Imagine two men.

BILL chose to become a CPA, a career well-known to be highly remunerative. He works hard and is very career-oriented. He works well more than 40 hours a week and doesn't let family obligations prevent him from going for job opportunities. If relocation with the company or elsewhere in the nation or world will increase his salary, he will go for it. 

JOE chose to go into social work, a career well-known to be less remunerative. He works hard but feels that his obligations to his children come before his job. He seldom puts in extra time. He also values his relationships with his coworkers so much that he never even applies for jobs that would take him away from them or his family.

Is it unfair for Bill to make more than Joe? Of course not.

Now, imagine that Joe is named Jo and is female. 

I think this comparison outlines a problem when interpreting the earnings discrepancy between men and women because there are more men than women who think like Bill. Enough, perhaps, to result in the pay discrepancies we're all familiar with.

How much of the pay discrepancy between men and women actually has more to do with the choices we make as men and women and how much has to do with actual prejudice?

And how do we distinguish between the two?

In other words, do the statistics really tell us more about the sexes than they do about the places in which they work?

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They have all the same choices as men, plus they can choose to have babies. How is that a lower quality of choices?

This whole idea that women have choices has been thrown around on the thread as if it means that we should opt not to have children. I don't like the tone of that at ALL. All of you MEN seem to be forgetting to account for what can happen AFTER you already have children.

Divorce, death of a spouse, illness of a spouse, other life circumstances that cause a woman to find herself without ANY support. I understand that "we have the right to choose," but once you already have a child, life is not perfect.

If you had told me 5 years ago that I would have ended up as a single mother on welfare, I would have laughed in your face. 

Life happens.

but once you already have a child, life is not perfect.

And the risk that life's imperfection should rear its ugly head should always be considered when making important life choices.

Hope for the best, plan (proportionally to risk and severity) for the worst.

as if it means that we should opt not to have children

No one has said anyone shouldn't have children. Just that if you do have children, it will affect your life.

All of you MEN seem to be forgetting to account for what can happen AFTER you already have children.

Because a PERSON's life circumstances do not and should not influence their pay unless they influence the business or their performance at work.

Why would an employer pay a single mother more than she is worth as an employee purely because of her single motherhood?

Same argument applies to anyone: why would an employer pay anyone more than they are worth as an employee?

I don't know about you, but I'd rather have more single mothers employed than fewer single mothers in higher earning positions.

Translation: "I'd rather single mothers stay on welfare and continue to struggle to make it while society continues to provide for the children their fathers have essentially abandoned and/or neglected to provide for."

Hey, they should be thankful right? At least we could say more single mothers are employed! Yaay! Go America, we ROCK!

I'd rather single mothers stay on welfare and continue to struggle

Belle, you are literally talking about the circumstances of my childhood. At no point did I say that single mothers should be on welfare (I know from experience that welfare isn't enough to sustain a family, father included or not). My own mother worked, then studied to change careers, then worked some more. Please keep your straw man to yourself.

Hey, they should be thankful right?

Did I say that? We're not talking about how people feel.

At least we could say more single mothers are employed!

Wouldn't that be a good thing? Do single mothers not WANT to provide for themselves and their children (pretty sure they do)? You would rather a small number of women in higher earning positions than a large number of women in lower earning positions?

Go America, we ROCK!

Not American.

My own mother worked, then studied to change careers, then worked some more.

Good for her. She is obviously a strong and empowered woman who did the best with what she had. I'm guessing (just a hunch) that she had at least a little family support to help raise you, no?

Anyway it doesn't matter. I think you probably missed the point I was trying to make. There shouldn't have to be any "either/or" when it comes to helping people escape from poverty. It shouldn't have to be some people making a lot, or more people making a little. 

I'm sorry you had to grow up with those kind of circumstances and I meant no offense by it. It just sounded like you were making an economic claim for which you really have nothing to back it up with. A truly sustainable economic model would think in terms of social justice and social equity. I don't know how it is where you're from, but it's most definitely NOT like that here in the US.

I'm guessing (just a hunch) that she had at least a little family support to help raise you

Mostly child care. Grandparents picked me up from childcare a couple nights a week too. You're right though, it doesn't matter and she is a very strong woman.

There shouldn't have to be any "either/or" when it comes to helping people escape from poverty. It shouldn't have to be some people making a lot, or more people making a little.

There shouldn't. But when we mandate that women are paid more than they are worth to a business, we create the "either/or" situation. Just let businesses pay people what they are worth to the business.

A truly sustainable economic model would think in terms of social justice and social equity.

Sustainable economics have nothing to do (necessarily) with social justice and equity. They may or may not include those things if it leads to a more sustainable model... not the other way around.

it's most definitely NOT like that here in the US.

The US does seem to have some significant issues, which the conservative parties here in Australia are keen to replicate.

Having equal qualifications isn't how businesses reward employees. It has a lot more to do with value to the business. I suspect that the single moms and the women who have made a bet along with their male partners that his income is probably the primary one drag the statistics down and make the difference in earnings between the sexes hard, if not impossible, to interpret accurately. Just looking at skills and pay can't possibly reveal the full story.

If I have a business that has a heavy workload and where staffing needs to be fluid and where the need to send a worker on a business trip on short notice is important, which worker is more valuable to the business, its shareholders, and, yes, the other employees in the firm as well, since they are all in the same boat together? Is it the one who is bogged down with commitments to family and friends limiting his/her ability to respond to the extra demands of the job.

In that case, in some ways, the more skilled person could be less valuable to the company due to the restrictions s/he places on his or her availability.

BTW, while I freelanced for the last 15 or so years of my business life, I did work in corporate office settings for a couple decades and I remember the resentment of other employees at having to pick up the slack for fellow workers whose outside-of-work commitments meant more work for everyone else who had to pick up the slack.

So Joe and Jo should be compared at the social service position to see if there is a discrepancy, assuming they're equally qualified.

SHOULD. This is not where that magic 70-odd% comes from though, to my knowledge.

By the time I was 5 years old I had learned that fairness and justice don't exist in reality. Itook me 10 more years to realist the best way to cope with ts reality it to lower my expectations.

The question is not about the fairness of a Bill receiving more that Joe, or about Bill receiving more than Joanne (just throwing in a name for Joe's female counterpart), it's abut Joe getting paid differently from JoAnne.

I'm looking for how value to the enterprise figures in.

You don't think that employee A who is never available to put in extra time in a crunch, is more likely than others to take time off for various reasons, won't travel for the company no matter what, and certainly won't relocate is as valuable as employee B who is ready to do all that stuff, do you?

The flaw in "equal pay for equal work" should only apply all things being equal. And then, yes, it must apply in the interest of fairness.

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