Re: Equalizing Advantage

Date: Wed Feb 23 2000 - 15:09:45 EST

  • Next message: "Re: Equalizing Advantage, not the issue.."

    In reply to:
    >>>I am a bit amazed about why you might want to engage in conversation
    with people you seem to think are suspect.Was joining this group some sort
    of class assignment?>>>

    Why do I engage in conversation with people whom I believe to be "suspect?"
    First, I've at best, shown a desire for conversation by asking several
    questions. Until there are a number of exchanges, I don't believe that a
    "conversation" exists. Besides, I'm more interested in a "discussion" or a
    "dialogue" wherein more than one side of an issue is acknowledged, and
    those party to the interaction agree to respect one another in order that
    all may learn.

    Second, I have read the Department of Labor Study on Equal Pay for Women
    recommended to me by a member of this list. In possession of this Report,
    I've already benefited from the information contained therein. There's a
    good deal of hard statstical data reported. However, some of the inferences
    drawn from the numbers are open to interpretation and dispute.

    Third, I wish I were a student. Those were golden years, indeed. But I had
    to leave school when I finished my Ph.D. Since then, I've trained lots of
    students in critical thinking, reasoning, argumentation, and debate. With
    my students, we've processed and analyzed many dissertations worth of
    evidence. Your caricature of me as a person involved with a "class project"
    is an attempt to shift the focus of my questions away from their substance
    to a discussion of myself and my motives. Indeed, I suspect that by
    labeling my inquiries a "class project," attempt has been made to
    trivialize my interest in the subject as unworthy of the attention of this
    group. At best, this is an attempt to change the subject.

    >>>The questions you ask are very complex and there are NO simple

    I agree that there are no simple answers, but you can't have it both ways
    (if you wish your reasoning to be valid). Not only is it inaccurate to
    write that women earn 70% of what men earn, it's disingenuous to use such a
    simplistic comparison of earnings while responding to inquiries that there
    are "no simple answers." I agree, it's just too simple to say that women
    earn 70%, 80%, or whatever aggregate percentage is chosen.

    The 70% figure is simply wrong. The Labor Dept. report to which I was
    refered reports "that women have benefited from a generation of phenomenal
    progress" (pg. 9) in earnings power. Further, the report states that
    full-time working women between 25 and 35 earn 84% of what men earn.
    Further, the Report states that "on average," a woman in 1997 earned 74% on
    average for what a man had earned. A woman's relative wage rose to 76.3
    during the first quarter of 1998. Again, the 70% figure is simply wrong.

    A reader hardly has to scratch the surface of this report to find problems
    which cast doubt on the accuracy of the numbers reported. First, it is
    written by the Clinton Labor Department. As part of a notoriously partisan
    administration, the political purpose of the report becomes clear when
    Hillary Rodham Clinton is quoted as an expert. Second, the ambiguous
    phrase, "on average," is used. The reader's not informed whether this
    denotes mean, median, or mode. Without clarification, the 74% and 76.3
    percentages have no precise meaning, other than to indicate that women earn
    less than men. Third, the 84% statistic is interesting. Younger working
    women are doing considerably better at closing the wage gap than the
    women's workforce as a whole. This would seem to indicate that there is
    great improvement for women entering the work force which will work it's
    way through the work force as women age. Fourth, the statistics apply only
    to the full-time work force. As such, there is no telling how factoring in
    temporary and part-time wage earners would effect the aggregate numbers.
    Fifth, the Report itself is confusing. For example, page 32 reports that in
    1997, women under 25 earned 92.1 percent of what men did, while women
    between 25 and 54 earned 74.4%. Looking at this statistic, prospects for
    young women entering the work force look very good indeed, and a dramatic
    closing of the wage gap can be expected as the youngest workers age.

    Overall, and this is quite troubling, this report does a good deal of
    comparison of apples and oranges, kiwi, eggplant, and bacon. A particular
    category is created to make one point, forgotten, and another one is
    created to make another point, and so on... The point is that whether the
    wage differential is calculated to be 60%, 70%, 80%, or 90% and above, each
    of these numbers represents a snapshot of a part of the labor market. No
    one can, and should not be used to describe the "big picture."

    This then is the complexity of the issue, understanding how difference is
    calculated, about what assumptions a number is based and what part of the
    labor force it represents. I would encourage anyone who read the Labor
    Department report before use comparative statistics and omit any use of a
    relative percentage from your writing until you've acquainted yourself with
    their source. wrote:
    >>>For example, while it is true that women's enrollment in college is
    slightly higher than that of males, women dominated professions are still
    nursing and elementary school teaching. Both professions, particularly the
    latter, do not offer competitive salaries. In fact in my area of the
    country, a beginning teacher with 2 children is eligible for support from
    Head Start and WIC. College degrees do not nec. mean higher salary. That is
    just one example of the how the assumptions that seem to be driving your
    inquiry are a bit myopic.>>>

    I'm not myopic. I believe that people should be paid equally for doing the
    same work in accordance to what the market will allow under given
    circumstances at a particular time. I believe fervently in equal pay for
    equal work, but I recognize many variables are at work in determining
    levels of pay, sex is one from among many.

    I have a further question. What is the ultimate goal of the pay equity
    movement. Is it to ensure that there is group equality of pay? In which
    case, is the final goal that all groups will be paid precisely the same?

    Thank you for you attention.


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