Friday, April 15, 2011

Yes, Sex Discrimination Did Happen and Still Does

Mrs. G. thought my last two posts were insensitive to the actual discrimination experienced by women we know, especially in our mothers' and grandmothers' generation. So, just to be clear, I of course know that sex discrimination was not just rampant more than a generation ago, it was official policy. And I know that sex discrimination still goes on. There are women right now who are paid less because they are women.

BUT we have had a sea change since the 1970s in how we think of men, women, and work. The aim of both kinds of feminism has been to open all choices to women. In this endeavor we have been hugely successful. Not completely successful, but hugely successful.

And the main point of controversy between egalitarian feminism and difference feminism is whether, given a choice, men and women would choose each option at the same rate or not. I believe the unfolding facts increasingly support the difference feminist view. The goal of having all choices equally open to men and women remains, and remains vital. But equal opportunity will not, I am convinced, produce equal outcomes.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Wage Gap is Due to Life Choices - The Attempted Rebuttal

Yesterday I argued that the wage gap between men and women is mostly due to the different life choices that men and women, as a group, tend to make. The American Association of University Women regularly argues that the wage gap is due to discrimination and a "glass ceiling." Their most recent report is here.

The AAUW report begins with the familiar claim that women earn 77 cents to a man's dollar - a 23% wage gap. Later in the report, though, they admit that

After accounting for college major, occupation, industry, sector, hours worked, workplace flexibility, experience, educational attainment, enrollment status, GPA, institution selectivity, age, race/ethnicity, region, marital status, and number of children, a 5 percent difference in the earnings of male and female college graduates one year after graduation was still unexplained.
Many factors could go into this 5 percent gap, including discrimination. However, other research has found that woman are more reluctant to negotiate their wages, and men are more likely to ask for more than they were offered.

The AAUW report goes on to cite another study that shows the wage gap growing for college-educated women and men in the decade after college. They write

A similar analysis of full-time workers 10 years after college graduation found a 12 percent unexplained difference in earnings.
However, that "similar analysis" leaves out the crucial difference between men and women in their 20s - women are likely to leave or cut back on work when they have children, while men are likely to work more when they have children.

As Susan Pinker argued in The Sexual Paradox, the more choice women have, the more they differ from men. American college-educated women in the 21st century are among the freest to choose of any group of women in the history of the world.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Wage Gap is Due to Life Choices, 2011

It is time for our annual discussion of why men earn more than women in the "Family Life" class. This year two enterprising students shared with the class two opposing current reports on this subject. I will blog one today and the other tomorrow.

Carrie Lukas, of the Independent Women's Forum, argues that there is no male-female wage gap. Sure, the median woman's wage is about three-quarters of the median man's wage, and has been for some time. However, when you make an apples-to-apples comparison, controlling for how much men and women work, their education, experience, job sector, industry, and firm, almost all of the pay gap disappears. In fact, for jobs that require more education in our knowledge-oriented economy, women start out doing better than men.

The core of the wage gap is that women are much more likely to choose to trade pay for family time. The gap begins in the prime childbirth and child-rearing years.

The second main cause of the wage gap, and one that egalitarian feminists and difference feminists most fight over, is that women are much less likely to take jobs that require the most time, intensive effort, and responsibility - which also tend to pay more. This gap continues after the kids are grown.

Men trade success for more money and power. Women trade success for more time and to focus on just the kind of work they like. These choices tend to improve women's lives. All it costs them is money.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Even Among Very Happy Parents, Marriage Matters to Kids

Child Trends has an interesting new report comparing how well the parents get along with how well the kids are doing.

"Social competence," measures whether kids are respectful of teachers and neighbors, get along well with others, understand other people's feelings, and try to resolve conflicts with others. If the child's parents are very happy, the kids are more socially competent.

The most interesting finding to me, though, is that even in this best-off group - very happy parents, socially competent kids - the kids with married natural parents are still better off.

The social competence rate is about the same for very happy married step-parents (60%), cohabiting biological or adoptive parents (58%), and cohabiting step parents (57%).

For married biological or adoptive parents, though, the proportion of socially competent kids is significantly higher: 70%

Monday, April 11, 2011

46% of Mississippi Republicans Think Interracial Marriage Should be Illegal

Public Policy Polling surveyed Mississippi Republicans about their preference for the GOP presidential nominee next year. In the middle of that survey they found this shocker:

We asked voters on this poll whether they think interracial marriage should be legal or illegal- 46% of Mississippi Republicans said it should be illegal to just 40% who think it should be legal.
Among the potential nominees, people who thought interracial marriage should be allowed most favored Mitt Romney, while those Republicans who thought interracial marriage should be prohibited favored Sarah Palin the most.