The “actually women make 96 cents on the dollar” response to the wage gap misses the point

Sometimes someone will bring up the wage gap, that women on average make only 75% of what men make. Then some crusaders of truth charge in to inform them that in fact if you hold all factors constant, then you end up with something closer to 96%.

Do some people think that, when holding everything else equal, the pay gap between men and women is 75%? Sure, but to focus on them is to miss the important point people who are aware of both numbers but still stress the first are making.

Part of the problem is that men’s work is valued more highly than women’s work. For which the solution is not for women to all abandon whatever it is they were doing and become engineers, but for our society to better compensate about caring positions. That jobs with more men doing them make more than jobs with more women doing them is itself a problem. The problem can exist at two levels. The first is possible discrimination in getting certain jobs. There’s currently plenty of work being done to bring women into STEM-related fields. There’s also known hesitation in the corporate world to promote women, usually out of a fear of future pregnancy/child-raising. The second is, as mentioned, the jobs themselves having a bad compensation structure. Some jobs are woefully underpaid.

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Sex discrimination inherently includes discrimination on homosexuality, transsexualism, etc.

I’ve been saying this for years, but hey, looks like the courts are getting on board.

The linked article includes some statements in opposition, but they’re generally terrible. First, a brief argument for the statement in the title of this post. If you’re going to support equality across sexes, then you’re going to support that for all x, if x is permissible for one sex, then x is permissible for all sexes. (There are other understandings of how to use the word “equality”, but those are clearly not the ones in play here.) So, if it’s okay for people of any particular sex to be attracted to women, then it’s okay for people of any sex at all to be attracted to women. And so on.

Jeff Sessions said,

Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination encompasses discrimination between men and women but does not encompass discrimination based on gender identity per se, including transgender status.

I’m curious what action Jeff thinks is unique to the transgender “status”. To use the case in the article as an example, there’s nothing Stephens is doing against any rule, unless there are some sex-specific rules. There is no way to state his objection to Stephens’s case completely without reference to her sex.

The employer, Rost, said he wants to run his business in accordance with his religion that says that

a person’s sex (whether male or female) is an immutable God-given gift and that people should not deny or attempt to change their sex.

I’d be really curious to see which religion says you cannot employ people who deny or attempt to change their sex. I’ll admit I’m only a little into the iceberg of religion, but rules for employers seem to be generally sparse, and I’ve never seen anything approaching this.

Posner said,

It is well-nigh certain that homosexuality, male or female, did not figure in the minds of the legislators who enacted Title VII,”

He then proceeded to say the meaning of “sex” can be updated to include homosexuality. But that’s unnecessary. There’s no way to discriminate against homosexuals without also discriminating on the basis of sex.

I’m guessing the growing awareness of sexual assault problems on college campuses needs no introduction. Nor does the zeal that is leading the charge. In recent news, a guy was accused of sexual misconduct, but he made a case for asymmetry in application of the rules and won. I am, at least at this initial stage without that much information, pleased to see this. The asymmetry in how men and women are treated is bad. To borrow the already well-used expression, many of the zealous are seeing women as sex objects and men as sex offenders. If that’s right, it’s bad for everyone. (Well, I suppose the nonbinary individuals might make it out alright, if anyone advancing this pernicious sort of zeal acknowledges them. I’m sadly doubtful.)

The clearest example of the asymmetry, for any nonbelievers, is the existing cases (and approval thereof) wherein a gal and a guy are both heavily intoxicated, they are both unable to consent, and somehow only the gal is wronged. To take that approach to the situation is to deny the gal her agency. And, if either was harmed, deny the guy his vulnerability.

This is of course not to say I think we should let up on the pursuit of preventing sexual assault and harassment. Of course both would ideally be eradicated. But the asymmetry changes the dynamic from aiming to fix the problem of sexually predatory behavior to the different problem of gender politics. Are there real asymmetries and structural injustices along gendered lines? Yes. But hijacking the campaign to get rid of sexually predatory behavior just makes both pursuits worse.