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Real Gender Discrimination: Job Pay Gap or Career Fulfillment Gap? Part 1

It’s high time the science and statistics behind the supposed gender pay gap were re-examined objectively, rather then simply assuming the data fit preconceived dogma. Pseudoscience and grandiose generalizations without the smallest attempt at evidentiary support can crop up in many areas, not only in religion, alternative medicine and claims of the paranormal. Wherever it does it ought to be dealt with critically and swiftly.

I’m talking about the sort of claims made by the likes of the Ontario’s Equal Pay Coalition and its Chair Mary Cornish. In an editorial from just a few months ago, Cornish writes

for every dollar a male employee earns, a woman takes home a measly 71 cents…female high school graduates earn 27 per cent less than male graduates. Female university graduates earn 16 per cent less than male graduates.

As generally happens, these statics treat working men and working women as two separate but homogenous groups, steamrolling over the specific job characteristics and actual work duties of individual people. Cornish showers praise on the Pay Equity Act which:

required employers to evaluate, without bias, jobs done mainly by women and men and to pay equal wages and benefits for comparable worth.

Well that makes sense, right? Except who decides what work is to be considered equal worth? Let’s dig a little deeper and move from the Editorial to the website of the Equal Pay Coalition, where we read

The [Pay Equity] Act requires employers to take positive steps to pay “women’s work” on the same basis as “men’s work.” The legislation has had a very visible effect: Ontario’s wage gap between male and female full-time annual earnings has narrowed significantly since 1987 when the Ontario government first passed a proactive pay equity law.

So much for treating men and women as individuals. Instead, female workers are lumped into a “women’s work” category while male workers are lumped into a “men’s work” category. The goal is then to throw economics to the wind and socially engineer pay rates in whatever fashion can have the math works out at the end of the day with the average employee performing “women’s work” making the same as one performing “men’s work.”

But as we’ll explore in the upcoming parts of this post series, workers make conscientious choices to trade in power, satisfaction, fulfillment and family for higher salaries. The result is that females – choosing lower paying jobs on average – have been shown to display a much higher level of overall career and life satisfaction by several different metrics.

167 offshore workers - all men - died in the Piper Alpha tragedy on July 6 1988 due to a gas leak

Here is Job Economics 101. What do the following jobs have in common? Jobs that no one wants (think garbage men), that are most likely to kill you (think police men, fire men, cab drivers and those working oil riggers), that have high anxiety (think corporate lawyers), that expose you to the elements (think delivery men), that involve unpleasant environments (think security guards), that are risky (think venture capitalists) and that take you routinely away from the people you love (think fishermen). 1. These jobs generally pay higher, even if they otherwise involve similar skills and education to lower paying jobs, and 2. These jobs generally have “men” in the title and are overwhelmingly “dominated” by men.

As we’ll see, most statistics supporting the pay gap fail to control for any of these factors, usually averaging all employees in broad industries like “professional occupations in health” or “teachers and professors” or my favourite “judges, lawyers, psychologists, social workers, ministers of religion, and policy and program affiliates” and never getting more specific then “dentists” (general dentist, pediatric dentist, endodontist or prosthodontist?) or “university professor” (assistant, associate, full, tenured, cross-appointed, department head, or emeritus?)

After the posts are done in this short series, we’ll conclude with a very basic point: if controlled for all the same conditions women and men are making less there is a problem to be addressed. But if we’re re-engineering our economy so that the average woman can have her cake and eat it to that would be truly sexist.

We’ll discuss the statistics and sources on the gender pay gap but also on the rarely considered job satisfaction gap in the coming days. Meanwhile, chew over the above while watching a great video of Warren Farrell, author of The Myth of Male Power and Why Men Earn More, lecturing on the latter book and learn why, as Farrell so eloquently puts it: “getting higher pay meant giving up power for men.

(the full 8 parts can be found starting here http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=Cb_6v-JQ13Q)

 

Just stick men on an iceflow: Carleton U attempts to revoke funding to charities that help “primarily men”

In case anyone thinks I’m exaggerating how bad it’s gotten to be a member of the “patriarchy” in this politically correct multiculturally obsessed society, consider the recent motion passed by the Carleton University Student Administration to stop donating to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The reason is that the disease apparently affects “only white people, and primarily men” and they should only fund charities that “will serve their diverse communities.” Let’s remember that universities across Canada support breast cancer charities, despite the fact that they already get 40 times as much funding as prostate cancer and both diseases have roughly equal rates of mortality.

In addition to funding a Womyn’s Centre with 2 paid staff members, the organization that supposedly concerns themselves with giving only to charities that represent the diversity of their students has donated to, among other places

1. Hopewell Eating Disorder Support Centre at their 2007 Charity Ball. Only 10% of adults with eating disorders are male and Hopewell apparently doesn’t even help them, referring them elsewhere.

It is not uncommon for boys and men to develop eating disorders. About 10% of adults with eating disorders are male, and this number is higher amongst adolescents.

If you are a male experiencing an eating disorder, check these sites out for information and support resources:

2. Harmony House Women’s Shelter at their 2003 Charity Ball, despite the fact that men are equally likely to be battered by women. Wouldn’t affirmative action suggest they fund the rarely funded mens’ shelters?

The funding was eventually re-instated and the relevant individuals thankfully resigned. Here are some of the poignant comments that contributed to this remarkably rare success.

I for one would like to thank CUSA. They are among the first to openly display sexist and racist attitudes becoming common in today’s “PC” world. This is a wakeup call for those among us who truly value equality and freedom. While we fight for the rights of others and tip toe around issues possibly offensives to non white males, we are loosing our own place in society. Respect is deserved by all.

What scares me is the callousness of this decision by the CUSA, regardless of the back tracking, regardless of their heartfelt apology, I’m worried. Is this how this generation sees white males? Stick us on an ice flow?

>> They apologized..and they made ammends.

No, they have not. At no point has anyone from CUSA admitted that they deliberately tabled and passed a flagrantly racist and sexist resolution. They’ve apologized because it brought negative publicity, they’ve apologized because it appeared to damage CF. But they’ve wholly, totally, completely missed the entire point regarding why people are upset. Of course, they’ve missed the point because they are not, in fact, sorry about having demonstrated that they are racist, sexist jerks. That aside, if it was racism to anyone other than white people, or sexism toward women instead of men, would anyone be saying “well, if they apologize we’ll forget about it.” I don’t think so. They’d want a head on a stick. I’ll forgive them when they’ve been fully subjected to the whole treatment to which they would subject a person who suggests that breast cancer charities should not be supported because it primarily affects women, or that AIDS charities should not be supported because it primarily affects black Africans and Asian sex-trade workers. Honestly, I don’t care about their apology. A forced apology is of no value.

The following is from The National Post Editorial “Disgrace at Carleton” :

But even if it were true that only white males got CF, what of it? We raise money for breast cancer even though it is primarily a female disease. We raise money for Tay-Sachs, even thought it strikes almost exclusively Jews. We raise money for AIDS, even though it disproportionately affects gays and blacks. That’s because we raise money to save people — not tribes.

The First Toronto Men’s Issues Meetup Group this Sunday

Introducing Toronto’s first Men’s Issue Meetup Group:

Ever wonder why:
* Men are one-third more likely to develop prostate cancer than women are to develop breast cancer, yet 50% more funding goes to women’s health over men’s
* Men and women commit domestic abuse against each other at roughly equal rates (for every level of severity), yet there is 1 men’s shelter in all of Canada
* Men now account for under 60% of undergraduate enrollment while boys are performing significantly worse then girls in grade school, yet affirmative action programs continue to “empower women and girls”

EqualismActivism presents a meetup group for exploring gender issues involving parental and custody rights, violence, education, health, safety & security, poverty, safety and security in the workplace, and media discrimination, from a male perspective. Other topics will be explored at the pleasure of the members.

We will hold monthly gatherings. Join and/or RSVP

Fascinating Study About Flawed but Male Stereotype-Confirming Studies

A work colleague sent out a link on a traveler’s listserv (let me know if you see any possible relevance) to the following article, accompanied by the note:

Fascinating study about men.
A study finds raging male hormones pumping up the bull-bear cycle.

A fascinating study indeed, but does it tell us more about men, or about the ease with which a single poorly conducted bit of research can so easily lead to the implementation of discriminatory anti-male policies. The New York Times article opened with:

If a research paper published earlier this year is correct, traders have become prisoners of their endocrine systems — testosterone, the elixir of male aggressiveness, during a bull market; cortisol, a steroid that helps the body deal with stress, when the bears take over.

One investment strategist intuitively grasped the situation when he recently told The New York Times:

“Normally markets are driven by fear and greed. Now it’s fear and fear.” In other words, instead of a rhythm of testosterone alternating with cortisol, it’s been cortisol and more cortisol for weeks. Actually there was a step in between — greed and greed, the bubble period. That’s when traders were making a lot of money, which made them pump out extra testosterone, grow overconfident and overcompetitive, and take on more and more risks that eventually went bust.

This seemed a fairly sweeping conclusion to explain such a complicated phenomenon, so I figured the study must be built on a firm analysis of years of data across various markets. But the study itself told a slightly different story.

The study did not take place over any long term period of bubble or bust. It took place in London, and back in April before the major economic disaster was apparent to people’s endocrine system, and the study was conducted over only a period of 8 days based on surveys of 17 people!

In fact, the researchers themselves acknowledged their research

had the further drawback of being conducted during what turned out to be a period of low volatility. Realized volatility on the Bund contract during the 2 weeks of the study was 3.45%, whereas the average for the previous 5 years was 4.75% [with a maximum of 11.76% reached in the late autumn of 2001, after September 11, 2001 (9/11), and a minimum of 1.73% reached earlier that same year]. Such low volatility makes it difficult to assess the potential size of the hormonal effects stemming from the markets.

8 days during low volatility can be extrapolated to long-term trends in periods of high volatility?

There’s also a certain tautology here, if I understand the endocrine system. Fear leads to anxiety which leads to cortisol production which tends to result in the slowing of the market through less risk taking. Greed leads to competitiveness which leads to testosterone production which leads to market build up through risky behaviour. So what market activity can’t be explained by either one or a combination of these neural chemicals? Maybe periods of relative stability, like the ones that take place most of the time where small fluctuations fail to lead to large ones as might be expected.

The study was methodologically a mess. It focused exclusively on male traders with absolutely no control group. No comparison to days with very little market fluctuation to act as a baseline. No thought to conduct a similar study on women, say by comparing large numbers of male and female investors rather then just the mostly male traders.

What about confusing correlation with causation. At least one person got it.

The New York Times articles reports Jonathan D. Cohen, director of the neuroscience program at Princeton.

“This is intriguing, but correlation is not causation,” he said. “That’s the first thing we learn in science.”

Too bad it wasn’t the first thing the researchers learned. Although it may have dawned on them when they were forced to conclude:

Cortisol was likely responding to uncertainty rather than the other way around, because the calendar of economic releases and the relative importance of the economic statistics that create the uncertainty are independent of hormones.

So they aren’t sure that it’s cortisol leading to irrational behaviour and hence uncertain markets, or rather an evolutionarily developed way of coping with intrinsic uncertainty (always of greater concern for hunters then gatherers).

Yet from one paltry study, without comparison with the effects of female hormones (yes they have them too) Dr. Coates concluded:

It’s possible that bubbles are a male phenomenon

and gave a bit of hiring advice, based on the fact that he suspected that women were less likely to produce excess cortisol:

[get] more women and older men on trading floors.

But before we tell highly educated and every bit as qualified individuals that they will be discriminated against with a new round of affirmative action simply because of their gender, perhaps a few more studies should be conducted focusing on more then 17 people for longer then 8 days. After all,Research into how this may happen is in its infancy,” admitted the same researcher that would impose such instant conclusions on the job prospects of male traders.

Maybe for example we should start by looking into whether there aren’t some advantages to all this chemistry. After all, the researches found

our results suggest that high morning testosterone predicts greater profitability for the rest of that day…we found a significant relationship between testosterone and financial return.

Indeed, several studies bemoan the fact that since men’s risk taking nets them a higher lifetime return on investment women are disadvantaged when it comes to retiring (as an aside, note how testosterone – whether bringing damage or assistance to men’s financial decision making – is always interpreted with concern for its effects on anyone other then men like society, women, etc. No concern is given in either research paper or editorial on the possible health effects, for example, to men). The researchers found

Cortisol can experience changes of these magnitudes in situations other than distressing ones like losing money; it can rise in expectation of challenge and sustained effort, and it does so to promote anticipatory arousal and focused attention (6). An HPA reaction of this sort can occur when people are faced with situations of novelty and uncertainty (5). Traders face varying levels of novelty and uncertainty every day, so this feature of their jobs may help explain the high variance of their cortisol levels.

So it seems like these chemicals evolved due to selection pressure in competitive situations. This is a good thing. The researches go on

“If exposure is acute, glucocorticoids can be euphorogenic, increasing motivation and promoting focused attention. They can also aid the consolidation and retrieval of important memories”.

When it comes to testosterone, the researchers reported

When traders in our study experienced acutely raised testosterone, for example, they made higher profits, perhaps because testosterone has been found, in both animal and human studies, to increase search persistence (20), appetite for risk (21), and fearlessness in the face of novelty (22, 23), qualities that would augment the performance of any trader who had a positive expected return.”

So testosterone and cortisol have good, useful effects too! Who would have guessed testosterone are responsible for more then just poisoning.

But try to find that side of the story in the article. Maybe there was no room for it.

No, but there was room to include a report of an entirely irrelevant but male-bashing article from The Financial Times: “Icelandic Women to Clean Up Male Mess” where the country appointed two women to run banks nationalized after they were apparently bankrupted by men. Does 2 women and a handful of men merit a title that seems to imply all Icelandic women were cleaning a mess related directly to intrinsic maleness.

But I digress yet again. What I’m getting at is that much of this suggests that in the long run a male-only group of traders will do better for overall economic growth (not focusing on temporary boom and bust periods), so maybe we ought to keep women out of these and all high risk jobs!

I’m of course not suggesting anything like that, but I am wondering what we’d think if someone did make the case publicly that female biology might account for certain job rate discrepancies and inabilities (without necessarily even implying any concordant anti-women policy changes as was done against men here).

Oh right, he’d probably be forced to resign. At least that’s what happened to Harvard University President Lawrence Summers who dared to suggest that there were three reasons women were underrepresented in certain professions rather then just the acceptable one, namely systematic discrimination by elitist men.

Courtesy of wikipedia:

He [Summers] gave the three main hypotheses in the following order: that more men than women were willing to make the commitment in terms of time and flexibility demanded by high-powered jobs, that there were differences in the innate abilities of men and women (more specifically, men’s higher variance in innate abilities or preferences relevant to science and engineering), and that the discrepancy was due to discrimination or socialization. He also stated his view that the order given reflected the relative importance of each of the three factors.[15] An attendee made Summers’ remarks public, and an intense response followed in the national news media and on Harvard’s campus.

Summers never said discrimination didn’t exist, but simply added two well founded biological explanations as possible additional considerations, and was eventually forced to resign for it.

Unfortunately, no journalist worth his salt will ever publish an article highlighting the flaws in this “fascinating study about men” or reporting on the articles sure to be coming out shortly demolishing this bit of poorly conducted pseudoscience. Which means the notion of moving discriminatory affirmative action into this new market will likely go unchallenged.

Insight is in the eye of the beholder

The following comic is courtesy of Between Friends

Doesn’t it indeed seem like the sex of a commentator speaking on gender issues can be decisive, especially in the area of biological differences? Compare say a female using the supposedly uniquely female caring, empathic and cooperative traits to justify the “tender years doctrine” according to which courts should by default rule against single fathers in custody cases, versus a male university President being forced to resign for daring to put forward as one argument among many the intrinsic biological differences between the sexes to account for sex differences in science and engineering, while not seeking to thereby implement any policies.