Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A woman of the pay gap

Why is there a pay gap between men and women? Julia Gillard believes it's because women still lack economic rights. Carrie Lukas, in a column last year for The Washington Post, begs to differ. It's not that a group of privileged male insiders are holding back oppressed female outsiders, but that women like herself aren't motivated primarily to select jobs with the highest pay:

In truth, I'm the cause of the wage gap -- I and hundreds of thousands of women like me. I have a good education and have worked full time for 10 years. Yet throughout my career, I've made things other than money a priority. I chose to work in the nonprofit world because I find it fulfilling. I sought out a specialty and employer that seemed best suited to balancing my work and family life. When I had my daughter, I took time off and then opted to stay home full time and telecommute. I'm not making as much money as I could, but I'm compensated by having the best working arrangement I could hope for.

Women make similar trade-offs all the time. Surveys have shown for years that women tend to place a higher priority on flexibility and personal fulfillment than do men, who focus more on pay. Women tend to avoid jobs that require travel or relocation, and they take more time off and spend fewer hours in the office than men do. Men disproportionately take on the dirtiest, most dangerous and depressing jobs.


  1. This issue shows just how out of touch left wing feminists like Gillard are.

    What would Gillard know about the lives of mothers? Being the careerist woman who has put career ahead of family, she very much lacks an appreciation for the circumstances of everyday women.

  2. In Paid Paternal Leave Might Fix Gender Wage Inequality, I discuss a VoxEU (a group blog of mainly Economics professors) post Gender roles and technological progress which argues that while medical advances and legal reform should have fixed issues with workforce participation and career advancement back in 1970, it didn’t happen because of the perception that females do more of the household work, they’ll be less devoted to work, and are less attractive to employers, so wages and career prospects suffer.

    I also note that paternal paid leave would have the same effect on married men, and that wages/careers of homosexuals would be raised.

    I'm not saying this is the only factor. Like another comment, my career options were constrained by being a single father, and an unwillingness to sell by soul rather than merely my time.