Thursday, November 13, 2014

A modest proposal to close the gender pay gap

From Ashe Snowe:

“... working age women earn less than men mostly due to the choices women make in their careers. ... And so I humbly present my own proposal for closing the gender wage gap, which I hope will not only solve the problem but also satisfy voices on all sides of the argument. As a society, we must begin telling women what subjects they can major in, what colleges they can attend, and what jobs they can take.”


  1. I saw a recent article, which stated that even in the predominantly female occupation of nursing, the average pay was higher for men. When researchers have tried to identify differences in pay due to skills, experience, etc. there is a residual difference in the pay that is not attributable to any specific trait.

    Encouraging women to attend specific schools and study sciences and math will not close the gender pay gap. More women are enrolled in college than men. However, women currently need more education than a man to earn an equivalent wage. (Carnevale and Smith, 2014)

    The gender pay gap discrimination has been diminishing over the last 50 years. As our view of the dominant wage earner for the family becomes more flexible, wage increases are no longer based solely on gender.

    Women’s careers have been clustered into a small percentage of caring occupations such as nursing and teaching. It is only recently that women career choices have expanded into non traditional settings. Social attitudes and structural barriers are slowly changing. However there are basic differences between genders, and the intrinsic reward of raising a family should perhaps be measured. While men or women can be a stay at home parent, women require time off from work for child bearing.

    Carnevale, Anthony P. and Smith, Nicole, 5/19/2014. Gender Discrimination Is at the Heart of the Wage Gap. Time Magazine

  2. I get that this post isn’t exactly to be taken seriously, but I totally understand the point it is trying to make. While gender discrimination no doubt exists, the gender pay gap has much more to do with choices that many women choose to make. This can include electing to take more part-time jobs, leaving jobs to raise families, and not negotiating as tough when determining salaries. There are also fewer women studying several higher-demand (this higher paying) occupations, including engineering and science. The suggestion to tell women what subjects they can attend, colleges to go to, and courses to take likely is made from the perspective that we should point out higher-demand jobs to women. We don’t need government regulation to make that happen. Women who study career choices and salaries likely will be able to determine the same conclusions on their own. Then, it will become more clear that the gender discrimination gap is more about choice, as we’ll be able to see if more women choose those occupations or not.