Sunday, August 25, 2013

Workplace Gender Inequality

This is an outrage! Or is it? Recently published statistics state that women, on average, still only earn $0.79 to every dollar a man makes. That is not much better than the 70s, when the feminist movement really took hold. Why has there been little to no progress in 40 years? Is it that women are the weaker sex? I doubt it. My Polish girlfriend will carry more grocery bags into the apartment than I will in one trip ( as her father said -- get yourself a Polish girl and you will never have to work hard! I digress.). Certainly not weaker physically. 

Could it be that they are not good negotiators when it comes to salary? A recent University of Chicago study implied that women are actually better negotiators on salary, when a job ad reads that the salary is negotiable. So women have savvy. No shock there.

I work in the scientific industry. It is predominately male, but I have seen progress over the last 20 years as more women choose engineering and science as a career choice. What was once a 10:1 ratio when I first started may now be a 5:1 ratio. That's a 100% increase over 20 years with women in these fields, and I mostly deal with Ph.Ds. So assume that strides are being made, at least in my little world, with women attaining high income jobs.

But what about the women who are not high salary achievers? My world consists of people who are either professors or researchers and I assure you -- science doesn't care if you are male or female, black or white or purple. Salary is solely based on knowledge and performance. So maybe my experience is a bit sheltered from society as a whole. What about retail employees? What about civil servants and other unionized workers? ( Don't get me started on why government employees don't need unions!) What about plumbers and ditch diggers versus caretakers and nurses? Nobody disputes there is a divide, but what factors are considered when creating these statistics? Is it simply an average of women's wages versus men's? Do male teachers make more than female? Of course not - they are unionized! So are they left out of the statistics, since it is an even playing field? The truth is, unless you are better at Googling than I, a real possibility, we are fed these numbers as Gospel truth, but nobody really knows where they came from. I know, "The Bureau of Labor Statistics" but really, what are the factors considered? How efficient is the government in collecting real data?

Anyone who knows me well, knows how I feel about injustice. I will spend my last breath fighting it. I am 100% on board for fairness of opportunity, but it seems like most want fairness of result. That is impossible to achieve. Any governmental action that tries to achieve that will fail, and will cost those who have dared to risk their efforts for advancement the burden of carrying those who haven't. That, my friends, is economic injustice, far more than any male/female inequality.