Friday, September 14, 2012

Gender pay gap - Categories and equivalencies

Amy Alkon (aka the Advice Goddess) had an interesting piece over on her blog about the gender pay gap stat that keeps getting floated around.  By the way, if you're at all libertarian leaning and hate the TSA, she's a good read.

Anyway, I've posted before about the gender pay gap stat, and how it's fairly deceptive, but her post triggered a point I hadn't thought about previously.  Apparently the stat (that women make 75-81 cents per dollar that men make) is based on full time year round workers.  Alkon quotes another article that mentions that "full time" means anything over 35 hours.  

Now obviously this accounts for some of the disparity in pay gap.  We all know high achievers who work 70 hours a week, and to lump them in with those working 35 is silly.  

It's an interesting study in categories though.  When I took my assessment class in grad school, the professor showed us a study that had been done on the number of sex partners a person had.  The options were:
  1. 0
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4+
He pointed out two issues with this setup.  First, is there truly a meaningful difference between those who had 2 partners and 3?  How about those who had 3 partners and "4+"?  Is everyone with 4 or more partners really equal?

This mirrors the paycheck issue pretty well.  We'd all expect someone work 40 hours to make more than someone working 20 hours, but none of the calculations take in to account that someone working 60 hours will also make more than someone working 40 hours.  Alkon also links to this piece by Kay Hymowitz that gives this quote:
In 2007, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 27 percent of male full-time workers had workweeks of 41 or more hours, compared with 15 percent of female full-time workers; meanwhile, just 4 percent of full-time men worked 35 to 39 hours a week, while 12 percent of women did. Since FTYR men work more than FTYR women do, it shouldn’t be surprising that the men, on average, earn more.
She also mentions the term "proofiness"....the use of misleading statistics to confirm what you already believe. Love that.

Anyway, I'm all for equal pay for equal work, but only if we're really talking about equal pay AND equal work.

Bad categories, bad.

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