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06/10/2007

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Haris

A couple of things make me think that the earnings gap will never be eliminated.
First, given that women are the only ones who can give birth, female employees are always going to carry the risk of having to miss time for pregnancy & birth. As a result, all other things being equal [education, performance, etc] between a male and female employees, the employer will want to be compensated for this additional risk of missed time, in the form of lower wages for the female employees.
Second, given that male education and performance dominate at both extremes [high and low], men have an advantage because there is a lower limit to earnings [$0] but no upper limit. Thus, men can't earn less than $0 [even though their marginal value may well be negative] but have an infinite earnings upside, which drags their average up. Meanwhile, women rarely approach either of these extremes and thus don't benefit from the lower limit. [As a thought experiment, consider a society where all women earn 50, and half the men earn 0 and the other half 100. For every female raise, any other women could get an offsetting paycut and the average wouldn't change. However, if a man making 100 were to get a raise, only other men making 100 could take a paycut, the remainder unable to make less than 0. Thus the male average benefits from the 0 limit.]
As a result of these two factors, I doubt that the male-female gap will ever be eliminated, or that it should.

jimbino

Correct, Harris.

The female employee is worth much less to the employer than the male employee, especially if young, implying fertile, and especially if single. This disparity is diminished in those companies that offer family or spousal benefits, whose number is fortunately diminishing, at least in the private sector. The result of these pro-natalist policies has been that young fertile women, married or single, were attracted to those jobs, like civil service and public-school teaching, that still offered non-merit sickness and breeding benefits—to those sinecures that not only don’t punish you, but which, like the dead airlines and dying GM, rewarded you for breeding in lieu of producing. No single young man in his right mind should ever consider joining a cohort like that. A single young man should instead start his own business, work for a start-up offering no benefits, or work on a contract, as opposed to employee, basis for a large firm, or for a firm too small (under 50 employees) to fall under the idiotic FMLA and other socialist programs set up to distribute the wealth of the productive childfree to the indolent breeders.

To me, it is truly sad that the lesbian, confirmed childfree or actually sterile woman will, through no fault of her own, be denied the superior pay and opportunity that the young man enjoys, because of the assumption that she may soon breed. The employer is, of course, prohibited from quizzing a young woman as to her breeding intentions, but the young woman is NOT prohibited from broaching the fact, or supplying the proof, of her sterilization, and she would be well-advised to do so during the employment interview. It seems that the best option for a woman in a non-breeder position would be to start her own company. I myself started as a rocket scientist in my 20s with “full benefits” at Rockwell. When I found out, very early, that those benefits represented pure theft of my income, I switched to doing the same work on a non-benefited contract basis, which has always paid a wage premium of at least 50%, and I never looked back.

Jake

haris mistakenly assumes that economic activity is a zero-sum game -- which, coincidentally, is a (terribly mistaken) major plank in the Democratic platform for the 2008 election.

Haris

...how, exactly, do I assume that?

Haris

...how, exactly, do I assume that? If you're referring to the thought experiment I offered, I didn't say that represents real life - it clearly doesn't. It was just offered to show why the male average is helped by the fact that income cannot fall below a certain threshold but has no upper limit.
You're right about the Democrats though.

William Rhoads

Why no mention of parents' attitudes toward college education, since they have some role in deciding about college education for their sons and daughters, and some role in paying for college education? Are there survey data over the years on parental attitudes about college education for daughters and sons?

And how has financing college education changed over time? Has that played a role in greater female college enrollment?

The posting acts as if girls make a decision on attending college and that is it. We all know that that is not true.

Bruce G Charlton

I thought this was a good discussion of the issues. However, from a biological perspective, it needs also to be remembered that men and women are not just intrinsically physically different, but also psychologically different.

This difference in male and female psychology is seen throughout the animal world and is related to a host of biological differences - humans are not exempted from these constraints.

This means that men and women will _never_ achieve *identical* outcomes in the employment market when they are treated exactly the same.

Idenitical men v women employment outcomes would be very difficult to attain (becuase there are so many differences in psychology), and could only be achieved (even in theory) by treating men and women systematically differently.

The common political assumption that any difference in outcomes between men and women should be assumed to be a consequence of prejudice/ discrimination is - for these reasons - both pernicious and potentially destructive.

The biological basis of these matters is accessibly reviewed in The Red Queen - by Matt Ridley (1994).

junglegymn

Women's advance at professional levels is quite uneven. While they have surged in law and medicine, the proportion taking the GMAT for entering MBA programs has stagnated at just under forty percent for the last fifteen years.

Regarding the disconnect between college and career, I recall a serious study published in a respectable educational research journal that found male college students remembering more of what they had learned some years later than did females. But I'm out in the jungle now and can't give you the citation until September.

WOW Power leveling

One puzzle remains is why women have better college grades than men.

Perhaps the women simply outperform the men.

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Yes i agree women are great people!

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