The persistence of gender pay inequity

For all the progress made on women’s rights, one measure of inequality still stands out: Females earn less than males, even in the same occupations. Closing this gender gap will require changing the way employers think about work.

It’s hard to overstate how far women have come in the last century. They are now almost as active in the labor market asmen, and equally or even better educated. They account for about half of all law and medical school enrollments, and lead men in fields such as biological sciences, pharmacy and optometry.images-1

Still, women have yet to reach the same level of pay. As of 2010, the annual earnings of the median full-time, full-year female worker stood at 77 percent of the median male’s — up from 56 percent in 1980 but still far from parity. For college graduates, the number was an even lower 72 percent.

Why the persistent difference? U.S. data provide two clues. First, the gap increases with age: Women start their careers close to earnings parity with men, then fall behind over the next several decades. Second, wage differences are concentrated within occupations, meaning that women earn less not because they choose lower-paid professions.

The earnings gap is most pronounced in occupations such as law that place a premium on the willingness and ability to work long hours, be in the office at specific times and build face-to-face relationships with co-workers and clients. In these professions, the penalty for working part time or taking time off — to give birth or care for a child, for example — is particularly large. Small differences in time away or in hours translate into large differences in pay.

Consider the case of women with master degrees in business administration. At 10 to 16 years into their careers, they are typically earning only 55 percent of what men do. Child bearing is a primary reason for the divergence. A year after giving birth, women’s workforce participation rate declines 13 percentage points. Three to four years later, the decline increases to 18 percentage points. In other words, many MBA moms try to stay in the fast lane but ultimately find it unworkable.

The huge value that so many employers place on a standard work schedule affects more than the careers of women. Anyone who, for whatever reason, needs to take time off or work flexible hours gets penalized. The broader economy suffers when businesses are unable to make full use of highly educated and productive people.

To be sure, some professions may never be able to offer much flexibility. Merger-and-acquisition bankers, trial lawyers and the U.S. secretary of state have 24/7, on-call-all-the-time jobs. That said, the universe of such jobs is probably smaller than it appears.

Many professions that once tied people to specific hours are finding ways to reduce the cost of flexibility by making employees more substitutable. Veterinarians, optometrists, pharmacists, pediatricians, anesthesiologists and primary-care providers are shifting from self-employment to group practices and corporate ownership structures that allow them to cover for one another. Smaller veterinary practices that once required staff to have weekend, night and emergency hours are giving way to larger regional hospitals. Such changes often occur because of increased economies of scale, or in response to pressure from employees.

 

More at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-01-21/close-the-gender-pay-gap-change-the-way-we-work.html

Stereotypes of LGBT affluence

Despite a commonly held belief that LGBT Americans tend to live it up in classy urban neighborhoods, they struggle with disproportionately high levels of poverty compared to straight people.Excerpted below, Nathan McDermott writes in today’s issue of The Atlantic about misperceptions of LGBT wealth and poverty:

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“Who are America’s gays? To hear it as Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia would have it, gays are a privileged set, living it up in cities across the country. As the justice wrote in his dissent to Romer v. Evans—a landmark 1996 case that overturned a Colorado state constitutional amendment prohibiting legal protections for gays and lesbians—“Those who engage in homosexual conduct tend to reside in disproportionate numbers in certain communities.” Even more ominously, to Scalia, they have “high disposable income,” which gives them “disproportionate political power… to [achieve] not merely a grudging social toleration, but full social acceptance, of homosexuality.”

“The pernicious insinuation—that gays and lesbians are one the wealthiest demographics in the country—isn’t a new cliché. Some of the most ingrained public images of LGBT people are their cosmopolitan, highfalutin lifestyle; gays, so the story goes, live in gentrified urban neighborhoods like The Castro in San Francisco or Chelsea in New York, eat artisanal cheese, and drink $12 cocktails.

“But like most stereotypes, the myth of gay affluence is greatly exaggerated.

“In reality, gay Americans face disproportionately greater economic challenges than their straight counterparts. A new report released by UCLA’s Williams Institute found that 29 percent of LGBT adults, approximately 2.4 million people, experienced food insecurity—a time when they did not have enough money to feed themselves or their family—in the past year. In contrast, 16 percent of Americans nationwide reported being food insecure in 2012. One in 5 gays and lesbians aged 18-44 received food stamps in the last year, compared with just over 1 in 4 same sex couples raising children. The LGBT community has made huge political strides over the past decade, but in economic matters they still lag far behind the rest of the country. Continue reading “Stereotypes of LGBT affluence”

Gender inequality in movie acting

While it’s not surprising that women in the entertainment industry earn less than their male counterparts, the extent of that gender pay gap is extraordinary given that the combined earnings of this year’s top actors is up more than 15% since 2009, and at its highest level in five years.imgres

This year’s Forbes’ list of Hollywood’s Highest-Paid Actors banked a collective $465 million, almost two and a half times more than what the top-paid actresses brought in. As Forbes reports: “With an estimated $75 million in earnings, Robert Downey, Jr. landed the #1 spot with a paycheck $10 million larger than the combined earnings of the five women who rounded out the top Actress’ list. By comparison, the two actors who rounded out the Actors list, Denzel Washington and Liam Neeson, each collected $33 million – the same figure that propelled Angelina Jolie to the top spot for actresses.

“Forbes’ list of Hollywood’s Highest-Paid Actresses is led by Angelina Jolie earning an astounding $33 million — and the #1 spot — thanks in large part to her upcoming role in Disney’s“Maleficent, set to be released next summer. Big-budget films also helped to land starlets Jennifer Lawrence ($24 million) and Kristen Stewart ($22 million) into the top three, with Hollywood royalty such as Jennifer Aniston ($20 million), Sandra Bullock ($14 million), Charlize Theron ($15 million), and Julia Roberts ($11 million) all making the top 10.

“This type of earnings difference may not be unique to Hollywood, but comparing Tinseltown’s top-paid talent underscores just how acute and pervasive gender inequities are in show business. What are the driving forces behind this pay gap? First and foremost, roles for women continue to remain scare, particularly in an industry where far too often talent remains defined by youthful good looks rather than acting ability. The majority of gigs are limited to secondary parts or indie films versus the big blockbusters or franchises that generate the kinds of exorbitant paychecks that landed many of this year’s leading men into the top 10. Continue reading “Gender inequality in movie acting”

U.S. leads world in income inequity

Wealth data is not easy to get.

Still for three years now, Credit Suisse Research Institute has published an annual Global Wealth Databook which attempts to estimate global wealth holdings.

As posted today in Sociological Images: “The most recent issue includes data covering 2012.  According to Credit Suisse, the goal “is to provide the best available estimates of the wealth holdings of households around the world for the period since the year 2000.”

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“According to the publication, global household wealth was $222.7 trillion in mid-2012, equal to $48,500 for each of the 4.6 billion adults in the world.  Wealth is defined as “the marketable value of financial assets plus non-financial assets (principally housing and land) less debts.”

“Not surprisingly, average global wealth varies considerably across countries and regions. Continue reading “U.S. leads world in income inequity”