NYT: Why is Her Paycheck Smaller?
The NYT has a fascinating chart today called Why is Her Paycheck Smaller? It charts median weekly pay for women against that of men for dozens of professions and color-coded by type of industry. An especially salient statistic: female lawyers make, on average, 22% less than their male counterparts. The article mentions, "Economists cite a few reasons [for the wage gap]: discrimination as well as personal
choices within occupations are two major factors, and part of the gap
can be attributed to men having more years of experience and logging
more hours." An interesting empirical question would be what portion of the difference is explained by those "personal choices," which are the center of the subject matter we hope to address at the conference. Other interesting factoids:
- Female retail sales workers make 35% less than males of the same occupation. What does this say about rainmaking?
- Female chief executives make 19% less than male CEOs.
- Female compliance officers make 33% less than male compliance officers.
- The largest gap: 40% disparity between male and female physicians and surgeons.
My in-house skeptic (the boyfriend) immediately took issue with what a "comparable" job was. While these occupations are split into broad categories, it is true that an attorney at a huge Wall Street firm is going to make immensely more than an attorney in a smaller firm in a smaller city. The same goes for an engineer at the top of R&D at General Electric with one working at a smaller company. Without comparing salaries within the same company, he thought this data was "intentionally inflammatory" and of little use. More useful would be information that showed whether there were differences in pay between women and men of the same class year at the same firm. Without this information, it's hard to know whether the data is skewed by the fact that a larger proportion of men work at larger firms than women do, but those who work in truly comparably companies make similar wages. While there is not much information about the methodology of the study, I think these broad snapshots are useful. The differences between workers at different types of companies, I think, are an expression of some of those "personal choices" that women make-- to work closer to home, to work at a smaller company that requires fewer at-work hours, etc. What do you think?