Gender

Study: Rise in 'Overworked' Men Helps Explain Gender Wage Gap

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athrasher/Flickr

A recent study looks at the gap between men and women's earnings in America. This "gender wage gap" is the cause of ample animosity between those who believe pay differences stem from sexism and those who believe the gap can be explained by differences in men and women's work choices—a false dichotomy if their ever was one (I'll take a-little-of-column-A, a little-of-column-B here, please). Those who believe the gap stems from life choices tend to focus on women taking time off for childrearing and going into less lucrative fields. According to researchers from Indiana and Cornell Universities, the wage gap's persistence can also be attributed to a greater proportion of men working 50 or more hours per week. 

"Despite rapid changes in women's educational attainment and continuous labor force experience, convergence in the gender gap in wages slowed in the 1990s and stalled in the 2000s," explain researchers Youngjoo Cha and Kim A. Weeden in their paper's abstract. Looking at data from 1979 to 2000, Cha and Weeden found that while hourly wages overall stagnated during the period, the hourly wage of workers who put in 50 or more hours per week—a practice they describe as "overwork"—actually went up. "Because a greater proportion of men engage in overwork, these changes raised men's wages relative to women's," they write.

It's not merely that more men than women were working 50-hour-plus workweeks but that hourly workers in this category are the only ones who saw their wages rise in the last decades of the 20th century. Kind of a double-whammy of wage gap exacerbation, if you will. Taken together, the increasing prevalence of "overworked" employees, the fact that more men than women fall in this category, and "the rising hourly wage returns to overwork" have magnified the gender wage gap by an estimated 10 percent according to the paper, published in the American Sociological Review

"This overwork effect was sufficiently large to offset the wage-equalizing effects of the narrowing gender gap in educational attainment and other forms of human capital," the researchers note. The effect was strongest in professional and managerial jobs, "where long work hours are especially common and the norm of overwork is deeply embedded in organizational practices and occupational cultures."

With child care and shuffling still falling much more heavily on women, it's no surprise that less female employees are able to put in 50 or more working hours weekly. And I think this illustrates nicely why the sexism vs choices dichotomy is wrong. Clearly no one is discriminating against women by paying them less for working less hours—there is no central sexist actor here. But there is a subtly sexist view permeating our culture that says caregiving is a gendered job.

Surely many women have zero qualms about being the primary parent; surely many others feel somewhat slighted by the situation. It's impossible to separate gendered choices from gendered disadvantages. 

With this in mind, it makes no sense for the government to try and rectify the wage gap administratively because there is literally no way to account for all the contributing variables—such as this overwork one. How could anyone have predicted that hourly wages for "overworkers" would rise while general wages stagnated? How can bureaucrats possibly correct for cultural expectations? Focusing on the wage gap per se will go nowhere near as far toward closing it as focusing on the culture that creates it can. 

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  1. You know, I just realized I haven’t seen Mr. Mom in a long, long time.

    1. Teri Garr when she was still hot and Michael Keaton when he was still funny!
      What’s not to like? I gotta dust off the VCR.

      1. It’s not on Netflix Play Instant, unfortunately. I remember it being pretty entertaining. But I would expect that from something written by John Hughes.

        1. It is on Amazon Instant video, though, and free for Amazon Prime subscribers.

          1. The problem with Amazon Prime free video, though, is that I can’t watch it on my TiVo without buying it. It won’t download without a purchase. So I either have to watch in on my laptop, or hook the laptop up to the plasma. I’m afraid that’s just too much work for me. Especially when I’m stoned.

            /first world problems

            1. Just follow the path of Gary Busey and buy a Fire TV.

              1. That’s not a bad idea. My friend has one and it’s pretty slick.

              2. Yep. Them things (Chromecast) is cool, and cheap.

                1. I have one and I love it. Netflix has the broadcast to it built in; I think Amazon does too, but at a minimum you can open anything in Chrome and cast it from there.

              3. Amazon Prime isn’t officially supported by Chromecast. You can cast it as a tab, but I have heard it doesn’t work very well (unsurprisingly).

    2. That is a solid flick. I call the squeeze’s phone his “Woobie” because of that movie, actually.

  2. Give me a job, give me security
    Give me a chance to survive
    I’m just a poor soul in the unemployment line
    My God, I’m hardly alive
    My mother and father, my wife and my friends
    I see them laugh in my face
    But I’ve got the power, and I’ve got the will
    I’m not a charity case
    I’ll take those long nights, impossible odds
    Keeping my eye to the keyhole
    If it takes all that to be just what I am
    Well, I’m gonna be a blue collar man

    Make me an offer that I can’t refuse
    Make me respectable, man
    This is my last time in the unemployment line
    So like it or not I’ll take those

    Long nights, impossible odds
    Keeping my back to the wall
    If it takes all that to be just what I am
    Well, I’m gonna be a blue collar man

    Keeping my mind on a better life
    Where happiness is only a heartbeat away
    Paradise, can it be all I heard it was
    I close my eyes and maybe I’m already there…

    1. Band: Styx
      Song: Blue Collar Man
      Album: Pieces of Eight

      As a young skull full of mush, I played that album to death. My favorite track was Queen of Spades. I think because of the eeevil laugh.

      1. I never realized how overly dramatic Styx were until I was older and heard them on the radio. It’s actually pretty funny.

  3. “It’s impossible to separate gendered choices from gendered disadvantages.”

    Wut?

    Impossible to ask someone “do you choose not to put in those 60 hour weeks or is there something stopping you from doing so?” Or is it Teh Patriarchy’s Subtle Pressure that cannot be sussed out?

    1. Yeah. Stinks of “false consciousness.”

      1. Oh give me a break guys. I for one don’t have much of a problem with childcare being mildly gendered, but it is patently obvious that subtle and not-so-subtle cultural biases come to bear in women’s (and men’s) decisionmaking.

        1. You might even say that subtle and not-so-subtle biases that affect decision-making are the very definition of a culture.

          1. Yes, and a culture can hold men and women to different standards.

            1. What does this have to do with “culture” holding men and women to different standards? Which parent does more/less of the childcare is a decision made by the parents. When my wife and I are figuring out how our work schedules interact with childcare, we don’t consult any cultural standards.

        2. Well, heaven forbid our environment and culture should influence our choices! What is the world coming to?

  4. Wow!! People who work harder make more money?? Whoda thunk it? This is obviously a trick by that mean old male, God.

  5. Clearly no one is discriminating against women by paying them less for working less hours?there is no central sexist actor here. But there is a subtly sexist view permeating our culture that says caregiving is a gendered job.

    Or, the “subtly-sexist” outcome is a result of the woman’s earlier life choice: by taking herself out of the labor market to bear her child (or by entering a less-lucrative field), it is only rational for the woman to work less and bear the uncompensated cost of caregiving. 0*20 + 3*25 is more than 3*20 + 0*25.

    1. “Or, the “subtly-sexist” outcome is a result of the woman’s earlier life choice:”…

      Or perhaps there might be s genetic tendency toward certain activities?
      Naah…

      1. Now you’re being subtly sexist.

  6. The difference in salary for non-hourly employees due to “overwork” would be interesting too.

    Its been a long time since I worked for the man, but back when I did, it was the women who were more likely to be out the door at 5 PM.

    Of course, I rarely showed up before 9:30, so its hard to compare for myself.

    But there was one woman who regularly worked late, and she was a partner, so there ya go.

  7. “With this in mind, it makes no sense for the government to try and rectify the wage gap administratively because there is literally no way to account for all the contributing variables”

    And this would matter to a statist politician….why? If we’re gonna start insisting that government policies make sense – chaos, roadz, teh children!!!

  8. Long hours can certainly feel like overwork, but is that a term people should use in supposedly “scientific” discussion?

  9. I would not have omitted some mention of the benefits that women reap from that “subtly sexist view” that caregiving is a gendered occupation either.

    Leaving aside the grotesque injustices favoring women that this creates in family court and child support, there are advantages in the workplace for women. They have an easier time getting schedule flexibility because they can play the kid card, for example.

    1. Why is it so shameful/sexist to say women as a group are better caregivers than men as a group?

      As for women who feel “slighted by the situation” – that’s their prerogative but who is slighting them? The ‘situation’…from Jersey Shore? Is it ‘society’?!? What about the countless men who feel ‘slighted’ by their shitty ass job that provides for their family ‘situation’? I expect better than this silly throwaway line from ENB.

      1. I’m a man and would be a great caregiver. Just need to know if your child is better with a pick axe or a shovel.

  10. About 1/2 way through my 9th day in a row of working. If someone said they’d pay me 10% less but I only had to work 35 hours a week, guaranteed, I’d take it.

    1. I’d take that deal in a heartbeat.

    2. Sounds like a government job, but we have 37.5 hours instead…

      1. I’m a contractor. While my government colleagues were whiling away their weekends, I was slaving away getting a site ready to go into production first thing Monday. And for much less pay, too (not because I’m a chick, but because the Feds egregiously overpay some people. My office is almost entirely made up of 12’s and 13’s).

        1. Dear Gods! You poor thing. As I recall when I once worked in the government world, GS12+ are generally cranky, entitled furniture whose sole purpose is getting in the way of actual productivity.

    3. Would you take 15% less?

      1. Let’s see…multiply by .15…carry the one….probably not. You’d have to cut my hours down to 25-30 for that.

        1. Well 5 hours is 12.5% of 40 so I was really looking to see if someone was actually willing to give something up given that a 10% reduction on 5 hours cut would actually be a raise.

          1. Given that I work 40+ hours (52 this week, 45+ most weeks), then the math of 5 hours reduction doesn’t really work out. Like I said, the 35 hours would have to be guaranteed. No Bill Lumberghing allowed.

        2. Would ya… do it for a jelly doughnut?

          /Channeling Strange Brew

  11. Yeah, but just try to share this logical explanation to those shrews at Jezebel or AlterNet. Go on, I dare you!

  12. The wage gap is sort of like the inequality thing that people like to go on about. It could be an indicator of a problem or unjust situation, or it could be a normal and natural result of how economies work and how the sexes differ. I don’t think either is a problem in and of itself. But a lot of people like to assume that disparate outcomes necessarily mean there is discrimination or injustice happening.

    It seems pretty clear at this point that there are real, inherent differences in the psychology of men and women and there are obvious physiological differences. Why would anyone expect that men and women would have the same outcomes in employment on average? There is also the inconvenient fact that woman have unique capacities and abilities when it comes to making and rearing babies. This shouldn’t mean that any individual women should be denied any opportunities or expected to put motherhood above anything else, but it does mean that, on average, women and men are going to have different sorts of career paths. Gender roles can and do change, and I think that is a good thing, but there are basic facts of life that can’t be avoided.

  13. This “gender wage gap” is the cause of ample animosity between those who believe pay differences stem from sexism and those who believe the gap can be explained by differences in men and women’s work choices?a false dichotomy if their ever was one (I’ll take a-little-of-column-A, a little-of-column-B here, please).

    Unlike the differences between men and women’s occupational choices, an institutional “gender wage gap” attributed to sexism has not been established either inductively or deductively.

    child care and shuffling still falling much more heavily on women

    Yes, it just falls on the heads of women from a clear blue sky — how can they possibly be expected to avoid these completely unwanted burdens?

    I think this illustrates nicely why the sexism vs choices dichotomy is wrong. Clearly no one is discriminating against women by paying them less for working less hours?there is no central sexist actor here. But there is a subtly sexist view permeating our culture that says caregiving is a gendered job.

    Interesting how this “subtly sexist view” aligns so neatly with biological imperatives regarding childrearing. Almost as if there is no such thing as the blank slate and women have a certain propensity to act on their nature.

    It’s impossible to separate gendered choices from gendered disadvantages.

    No, it’s not. Ignore your biological urges and work like a man.

    1. Unlike the differences between men and women’s occupational choices, an institutional “gender wage gap” attributed to sexism has not been established either inductively or deductively.

      Economic models of the gap typically cannot explain a small percentage — usually in the single digits — based solely on choices. So yes, it is a false choice, both theoretically (there’s no reason why it can’t be both choices and sexism) and empirically (because it has not been demonstrated that it’s only choices).

      Ignore your biological urges and work like a man.

      That is astoundingly stupid and sexist.

      1. Economic models of the gap typically cannot explain a small percentage — usually in the single digits — based solely on choices.

        Which simply means that this small gap is unexplained, not that it is explained by sexism.

        You can believe that it is explained by sexism, but it is in no way something which has been established.

        That is astoundingly stupid and sexist.

        No, it’s not. It’s an asshole thing to say, but it’s not stupid or sexist to say that a woman who expects to be compensated the same as a man should work as hard as that man, or that for women on the aggregate to demand the same average salary statistics that men have, they have to exhibit the same tendencies at work. (BTW, I don’t work nearly as many hours as most people, so don’t take that as a knock on the perfectly rational choice that women make to

        1. Which simply means that this small gap is unexplained, not that it is explained by sexism.

          Which is why I didn’t say it, moron.

          No, it’s not. It’s an asshole thing to say,

          Actually, yes, “work like a man” is a sexist thing to say.

          1. I think you’re both right. I just wish for the halcyon days when we just called assholes “assholes”, rather than endlessly parse exactly what sub-specie of asshole they belong to.

          2. Which is why I didn’t say it, moron.

            My theory is that they are explained by the Moon Goddess’ love of the male. Anyone who doubts this or refuses to place this explanation at the same level of an explanation that is confirmed in large part by evidence (like the differences in choices) is a sexist or a moron.

            See how stupid that sounds?

            Get your panties out of the bunch they’re in. Whether it is a phenomena explained by gendered differences or not, the fact is that men work harder than women and that women can get roughly the same results by working the same hours and in the same occupations that men typically work.

            It would be sexist to say “You can’t work like a man, that’s why you don’t get the big bucks” because it implies some inability to do so. Telling someone to work like a man to get the results of a man implies that it is possible for that person to do so, which is not sexist at all — it’s dickish; there’s a difference.

            1. the fact is that men work harder than women and that women can get roughly the same results by working the same hours and in the same occupations that men typically work.

              I actually seem to remember a study that found that when women do work in facsimile positions of their male counterparts, they were paid more.

              But I might be remembering wrong.

  14. If we just did whatever job the government told us we were best equipped for and instead of receiving money the government provided the bare necessities of life to us (well the government officials should righty get a larger share being our betters and all), than we wouldn’t have these problems and everything in life would be fair.

    1. I don’t want to live in such a shitty environment.

      1. That was sarc

        1. Some people would consider that ‘EWEtopia’; a perfect place for all the sheeple.

  15. So, is the postulate, that it is sexism in the culture which leads more women to “shuffle” and cut hours for child care?

    Perhaps even those who feel put upon to assume the primary parent role are materially better off by having higher earning spouses?

    Perhaps there is trade space to downsize the lifestyle in order to keep the wife who wants to work in her job and allow the husband who wants to stay home that opportunity. We just can’t have it all and cannot abolish the decision/consequence dichotomy, and Americans hate that.

  16. But there is a subtly sexist view permeating our culture that says caregiving is a gendered job.

    But there is a subtly sexist view permeating species that says caregiving is a gendered job.

    Also please name one culture ever that does not say the same thing.

    1. But there is a subtly sexist view permeating mammals and birds that says caregiving is a gendered job.

      1. I say clownfish are the most sexist animals on earth. IIRC If the female dies the male exercises his privilege and becomes a female. They refuse to budge on their cultural caregiving constructs to the point that they change their ANATOMY to follow it!

  17. The majority of younger girls I talk to want to be nurses or teachers. In other words nurturers.

    1. Most men I know want to apply the oil or body makeup to Playboy models.

      1. Tell me a little about the upward mobility in this industry…

        1. I like to work my way down.

  18. Thats not to say I don’t know men who want to be nurses or women who want to join the army. But they are free to pursue those goals.

  19. Notorious ENB: The researchers are named Cha and Weeden. The ‘a’ and ‘b’ after their names are hyperlinks to footnotes indicating which universities they attend.

    1. Attend makes it sound like they’re students. It indicates where they are researchers/professors/whatever.

  20. In a sane society, this stuff tends to balance out because each child-rearing woman tends to be partnered with an overworked man.

    1. ^THIS^

  21. I dont think Sammy da Bull is going to like that?

    http://www.WentAnon.Tk

  22. “there is a subtly sexist view permeating our culture that says caregiving is a gendered job

    I don’t see how that is automatically sexist. There are real biological differences between men and women when it comes to child care and empathy.

  23. Caregiving is not gendered, it’s sexed. Nouns have gender; biological roles have sex.

    hth

  24. Let’s not forget the very large (and growing) portion of the female population that actually seeks out single motherhood. The idea that someone else will pay the trapped guy (who didn’t realize his one-night-ho-stand was angling to own a piece of his life by forcing him to become a father against his will), the government (yet another reason women are destroying America – their failure to plan means they rely on social welfare programs).

    Yes, the difference is gender-based. But let’s not have women making the choices only they are allowed to make (abortion? Or not?) and they crying “poor” when a man outworks her.

  25. “Focusing on the wage gap per se will go nowhere near as far toward closing it as focusing on the culture that creates it can.”

    The public sector should NEVER “focus on the culture that creates [the wage gap]” because that sector has no expertise whatsoever on how to change a “culture” and how to prevent such a focus from turning silly or tyrannical.

    The problem described in this article arises from a failure to control for hours worked, and a failure to appreciate that the 40 hour week, and the notion of overtime, do not apply in a great many managerial and professional jobs. The number of Americans employees who are paid an annual salary, and are expected to work as long as it takes to complete the job expected of them, might be as high as 20%.

    Finally, the dichotomy that Mrs Brown labels “false”, I deem all too real. Women like certain jobs, and do not apply for many other jobs, and they are willing to accept substantially lower pay in order to indulge in these preferences. This is a hard fact of life that the Democratic party, and nearly all academic discussion of the gender gap OUTSIDE OF ECONOMICS DEPARTMENTS, does not face.

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