Emily Martin, General Counsel and VP for Workplace Justice at the National Women's Law Center, joined us on Tuesday, May 24 to discuss closing the wage gap, NWLC's Roadmap to Economic Justice, and confronting gender discrimination on Capitol Hill.
@fogg.mcmahon: Hi emily! Did you hear the recent freakonomics on this topic? Curious if you have thoughts. The gist: discrimination can’t explain why women earn so much less than men. If only it were that easy. It is definitely true that the wage gap has multiple causes, as Freakonomics emphasized, and this requires multiple solutions. First, it is pretty clear that part of the wage gap is driven by pay discrimination based on (possibly subconscious) stereotypes.
For example, in a pretty sobering and compelling 2012 study, science professors who were given otherwise identical applications for a lab manager position proposed an avg starting salary of $30,200 when the applicant was named John, compared to $26,500 when the applicant was named Jennifer. This happened for both male and female science professors reviewing resumes.
But the wage gap has other causes as well. Part of it is that women are over-represented in low-wage jobs - for example, they are more than 60% of min wage workers - and under-represented in many high-wage jobs. This isn't necessarily reflective of "women's choices.”
Analyses have shown that the more women that enter an occupation, the more wages go down -- work tends to be devalued because women do it. I call that discrimination too. Discrimination in the form of harassment can also be part of what leads women not to pursue high wage work, like engineering, etc.
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