In previous posts, I've pointed out that statistically, women in business are on average smarter than men, companies run by women outperform those run by men, and that all-female teams outperform both all-male and mixed-gender teams.
Those are the facts.
And here's another fact: According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women make only $.78 cents for every dollar that men make. How can that be, considering that women in business are at the very least equal in intelligence and talent to the men?
That's an important question to ask, considering that today is Equal Pay Day, a date that symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year. And therein lies some controversy.
A just-released study from the employment research firm PayScale attempts to answer that question in part by taking another look at the gender pay gap. Rather than just comparing all women to all men, the new PayScale study measures the pay gap between "similar women and men in the similar jobs."
Rather than the $.22 that shows up in the BLS numbers, the PayScale study provides what appears to be a more apples-to-apples comparison where "women earn $.98 for every $1 earned by men."
In other words, all things being equal, the gender pay gap is so small as to be almost insignificant.
This, however, is utter bullsh*t.
Dig deeper into the PayScale study and you'll discover that the higher women climb on the corporate ladder, the greater the wage gap grows. Female executives for example, earn only $.94 for every $1 that male executives earn.
However, even that figure vastly underestimates the wage gap because it only compares the compensation of women who've successfully been promoted, not those who've been bypassed.
Consider: Only 60 women have ever CEOed a Fortune 500 company--an average of 2 percent, according to a roll-up study by KDM Engineering, a Chicago-based engineering company. Today, a measly 6.4 percent of such corporations are run by female CEOs.
Measuring the average compensation of those 29 female CEOs versus the average compensation of the 471 male CEOs isn't an apples-to-apples comparison; it's comparing a small basket of apples to a huge barrel of apples.
And that's a meaningless metric, because it doesn't capture the bigger problem, which isn't just that women are paid (somewhat) less for doing the same jobs, but that they're not getting those higher-paid jobs in the first place.
So the real question isn't just "why are women underpaid relative to men?" (although that's still a valid question) but more importantly, "why aren't women getting those higher-paying jobs?"
And here's where the bullsh*t hits the fan because almost everybody blames women for their inability to advance in the corporate world.
For example, a recent story on CBS News explained that the real reason for the pay gap is that "men choose higher-paying jobs." Similarly, the PayScale study had this explanation for why female executives are paid less:
"It might be because women ask for raises less frequently than men, so as workers progress through their careers, no asking for raises each time has a cumulative effect on women's pay."
In other words, if women would only choose higher-paying jobs and then be more aggressive during salary and promotion negotiations, that pesky gender pay gap would shrink and disappear.
Hey, how about this: maybe, just maybe, the reasons for both the gender pay gap and the hiring/promotion gap might include:
- men interrupt women more at meetings
- men make women uncomfortable by hitting on them
- men keep offering women less money for the same job
- men keep salaries secret so they can pay men more
- men project their insecurities onto women
- men feel threatened by non-submissive women
- men are judging women on looks rather than competence
- men constantly steal women's ideas
- men don't invest in women's startups
- men lock women out of conversations
- men discourage women from STEM careers
- etc., etc., etc.
The PayScale study suggests another explanation--that women are more likely to be unemployed for longer periods of time "to care for children and family members." So, once again, it's the women's fault...in this case for not better managing their work-life balance.
Hey, how about this: Maybe women get pulled out their career path because the male-dominated business world (especially in the U.S.):
- lacks reasonable family leave policies
- fails to provide at-work daycare
- demands 60-plus hour weeks
- is generally hostile to women, making other choices more attractive.
And remember: Every time a woman shoulders the burden of family care, there's a corresponding man who's freed up to pursue his own career goals...often at the expense of equally-qualified women.
So, no, the gender pay gap isn't just 2 cents. It's also not the 22 cents that BLS claims. The TRUE gender pay gap consists of the trillions of dollars of opportunity cost that women pay as the result of entrenched corporate masculinism.