Gender and equal pay

Really enjoyed this NPR interview with Harvard Economist on “equal pay day” this week.  Yes, women are undervalued in the workplace.  Yes, really discrimination happens.  But the problem is hugely misunderstood due to facile use of $.79 on the dollar and similar statistics.  Alas it is far more complicated, as Goldin elaborates:

CLAUDIA GOLDIN: Well, I’d rather not use the word discrimination. Much of the difference has to do with what I call the high cost of temporal flexibility…

Disproportionately, women, particularly those who are mothers or who are taking care of others, would like greater predictability in their hours. They would like less on-call hours. They would like fewer periods of long hours. Well, those jobs are often the jobs – the ones that have the longer hours, the less predictability – those are the ones that are often the higher income occupations.

So temporal flexibility is giving someone the ability not just to work fewer hours but to work their hours and not get a big hit for it or to work hours that are more predictable. A physician, let’s say, could work 50 hours a week but work the days that they would like to work and not be on call. They’ll probably get less than someone who is working the graveyard shift or who was on call, et cetera. And that’s true in a lot of fields. And it’s also as true at the top as it is at the bottom.

SHAPIRO: Does that suggest that if you compare women who are not caretakers, who aren’t raising children or looking after elderly parents, to men, you will find closer to equal pay than you would in the general population?

GOLDIN: You certainly do find that. And you find that using data for the U.S., and you find that using data for Scandinavian countries that have incredibly good data that you can really follow people year after year. And you can actually follow them at the event of having a child…

SHAPIRO: Do you envision a day when the gap will disappear, or is that even a desirable outcome?

GOLDIN: I can certainly envision a day when we reduce the cost of temporal flexibility. When more and more people – and we see this among young people. We can see a growing group that would say that they would like to work their own hours. We have mantras, such as, you know, work-life balance. So in many workplaces, it’s not work-family balance, but it’s work-life balance. The more people there are like that, the more they are men, the more we’re going to move to equality for all.

Look, we’d all be better off if this gap shrinks.  We’d be valuing care, as Anne-Marie Slaughter as eloquently written about.  And, yes, there’s still direct discrimination.  But, mostly, we have to address what’s going on at a far broader societal level on how we value caring for others, workplace flexibility, gender-based parenting roles, etc.  We should have these conversations.  And misleading statistics that cause many to erroneously believe that women are typically paid 75-80% as much for the exact same work are taking us away from the important conversations we need to be having.


I loved this article from intrepid local reporter Laura Leslie on the latest back-and-forth over HB2.  Far too often, journalists simply quote one side’s spokesperson against the other.  But not here.  Love this little bit:

McCrory spokesman Josh Ellis questioned why Human Rights Campaign has criticized McCrory’s executive order while praising Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, who signed a similar order on Wednesday.

However, the Louisiana order goes farther than McCrory’s, requiring LGBT non-discrimination policies for state contractors, which House Bill 2 doesn’t allow the state to do. It also rescinds an order signed last year by former Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal that prevented the state from denying or revoking tax exemptions and deductions, contracts and other agreements based on a person’s opposition to same-sex marriage.

“The Human Rights Campaign is a shadowy, left-wing group funded by anonymous donors that is recklessly leading the charge to mislead the public and smear North Carolina,” Ellis said in a statement.

The Human Rights Campaign is the nation’s largest LGBT advocacy group, with a high public and political profile. It’s been around for 35 years. Like all nonprofits, it’s allowed to keep its donors private.

Great work.  None of this, “HRC says…” in response.  Simply using her journalistic authority to let us know HRC is not a “shadowy, left-wing group.”  Likewise, not “Democrats say…” about Louisiana’s law, but clearly detailing the very different situation there in response to Ellis’ mis-leading statement.  Some would call this bias, I would call it actual journalism rather than two-sided stenography.

Advice and Consent on Supreme Court nominations

This is a really terrific Garrett Epps piece on the meaning of Advice and Consent and the real damage the Republicans are doing to the institution of the Supreme Court:

On the other side, some conservatives havesuggested that the Senate has no “duty” to consider a presidential nomination. Glenn Kessler, who runs the “Fact Checker” blog at The Washington Post, went so far as to give “three Pinocchios” to the idea of a senatorial duty, deeming it “mostly false.” But this apparently means it’s “maybe wrong or maybe not.” As Kessler wrote, “It’s matter of opinion whether a refusal to consider a nominee is a dereliction of constitutional duty or walking away from a constitutional responsibility.” A matter of opinion is not, by definition, a matter of fact.

Strictly according to the text, the Senate has almost no “duties” at all: no duty to confirm any officials; no duty to pass an annual budget; no “duty” to count the electoral vote or honor its result; no duty to hold an actual trial of any impeached official; no “duty” to do anything except possibly to “assemble at least once in every year” for a few minutes, then head out for the fishing hole while the Republic burns. The word “duty” appears in the Constitution only as a term for fees on imports. But the only reasonable interpretation of the oath of office is that it brings with it the responsibility to govern; and therein duty lies…

The Senate’s inaction sends a message to the country: The fate of the Supreme Court is an annex of the transient Senate majority. It is the property of a party and exists to do that party’s bidding. That idea undermines the institution. Despite its somewhat threadbare majesty, the Supreme Court, like the rule of law itself, is actually a fragile thing.

Yes.  Sadly, I don’t think Republicans really care.  Lastly, I find Epps’ conclusion depressing:

The only way to force action on the nomination is the one at the heart of all Constitutional disputes. If the American people care about a government that works, and a Court that can function, they will pressure their senators today and retaliate against the recalcitrant in the fall. That’s what “government by the people” means. Only the people can break the country’s current fever.

He’s right.  Alas, I don’t have much confidence in “the people” on that score.  So many of the people have been lied to for so long about “activist judges” and seen an appalling politicization of the court that they can hardly be blamed for not really understanding the stakes as Epps has outlined them.

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