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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Another way of thinking about it is whether our existing prejudice causes men and women to behave differently with respect to careers.

Do we, through our treatment of boys and our social pressures on men push them to being more like Bill?

Do we, through discrimination send signals to girls and women that they aren't capable of being like Bill, or that we will consider them bitchy and uppity if they pursue career rather than relationships? 

After all, until relatively recently we strongly discouraged or even forbid  men and women from crossing these socially constructed gender roles, except in unusual communities like religious orders.

Then we must consider the way society values different careers.  Teachers, a career requiring high levels of education and enormously important to society are paid less than is typical for those of similar educational achievement... because teaching has traditionally been women's work.    Even though male and female teachers may be paid the same, we may still have bias if professions with high numbers of women are undervalued as a profession.

Do we, through our treatment of boys and our social pressures on men push them to being more like Bill?

Do we, through discrimination send signals to girls and women that they aren't capable of being like Bill, or that we will consider them bitchy and uppity if they pursue career rather than relationships? 

I think the answer is yes to those questions. But those are social and societal issues whereas it seems business seems to get the misplaced blame. 

Also, we may be dealing with some of the natural (hard-wired and hormonal) differences between men and women. Women form stronger bonds with friends and relatives than men on the whole, which tends to make them self-limiting in some ways when it comes to an advancement that might have them accepting a higher-paying assignment elsewhere in the company or involving a move. As long as my father was alive, you'd never get my sister to leave our hometown, whereas my brother and I left decades ago. That's just anecdotal, of course, but I bet a lot of women can relate to not wanting to move away from their parents.

As for how society values different careers, that might work for careers where the paycheck comes from the state. Social valuations are irrelevant in the business world where "How does it affect our competitiveness?" is the overriding question.

BTW, we'll never value teachers as highly as you suggest until teaching stops being a vocation and becomes just a job. I don't think that will ever happen and I'm not sure I'd ever want it to. And the same is true of most of the vocational professions as opposed to the more business-related ones. 

because there are more men than women who think like Bill

Is that really the case? How did you come to that conclusion? 

Enough, perhaps, to result in the pay discrepancies we're all familiar with.

Even when the man and woman have the very same job and are both equally productive yet the woman earns less?

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?

There are many articles and books that discuss that question at great detail and the answer is always that what you call "the choices people make" have little to do with the full out discrimination that wage disparity per gender that women suffer.

And how do we distinguish between the two?

We do that by doing our homework (it's actually all available in books and even short journal articles). Stanford University has a research group "Stanford Center for poverty and inequality" and have written extensively on the issue.

Compare statistics, example the average salary of a man and woman who have the same job, the percentage of men and women in lower paying jobs and surveys and questionaires which ask women to what extent they have encountered barriers to getting better paying jobs.

Michael Waltzer (known for his just war theories and other ethical debates) in his book "Pluralism, Justice and Equality" discusses in a couple articles articles on the topic  that privelage explains most of the problems with gender issues and pay gap.

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

From what I've read...a little...but sexism explains most of it (much of it being subtle sexism). This article from the Stanford group discusses the trends in wage disparity

https://web.stanford.edu/group/scspi/_media/pdf/key_issues/gender_r...

Or if reading twelve pages is too much to ask...this page gives a summary of the problems, it is mostly about sexism

http://www.aauw.org/research/the-simple-truth-about-the-gender-pay-...

Sure sexism, depending on how you define it, of course, plays a role. AAUW is an advocacy group and so their conclusions are infected with their point of view. This is why I don't go to advocacy groups for information. 

You asked how I came to that conclusion. Workplace experience over many years. Sheer observation. And if you'll read Belle's contribution below, you'll discover confirmation of several of those factors I mentioned. Women generally form stronger human bonds than men do, and that affects their decision-making. 

Belle explains below that mothers aren't free in the way men and non-mothering women are. It's simply nonsense to think that this doesn't skew the statistics in a way that makes comparing men and women like comparing apples and oranges. 

And it goes back to choices. We live in times when, due to the liberation of women, having children is largely a choice. True, some women for various reasons can't terminate their pregnancy, but most women can if they really want to. 

For single moms (refer to Belle again) it's worse. There is no one else to attend to a sick child, get them to doctor appointments, meet with teachers, and so on. There is no husband to share these duties with. 

And even when there is a husband, it often makes more sense for the woman to handle these duties because...are you read for some circularity in the form of an unfortunate feedback loop?...because his income is actually more valuable to the family unit. He makes more and, as a couple, they have an explicit or sometimes unspoken understanding that his is the income on which they are betting their future. 

Started reading the AAUW page. Stopped pretty quickly when I saw the following two quotes:

AAUW’s The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap succinctly addresses these issues by going beyond the widely reported 78 percent statistic

In 2013, among full-time, year-round workers, women were paid 78 percent of what men were paid.

It's called internal consistency people... It's one of the reasons we know the bible is full of shit.

Even when the man and woman have the very same job and are both equally productive yet the woman earns less?

There are already equal pay laws in place to deal with this but we still see a similar averaged pay gap. Can you cite some examples where a woman and man, in the same situation, with the same education and experience, will earn different amounts? Maybe I'm projecting my own non-sexist attitude onto my previous employers but I have a hard time believing the pay would be significantly different.

There are many articles and books that discuss that question at great detail

Presumably you have read your sources, yet you were unable to answer the question of "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?"

See how easy it is to ask someone to back up what they say and cite sources instead of dismissing what is said? Thanks Matt.

Part 1

The gender wage gap differs depending on the particular job. Yes, there are laws about wage gaps in some countries and states but that cannot possibly be applied across two companies which have comparable positions one having a man working and one having a woman.

In the article The Gender Pay Gap for Private-Sector Employees in Canada and Britain published in the British Journal of Industrial Relations they concluded that little of the wage gap can be justified by "the choices people make". 

In the article 

The Gender Gap in Executive Compensation: The Role of Female Directors and Chief Executive Officers in The annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science they demonstrate how women at the top level earn less even when productivity is comparable. Of note is how women earn more when there are more women in their working environment (more women on the board, more women at the highest level). 

The best source is Gendered Tradeoffs: Women, Family, and Workplace Inequality in Twenty-One Countries by Becky Pettit and Jennifer Hook. They found pay gaps in comparable positions in several countries including in Scandinavia. They differences depend on the position and the country, The Mediterranean showing some of the most notable gaps (amongst developed countries). They agree that "the choices people make" can explain the wage gap to some small degree but that public policy and systemic discrimination are behind most of it. 

In The Gender Pay Gap: Have Women Gone as Far as They Can? Academy of Management Perspectives, they did a meta analysis of the work of several statisticians and sociologists and found that every single one of them concluded that the wage gap cannot be properly explained by "the choices people make". The following table is quoted in the article (work by Kuhn and Cann in 2006). The Kuhn in this article is not the Kuhn that we are all familiar with :)

They explain the wage difference with the following explanations:

Characteristics Explained Educational attainment - 6.7 Labour force experience 10.5 Race 2.4 Occupational category 27.4 Industry category 21.9 Union status 3.5 Unexplained 41.1 Total 100.0 Wage differential (%) 20.3

"Personal choices" have little to do with it even when you add labour force experience and educational attainment. But even if we were to accept that the wage gap is explained by a lack of education and experience by women, it isn't acceptable to claim that nothing needs to be done about it as there are significant barriers woman face in attaining job experience and higher education.

Obviously the analysis will be different depending on the sector and the state/country. 

Part 2 will be...tomorrow?

Maybe Part 2 will get into what really matters to companies and is figured into what they pay their workers: value to the company. You can be the biggest expert in the company and the most productive in the department but if your life situation limits your flexibility in terms of hours or your ability to put in extra hours or to travel on very short notice, etc., those become rather moot.

Someone who is very flexible, is eager to put in all the extra hours they can get, and loves to hop on a plane in three hours in order to be in Topeka in the morning is more valuable to the company than someone who doesn't fit that description, even if they aren't the the best and brightest. And that sort of thing can be reflected in the paycheck without respect to one's sex, but I would think it obvious that women in our society are more hampered in that regard than men.

but that cannot possibly be applied across two companies which have comparable positions one having a man working and one having a woman.

Are you suggesting that different companies should be forced to pay the same amount for two similar workers? That's called communism. Imagine if we were talking about two men in the same position at different companies... why would you want to force the two companies to pay the same?

The Gender Gap in Executive Compensation

Is largely irrelevant due to the low number of people in Executive employment. Having more women on boards, getting the same pay as the men on those boards doesn't help regular working women (or men for that matter) at all.

public policy and systemic discrimination are behind most of it.

We literally have laws to prevent it but this source states that public policy and systemic discrimination are the cause of most of it? How? If this is true, why isn't the police and legal system doing their job?

even if we were to accept that the wage gap is explained by a lack of education and experience by women, it isn't acceptable to claim that nothing needs to be done about it

Sounds like bias to me. If we accept that the wage gap is explained by a lack of education and experience, then woman can CHOOSE to go and get educated... just like everyone else can.

as there are significant barriers woman face in attaining job experience and higher education.

What barriers? I haven't seen or heard of any. What I have heard of is affirmative action programs, they help women and minorities get education and experience.

Part 2 will be...tomorrow?

Looking forward to it. Can we have some actual examples (case studies) of the pay gaps?

I also note "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?" remains unanswered. Do your sources quantify their results or are they just hand-waving the question away?

A certain someone is a great juggler of jargon, isn't he? Doesn't miss many buzzwords along the way. Almost Chopra-esque in his mastery of the mumbo jumbo of isms.

The mumbo-jumbo of isms is the core centrality of externalised argument.

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