Adding insult to insult

From feministing.com via Ana

Comments

  1. #1 Frasque
    December 21, 2008

    Quite good, and quite right.

  2. #2 Bjorn Ostman
    December 28, 2008

    Is every way we treat the two genders differently insulting? Why stop at 24% lower salary? How about holding the door for the weaker sex? How about only women getting to improve their daily look with make-up, while men doing it are ridiculed? Why must the stronger sex always carry all the groceries? I’m sure you can think of similar discrimination.

    Is paying men and women equally really fair? Women and men are different, have different strengths and advantages, and different limitations. Those are obviously a very large part of the reason why salaries are skewed. Another reason is that it is evolutionarily more important for men to earn money, as money is earned for status, and not for consumption. These differences results in salaries being set differently, but not deliberately. The worth of someone in a job depends on a lot of things, notably more than what can be measured by education and job experience. Does it make sense to eliminate those by force?

  3. #3 Stephanie Z
    December 28, 2008

    First, Bjorn, why don’t you start by telling us what those differences are? Then we can discuss which sex has the better qualifications to get paid more in which jobs.

  4. #4 Greg Laden
    December 28, 2008

    Bjorn. I love your comment. You make a number of key points. I love your perspective! This is what makes blogs work!

  5. #5 Bjorn Ostman
    December 28, 2008

    Sure, Stephanie. But when you reply, please let me know if your request is because you can’t think of any yourself, please. Because that would be truly astounding.

    First physically (this is the obvious one): Men are stronger, taller, and don’t get pregnant. Anything else?

    Psychologically (this will be an extremely non-inclusive list): Men are more aggressive, more ambitious, more authoritative, more psychopathic, less caring of others, and – controversially – there is a difference in how intelligent men and women are (across the different kinds of intelligences).

    That should be plenty to go on.

  6. #6 Stephanie Z
    December 29, 2008

    Bjorn, I can think of lots of differences on average. Considering that the traits you mention are all distributions with nearly 100% overlaps between the sexes, considering that job performance never depends on just one trait (or is evaluated on just one), and considering that any differences also result in jobs where women outperform men, I don’t see how any of them would lead to an overall gender imbalance in pay. Except, of course, for the existence of people who cling to the circular reasoning that men’s work is worth paying more for because, as everyone can see, they do the work that pays more.

  7. #7 Bjorn Ostman
    December 29, 2008

    Stephanie, I feel in this case your failure to see is your own problem.

    You don’t think, for example, that being more aggressive, more ambitious, more authoritative, more psychopathic, less caring of others are “qualities” that are sought in CEOs?

    You also do not comment on the fact that salary is for status, which was more important for men in our evolutionary past (and thus present).

    Also, hiring a woman in a job involves the risk that she will be unable to work if she gets pregnant. The “worth” of that employee is thus modified as a result. Just as if you hire a person who is likely to die soon is worth less to an employer than someone who is guaranteed to live for a long time and work in that job.

    Lastly, in divorces it is usually the wife who gets the children. I honestly feel that that’s bloody unfair too. It has something to do with biology, I’m sure, but it makes me upset to think about. I choose to view the higher salary of men as compensation for that fact.

  8. #8 Elizabeth
    December 29, 2008

    Bjorn:

    You certainly are a person who likes to make “choices” that are utterly self serving. Do you fee marginalized by the modern society you live in, in which your point of view is considered backwards and offensive by most thinking people?

  9. #9 Bjorn Ostman
    December 30, 2008

    Alright, I was of course totally expecting this would end up with personal attacks.

    I don’t care what most people think. I hope we can talk about real causes, instead of taking the politically correct view of this issue.
    I don’t care for others (you, Elizabeth) to tell me what I like. Couldn’t you phrase that as a question?
    I also think it is fair that we include all gender differences (such as the issue of who gets the children in divorces) when we talk about this particular one.

    Anyway, my feeling is that there is no need to reply further if we can’t discuss the problem, as opposed to what you chose to do here, Elizabeth.

  10. #10 Stephanie Z
    December 30, 2008

    Bjorn, you can’t have it both ways. Either one gender is significantly more fit than the other for a job (like parenting), or there is no reason that maternal child custody awards should be the default. You’re going to have to pick one.

  11. #11 Jennifer B.
    December 30, 2008

    (Long-time lurker, first-time poster here.)

    Bjorn,

    Your male privilege is showing.

    How about only women getting to improve their daily look with make-up, while men doing it are ridiculed?

    Women do not “get to improve their daily look” with make-up. At least in the corporate workplace (I don’t have experience with academia or industry, so I make no assumptions there, but anecdotal evidence suggests that it’s similar), women are expected to hide any flaws or imperfections with make-up and, additionally, are expected to wear clothing that accentuates their secondary sexual characteristics (breasts, legs). When we do so, we are dismissed as “too feminine”. When we do not, we’re dismissed as not caring enough to “look good”. We are expected to do this to meet the standard of a culture developed by white men, in which ‘femininity’ is considered to be inferior when compared to ‘masculinity’. Men are ridiculed for wearing make-up in the modern day, because make-up has been relegated to the feminine.

    How about holding the door for the weaker sex? Why must the stronger sex always carry all the groceries?

    What makes you define women as “the weaker sex”? There’s significant overlap in the distribution of body mass and strength between men and women. Some people are stronger than I am. Some people are weaker than I am. That includes both men and women. And I, as a woman, often hold the door for others of either gender.

    I carry groceries as often as my husband does. I could mention that, societally, grocery-shopping usually falls under the range of activities dismissed as “women’s work”, and therefore it’s frequently women carrying in the groceries. (Which, by your statement, makes women the stronger gender.)

    [...]it is evolutionarily more important for men to earn money, as money is earned for status, and not for consumption.

    Before you delve deeper into pop evo-psych to support your privilege, please read this: http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=four-fallacies. Pop EP as a branch of serious study is deeply flawed, and rests on scant evidence and flimsy assumptions. A brief study of cultural variations on a number of topics popularized by Pop EP demonstrates that many of the grandiose declarations of “evolutionary” differences between genders are scientifically invalid.

    Women and men are different, have different strengths and advantages, and different limitations.

    Most of those strengths, advantages, and limitations are culturally-imposed. Women are told from childhood that they can’t be good at math and science. Women are taught that being aggressive, ambitious, and authoritative are un-feminine, and are actively discouraged from overtly demonstrating those traits. Further, women that do display those traits in adulthood are marginalized as “bossy”, “bitchy”, “cold”, “ball-busting”, and otherwise made to suffer for being un-feminine. And in converse, men are taught from childhood that it’s not manly to express themselves in words, that they shouldn’t talk about their feelings, and that aggression, ambition, and authority are masculine ideals. Please note that I am not saying that there aren’t differences–there are–but our culture magnifies those differences in (in my opinion) socially unhealthy ways.

    [H]iring a woman in a job involves the risk that she will be unable to work if she gets pregnant.

    Statistically speaking, hiring a man in a job involves the risk that he will be injured or killed in an auto accident or act of violence. Does that also modify the “worth” of an employee?

    [I]n divorces it is usually the wife who gets the children. I honestly feel that that’s bloody unfair too. It has something to do with biology, I’m sure[...]

    Actually, no. It has to do with the societal ideal that childcare is the woman’s job, and therefore children will fare less well in the hands of a poor “incompetent” father. Again, this is not a gender difference mandated by biology, this is a difference mandated by American culture. And you know what? I don’t think it’s fair, either.

    I’m not sure, given some of the phrasing you’ve used, that you’re really interested in a real discussion. It’s not “politically correct” to acknowledge that there exists a very real white male dominance in modern American culture — in fact, it’s essential to discuss the “real causes” of the gender disparities you refer to.

  12. #12 Stephanie Z
    December 30, 2008

    Jennifer, hear, hear! That’s delurking with flair. :)

  13. #13 Bjorn Ostman
    December 30, 2008

    Bjorn, you can’t have it both ways. Either one gender is significantly more fit than the other for a job (like parenting), or there is no reason that maternal child custody awards should be the default. You’re going to have to pick one.

    I didn’t say there is no reason for maternal child custody. Here is again what I said:
    Lastly, in divorces it is usually the wife who gets the children. I honestly feel that that’s bloody unfair too. It has something to do with biology, I’m sure, but it makes me upset to think about. I choose to view the higher salary of men as compensation for that fact.

    I am as upset as some of you seem to be that there is a biological/nature difference between the sexes. That goes for child rearing as well as for those other things I have mentioned. I am not asking for it both ways, as you say, Stephanie. As often as I think about it, which with two young kids is often, I am annoyed that I can’t have the relationship with my kids that my wife can. And in case of divorce chances are that I will not get them. I suspect that for other men (e.g. my own father) this is a minor issue, but for me it is the whole world.

    Bottom line is that I think the salary difference has a biological basis. Until it is thoroughly understood why there is that difference I will not come out and say it should be abandoned.

  14. #14 Bjorn Ostman
    December 30, 2008

    In reply to Jennifer B.:

    Your male privilege is showing.

    My privilege? As in the one where I earn $24,000 a year, and where every female colleague earns the exact same amount that I do?

    [Point taken about the make-up issue.]

    What makes you define women as “the weaker sex”? There’s significant overlap in the distribution of body mass and strength between men and women. Some people are stronger than I am. Some people are weaker than I am. That includes both men and women. And I, as a woman, often hold the door for others of either gender.

    Women are on average less strong than men. That there is variation doesn’t change that the probability that a random man is stronger than a random woman is above fiity percent. Also, I honestly thought it was a standard term that isn’t derogatory.

    I carry groceries as often as my husband does. I could mention that, societally, grocery-shopping usually falls under the range of activities dismissed as “women’s work”, and therefore it’s frequently women carrying in the groceries. (Which, by your statement, makes women the stronger gender.)

    Alright, how about when things get really heavy? I couldn’t count the number of times I have been involved in moving large furniture, and I don’t remember a single time when a woman volunteered to help. “I’ll ask my boyfriend,” or whatever.

    [...]it is evolutionarily more important for men to earn money, as money is earned for status, and not for consumption.

    Before you delve deeper into pop evo-psych to support your privilege, please read this: http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=four-fallacies. Pop EP as a branch of serious study is deeply flawed, and rests on scant evidence and flimsy assumptions. A brief study of cultural variations on a number of topics popularized by Pop EP demonstrates that many of the grandiose declarations of “evolutionary” differences between genders are scientifically invalid.

    I am aware that there are serious limitation the EP hypotheses. I even wrote about those recently myself here. I’m not going to read the whole SciAm article now, but would welcome a discussion about EP at another time. Thanks for the link. I will read it.

    Most of those strengths, advantages, and limitations are culturally-imposed. Women are told from childhood that they can’t be good at math and science. Women are taught that being aggressive, ambitious, and authoritative are un-feminine, and are actively discouraged from overtly demonstrating those traits. Further, women that do display those traits in adulthood are marginalized as “bossy”, “bitchy”, “cold”, “ball-busting”, and otherwise made to suffer for being un-feminine. And in converse, men are taught from childhood that it’s not manly to express themselves in words, that they shouldn’t talk about their feelings, and that aggression, ambition, and authority are masculine ideals. Please note that I am not saying that there aren’t differences–there are–but our culture magnifies those differences in (in my opinion) socially unhealthy ways.

    Apart from the first sentence, I completely agree with you here. I don’t think we know that “most of those strengths” etc. are by nurture, but I would also guess that it plays a huge role in shaping gender roles. Like you, I do not condone that raising children as here described. However, if it is as you say, then no wonder there are differences and that those differences matter in how high salaries are between the genders.

    Statistically speaking, hiring a man in a job involves the risk that he will be injured or killed in an auto accident or act of violence. Does that also modify the “worth” of an employee?

    Probably. Recall here that it is not my job to set standard wages. I am just thinking out loud that perhaps those who do hire people and decide their wages do (perhaps subconsciously) think and/or act in these terms.

    Actually, no. It has to do with the societal ideal that childcare is the woman’s job, and therefore children will fare less well in the hands of a poor “incompetent” father. Again, this is not a gender difference mandated by biology, this is a difference mandated by American culture. And you know what? I don’t think it’s fair, either.

    You say no, and I can say no. I say it’s part biology, and you say it’s not at all. I don’t care to spend the time backing up my claims any more than you do.

    I’m not sure, given some of the phrasing you’ve used, that you’re really interested in a real discussion.

    I am interested in this discussion. There. English is not my first language. Sorry it doesn’t live up to your standards of seriousness.

    It’s not “politically correct” to acknowledge that there exists a very real white male dominance in modern American culture — in fact, it’s essential to discuss the “real causes” of the gender disparities you refer to.

    Well fine. I may not have a firm grasp of what political correctness is. My comment about that was in response to this by Elizabeth, which seems to suggest that what I said was intolerable(/intolerant?):
    Do you fee marginalized by the modern society you live in, in which your point of view is considered backwards and offensive by most thinking people?

    Whatever other people may think of what I think and say, I am interested in why we are as we are. That’s why I commented with a very open ended post initially. Unfortunately, this thread has mostly been about my person, and from hereon I would greatly appreciate if the thread could be exclusively about the subject matter and not about me.

    Lastly, if I am to continue this discussion, the next thing on the table has to be some better statistics about this gender difference in salaries. In which jobs is there a difference? In which countries? Without stats on that we are treading water. I hope you agree.

  15. #15 Greg Laden
    December 30, 2008

    There is clearly a biological explanation for the salary difference. I don’t think there is any dispute about that whatsoever.

  16. #16 Bjorn Ostman
    December 30, 2008

    There is clearly a biological explanation for the salary difference. I don’t think there is any dispute about that whatsoever.

    Jennifer B. seems to be disputing it. She’s not saying it outright, so it would be good to hear from her what exactly she thinks and why.

    P.S. Greg, I wrote a lengthy reply to Jennifer B., and it said you would have to approve it. Would be great if you did.

  17. #17 Stephanie Z
    December 30, 2008

    Of course, Greg, this isn’t the same thing as saying there’s a biological cause for the salary difference.

  18. #18 Greg Laden
    December 30, 2008

    Stephanie: this may depend on the level of explanation, but for things like salary differences or any other Human Resources or Human Rights (HR-squared) issue, ultimate causes are never, ever relevant. Only proximate causes. And you can take that right to the judge and jury.

    But it is true and very important that ultimate causes have been invoked for this sort of thing. The menstrual defense, for instance. (“I killed him because I was having my period and he was annoying”)

    Ultimate causes can shape, how laws are made to begin with. For instance, if a man’s wife sleeps with another man, and gets pregnant, that man (the one who was cuckolded) is out all that investment in a child that is not even his, which truly impacts his own Darwinian fitness. If, on the other hand, a woman’s husband sleeps with another woman, the risk to her (the wife) is not so great in these terms.

    Therefore, if a person carries out an act of violence against the illegitimate lover of his or her spouse, that act of violence has been seen in various legal systems as more understandable if it is carried out by a man (against his wife’s male lover) and less understandable if carried out by a woman (against her husband’s female lover).

  19. #19 Stephanie Z
    December 30, 2008

    And you can take that right to the judge and jury.

    And I would, because the job I do has approximately zip to do with the forces that shaped human sexual dimorphism.

    By the way, that characteristization of the menstrual defense, at least for the one or two cases I’ve heard of, is much like saying, “Yeah, so McDonald’s serves hot coffee.”

  20. #20 JanieBelle
    December 30, 2008

    No one is disputing that the genders are different in some respects. What people are questioning is why a penis entitles men to more money.

    I’m unclear as to why the size of an accountant’s muscles (or penis) entitles him to more money.

    I’m unclear as to why pregnancy should be a devaluing factor to a female teacher. Oh, that’s right. Because it’s the woman’s job to take care of the kids, right? So when the kids get sick, the woman is the one who will have to miss time at work. Why is that, do you suppose?

    Yeah, there’s a biological component. The biological component is that men have the power and women get less money. And when someone mentions that this isn’t exactly fair, some fucktard like Bjorn comes along and makes up shitty excuses that women are supposed to shut up and accept.

    So the short version is that men want to fuck women, take no responsibility for the children, then fuck the women over by paying women less because women get pregnant and have children, and then insult their intelligence by assuming they’ll just shut up and get their pretty little whore asses back in the kitchen and make some pie. It’s their biological imperative to miss work and make pie, after all.

    You can dress up these excuses in tuxedos of disinterested academic inquiry, but they’re still big steaming piles of cow shit.

  21. #21 Bjorn Ostman
    December 31, 2008

    I’m unclear as to why pregnancy should be a devaluing factor to a female teacher. Oh, that’s right. Because it’s the woman’s job to take care of the kids, right? So when the kids get sick, the woman is the one who will have to miss time at work. Why is that, do you suppose?

    Because of at least three things: i) because she can breastfeed, ii) because she often wants to, and iii) because many people (men and women) rightly or wrongly believe a baby needs a mother more than a father right after birth.

    Yeah, there’s a biological component. The biological component is that men have the power and women get less money. And when someone mentions that this isn’t exactly fair, some fucktard like Bjorn comes along and makes up shitty excuses that women are supposed to shut up and accept.

    I beg your fucking pardon, you disgusting load of lard!?!?

    I never said to accept anything. Read it again, you heap of crap. I merely wanted to examine the causes, so shut it, bitch!

  22. #22 Greg Laden
    December 31, 2008

    Stephanie: McDonalds DID actually serve hot coffee. It’s funny you should mention that in particular, because the best statement I’ve heard in support of the lady getting the big settlement from McD’s was by Dershowitz (on the radio) and the best statement regarding all the elements of the menstrual defense (and ultimately opposing it) was from Dershowitz (in person).

    Janie: It’s their biological imperative to miss work and make pie, after all.

    Is pie a euphemism? Do you have something against pie!?!?

    Bjorn and others: I’m planning a whole post in response to this comment thread, so stay tuned. In the mean time, I’ll just throw this in:

    Everything, (Everything!) can be understood in relation to the basic biological fact that Bjorn keeps pointing out: Typically, women can have babies and men can’t. Everything else is a phychological, economic, biological, social, cultural outcome of that. Even the modern art over in the Walker.

    Especially the modern art over in the Walker… (Has anyone else ever walked into an art museum with your 13 year old daughter only to find that the main exhibit was entirely based on The Penis? Have you? NOT an envious situation to be in, I must say.)

  23. #23 Bjorn Ostman
    December 31, 2008

    According to this article, there is no earnings gap:

    June O’Neill, an economist at Baruch College and former director of the Congressional Budget Office, has uncovered something that debunks the discrimination thesis. Take out the effects of marriage and child-rearing, and the difference between the genders suddenly vanishes. “For men and women who never marry and never have children, there is no earnings gap,” she said in an interview.

    It appears that the 24% quoted in the video is – to my utter amazement – averaged over all men and women, regardless of what their jobs are!

    End of story!

  24. #24 Azkyroth
    December 31, 2008

    Of course there’s a biological basis for the salary differences – the Meat Computers that make the determination of who to hire and how much to pay them.

  25. #25 Andrew
    December 31, 2008

    A story about the Gender Gap from ReasonOnline is like a Story about global warming from Shell Oil ca 1985. Only a fool would take it into account uncritically.

  26. #26 Stephanie Z
    December 31, 2008

    Greg, I wasn’t trying to imply that the claims of McDonald’s negligence and lack of competence due to menstruation had equal legal weight. I do think that phrasing either in a way that suggests there’s nothing worth talking about is unhelpful.

    Bjorn, that’s hardly the beginning of the story. If you want to hear some of the reasons that fewer women end up in STEM fields, try reading a few of the other ScienceBlogs. In short, some of those fields, like the engineering and math, are actively hostile to women (and some just passively). Also, even this article from a rag that’s dedicated to the proposition that “Nope, there’s nothing to regulate here” recognizes “The divergent career paths of men and women may reflect a basic unfairness in what’s expected of them.”

    Now, Bjorn, whatever your particular problems with your wife and whatever your worries about losing your kids, you don’t tell Janie or anyone else around here to “shut it”. If you want to have a conversation, you don’t get to limit it to just the things you want to talk about. Not on someone else’s blog. If you don’t like that, go back to yours.

    Also, Janie may be a bitch (I’ll let her settle that one for you–should be fun), but calling her a heap or pile of anything is so far off the mark as to tell the world that you don’t have a clue where you are. Of course, you’d already announced that a couple days ago.

  27. #27 Stephanie Z
    December 31, 2008

    Oh, and Greg, I bet Julia took it much better than you did.

  28. #28 JanieBelle
    December 31, 2008

    I beg your fucking pardon, you disgusting load of lard!?!?

    I never said to accept anything. Read it again, you heap of crap. I merely wanted to examine the causes, so shut it, bitch!

    Yeah, I know. Shut it and get back in the fucking kitchen, right? It really pisses you off when someone doesn’t buy your schtick, doesn’t it? Well get over it. Your bullshit is thick, but as transparent as ‘teach the controversy’. Are you going to start citing the Bible next?

    Go fuck yourself, you dishonest, misogynistic bag of donkey spooge. And thanks for making my point, twit.

    Greg, you really need to get some intelligent trolls to play with.

  29. #29 JanieBelle
    December 31, 2008

    I love pie, Greg. I love to bake pies, even. But if you want some pie, you’re going to get your naked ass in the kitchen with me to help make it, that’s all.

    So, Greg? Cherry or Peach?

  30. #30 JanieBelle
    December 31, 2008

    Also, Janie may be a bitch (I’ll let her settle that one for you–should be fun), but calling her a heap or pile of anything is so far off the mark as to tell the world that you don’t have a clue where you are.

    Aw, thanks Steph. You’re so sweet.

    What kind of pie do you like? ;)

  31. #31 Bjorn Ostman
    December 31, 2008

    A story about the Gender Gap from ReasonOnline is like a Story about global warming from Shell Oil ca 1985. Only a fool would take it into account uncritically.

    Why? Can you show me something that contradicts it?

    you don’t tell Janie or anyone else around here to “shut it”..

    Look, if someone calls me a fucktard, I get pretty upset, and I throw a bunch of words back. I do apparently get to talk back and tell her to shut it, whether it has that effect of not. Secondly, I notice that you just can’t help attacking my person, again. I definitely do not want to talk about me, so could I politely ask you to quit that?

    Yeah, I know. Shut it and get back in the fucking kitchen, right?

    No, just shut it calling me names. You called me fucktard because you didn’t like what I wrote about the subject of the discussion.

    It really pisses you off when someone doesn’t buy your schtick, doesn’t it?

    No, what pisses me off is being called a fucktard.

  32. #32 JanieBelle
    December 31, 2008

    Then perhaps you might consider not being a fucktard.

    Just sayin’.

  33. #33 Stephanie Z
    December 31, 2008

    Bjorn, you say you want to talk about the subject of how biology interacts with pay. However, every time someone else brings up culture, recognized interpersonal political realities, or other sources of information–i.e., the mediating factors between biology and pay–you counter (assuming you don’t ignore it altogether) with, “I’m just asking. It’s not my job to figure this out. I just want to talk about what’s fair.” In other words, you talk about you. This is why the responses are directed at you personally. Besides, in any discussion of identity politics, the identity and motivation of the people doing the pontificating is up for discussion.

    It isn’t our job to educate you or to prove anything to you one way or another. You’ve been handed the keys to figure some things out for yourself. If you don’t use them, but instead stick around here to talk about how everyone’s talking about you, we’re left to conclude that you’re just looking to be insulted. Whining that it’s happening just looks like you’re the one changing the topic. Because you are, you thin-skinned little troll.

  34. #34 Stephanie Z
    December 31, 2008

    Janie, I love just about any kind of pie as long as it’s not too sweet and has lots of flavor. Tart apple or cherry, spicy pumpkin, sour lemon–all excellent. Of course, it will come as no surprise to you that I think Ben makes the best pie crust ever.

  35. #35 JanieBelle
    December 31, 2008

    mmmmm… sounds like a pie party! (Fucktards not invited, of course)

    Lingerie optional, and should probably be flame resistant, just in case.

  36. #36 Bjorn Ostman
    December 31, 2008

    Averaging salaries over all jobs is bound to result in a difference between men and women, since men and women choose different jobs, and since they don’t take the same amount of time off when they start a family.

    As Greg pointed out, there is one particular important reason why we should expect such differences, namely that women can get pregnant, and men can’t. Additionally, as I mentioned (way) above, psychologically men are – on average – more aggressive, et cetera, which I am guessing would make them, on average, end up in jobs with longer hours, a better career path, and thus higher pay. I wonder if that could be part of the explanation of the gender pay gap.

    That is, if there actually is any, once we look only at people who haven’t started a family yet.

    Does anyone have or know where to find data on this, apart from the article I linked to earlier? Perhaps in peer-reviewed journals?

    Oh, and… peace!

  37. #37 JanieBelle
    December 31, 2008

    Oh sure. We start talking about lingerie and pie parties, and suddenly you want peace!

    (That was a joke, for those of you who might be a bit challenged.)

    We’re not discussing just averages across the working sector of the population, Bjorn. That wasn’t even the point of the video in the OP.

    The thing we’re bitching about is two people doing the exact same job, one male and one female, and the one with the penis gets more money despite equal performance of the job duties.

    If you weren’t so blinded by male privilege, you’d at least be aware of the issue. The fact that you aren’t even cognizant of the nature of the problem speaks volumes.

  38. #38 Christie
    December 31, 2008

    My oh my do people get heated!
    Here’s my 2 cents:

    #1: Personally, I’d like to see exactly how the 24% was calculated. That’s just the scientist in me, I suppose, but I don’t take statistics at face value. Is the 24% across all disciplines? All types of pay (i.e. salaries that are negotiated v. things like military salaries which are as close to set in stone for experience as you can get)? And are all the people equally qualified? I mean, we can argue that a woman doesn’t get equal opportunity… but that’s an affirmative action argument I don’t want to get into. Does she, with x years experience, make 24% less than a man with x years experience in the same job at the same company? If so, that’s crap, and really should be dealt with somehow. But I have a feeling there’s a lot more nuance to these things than short videos reveal.

    #2: Taking 24% at face value: OK, let’s stop flinging mud for a moment and look at the arguments. Let’s say Bjorn were right about what he said in his very first post – that men and women, through evolutionary changes, have different skills. Let’s say men are more competitive, aggressive, status-driven and power-hungry. Women, in turn, are more nurturing, creative, empathetic, and, god forbid, better at raising children. Even if these extremes WERE true, they wouldn’t explain a 24% difference, and here’s why: different jobs require different skills. So maybe the CEO women get paid less than the CEO men. In turn, the Teacher or Day Care women should be paid more than the men in their fields. So if it’s 24% across the board in all fields, it can’t be those differences, so there would be reason to be upset.

    If it’s 24% ON AVERAGE, then Bjorn might have a point – and we should look further into exactly how and where women aren’t getting paid as much. You can’t just say that men and women can and should be equal on all footings when childbearing can only be done by the woman. Even if the father is the one to stay home, feed the baby, and everything else RIGHT AFTER it’s born, the mother still has to carry the little brat for 9 months and give birth to it. Near the end of a pregnancy, for at least a month or so, a woman is simply not as able to work as she had been previously – especially in ANY physical manner. I’ve heard pregnant women complain about standing, let alone performing a job. So as an employer you’d have to be crazy not to take that possibility into account. Maybe not as much as they do, but into account at all, yes. This might be especially true in particular industries. for example, Jani, you said “What people are questioning is why a penis entitles men to more money.” What if the 24% is due to extremely higher salaries in the heterosexual porn industry? Maybe having a large penis, indeed, could be a skill that women simply don’t have. I would bet Ron Jeremy STILL makes more than I do. I’m not saying that’s the likely source of the number, but without knowing exactly what is, it very well could be.

    Also, what if women are getting paid less in physical fields, but equal in intellectual ones? Are we women really that pissed about that? So what if I would make squat as an NFL player. You can’t deny that men, on average, are physically stronger – and, to be technical, genetically more capable of being stronger (testosterone, muscle building and the like). How is it fair to pay a woman as an equal in a field that relies on strength? Take it this way. We assume, in general, that there are some differences in intelligence. Not saying we test well for them, but there simply are some people who are smarter than others. Is it fair for NASA to pay the stupid person who cannot contribute scientifically the same amount as a rocket scientist? I would hope not!

    Regardless, it seems, there is more to the argument than just women should be payed the same amount. Just because someone wants to look at the variables doesn’t make him misogynistic. He may very well be, but that’s not the reason. And if you attack at him full force, can you expect anything less in return? We’re talking about fairness, right?

  39. #39 Stephanie Z
    December 31, 2008

    Christie, Bjorn is being attacked, in large part, because he’s ignoring or dismissing the answers to the questions he’s asked.

    If you want to talk about physical jobs, we can certainly do that. But then we should also be talking about things like dance, where the greater flexibility of females means they should be getting paid more than the males, right? They don’t, because they dominate the grunt ranks of the industry. Males get a premium for being the rarity. And because it’s a female-dominated industry, it pays less than sports, even though it arguably produces a more lasting product.

    Porn is similar, and it’s only very recently that women have started making any real money from it, because the money comes from producing. Guess which gender has historically controlled the production? Ron Jeremy, by the way, makes most of his money from producing.

    As for the CEO argument, you and Bjorn are both a bit behind the times. Businesses, and particularly successful businesses, are starting to recognize that what makes them successful is having a wide range of talents and skills to draw from–that the novel viewpoint is a competitive advantage in the information age. The reasons there are so few female CEOs are mostly historical at this point. It takes time to convert an institutional understanding that a cutthroat attitude is not a prime qualification into day-to-day practices that reward the other qualifications organizations are looking for. Particularly when people keep arguing that there’s only one qualification for the job and the menz haz it.

  40. #40 Jennifer B.
    December 31, 2008

    Sorry for the delay in getting back here, and thank you for the warm welcome! I see Bjorn needs me to clarify what I think, though I also see that Greg, JanieBelle and Stephanie have made some excellent and cogent points. (And, Bjorn, part of the reason it’s taken me a bit to get back is that I wanted to do a little research to confirm my facts.)

    The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has this to say about the salary divide: Women’s salaries as a percentage of men’s runs in the low 90% at ages 16-24, and consistently drops over the years to a minimum of 75% at ages 45-54 years. Women start out economically disadvantaged and it only gets worse over the years. Race impacts this as well; white women have an edge, and black, Hispanic, and Asian women suffer even greater disparities.

    Bjorn asked that I clarify my position, so here it is. It’s very simple. Most Westernized societies are skewed to prefer the condition of being male to the condition of being female. The root cause of this is that women get pregnant. Modern Western society has evolved to control reproduction; up until the modern day, the only way to control reproduction was to control the woman that the womb belonged to.

    Do I even need to mention that, with modern contraception, that this is no longer necessary?

    Bjorn, you asked where your privilege comes from. Privilege comes from a society in which “human” defaults to “male” and being a woman is inherently devalued. I point you to the long list of curses and insults that assign someone feminine traits or compare them to female anatomy. I point you to the phrases “weaker sex” and “women’s work”. It’s the default assumption that women are less than men. That’s where privilege comes from, and it’s so pervasive that it takes a real effort to see it. It’s like a fish understanding water.

    Let me be clear here: There are definite physiological differences between male and female humans. In addition to the reproductive differences, there are differences in the way male and female brains are wired. Research into transgender and intersex conditions confirms that–you have people who are, literally, born with one-gendered brain in the other-gendered body. (It’s a fascinating field!) That does not mean that the inequities we see in the social status between women and men is neurologically-based.

    Look. University enrollment at the undergrad level in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers among women is approaching 50%. You’d think that’s great–but is it? What’s happening to those women? I wish I could find the cite, I think I saw it recently over on Sciencewomen or Drugmonkey, but I believe the numbers stay fairly consistent until the graduate/post-graduate level, at which point they fall off sharply. (And if someone else remembers it more accurately, please, correct me!) If it were a matter of female incapacity, they’d be dropping off steadily as the difficulty of the material increased, just as men do. But they aren’t. They run into a culture that is actively hostile, that assumes that the mere fact of their womanhood makes them inferior and incapable.

    Bjorn, you keep pointing to the extremes of human physical capability, both male and female, and saying that because men outperform women physically at those extremes, they deserve to be considered superior, earn superior pay, etc. You’re ignoring the vast middle where the average physical capability of males and females overlaps. Guess what? In modern society, most of the functions that people perform fall into that middle area! You also seem to be assuming that superior physical capability equates to superior mental capability; the two are not analogous.

    Also, if you’re going to bring up your personal situation to try to support your premises, then it’s acceptable for someone to address your situation when rebutting it. For instance, you mentioned your yearly salary, and bemoaned the fact that your female colleagues make the same amount as you. So I have a question for you, that gets down right to your point: what are your job requirements, and what, specifically, advantage do you have because of your gender? In other words, why should you be paid more just because you’re a man?

    My answer is, you shouldn’t. All other things being equal (in other words, not taking into account that you may have a better skillset, or spend more time at it, or whatever else that might make a difference on an individual but not a gender basis), there is no difference between your inherent capability to do your job and a woman’s.

    Therefore, there should be no disparity in pay. That the disparity exists does not reflect female incapacity or male superiority; it reflects a deeply-entrenched prejudice based on outdated social structures developed about a single biological fact.

  41. #41 Stephanie Z
    December 31, 2008

    Jennifer, I think the data you’re looking for on the drop-off is at Blue Lab Coats. It was linked off of DrugMonkey (probably ScienceWoman too).

  42. #42 Christie
    December 31, 2008

    Just to be argumenative, Jennifer… you said regarding the degrees/etc of women vs. men “If it were a matter of female incapacity, they’d be dropping off steadily as the difficulty of the material increased, just as men do. But they aren’t. They run into a culture that is actively hostile, that assumes that the mere fact of their womanhood makes them inferior and incapable.”

    Isn’t it possible that a higher percentage of women of post-graduate age (say, somewhere between 21-30) are opting out of higher degrees to have children and start families? Is that taken into account at all in those statistics? I mean, if the dropout includes women who have never married or had kids, that’s different… but I have a feeling it doesn’t.

    “Childless women, for example, currently earn 90% of their male counterparts’ salaries” according to Women’s Media, the “site for working women”. There’s still a 10% difference, there, but other studies have found that women, on average, at least right now, also have less experience than their male counterparts (like this one about engineering).

    For the record, I’m a scientist, and I have personally NEVER gotten the idea that women are not wanted, respected, or equal in my field thus far – including in applying to graduate programs. Most of my professors, in fact, were women – and the women were often considered the best ones, too. Though I did encounter issues about women’s choice. One of my professors and I talked in depth about how hard it is to be both a mother and a professor – that you have to put your career on hold a bit to really achieve a family the way she wanted to. I agree – it’s much easier for the guy, who doesn’t have to be pregnant or breastfeed, to have both. But that’s not their fault – that’s biology. How much special exception can we women really expect to get for that, especially in high-paced, high-paying jobs where missing a moment really has an impact? Is getting pregnancy leave for a woman but not for the husband any fairer?

  43. #43 Jennifer B.
    December 31, 2008

    YES! That was it, Stephanie! Thank you — it was on the tip of my brain and driving me mad.

  44. #44 Greg Laden
    December 31, 2008

    Christis: Isn’t it possible that a higher percentage of women of post-graduate age (say, somewhere between 21-30) are opting out of higher degrees to have children and start families?

    How does this matter. Isn’t this the point?

  45. #45 Jennifer B.
    December 31, 2008

    Christie,

    It’s much easier for the guy who has a wife at home to have career and family, because he’s focusing on the career and she’s focusing on the family. That’s the default model right now, and it’s defective, socially and economically. It only addresses a distinct minority of possible family set-ups. It’s not effective when applied to single parents, two-income households, households in poverty, etc.

    Biology only dictates that the woman’s the one to go through pregnancy and childbirth, and possibly breastfeeding afterward. (And breast-pumping offers both women and men options for bonding and child care, by combining the relative flexibility of bottle-feeding with the benefits of breastmilk. I’ll add that I am a supporter of both paternity and maternity leave.) Why are women overwhelmingly expected to be the ones to sacrifice everything for their families? What’s wrong with the father taking an equal load? The implication in your post is that the women are the ones responsible for the maintenance of the family. Here and now, that does not have to be the case.

    That’s the problem: all of the assumptions are based on a deeply flawed system that’s only good for a distinct minority of people. It’s not good for men who would like to stay home with their children, but suffer a stigma for not being ambitious or assertive enough. It’s not good for women who would like to pursue a career and have a family. It’s not good for single parents who are trying to juggle the burdens of taking care of their kids while holding down a job to pay the bills.

    Biology may be the root cause of the gender inequities, and it’s true that until we develop artificial wombs a-la the Vorkosiverse, it will remain an issue. But it’s not the (sole) proximate cause by a long shot, and the proximate causes of the current situation can and should be addressed. And addressing those proximate causes–to wit, identifying and ameliorating the inequalities built into our social systems–have been shown to improve the conditions for everyone.

    Women’s rights are human rights, and vice versa.

  46. #46 Stephanie Z
    December 31, 2008

    Christie, do you want people to continue to have and raise children? If so, you treat it as a valuable contribution to society, not a liability to the pace of a career–a pace that was set to exploit a social arrangement that is no longer in place. Instead of looking at this and saying, “Pity those mothers just can’t keep up,” why aren’t you asking, “Why aren’t we giving paternal leave, since taking care of a newborn is more than a one-person job?” Missing that moment has exactly the impact it is set up to have. No more, no less.

    A few other things: Yes, the dropout rate includes women without children. It also includes unmarried women, although the thought that this should make a difference is rather bizarre. Years of experience and time off for childbirth are confounding variables. You’re in one of the most even fields in science; don’t assume those numbers translate to other fields.

    Yes, female professors are quite often more qualified than their male counterparts. This is because they have to be better to be hired and because the most highly competent males get promoted into administration at higher rates, as well as ending up in more research-intensive positions instead of teaching. The pay is better in both places.

  47. #47 Christie
    January 4, 2009

    I’m not saying that women shouldn’t get pregnancy leave or benefits or anything like that. I think that to say that the employers, however, shouldn’t take that into account is unfair to the guys. I mean, a guy stays single and works his ass off for three years and a woman gets to have a kid and take a few months off in the middle and gets paid the same money? Let’s face it – there are a LOT of professions where taking any time off like that is a huge impairment. Those jobs, coincidentally, tend to pay more – often because they require such high levels of effort.

    For the record, I don’t think biology is the only cause, and I do think other causes need to be addressed – like the part where the single, childless women get only 90% a man’s salary. Also, I think that girls need to be encouraged to enter “male” fields if that’s what they love to do. It’s just the biology part is hard to argue against when it comes to an overall pay difference, at least, like Jennifer said, until we can birth outside our bodies or something.

  48. #48 Pyre
    January 4, 2009

    Bjorn: there’s a wide range of heights and muscular strengths among men, and likewise among women. Many men are taller and stronger than many women, but some women are taller and stronger than some men.

    Question #1: Why should this affect pay levels in jobs (like office work) where neither height nor muscular strength affects job performance?

    Question #2: Comparing the pay levels of the taller and stronger than average women to those of the shorter and weaker than average men — where those specific women are taller and stronger than those specific men — one would expect to see those women paid more than those men, if height and strength were truly the reason for the difference. Why should the shorter and weaker group still be paid more than the taller and stronger group?

    Question #3: If a woman can show that she is infertile, tubes tied or hysterectomy or whatever, shouldn’t her pay be increased to eliminate the “risk of pregnancy” penalty?

    Question #4: Why don’t HR policies include asking about infertility, or measuring height and strength (not only in police and firefighting jobs), rather than assuming every man is stronger than every woman, and that every woman can get pregnant — if those are the actual reasons for pay differential?

    These questions raise my doubts about the legitimacy of the height/strength/pregnancy justifications.

  49. #49 Christie
    January 6, 2009

    PS to Greg:
    The point of “opting out” to have families is that it’s the woman’s choice. I choose to be a biologist – if I had become a stockbroker, I’d make more money (well, maybe that’s a bad example right now…). Does that mean that biologists should be payed the same as stockbrokers? Well, we might think so… but that’s beside the point. If women are making less because we choose to do so, that is on us – not the men/society/the boogie man. Albeit it’s harder for a woman to have a family without sacrificing part of her career – but again, that’s biology. Women invest more in the offspring in our species – that’s the nature of producing the egg instead of the sperm and incubating it internally. So if the lower percentage of women getting PhDs were (though I’m not saying it is) entirely due to their own career choices, are we calling them stupid? Are we saying they should not be as family-oriented? I mean, unless they’re getting forced out of those tracks how can we blame anyone but the women making the decisions? And how would that statistic be relevant towards “job equality” other than to say women don’t want to pursue the same jobs? This is different that what was originally said – that women enter an “inhostile environment” when they reach that level – which sounds like they are shunned or refused admittance to PhD programs. If, instead, women are perfectly welcome, perhaps even encouraged, but generally decide they have other priorities, how is this bad?

  50. #50 Stephanie Z
    January 6, 2009

    Christie, choice can be so limited as to be effectively no choice at all. It doesn’t take no one being willing to talk to you or hire or admit you to make a hostile environment. Sometimes, all it takes is a minimal sensitivity to the social situation.

    Hostility comes in many forms. It comes in someone thinking that the only measure of productivity is lab time–that someone who works like a maniac for eight hours then goes home isn’t contributing as much as someone who hangs out all day and evening using the university wifi. It comes in hearing a guy say something you just said and be praised for his original thinking. It comes in someone deciding you shouldn’t represent the lab at the big meeting because you’ve got “obligations,” so they’ll just send a guy. It comes in allocations of resources, in access to important people, in uneven expectations, in attributing someone’s failure or success to their gender (but only if they’re female). It comes in a thousand forms.

    Sure, these things individually are small. So are papercuts, but if you worked somewhere where you got two papercuts every day, you’d find another job after a while. Papercuts are not welcoming.

    To turn your question around, if we have important jobs that require creativity and intelligence and a whole host of other in-demand qualities, and we limit our pool of talent–men and women–based on whether they want to continue the species, how is that good?

  51. #51 Peggy
    January 6, 2009

    I don’t really have much to add to what Stephanie and Jennifer and Pyre have said, except to tell a little story. My dad (now retired) is/was and engineer who spent most of his post-college career working at a public agency. He was telling me rather recently that his boss back in the 70s came right out and said that he didn’t think women should be paid as much as men, because women “don’t have families to support”.

    Now that was 30-odd years ago, and over the years attitudes have changed mostly for the better. But attitudes like that die hard, and I wouldn’t doubt that some younger men developed similar attitudes. Today I think it’s unusual for women to be explicitly paid less, but there are many factors that can affect your salary in the long term – frequency of raises, the types of assignments people are given, networking opportunities, and the like. Add to that the many social factors that can hinder women’s advancement that Jennifer B. laid out so nicely and it really isn’t right to dismiss the wage gap as simply due to women’s “choices”.

    And if you want data, check out this 2007 AAUW report, particularly figures 6, 8, 13, and 15. It various from industry to industry, but the pay gap is there, even for women without children.

  52. #52 Greg not Laden
    June 9, 2009

    Oddly, men who thought “women don’t have families to support” also refused to hire them because “women all want to get pregnant and have a family”.