Monday, September 22, 2008


Why Alan Alda was always underpaid

Shankar Vedantam is hardly a must-read as I have previously found his attempts to explain studies fairly simplistic and naïve. But I admit – I got sucked in today by the headline: Study Ties Wage Disparities To Outlook on Gender Roles -

Yep – it turns out if you’re one of the good guys, it’s killing your wallet:

“Men with egalitarian attitudes about the role of women in society earn significantly less on average than men who hold more traditional views about women's place in the world, according to a study being reported today.

“It is the first time social scientists have produced evidence that large numbers of men might be victims of gender-related income disparities.”

As one whom instinctively recoils at the designation “social scientist” (it's an insult to real scientists), my eyes were in full rolling mode by now. But I did catch this:

“Livingston and Judge [the so-called social scientists] said there are two possible explanations: Traditional-minded men might negotiate much harder for better salaries, especially when compared with traditional-minded women. Alternatively, it could also be that employers discriminate against women and men who do not subscribe to traditional gender roles.”

Now in their defense, Mr. Vendatam may have just screwed-up in his paraphrasing but either way, someone here doesn’t understand the market: Employers are not one big monolith. I will accept that an employer is discriminating based on sex if she is paying a man more for the exact same function as she pays a woman. However. it is simply a non sequitur to suggest that one employer is a sexist bigot because she pays a woman less than a guy down the street is getting from a different employer.

On the bright side, though, think of all those married men who can now throw their "egalitarian"street cred in their wives’ faces (figuratively, of course) next time the subject of why the family isn’t financially better off comes up.

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