Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Why men earn more than women

Recently I came across an interesting map showing how much women earn for every dollar a man earns. The highlights:

In Utah, the average woman earns 55 cents for every dollar the average man earns.

At best, women earn 3/4 of what men earn.

There are lots of theories as to why women earn so much less than men. Some people say it's because women gravitate toward fields that tend to pay less. But even if you take this into account, women still earn less than men in the exact same job.

The difference does seem to be related to having kids. Apparently, men with children earn about 2% more on average than men without children, whereas women with children earn about 2.5% less than women without children. Women are also more likely to leave the work force for longer periods of time, which further suppresses their earnings.

As a working mom, I really get this. How could I ask for more money when I just took a 12 week maternity leave? How could I ask for more money when I just had to take sick days for a GI bug I caught from my kids? How could I ask for more money when that might make me feel obligated to take on more responsibilities, which I just can't handle right now?

I don't know what the solution is, but I'm sure I'm not the only woman who feels this way. There are probably enough of us to fill at least several binders.

17 comments:

  1. I feel somewhat similar. I do enjoy the flexibility my job affords me when it pertains to my family. I am a fulltime mom and a fulltime career person, but I have made it clear that being a mom trumps. I expect my job to be flexible (and looked for one that would be) and for that I expect to be paid less. IF I were available at the drop of a hat, with no obligations, no restrictions, I would expect to be paid more.

    I feel like job seeking and interviewing should be much more open regarding the companies needs and the candidates needs. Additionally, workplaces ideally would be more family concious. And yet, we have to FORCE rules because the ideal is rarely the goal. :0( I don't know how to fix it.

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  2. I am an NP but I am pretty sure I am paid less than some of my fellow NPs. However, my job is super flexible (today I'm not working at all b/c my daughter has a Dr's appointment smack dab in the middle of the morning at an office over an hour away). At this stage in my life, time and flexibility are WAY more important than the $$ and for the last 10 years a flexible, supportive job like that has ALWAYS been chosen of over higher pay, more prestigious office, etc.

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  3. I have heard from other statistics that one of the biggest factors with the gender gap is the difference in hours. Women tend to work less hours than men, and so get paid less. I know that is definitely true in the private practices I've been in. The women tend to be the ones to cut back on their hours while the men tend to be a slave to their jobs.

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    1. I don't mind if women are being paid less for working less. But even when this difference is accounted for, women earn less money for doing the exact same job. Maybe the employer's assumption is that the women will work less and be less reliable and that's why they get paid less.

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  4. This logic only really applied to 2 parent households. We all know that there are single mothers who need every penny earned and so gender differences in pay really affect them. Also not all women are mothers so when your take that into account, gender differences in pay still affect them negatively. It's one thing to work less hours and make an hourly rate and therefore get paid less, it's another when you do work the same amount, maybe even more and still aren't compensated the same as you're male colleagues. Plus women have the tendency to short change themselves, especially when it comes to pay for fear of rocking the boat. They also devalue the their work both at work and home instead of realizing that our contributions are equally as important as a mans and therefore should receive equal compensation.

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    1. I agree with this. If you want to work less, you should get paid less. The problem arises when it is assumed that you are working less or would want to work less (even though you aren't or don't want to) just because you are a woman, or just because you have kids.

      Is there any evidence that working fathers work harder/longer than working non-fathers? If not, then why do they get a pay bump just for being a dad? Don't moms need the money just as much?

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    2. Yes LaToya this is precisely why this is worth fighting about. I don't care if I make a little less---I know I do---than some of my male colleagues. I use that as a perfect excuse to be less immediately available. The flexibility for me, in a 2-working-parent upper-middle-class household, is more valuable than the extra $$. But in single-mother families or when the father is out of work (and more men than women lost their jobs during this recession) or when the family is literally living paycheck to paycheck, those lost dollars can make the difference between making it and not.

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  5. This logic only really applied to 2 parent households. We all know that there are single mothers who need every penny earned and so gender differences in pay really affect them. Also not all women are mothers so when your take that into account, gender differences in pay still affect them negatively. It's one thing to work less hours and make an hourly rate and therefore get paid less, it's another when you do work the same amount, maybe even more and still aren't compensated the same as you're male colleagues. Plus women have the tendency to short change themselves, especially when it comes to pay for fear of rocking the boat. They also devalue the their work both at work and home instead of realizing that our contributions are equally as important as a mans and therefore should receive equal compensation.

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  6. I just burst out laughing at the "binder" remark. It's been a rough morning at the office, so thank you for that!

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    1. Yes, I was determined to find a way to work "binders" into that post :)

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  7. Do you have references to the statistics here? I always hear these stats referenced, but I'd like to be able to read the literature myself. I'm assuming the studies have controlled for factors like hours worked, years of experience in the field, that kind of thing?

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    1. Government Accountability Report: http://usgovinfo.about.com/cs/censusstatistic/a/womenspay.htm

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    2. thanks! I've got my evening reading now.

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  8. There's no keeping mothers in medicine in binders! I hear you, Fizzy. Some statistics can be found at the Bureau of Labor... Statistics:
    http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2012/ted_20120110.htm

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  9. Fizzy, thought-provoking post as always.

    I think that part of the issue is that we're afraid to ask. For instance, part of my time is dedicated to funded research. However, as the federal salary caps don't equate to the salary of an emergency physician, my group has to "make up" some of the difference in my salary support for my research.

    Because of this, I hesitate to say "hey guys, I'm working [more fast track/more evenings/more non-teaching shifts] than I should". After all, my group is supporting me, right?

    But I know that some male physicians in my same position ask/complain -- and get what they want.

    So I think that part of the issue is our own passivity, or unwillingness to risk upsetting people, yes?

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  10. Excellent post Fizzy. Not sure if you saw this article in JAMA, but thought it was pertinent to MiM as it points out that among mid career academics in medicine, women still earn less than men, even when adjusting for publications, grants, etc. http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1182859

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