Gender

Obama Takes New Steps to Fix Gender Pay Gap: Why That's Still a Mistake

Still relying on a misleading statistic.

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Dreamstime

On Friday, President Obama added some muscle to his previous executive order aimed at fixing the purported pay gap: He will require companies to submit information to the federal government about employees' salaries. The information will be supplied on a form that already tallies employees' ethnic and gender makeups.

According to The New York Times:

The requirement would expand on an executive order Mr. Obama issued nearly two years ago that called for federal contractors to submit salary information for women and men. Ms. Yang said the rules would be completed in September, with the first reports due a year later.

"Bridging the stubborn pay gap between men and women in the work force has proven to be very challenging," said Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to Mr. Obama, noting that the median wage for women amounts to 79 percent of that for men. "We have seen progress, but it isn't enough."

White House officials said that the requirement was intended to bolster the government's ability to penalize companies that engage in discriminatory pay practices and to encourage businesses to police themselves better and correct such disparities.

Obama using executive orders to impose annoying regulations on companies is one problem. The faulty assumption this action relies upon is another. The oft-cited statistic—that women earn between 20 and 23 cents on the dollar less than men—is highly misleading, because it makes an apples to oranges comparison. A lot of women choose to go into careers that pay less money, and a lot of women choose to work fewer hours than men. When one controls for these variables, they pay gap mostly—though not entirely—disappears.

As Ashe Schow at The Washington Examiner wrote in a recent piece:

I've written extensively on how the gender wage gap would be more accurately referred to as the "gender earnings gap," because the gap is due mostly to choices women make and not discrimination.

But now you don't have to take my word for it, you can listen to Claudia Goldin, an economics professor at Harvard University. Goldin spoke to Stephen Dubner, the journalist behind the popular podcast "Freakanomics," in a segment about what really causes the gap.

As one can imagine, Goldin comes to the same conclusion that I and many others have: That the gap is due mostly to choices men and women make in their careers and not discrimination.

"Does that mean that women are receiving lower pay for equal work?" Goldin asked after listening to clips of President Obama and comedienne Sarah Silverman claim that women earn 77 cents to the dollar that men earn. "That is possibly the case in certain places, but by and large it's not that, it's something else."

That "something else," is choice — in the careers that women take, the hours they work and the time off they take. Dubner asked her about evidence that discrimination plays a role in the gap, to which Goldin responded that such a "smoking gun" no longer exists.

The government ought to respect women's choices, not try to correct them via coercive legislation and executive orders.

Related: White House Says Wage Gender Gap Stats Are Misleading…When Applied to the White House

NEXT: Advanced Reactor Nuclear Power Resurgence in the U.S.

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  1. “On Friday, President Obama added some muscle to his previous executive order aimed at fixing the purported pay gap”

    He’s going to force women into more dangerous jobs and eliminate maternity leave?

    1. Maybe he’ll start letting employers fire people for getting knocked up.

      1. Taking a year off to take care of the baby is social justice… like tampons.

      2. Assuming the law actually worked (because no employer would be clever enough to come up with a legal reason to fire a pregnant woman) I can’t understand why people think it would be ideal to force an employer to not be prejudiced against them. If I was pregnant I wouldn’t want to work for an employer who thought my condition made me less qualified or thought I would only work there a few months. Better to work for someone who doesn’t assume the worst about you

        1. The problem is many women do in fact stop working after they get pregnant…though they don’t tell their employers that until after they have milked the leave and the insurance.

          1. If you decide not to offer a benefit to your employees because some people have taken advantage of it in the past you should have that right. But it could hurt your ability to retain talent if you bitterly assume everyone in a situation is going to take advantage of you.

    2. He’s going to force men to get pregnant and give birth and lactate. Nature is sexist and must be reformed.

      I don’t know if I’ll ever have kids, but if I did I’d want to be able to have one parent be with the kid all the time while it is very young. If kids are so goddamned precious, then they are probably worth some sacrifices in your career.

      1. And yeah, that’s how it works in my house. It was my wife’s turn, and now it’s mine.

        I’m not paying strangers to raise my kids.

        1. I’m extremely opinionated on this subject. I think many evil things in modern Western culture have root in the fact that most children are raised by hired help (usually government-subsidized) these days.

          1. If you decide not to offer a benefit to your employees because some people have taken advantage of it in the past you should have that right. But it could hurt your ability to retain talent if you bitterly assume everyone in a situation is going to take advantage of you.

            1. Goddammit this reply was supposed to go above

        2. Yep, my wife and I want to raise our kids, not somebody else. My wife wanted to leave the workforce so she could be a stay at home mom. Now I must be the breadwinner. I must be evil for taking care of my family according to the government and the proggies. So sick of Obama.

      2. Absolutely, but people want it alllllll. The job, the kids, the house, you name it. And the government better provide it, damnit!

  2. I’m beginning to think that if President Trump ditched every bit of race/gender bullshit our government has been obsessed with for decades, the reduction of paperwork and bureaucracy would cause the economy to grow by an extra 1%.

    1. Ok, either you or the government seems to have a thorough misunderstanding of how stimulus works.

      1. I think I know which one it is but I am not telling y’all. You will just have to stew in the suspense.

    2. We’re all equal, unless the government uses dubious statistics and a proggy is mad.

  3. Requiring info be submitted to the state when not part of some agreement/contract sounds like a freedom of press violation.

    1. Companies “agree” to provide that information when they incorporate or apply for business licenses, just like they “agree” to pay taxes and social security in exchange for hiring employees. Just because they party they are agreeing with is holding a gun to their heads doesn’t make the agreement any less valid.

      1. So anything the state demands they print can be included here in this agreement ?

    2. It’s requirement for serving as a federal contractor.

      1. But in this case you are being hired by the government. Different than mere being a company coerced into licensing

    3. Requiring info be submitted to the state when not part of some agreement/contract sounds like a freedom of press violation.

      That’s an interesting way to look at it. Sounds good to me, but that would pretty much shut down 90% of what the government does, so it will never be seriously considered by anyone close to power. When you claim a monopoly on force, you don’t need no stinking contracts and fuck you, that’s why. That’s pretty much the definition of government.

  4. Just another way to tax and fine companies that don’t kiss the progressive toe-ring…

  5. Obama using executive orders to impose annoying regulations on companies is one problem.

    If companies don’t provide this information, what are the consequences?

    1. No federal contracts.

    2. Stop it! You’ll just encourage them to write more laws.

  6. Nothing like rule by fiat. Were executive orders the logical fallacy Godel saw in the Constitution? Oh, wait, silly me! Of course not! Executive orders aren’t mentioned anywhere in the Constitution!

    1. To be fair, the President is the head of the executive branch, so he has some explicit constitutional powers there.

    2. Were executive orders the logical fallacy Godel saw in the Constitution?

      I thought the “fallacy” was that the people/Congress could just vote to amend the document. In other words, Nazism could take hold in America if it was popular enough (I’m not Godwinning here, the question Goedel was asked name-checked the Nazis). It always struck me as a pretty banal observation.

      1. As far as I know, there is no definitive record of what he said. But it could have been as something as simple as that.

        1. Ah, the formulation I’ve seen was more definitive than that (both in the wording of the question and in an explanation of Goedel’s answer). Like many good stories, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that it’s apocryphal.

      2. I think the fallacy was the assumption by the framers that each branch of government would jealously guard it’s own turf, thereby providing a check on the expansion of power by the other two. The advent of political parties fucked that up.

        1. The advent of political parties fucked that up.

          I don’t know how this wasn’t an entirely foreseeable development for the framers. Political factions have existed throughout history; they are as normal to the human condition as violence and the desire to be free.

      3. There’s no place, no society, no government system or legal document that could resist Nazism or any other -ism if it were popular enough. If that’s to be considered a flaw in the Constitution, then apparently Goedel thinks that constitutions are capable of being magically insulated from political culture.

        1. Goedel was a mathematician, and mathematicians are known for making banal and often useless, but correct, observations about things. However, it is probably better to note (see above discussion) that the whole thing is more a thought experiment than a true story and people are thus projecting their own beliefs in when telling it.

    3. There’s something very much like rule by fiat: rule by oligarchy. We call it “Congress.”

      1. Yeah, the US is more of a democratically elected oligarchy than a majoritarian democracy.

        Of course, majoritarian democracy is not better.

        1. All this shit started when we decided to popularly elect the Senate.

          1. Lincoln had a good run before the passage of the 17th Amendment, and Jackson was no lightweight in the “imperious executive action” category.

            But I will say that we seem to have stopped “snapping back” around that time.

            1. I was thinking more of dunderheaded majoritarianism.

    4. If you read a history on executive orders, it gets fuzzy. It was pretty clear that executive orders were rare as hen’s teeth until the Roosevelts came into prominence. Then with all the economic turmoil and World Wars, they started numbering in the 1000s, with FDR pedaling the hardest.

      Face it, America loves a king.

      1. And the press ate that shit up. “Something must be done!” they said. “Here is something, and I shall do it!” was Roosevelt’s enthusiastic reply.

      2. Can’t we just skip to the part where we openly have a junta? All this pretending otherwise is making me exhausted.

        1. I’ll apply for Jefe, as long as I get to have a saucy latin mistress by my side.

  7. How tiresome. The underlying issues here are clearly understood. Women’s choices in the labor market do not match up to men’s choices in the labor market, therefore matching outcomes cannot be expected. And even in the instances where an equally-qualified (or better-qualified) woman is making less than a direct male competitor, there is nothing about this law that will make an unpalatable working environment magically better.

    Women who want sanctuary from consequences will find something else to whine about. Dickbags will be dickbags. Legislation cannot change this.

    1. Legislation cannot change this.

      This is not even legislation; it’s proclamation. In a better time, proclaimers would have been tarred and feathered before being rode out of town on a rail.

      1. Wrong word choice. Didn’t think about it until after I submitted. But yes, there is no part of this shit sandwich that looks tasty.

        Christ, what assholes. There are few enough female chefs, how much more difficult do they need to make this?

      2. Those are some accents. Awesome.

  8. The busybodies are only going to end up screwing women with families. We will no longer be allowed to choose more flexible work schedules instead of more money. Exact where does the government get off telling me the decisions that have been working quite well for me are wrong? I know, because FYTW.

    1. The busybodies are only going to end up screwing women with families.

      Go on…

    2. You know who else appended Esq. to their handle?

      1. Batgirl seems cool, let’s not tar her with our memories of Bo.

      2. Is that dweeb still kickin’ around here somewhere? Haven’t seen him or Shreek in a while, now.

        1. Nah. I stopped posting for awhile and when I returned Bo had vanished.

          It was like the greatest return present I could have asked for.

          1. What happened to BuSab Agent? I liked her.

            1. I’m still here. I changed my handle to Granny Weatherwax.

        2. Today is a special day for Shreek. Our bet officially closes at 1PM West Coast.

          1. Bet? What bet? Is this like his promise that gold will eventually hit $600/oz?

        3. Shrike pops up when the markets are stable.

          1. Shrike pops up when the markets are stable.

            In other words, he pops up when he doesn’t have to go tricking to pay for his cocaine habit.

            1. He’s known in the industry as a “crying bottom.”

    3. If you won’t let Top Men speak for you and fight your battles then you’re not truly free as a woman, or something

    4. Patriarchy – when a man tries to control a woman because he wants her body

      Feminism – when a man tries to control a woman because he wants her vote

  9. I assume he will be releasing the same information re federal employees, yes?

    1. That shouldn’t be a problem. Federal employees aren’t paid on the basis of merit anyway.

    2. Federal employees make $1 for every 76 cents in the private sector. You don’t want info like that getting out.

      1. You can get a good idea of federal employee compensation here:
        http://php.app.com/fed_employees14/search.php

    3. I don’t know about FedGov employees for certain but there probably isnt much of a problem there. White House staff on the other hand…

  10. Off topic, but for everyone that wonders why the Iowa Caucus matters, here is the explanation:

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/…../79426692/

  11. “Obama Takes New Steps to Fix Gender Pay Gap: Why That’s Still a Mistake

    That depends on the intent.

  12. When is CBS/NBC or ABC gonna air the sitcom ‘Obama Knows Best?’

    1. Now that you mention it…the parallels…

  13. So Jennifer Lawrence isn’t right that she was underpaid for American Hustle (great title)? Daily Beast said she worked half as much per set days, than did Bradley Cooper et al. See http://tinyurl.com/zt5saed

    1. It ain’t the hours you work in Hollywood, it’s the eyeballs you draw.

      1. Yeah, I’m sure many members of the crew worked many more hours than Lawrence yet were paid much less than her.

        1. That was not meant sarcastically, although it might read that way.

          1. No I understood you fully and I’m glad you said it, because I was going to follow up by saying some sound guy you never heard of worked every day on the set before and after the actors left, and he got paid $19.50 an hour.

      2. Which is funny when you get a situation where Gillian Anderson seems to have gone to great lengths not to look like Dana Scully.

        Elaborate conspiracy to underpay Gillian Anderson for X-Files reboot revealed to be just ordinary sexism

        Still, some observers cling to their belief in a more complicated and satisfying answer to the Anderson pay discrepancy. “I believe this plot to pay female actresses less than men is the work of extraterrestrials, possibly in league with the world’s governments, or mutant flukeworm men,” insisted UFOlogist Max Fenig, 57 from his research facility/ mobile home. “Obviously the aliens are systematically lowering actress’ pay in a bid to lure them back to their home planet, to appear in much more lucrative alien television programs!”

    2. From the article:

      “Does that mean that women are receiving lower pay for equal work?” Goldin asked after listening to clips of President Obama and comedienne Sarah Silverman claim that women earn 77 cents to the dollar that men earn. “That is possibly the case in certain places, but by and large it’s not that, it’s something else.”

  14. What other gaps will Obama be taking on?

      1. Please no. Leave us SOMETHING

    1. Mine shaft.

    2. The one between Banana Republic and Old Navy?

    3. The thigh gap?

      1. dammit.. always refresh!

    4. The Cumberland Gap has got to go.

  15. “because it makes an apples to oranges comparison”

    Comparing men and women is comparing apples to oranges. They are not the same and the work they do is also dissimilar.

    1. What with all their pillowy parts.

      1. Not to mention discounted wages.

  16. In jobs where women are less suited and they need the bargaining ability to work for less in order to compete, women will not be hired. In jobs were women already are able to compete then there will be no change. So the only affect will be more unemployment for women.

  17. Why comes you gots all the money and I don’t?

  18. Male pr0n actors rejoice!

    Finally they will get their fair share of the pie.

  19. OK, so this gives me an idea. I can hire ONLY women (and “underpaid” minorities). That reduces my labor cost by 20-25%, so I’ll kill my competition.

    If the 77% thing were really true, unemployment for women would be significantly lower than for men.

    1. “so I’ll kill my competition.”

      Not if you are in the business of providing child care.

      1. In a sense, yes, I am.

  20. That this bullshit won’t go away makes me want to scream and pull my hair out. For fuck sake feminists, if you want equality put on your big girl panties. There is no discrimination pay gap!! There’s a difference between average male earnings and average female earnings; but it’s the difference between part-time and overtime; between a cushy office job and dangling off a power tower in a snow storm; between a job fifteen minutes from home and six-month tours in the middle of the North Sea; between standing hip deep in shit and garbage and a job where the dirtiest thing one touches is toner; between working day shift and mid. If wimmins want the big pay, they have to choose the hard, dirty, dangerous, inconvenient jobs with long hours just like men do, because it’s fucking been illegal to pay men and women differently for the same work since 1963! Making it double super plus illegal won’t change the natural perfectly reasonable and foreseeable consequences of free choice!

  21. Sometimes dude you just have to roll with it.

    http://www.Full-VPN.tk

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