“The Wall Street Journal published a report analyzing data from 1.7 million college graduates examining how the gender pay gap manifests itself in the first few years of college graduates’ careers. They found that even for graduates with the same major, women often earned strikingly less than their male counterparts. For example, among Georgetown accounting majors, male graduates earned 55 percent more than female graduates just three years after graduation.
The data is “evidence that pay gaps between men and women often form earlier than is widely perceived,” says the Journal, adding that “economists who have long examined pay gaps between men and women cite the so-called motherhood penalty—referring to the perception that mothers are less committed to their jobs—and say this affects hiring, promotions, and salaries. Determining why those gaps appear earlier isn’t simple.”
However, is this picture as dire as it seems? Among several explanations the Journal gives, including internalized sexism and outright discrimination, is worker preference.
Take, for example, the University of Michigan School of Law, where the median male graduate out-earns the median female graduate by $45,000. “The school said that in the classes of 2015 and 2016, 237 men took jobs at law firms, while 158 women did. Fourteen men headed into public-interest jobs, whereas three times as many women did. The classes those years had slightly more men than women.” Women appear more likely to prefer notoriously low-paying public-interest law over a grueling job at a law firm. As one woman law grad, now a public defender, told the Journal, “With corporate law, I could make all the money in the world, but I’d rather get some kind of fulfillment from my job.””
“It is fair to examine why many of the jobs women prefer are paid less than the jobs men prefer, though much of this difference is self-explanatory: Working 40 hours a week at a nonprofit will not and cannot pay as much as working 80 hours at a consulting firm. However, other phenomena, such as the decline in salaries as a field becomes female-dominated, are worth critically examining. However, treating any pay gap as evidence of discrimination ignores the desirability of tradeoffs and choice. Assuming all types of jobs are available to all types of equally qualified workers, it is good that the workers can choose between various combinations of labor hours, monetary compensation, flexibility, and personal enrichment.”
“evidence that this actually helps women is mixed. Meanwhile, such restrictions would have unintended consequences.
“For example, employers who can’t ask about prior salary might assume that a female candidate would accept less money than a man, because women make less on average,” as The New York Times has previously noted. In this scenario, a ban on salary history discussions could lead to women getting lowballed in job offers.
Salary history bans could also cost people—particularly women and younger workers—some job offers. It’s not hard to imagine an employer choosing to hire someone whose salary requirements seem slightly lower than an equally qualified candidate with higher requirements. In this case, prior salary disclosure could mean the difference between getting a job or not.
In other cases, where an employer has a strong preference for a particular candidate, the company may be prepared to offer a higher salary than the baseline in order to recruit them. Without knowing the candidate’s salary history, however, the employer may be lost as to what to offer. They might offer lower than the candidate currently makes, leading the candidate to reject the job that could have otherwise been a good fit.
Which is all to say that surely some women may actually benefit from past salary disclosure—especially now that young women are out-earning their male counterparts.
In general, letting employers and prospective employees exchange more information, not less, seems likely to lead to the best matches and the most satisfaction.”
“Today’s rhetoric about wider disparities in male and female incomes tends to 1) rely on research looking at incomes across professions and positions and 2) ignore explanations other than discrimination that might explain pay disparities—things like gender differences in types of work, work schedules, and years in the workforce. Politicians and media then use this distorted picture to spawn outrage and get kudos for addressing the issue, even if nothing they’re doing can actually “fix” the complicated causes behind disparities.
There may be a broader discussion to have about whether female-heavy industries are undervalued or how choosing to have children may harm women’s salary prospects more than men’s. But the issue is nowhere near the simplistic narrative that many modern progressives often make it out to be, in which sexist bosses and companies simply choose to pay women less than men for the same work and everything can be fixed with federal mandates.”
“as former Congressional Budget Office Director June O’Neill and Dave M. O’Neill have shown, this supposed “pay gap” disappears when one factors in the background variables of age, education, math and verbal skills, and work history. In fact, when controlling for these variables, black men earn 99.9 percent of the wages of white men, and when the same calculation is applied to women, black women actually earn 7 percent more per hour than white women with the same education and math and verbal skills. In short order, the pay gap disappears.
By the same logic, although there is a significant poverty gap between white and black children in the United States, this disparity vanishes when one controls for the key background variables of family structure, educational attainment, and workforce participation. As Heritage Foundation scholar Robert Rector has demonstrated, when these background factors are held constant, “race alone does not directly increase or decrease the probability that a child will be poor.” Contrary to the logic of the critical race theorists, the key determinant of child poverty is not race, but a cluster of human and social variables that affect Americans of all racial demographics with remarkably equal force.
Unfortunately, critical race theory does not offer a policy platform for strengthening these key background variables; in fact, it is in many cases directly hostile to them.”