Despite the provocative headline that got you this far, I'm sure there's something to it.

So few women top executives exist that I'm sure there's some "boys club" reason behind it in the board rooms of major corporations where, not coincidentally, there are relatively few women.

But what about female line workers: the female clerks, saleswomen, scientists and engineers. Not the woman who aspires to being the CEO, but the woman who, like most men, just wants to earn a living.

I've often wondered about the statistics and have yet to find an answer to this question: are the statisticians comparing apples to apples or apples to oranges?

Here's what I mean: 

Most men are ready to travel or even relocate away from friends and family if it will improve their career opportunities. I strongly suspect that while many woman are also ready to improve their careers in this way, most women are not. 

I strongly suspect that many women still head toward careers in line with natural feminine inclinations to nurture: teaching, nursing, veterinary care and assistantship jobs, art and craft-oriented jobs.

Add to this some of the disadvantages of women in the workplace such as, greater absenteeism (female health and family commitment reasons), more likely to be a smoker (less likely to give up a break in a crisis situation), and less likely to accept a career move if it means leaving office friends behind, and...

...I wonder what the stats about advancement opportunities and pay would look like if one compared the women who were more like men against their male counterparts.

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Hey Unseen,

But on your last post, is this really the point? Every person has a valued place in society and should be compensated fairly for it. Even if these differences exist, people as individuals, not as statistics, should be free to choose their occupation freely, without having to weigh the disproportionate costs they are having to bear for rearing men's children. Think about the totality of what your're saying.

And I am accused of blowing smoke up girls butts when I say this but I am not. I have plenty of things to say that infuiate women, too. This is just the honest truth, imo

- kk

Colleen,

You don't need to question the evidence for that point because it isn't the point, imo. Even if it were true, it does nothing to justify the current situation. In all the cases I looked into the negotiations regarding salary did in fact ultimately come down to womens expectations made due to their position of being the primary caretaker, even when they didn't want to do that. If you re-interview and don't ask anything leading you will find that this is the consistent answer.

- kk

@KK

But on your last post, is this really the point? Every person has a valued place in society and should be compensated fairly for it. Even if these differences exist, people as individuals, not as statistics, should be free to choose their occupation freely, without having to weigh the disproportionate costs they are having to bear for rearing men's children. Think about the totality of what your're saying.

Fair compensation is determined in terms of value to the employer, or do you use some other standard? The employees pay is company money spent in pursuit of the organization's goals. In a sales organization, for example, aggressiveness, willingness to sacrifice family time for business-related endeavors, willingness to relocate when needed or go on long trips are valued. I contend that on the whole (but of course not in every case) men fill such roles more voluntarily and enthusiastically than women.

Hey Unseen,

I see both sides of this, but we cannot even know which of you is right until we level the field in terms of obligations to consanguinity, which is what is confusing the issue. If those obligations were truly leveled we'd know pretty quickly how much contribution comes from what.

- kk

Hey Colleen,

I work in a highly female-saturated, non-corporate career.  It confuses me when I look around: 80% of my coworkers are women, but 80% of my professors and supervisors are men.

Fascinating. This sounds like the American education system. Anyway, that is very telling, imo.

- kk

Hey Unseen,

So few women top executives exist that I'm sure there's some "boys club" reason behind it in the board rooms of major corporations where, not coincidentally, there are relatively few women

I hear this a lot. Maybe I'm an outlier. But this is not what I see. I see women everywhere in my profession and in board rooms all over. They make *outstanding* salaries and are very hard to fire. There, I've said something controversial ;-)

Having said that, I do have some anecdotal evidence to tell me that women in mid to lower paying jobs (which, I guess, is most of them after all) do tend to get screwed on salary, which seems to come from some weirdly different negotiation dynamic when offers are made. I've never been able to figure it out, but whenver I'm looking over pay policies or something like this, fifty million questions come up as to why was she, she and she offered thirty percent less than Joe knucklehead we fired last week?

Happens all the time.

- kk

@Kir

Yes, I forgot to mention that. Statistics comparing men and women need to take into account things like aggressiveness and negotiating skills. I'm not sure they are doing that, because if they are not, then their statistics are apples and oranges when it comes to pay and advancement comparisons.

Is the woman more likely to take the offer made in her performance review than a man? I have my suspicions, but I don't know and I suspect neither do the statisticians, for they are naturally all about what is rather than why it is. The man may say, "No, if you want to keep me, you'll need to do better than that or sweeten the offer with something else." Testosterone rules in some circumstances, there's no doubt about it.

Men more than women may be willing to be ruthless about advancing and thus are probably more willing to set aside sentimental considerations if they conflict with salary and job advancement. 

Hey Unseen,

My impression is that this is where the difference is coming from and its a big liability issue. I've advised people that they should change the way they negotiate so that men and women have more similar ballpark expectations when negotiations begin, and that leave of absence and absentee-ism based on obligations to consanguinity be ignored in setting this expectation. And they should document how they are doing this generally and case by case.

- kk 

Maybe women can mostly see past all the male bravado, over compensation, and ego worship of the corporate culture?

While I'm sure that some women do bump their heads on the glass ceiling, there are ample examples to be found where individual choices are the cause for women to not reach the top in their profession. It's much more of a grey issue than some of the activitsts on both sides would like it to be.

"Most men are ready to travel or even relocate away from friends and family if it will improve their career opportunities. I strongly suspect that while many woman are also ready to improve their careers in this way, most women are not."

I wonder to what degree culture plays a role in this. For instance, my girlfriend and quite a few of my female friends are much more career driven than the men surrounding them, including me. However most of the people that I hang out with are quite well educated and quite progressive/liberal. Not saying that you're wrong in your assesment, just wondering to what degree culture (not nature) plays a role in this.

"I strongly suspect that many women still head toward careers in line with natural feminine inclinations to nurture: teaching, nursing, veterinary care and assistantship jobs, art and craft-oriented jobs."

Both men and women have natural inclinations to nurture, it is somewhat odd to see this predominantly assigned to women. I suspect that there is quite a significant cultural bias involved in this statement. For instance, in my country and especially my field of occupation most manager positions are fulfilled by women. Also as time progresses less and less women choose professions that used to be considered as feminine professions.

However, if you look at the religious people you'd find that they still choose (in general) professions that are more in line with traditional ideas about the role and inclinations of the sexes.

It is a very touchy subject, so kudos to you for bringing it up, it is definitely a subject worth discussing. Unfortunately, I only have more questions to add, and very little in the sense of answers to give.

One large factor in lower salary offers, especially at "entry level" is that businesses will factor in the greater likelihood that women will take extended time off (or possibly even decide to quit completely) for child rearing--and have to be paid during that time if its family leave, under current law.  (In other words a law intended to protect women has actually done them some amount of harm!)  Yes it is unfair to apply such a consideration to all women indiscriminately, but there is no way for the hiring company to know in advance who is going to give some number of years of uninterrupted service versus: a) quit after a few years to raise a family, or b ) take lengthy and expensive leaves.

Before I get jumped on for this, please note that I pointed out it was one factor; I have no doubt that sexism also plays a role.  As such, it certainly differs by organization.  Some one individual is ultimately responsible for hiring decisions, and if it's a "he" and "he" is sexist, you'll see some sexism in the hiring--and he will tend to surround himself with others with a similar attitude.  (I had one boss once who never quite said so unambiguously to me, but it was clear from statements he made (sometimes in front of women) that he thought most women really couldn't hack the sort of abstract thinking involved in our line of work, though he also acknowledged exceptions.  And surprise--he was a young earth creationist.  It was a very large company and the HR department would probably have been horrified to catch wind of this.)

Where I work, men take the same leave that women do when their families have a child.  Often times families stagger the leave to cover the first three months of the child's life (e.g. the mother takes the first six weeks, and the father takes the six weeks after that).  My supervisor chose to stagger his leave, such that he was out for the first two weeks of each month for three months.  Is it not this way in other fields?

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