yes and no. For example, with doctors, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lumps physicians and surgeons together. The male doctor is more likely to be the surgeon (vs. a GP), work in private practice (vs. HMOs), for hours that are longer and less predictable, and for more years. In brief, the "same job" is not the same. When these variables are accounted for, the pay is precisely the same. What appears to be the same job ("doctor") is not the same job. Are these women's choices? When I taught at the School of Medicine at the University of California in San Diego, even in their first year I saw my female students eyeing specialties with fewer and more predictable hours (dermatology, psychiatry). Conversely, they avoided specialties with lots of contact with blood and death, such as surgery. But don't female executives also make less than male executives? Yes. Discrimination? Let's look. Comparing men and women who are "corporate vice presidents" camouflages the facts that men more frequently assume financial, sales and other bottom-line responsibilities (vs. human resources or PR); they are vice presidents of national and international (vs. local or regional) firms; with more personnel and revenues; they are more likely executive or senior vice-presidents. They have more experience, relocate more, travel overseas more, and are considerably older when they become executives... Comparing men and women with the "same jobs," then, is still to compare apples and oranges. However, when all 25 choices are the same, the great news (for women) is that the women make more than the men. Is there, nevertheless, discrimination against women? Yes. For example, the old boys' network. And sometimes discrimination against women becomes discrimination against men: in hazardous fields, women suffer fewer hazards. For example, 798 Marines have been killed in the War in Iraq; 792 are men; six are women (as of April 23, 2007). In other fields, men are virtually excluded--try getting hired as a male dental hygienist, nursery school teacher, cocktail waiter, or even selling men's clothing at Wal-Mart. The problem with focusing our binoculars only on discrimination against women is that the publicity those lawsuits generate leads us to miss opportunities for women. For example, we miss 80 fields in which women can work, for the most part, fewer hours and fewer years, and still earn more than men. Fields such as financial analyst, speech-language pathologist, radiation therapist, library worker, biological technician, funeral service worker, motion picture projectionist.... Thus women focused on discrimination don't know which female engineers make 143% as much as their male counterparts; or why female statisticians earn 135%. Go figure. I want my daughters to have their binoculars focused on empowerment rather than on victim power. To know that pharmacists now earn almost as much as doctors. As I took my binoculars off of discrimination against my daughters, I discovered opportunities for my daughters. The biological instinct of men is to protect women. When there was no societal permission for divorce, husbands supplied women's income for a lifetime so women had the protection of an income-producer who could not fire her. When divorces became more common, the government became a substitute husband. The instinct to protect women trumped rational analysis of whether unequal pay was caused by discrimination or by the differences in men and women's work-life choices. It prevented us from even thinking of radical questions such as Do men earn more than women because men define power as feeling obligated to earn more money while they die sooner? And if so, is Mens tendency to earn more than women because they have less privilege (fewer options) than women? Is the pay gap not about male power, but about male obligation and female privilege?  U.S. Census Bureaus Survey of Income and Program Participation, 2001 Panel, Wave 2. The exact median earnings for the women are $46,896; for the men, $39,996. Latest available data as of 2004. I began investigating this in 1990. The gap was about the same then--women earned 116% of what their male counterparts earned. (U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Survey, March, 1990. Data compiled on request by Bob Cohen of Mathematical Policy Research, March 10, 1991.)  Radcliffe Public Policy Center, Life's Work: Generational Attitudes Toward Work and Life Integration, (Cambridge, MA.: Radcliffe Public Policy Center, July, 2000). The Harris Interactive Poll was commissioned by the Radcliffe Public Policy Center. The Poll also found 80% of men 21-39 put a flexible work schedule at the top of their list of desired job characteristics. See also Joyce Madelon Winslow, Dads Can Learn from Moms, USA Today, July 12, 2000, p.15A.  Lawrence C. Baker, Ph.D. Differences in Earnings Between Male and Female Physicians, The New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 334 No. 15 (April 11, 1996), pp. 960-964. Table 1, p. 961. Dr. Baker is at the Department of Health Research and Policy, Stanford University Medical School. Data are from the 1991 Survey of Young Physicians, which included 3425 males and 1143 female. Besides specialty and practice setting, the other variables used were medical education (type of medical school, ranking of the school, graduate degrees other than an MD, and taking a leave of absence during medical school), experience, personal characteristics (age, race or ethnic group, marital status, and parenthood status), the community in which the physician practiced (urban or rural, income per capita, proportion of population over 65 years of age, percentage of patients who were black or Hispanic, and the U.S. census region), AMA membership, specialty-board status, number of concurrent practices, and whether the physician had ever been subject to a claim of malpractice.  Korn/Ferry International and UCLA Anderson Graduate School of Management, Decade of the Executive Woman: Survey of Women In Senior Management Positions in the Fortune 1000 Industrial and 500 Service Companies, p. 22. The Korn/Ferry survey found the male executives work more hours, do more travel, do more moving, earn more MBAs, have more job continuity, and are about four times as likely as women to have 25 or more years experience with their company. The male executives were found to make more of almost all of the sacrifices discussed in Why Men Earn More. Concerning participation in bottom-line endeavors by women vs. men, Ilene Lang, Catalyst President, finds that women fill less than 10% of the 6,428 corporate line positions at Americas largest companies. Lang is cited in Joanne Cleaver and Betty Spence, All the Right Stuff: the National Association of Female Executives Analysis of the 2004 Top 30 Companies for Executive Women, May 10, 2004, p. 1. The point here is that comparing male and female executives is like comparing apples and oranges. What leads to women being less likely to be in these positions is the subject of other portions of Why Men Earn More, such as goals.  This conclusion results from assessing all twenty-five variables described in my Why Men Earn More. Since many variables overlap, the precise degree to which women earn more is impossible to assess.  Department of Defense, Directorate for Information Operations and Reports, as of December 2, 2006, from http://siadapp.dior.whs.mil/personnel/CASUALTY/oif-deaths-total.pdf.  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table A-26, Usual Weekly Earnings of Employed Full-Time Wage and Salary Workers by Detailed Occupation and Sex, Annual Averages 2003 (unpublished table).  Female sales engineers (e.g., an engineer trying to get Boeing to subcontract with her company) earn 143% of their male counterparts. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table A-26, Usual Weekly Earnings of Employed Full-Time Wage and Salary Workers by Detailed Occupation and Sex, Annual Averages 2003 (unpublished table).  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table A-26, Usual Weekly Earnings of Employed Full-Time Wage and Salary Workers by Detailed Occupation and Sex, Annual Averages 2003 (unpublished table)..  U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment and Earnings, (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, 2004) pp. 249-253, Table 39, "Median Weekly Earnings of Full-Time Wage and Salary workers by Detailed Occupation and Sex" and unpublished Table A-26, Usual weekly earnings of employed full-time wage and salary workers by detailed occupation and sex, Annual averages 2003.
Glenn Sacks, MA for Fathers & Families