Regular readers may recall Glenn Grothman, the Wisconsin state senator awarded the position of the biggest asshole on the entire fucking planet. Well, he won’t let this status disappear! In fact, last month, he made a strong play to keep this position.
“Take a hypothetical husband and wife who are both lawyers,” Grothman told the website. “But the husband is working 50 or 60 hours a week, going all out, making 200 grand a year. The woman takes time off, raises kids, is not go, go, go. Now they’re 50 years old. The husband is making 200 grand a year, the woman is making 40 grand a year. It wasn’t discrimination. There was a different sense of urgency in each person…”
“You could argue that money is more important for men,” he said. “I think a guy in their first job, maybe because they expect to be a breadwinner someday, may be a little more money-conscious. To attribute everything to a so-called bias in the workplace is just not true.”
Can you say “Success Myth”? I bet you can!
Grothman, dude. Stay-at-home fathers and fathers who have sacrificed their careers in favor of their families exist. Mothers who work jobs exist. Most families are two-income families in which it is not meaningful to call one person the breadwinner because both of them go about winning bread. The world does not look like your vision of the fifties. For fuck’s sake, the FIFTIES didn’t look like your vision of the fifties.
Let me explain this in the simplest way possible. First, the Wisconsin equal pay law involved discrimination. For instance, if a company was paying women $40,000 and men $200,000, when they were equally experienced and in similar positions, that would be discrimination. If the woman was working a less well-paid job and had less experience because she took time off to take care of her kids, then it wouldn’t be discrimination. His entire argument is completely fucking irrelevant! I mean, if there is no discrimination, then no one will be awarded money for discrimination! Why would you even bother to repeal that law? It’d be like repealing one of those weird laws about not tying your giraffe to a public lamp-post.
Assuming for a moment he is discussing the causes of the wage gap and not whether discrimination exists, I still think he has a fuckstupid argument. Because if women are always the ones taking care of kids, and the men are always the ones working really hard all the time, the reason for this is…?
a) Mysterious ladybrain reasons.
b) Mysterious gentlemanbrain reasons.
c) Probably something to do with the evolution of cavelawyers in caveoffices and their cavepaychecks.
I mean, maybe this is related to the gender system in which men’s worth is tied to their careers and their income, and women are considered to be fail-women unless they’ve produced and raised offspring (according to multiple and constantly contradictory rules about how you’re supposed to, of course). Just a guess. Maybe men don’t inherently crave money more than women, but the gender system makes it so that they are far more likely to fall victim to the Success Myth.
But, no, really, I’m sure the cavelawyers and their cavepaychecks theory is very solid too.
Personally, I’m not sure why he believes that the “urgency” is a good thing anyway. As the growing number of unemployed people shows, we really don’t need everyone to be working sixty-hour weeks; in fact, people are more productive with a forty-hour week and we may not even need that. It strikes me as very Puritan and very joy-hating: is the highest purpose of a person’s life really to work their asses off for a corporation? What about making music, or writing weird porn, or hanging out with friends, or (yes) raising a couple really cool kids?
Honestly, we should have family-friendly workplaces– for everyone, not just for parents. The flextime that helps a parent be able to take care of a sick kid is the same flextime that would help someone like me if I am too panicky to leave the house, or a person who works two jobs if one is in crunch time, or a person actively involved in volunteering if they’re organizing something big, or any of the other important but non-monetary things people might do with their lives. Not only would we be able to have two parents actively involved in their children’s lives, but we’d be able to have better quality of life for everyone.
…Wait, wait. Does Grothman think that $200,000 a year is a typical income? Man. Love to be in his world.
The problem lies when said worker dares to not show up occasionally due to having to stay home with a sick kid, or has to leave early for basketball games, or heck, even just doesn’t want the stress of working 70+hours/week. Then it becomes “well you only have yourself to blame when you get laid off/not promoted/don’t make as much as person-with-no-commitments.” A larger problem is the way such behaviors that can be harmful and definitely don’t leave time for meaningful family building are encouraged and promoted. Nobody should be the parent that never takes a day off even when their kid is really sick.
Considering that a $200K income can afford more than adequate childcare, The only circumstances that $40K would be a “fair” payment in comparison would be if the woman spent most of her actual “career” as a stay-at-home mother, or else had kids several years apart and had to completely restart her career from scratch every time she gave birth, which seems kind of ridiculous.
Yeah really. Why can’t a man stay home and take care of the children, so that his wife can earn $200k?
“Yeah really. Why can’t a man stay home and take care of the children, so that his wife can earn $200k?”
It can and does happen, but it’s not typical that a woman will even tolerate, let alone prefer, a stay-at-home husband arrangement.
Clearly he is one of those few who cannot and will not envision a situation that deviates from his ideals. To him, anything else is not only less than desirable but a contradiction. Perhaps all of the families he knew growing up were like that, (or just good at hiding the ugly truth that different people are different) or perhaps he just spend his days watching “Leave it to Beaver” over and over again, or is just hyper focused on what he was taught is the TRUTH from the word of God.
I think that among women who make it to top political positions, it’s pretty common to have a husband who does most of the household work and childcare, even if he’s not a complete stay-at-home-dad. Or at least that’s what I’ve gathered from interviews with Swedish politicians.
But yeah, many women probably feel like this is “their turf” and one they don’t want to relinquish control over, just like many men probably feel that they simply OUGHT TO be at least as successful as their wives career-wise.
People who disagree with your opinions probably think you’re an asshole, too. Does using those kinds of insults support your arguments more effectively?
So if this guy’s point was its probably not all discrimination in the workplace, He has a point. I mean really he should have been able to say, “peeps we all know what confounding variables are. Here is this study that mediamatters dredged up showing its probably not all discrimination in the workplace.”
You know if he had just gone on for like another sentence, “in fact expecting men to be breadwinners is a type of discrimination against them in the broader society, and definitely not discrimination in the workplace.” But right now it seems like he’s just reenforcing the myth. Also I hardly think this makes him the biggest asshole on the planet.
One of the best counter-arguments I have heard against the pay gap is on a more macroscopic scale along the lines of:
“On average, men and women choose different majors in college and the majors women choose tend to pay less than the majors men tend to choose, thus the pay gap is a problem of choice.”
The problem with this argument is that it stops just short of the interesting question. WHY does there appear to be a disparity between the genders in choice of college major? Why are men and women “choosing” different majors? The above argument might explain a fair amount of the variation in pay between genders, but doesn’t really give me any insight into the underlying mechanism that would help me better craft policy in order to decrease overall inequality.
Another of the better counter-arguments reads:
“If one uses the BLS’s (Bureau of Labor Statistics’) measurements in overall pay gap between the genders, the disparities in percentages is supposed to be accounted for mostly by how many more hours per week men work on average more than women.”
I don’t exactly buy the above argument entirely because I have never seen a good citation (that wasn’t a poster’s own number salad, complete with real number line dressing). Even if it were true, it still stops short of the interesting questions. Why are men “choosing” to work more hours on average than women? Would it be better to get women to work more, or men to work less on average?
Neither of the above arguments are satisfying (even if they are “true” in a sense) and the politician managed to avoid both of them in favor of something that is pure BS. Interesting links included for the curios at the end :).
http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpswom2010.pdf (Highlights of Women’s Earnings in 2010 (pdf))
http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2012/04/art1full.pdf (Women’s Employment, Education, and the Gender Gap in 17 Countries (pdf))
“The problem with this argument is that it stops just short of the interesting question. WHY does there appear to be a disparity between the genders in choice of college major? Why are men and women “choosing” different majors? The above argument might explain a fair amount of the variation in pay between genders, but doesn’t really give me any insight into the underlying mechanism that would help me better craft policy in order to decrease overall inequality.”
“Why are men “choosing” to work more hours on average than women? Would it be better to get women to work more, or men to work less on average?”
Men are taught almost universally that no job = bum, and that they’ll impress their parents, their friends, their acquaintances, and their potential girlfriend, girlfriends, wives, with material possessions. Plus positions of leadership in work, while also usually paying more, also get more “you’re attractive as a mate” cred, and they know it, too (because it’s seen, rightly or wrongly, as signifying dominance).
Men are also generally taught that their personal well-being is less important than their families’ well-being. So flex time, reduced hours, or working a job that’s more of passion than paycheck (lest they coincide), would be seen as being selfish and putting themselves before family. And since “being useful” is the only value males have socially, it’s no wonder they would on average seek to earn more, and work more hours.
It’s certainly not a biological drive to work more.
PsyChonomics: here is an article discussing exactly the argument you are curious about and the the census bureau’s numbers, which seems to conclude that even accounting for hours worked, there is a discrepancy.
One thing that I keep thinking about, with regard to men and women “choosing different majors,” is this. Women earn more if they’re in tech positions, right? But they also face a more hostile environment, and, while they’re earning more than they would as a nurse or a teacher, they’re probably earning less relative to their peers.
So tell me, which would you choose? A life where you have more money but the people around you get even more money than that, and treat you worse? Or a life where you earn less money, but have better relationships with the people you work with?
It’s a bit of a no-brainer when you put it like that, which makes me wonder, why do I study mathematics, again?
Anyway, I know the focus is mostly on men, here, but I just wanted to put that out there.
@Ruthi: Also from the mediamatter’s article there conclusion was that after citing a study by a group that definitely didn’t* have any agenda there was a 5% gap not traceable to other factors. That doesn’t debunk the claim of “its not all discrimination in the work place”. In fact it does sort of the exact opposite. (Well its still a correlation so really it does nothing, but so is the wage gap in the first place sooo…) Something=! everything.
*note the sarcasm
@GemmaM and Schala
You’re both right. Chances are what we’re looking at is the interplay of social psychological forces. One of the things that makes gender-studies so interesting is that the stereotype/expectation sword cuts both ways. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) tend to be gendered male (and as such carry negative connotations for women) just as developmental psychology/childcare tend to be gendered female (and as such carry a negative connotation for men). Combine both of these with a societal drive put forth on men to succeed and sacrifice with a societal drive put forth on women to be good housewives and we end up with forces pulling median men’s income up and median women’s income down.
Thanks! The data is a little old already, the pdf shows data only through 2007, but so far the thing looks pretty sold. If you’re curious about the formal article I found a link to the pdf. The article proper’s suggestions seem a little one sided (they only really seem to care about improving working conditions for women except where overall better legislation might anecdotally help men).
Thanks for the link. I am having a hard time finding the journal article connected to the newspaper article, and I need that to really evaluate what’s going on.
http://www.aauw.org/learn/research/upload/behindpaygap.pdf (Behind the Pay Gap AAUW (pdf))
Study: young, single, childless women earn more than men
I think the a) through d) options in the post aren’t the best way to put it, unless you’re taking a very broad definition of “sexism”. For all that there may be those who want to explicitly ascribe a pay gap solely to some immutable biological factor, I think there’s at least as many (probably more) who not only reflexively insist it’s necessarily due primarily to sexism, but will indiscriminately and equally tar every stage of the career process with that sexism, and that both of these ideas are fairly obviously wrong.
Suggesting that there are aggregate differences in male and female career preferences is not the same as saying that such differences are biologically hard-wired, but it is a pertinent counter-argument to that idea that industry X only having Y% of some sex in it necessarily shows that their hiring or promotion processes or work environment are necessarily prejudiced against that sex. If fewer men or women are interested in applying for jobs then fewer will get them, and there’s a limited degree to which industries can (or, I’d argue, are morally required to) engage in outreach to try to drum up such interest.
But, some would say, any such interest disparity also falls under “sexism” since if not hard-wired it’s at least partly the product of exposure to a sexist society. Perhaps, but 1) The sexism to address in that case is occurring at an earlier stage than the hiring process, so it’s silly to blame the hiring process for it, 2) It’s still a *preference*, however it was formed; it can’t be assumed that saying “Well, you’re only uninterested in this because of sexism” is going to reverse it, especially since 3) You could say the same thing about more or less *any* preference people have.
PsyChonomics: here is an article discussing exactly the argument you are curious about and the the census bureau’s numbers, which seems to conclude that even accounting for hours worked, there is a discrepancy.
The study they cite at the end – the 2007 CONSAD report – was discussed on this blog before, and it found that the pay gap that couldn’t be addressed by factors such as hours worked, field of work, etc. was 5-7%. 5-7%… out of 23% (the famous “77 cents on the dollar”). That’s the vast majority right there.
How many people who tout the “77 cents on the dollar” figure do you think are aware that it:
(a) doesn’t control for hours worked or overtime pay (past the 35-hour full time work threshold, that is; someone who works 44 hours will enjoy a 10% “discrepancy” over someone who works 40, and possibly more if overtime’s factored in),
(b) doesn’t control for the type of job, field of work, or job position (CFO’s, talk show hosts, cubicle farmers, hotdog vendors, etc. are all thrown in together),
(c) doesn’t control for education or experience?
The way it is talked about, especially by expressing it as “cents on the dollar”, makes it sound like it’s an hour-by-hour, controlled, all-else-being-equal comparison. It’s really not. We had a feminist commenter many months back who thought it did control for (b), because the comparison would be ridiculous otherwise, counting CEO’s and secretaries in one! Indeed. But I had to inform her of the truth; that it didn’t. In fact, I often hear it sometimes expressed out loud that “a woman gets paid a little over three-quarters what a man makes for the same job“. This is a lie.
The pay gap, even a 5-7% one, is a legitimate issue that’s absolutely the business of government to rectify. But you, the general you, would have more support if you approached it honestly. Not by headlining with the 77 cent figure, without any qualifiers, and seeing how long you can get away with it until someone challenges it (often, in places other than here, at the price of many personal attacks against him/her. And then of course you start over with a fresh charade the next thread/conversation/ad campaign). It beggars belief how someone who’s conversed in the wage gap could be unaware of the shortcomings of the popular citation that they spout misleadingly to the public; it almost makes it seem like what they’re really looking for is overcorrection, i.e. state-mandated pay discrepancy on their behalf. That’s not going to fly.
People know what they make, and a fair idea of what their colleagues and friends make. A twenty-something male knows he doesn’t make 30% more than his female peers. Once people detect they’re being fed lies and great exaggerations in service of a supposedly good cause, the only loser ends up being the cause; it’s why drug and anti-sex PSA’s don’t work.
Now. So basically, most of the 23-cent discrepancy amounts to a wage penalty to primary caretakers. The solution is policy proposals that help primary caretakers, most of whom are women but a significant minority of which are men. Young, childless, single women, however, do not need much help. In fact, as daelyte’s link shows, increasingly it’s young single men who need more.
Am I the only one that’s a bit bothered by this? Sure he might be a jerk for supporting such things but at the same time how productive is to repeat rumors that he might be gay and attacking his sex life?
That video is hilarious. The guy has never been married and has no children and at the same time, he believes he’s an expert in marriage, women’s health and child rearing. He’s like the Pope. And given the astonishing number of closeted gays in the Republican party (almost every month there’s a new one who get caught), it’s logical to speculate that he might be gay.
What about the transgender wage gap, and the effects of transitioning on earnings?
Scroll down to table 2.
According to this study, MTFs earn more than FTMs. This leads me to suspect that the source of the wage gap lies not in the workplace, but in how children are raised and the choices they make as a result.
Cis outearn trans in all but one case. With no college degree, MTFs actually earn more than males in the same situation? That one I have no explanation for.
“Cis outearn trans in all but one case. With no college degree, MTFs actually earn more than males in the same situation? That one I have no explanation for.”
Small sample is the reason. Plus they surveyed the more activist type…they’re bound to be more on the working thing (as compared to controls), wether its volunteering or paid work.
“According to this study, MTFs earn more than FTMs. This leads me to suspect that the source of the wage gap lies not in the workplace, but in how children are raised and the choices they make as a result.”
Well, yeah, being told all your life that you have to provide and that your worth is your wallet, you might get a longer-hours-job, favor promotions, and/or going into domains that pay, degree or not.
And if not only is that message completely absent, but you’re being told that you should value yourself, that “you’re worth it”, and that your husband might feel emasculated if you out earn him, you’re bound to (statistically speaking) put much less focus on work.
And as much as I felt that messages directed at males didn’t matter to me, and that those directed at females should…I still think a lot of the latter are crap, while at least a portion of the former is good. I’ve been so good at hiding emotions, I’m not about to stop. It’s my “I can live” shield. I’m overly emotional enough when alone in public with social anxiety, for a lifetime.
I find it interesting that the man being quoted thinks 50hrs a week is a long work week, while the first (I’m guessing by the name, female) commentator puts 70hrs as the lower bound of a long week. I’d certainly consider 50hrs a week quite low, and 60hrs closer to average. There was some statistics in USA today on Thursday that showed more women than men worked more than 8hrs a day, and 5 days a week. At the same time it doesn’t take into account high vs low earners.