It turns out (and yes, many of us already knew this) that there is no “wage gap” – at least in the word of IT.
Silicon Valley has long suffered the reputation of being unwelcoming to women, from brogrammer attitudes to sexist apps to gender inclusivity, but whatever problems women may have with the tech industry, wage discrimination isn’t necessarily one of them. New research shows that there is no statistically significant difference in earnings between male and female engineers who have the same credentials and make the same choices regarding their career.
So where do people get their number from when they claim the gap exists?
In his 2014 State of the Union Address, President Obama said it was “wrong” and “an embarrassment” that women are paid 77 cents for every dollar a man makes, implying that the pay disparity is due to sexism and gender wage discrimination. His careful construction elides the fact that the 77% statistic does not refer to “equal work.” That number is a Census Bureau comparison of the annual wages of all workers, regardless of occupation.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics show that when measured hourly, not annually, the pay gap between men and women is 14% not 23%. The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis prefers working with hourly wages, arguing “an incomplete picture” is cast with weekly earnings because women work fewer hours than men, “which would make a gap in weekly earnings between the two groups substantial even if their hourly wages are the same.”
So even across completely different roles, when you look at people’s hourly rates the gap isn’t as big as claimed.
The magnitude and interpretation of the relationship between gender and wages remain in dispute. After adjusting for all the known factors, Corbett and Hill’s model showed an “unexplained” 6.6% difference in wages between men and women who are full-time workers. Conflicting data from the BLS shows that some women who work full-time have a wage premium, and earn 11% more than men. The tech industry is unique in its history of being “equal pay for equal work”: A longitudinal study of female engineers in the 1980s showed a wage penalty of “essentially zero” for younger cohorts and today, the two highest paying professions with wage equality are in technology (computer scientist and engineer).
Ok, so it’s not a completely simple picture.
But the idea that women generally get only paid at an hourly rate that’s 77% of that of a man with the same suitability (skills, experience etc) is complete and utter BS. We know this, and we’ve known it for some time. There are differences, but we know that they boil down to choices made by the individual employee, not the employer.
Ironic that those who have arguably won the fight are the ones who are so unable to admit they’ve won it. Maybe the real problem here is not employers at all, but rather people who’s politics won’t let them see people as free and rational, and able to make their own choices in life.