Yes, Mr. A, there is a significant pay gap

Every time the fact that there is a pay gap between men and women is mentioned, there’s always someone who comes charging in with denials and excuses: men work longer (because women do more work for free at home), men are wisely choosing higher-paying jobs (never noticing that we devalue women’s work), men do more dangerous work, so they deserve more compensation (wait, so there is a pay gap? And maybe we should do more safety improvements and actually compensate more for risky jobs — because they are dangerous, not because men are doing them), etc., etc., etc. It’s always a matter of finagling the numbers using implicit biases to make the glaring gaps go away.

Now Jenny Stevens goes through the rationalizations one by one, and neatly rebuts the games the apologists play for paying women less.


  1. EigenSprocketUK says

    In the UK we’ve just passed the “Equal pay day” which marks the point at which women, were they to be paid on average at the same rate as men on average, would now work for no pay for the rest of the year to account for the current pay gap of >14%. (Bigger gap for older workers, so they’ve been working for free for a few weeks already)
    Still, the morsel of good news is that this year it comes about five days later than last year. So by about 2060 women can look forward to being paid for the whole year.

  2. EigenSprocketUK says

    Gah- if only I had read the article in PZ’s link before commenting. (Shame face)
    I blame my tablet which crashes on and other ad-heavy data-bloated script-infested sites. (like FTB is rapidly becoming.) sorry

  3. microraptor says

    I’m bookmarking that article for use the next time that someone brings up some bullshit from the Cato Institute.

  4. emspace says

    I can personally affirm that this is a real thing and not a myth. I’ve been working at my company for 16+ years, I was originally the only member of the Web Team, handling building and designing and maintaining it. In the years since, the team has grown to include more designers and more developers, and guess what? All the men still make more money than I and the other women on the team do — at least 16-20% more. (A search on an email server happened to pull up a document I had no business seeing, but well, I saw it.) So, that makes sense, right? Because I was the original Web Team, it makes sense that I now make less than the men hired to be on the team who joined after me and have worked in the industry for fewer years. Right?

  5. qwints says

    @emspace, just a quick heads up if you’re in the US working for a large private employer. As described (every man paid more than every women despite women having seniority), you’ve got a really straightforward EEOC case. Here’s their online case assessment tool. Their initial investigation of your claim is anonymous and free, although you will have to come forward if they decide to pursue the case. You might also check your state’s agency or a private attorney, as the relevant laws provide for recovery of attorney’s fees.

  6. Lachlan says

    Yeah, the wage gap still doesn’t exist. That (incredibly bad) article successfully rebuts not one of the points it attempted to. That any intelligent person could read it, and find it to be well written and persuasive, is utterly astounding, especially when that person is a professional scientist.

    Would you ever consider doing an fMRI, PZ? I think it would be instructive to see what your brain is doing when you’re asked to think critically about, say, biology, versus when you’re asked to think critically about feminism. Holy shit.

  7. Athywren - Frustration Familiarity Panda says

    Sorry if the following is already covered in the linked article – I haven’t read it yet and won’t be able to until this evening when I get back into the reassuring glow of internet radiation.
    I think the most damning evidence against the “no wage gap” position is the fact that even some of their favourite studies to cite as iron-clad proof of the lack of a gap show a gap. Even when you cut out everything that could be considered “women’s choices,” even when you handily cut out the fact that women are less likely to be hired or promoted than men, even when you count childcare facility provisions as part of women’s pay, there’s still a gap. Smaller, obviously, but still quite definitely there and significant.

  8. Rivendellyan says

    Okay, I’m confused. The article linked here links to this article on The Guardian. The Guardian’s article says this:

    “It is difficult to see why male and female graduates of the same subject discipline do not achieve very similar earnings. Since this is unlikely to be a consequence of employers paying males and females doing the same job differently – as this would be unlawful – we infer that something else is happening to account for this.”

    Yet the original linked article seems to imply that this is exactly what is happening. Note that I’m not denying the gap or anything, I’m just trying to understand this: If employers can’t legally pay women and men doing the same job different salaries, where is the gap coming from? The quote there ends in “something else is happening to account for this”, but what that is, it’s never explained or even touched upon. I apologize if the answer actually is in the text and I just didn’t get it, it might happen, but I read it over and over and didn’t find it.

  9. Dunc says

    Would you ever consider doing an fMRI, PZ?

    lol. Maybe we could hook him up to a polygraph and a ouija board while we’re at it.

  10. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Yeah, the wage gap still doesn’t exist.

    Assertion made without evidence. Try again with a link to evidence, that would convince scientists who deal with evidence everyday.

  11. zenlike says


    Yeah, the wage gap still doesn’t exist.

    Citation needed. Not that I expect one from drive-by-anti-MRA troll Lachlan.

  12. qwints says


    If employers can’t legally pay women and men doing the same job different salaries, where is the gap coming from?

    I can’t speak to UK law, but the same phenomenon is present in the US despite the Equal Pay and Civil Rights Acts. As the payscale report I linked above shows, even when looking at similar workers in similar jobs, there’s still a wage gap.

    Some of that may be attributable to unchallenged illegal discrimination. Some may be due to permissible factors that have a disparate impact (e.g. negotiated salaries). In addition, US law limits its analysis of wage discrimination to single establishments. So one could fairly easily construct a model where every women is paid higher than every man she works with, but women make less overall (i.e. workplaces with more men have higher salaries).

  13. Vivec says

    “If there’s a law against wage discrimination, how can the wage gap exist?” is such a silly argument. If the mere act of having a law made crime stop happening, we wouldn’t have crime happening. Yet, crime continues to happen, so that can’t be the case.

    Sure, if you had proof of wage discrimination, you could attempt to sue. However, legal fees are prohibitively expensive, the corporation is guaranteed to either have access to a better legal team or settle out of court, and there’s the perceived threat that complaining will get you fired, or that it will “put your name out there” and hurt future job opportunities.

  14. Vivec says

    For clarification, I’m not saying @10 is making that argument, I just tend to hear that argument a lot in discussions of wage discrimination.

  15. says

    zenlike @13:
    Oh, lachlan isn’t a drive-by anti-feminist troll. I recognize their nym from around here. Can’t recall anything good or bad either way, but based on the droppings left in this thread (“no wage gap”? yeah right), it’s safe to say where they’re coming from on this subject.


    Incidentally, the wage gap for women of color is even worse.

  16. says

    Tony @ 18:

    Oh, lachlan isn’t a drive-by anti-feminist troll.

    Yes he is. Not strictly drive-by, they’ve stuck around for a small amount of argument in the past, but as for the rest, oh my yes.

  17. zenlike says


    Indeed, I recognise the ‘nym also. I meant drive by as in, only comes along when the topic is feminism, and then leaves a one comment turd that basically says nu huh. Unlike Caine I cannot remember he ever actually sticking around.

  18. qwints says


    Sure, if you had proof of wage discrimination, you could attempt to sue. However, legal fees are prohibitively expensive, the corporation is guaranteed to either have access to a better legal team or settle out of court, and there’s the perceived threat that complaining will get you fired, or that it will “put your name out there” and hurt future job opportunities.

    This is inaccurately pessimistic. In the US, the EEOC investigates and wins claims of sex discrimination all the time. They brought over 25,000 cases relating to sex discrimination last
    year, recovering over $100 million in benefits for workers. That’s all done by a government agency at no cost to workers and doesn’t include successful private litigation (which recovers attorney’s fees.)

    Companies want workers to believe they are powerless. They are not. Look at any company-focused HR or employment law materials, and you’ll see that companies are terrified of EEOC investigations and discrimination litigation. It’s not easy for workers and there’s plenty of well-hidden discrimination, but it really is possible to prevail against a discriminatory employer.

  19. says

    If employers can’t legally pay women and men doing the same job different salaries, where is the gap coming from?

    Thing is, people often don’t consciously say: “She’S a woman, therefore we’re going to pay her less.”
    They’re believing all kinds of “rational” things why this man deserves a raise while this woman doesn’t, why this man should get a “leader position” that doesn’t actually come with extra work and duties but a raise while this woman shouldn’t.
    He has certain qualities she is lacking, where the qualities are always the ones he has but she doesn’t. There’s an interesting “paper people*” study: For a job , candidate A had lots of education but little experience, candidate B had lots pf experience but little formal education. Two groups got the resumees for evaluation, but in one group A was male and B female and in the other group it was the other way around. People should say who should get the job and why. Both groups favoured the male candidate and explained that whatever criterion he had was the one important for the job. Nobody thought they’d favoured him because he was a guy, but because of rational reasons.

    *Fictional resumees are sent out for evaluation

  20. Vivec says

    I don’t disagree that it’s both possible to fight wage discrimination and to win the ensuring lawsuits.

    What I’m saying is that there is a reason why wage discrimination, as with any unlawful behavior, might go unreported and continue to exist despite there being a law against it.

    As I’ve said in other threats, both me and my family have received unjust treatment from the cops and TSA, but we’ve never reported it or sought legal redress, because the cost of “putting our name out there” and getting embroiled in legal business seems greater than the benefit of getting reparations for our mistreatment.

    Sure, we might win the lawsuit, and we might even get pro-bono legal representation if we find the right group to help, but that doesn’t change the fact that there’s a substantial amount of social and financial pressure on us to keep quiet.

  21. duce7999 says

    As I understand the gap, most of the differences in the data are attributable to career choice, experience, and other things like that. I perceive this as not being related to post-market discrimination but rather the result of pre-market differences.

    I think this makes the most sense. We treat boys and girls very differently. I think this is the most important part of the work Feminist Frequency has been doing. That is, showcasing differences of perception and treatment. The wage gap is one of many consequences of these cultural differences in how we perceive, perform, and interact with gender.

  22. Rivendellyan says

    Thank you everyone for your answers to my question! I guess I was just being too optimistic and assuming that, because there’s a law against this kind of discrimination, companies would be scared enough of breaking it and paying fines that they would actually respect the law. Silly me, expecting decency from big companies. I too have refrained from actually taking legal action against a big company in the past, though in my case it was mostly because the legal system here in Brazil is terribly inefficient (if you’re not famous or rich enough, that is). Just as a comparison, my parents have a dispute over land that has gone unresolved for about 15 years now.

    On a side note, Vivec, love your avatar! I really need to replay Morrowind sometime.

  23. zenlike says

    Tony, it was me who used the wrong term, sorry for the confusion.
    Caine, must have blocked him out. Too many idiots to keep track off.


    The “equality exists!”-crowd love to bring up a paper from one of the right-wing think tanks (I think it was CATO) that ‘disproves’ the wage gap. Even though the paper is written by a very biased organization, it still shows a wage gap that cannot be explained by any factors, so even the biased organization cannot totally dispel what you call the “post-market discrimination”. So people claiming there is “no pay-gap” have really no data backing them up, and are simply lying.

    Even then, it is a red herring, as you so clearly indicate: those “pre-market differences” as you call them are ALSO an issue. Tackling them however cannot be done via anti-discrimination measures, but implies a shift in the general culture we live in. Of course, most of those people whining about the pay-gap being non-existant also rail against that cultural shift, exposing their lie that they actually care about equality.

  24. Lesbian Catnip says

    The wage gap will continue to exist as long as:

    1) A single employer, supervisor, manager, etc. is the one responsible for assessing the “merit” of an employee.

    2) That supervisor etc. is not held accountable to their decision making regarding raises/promotions of employees.

    3) Women’s “merit” is valued less than men’s “merit.”

    Seriously, I’ve worked jobs where our work is tracked by the company’s software. You can push a button that produces a report on whose decisions made what kind of money. I came to my boss with said report and pointed out that of the six operations managers in our branch, mine had the best profit margin by far, and the biggest improvement since I started the job (the software also kept a history, so I printed off reports of my predecessor to demonstrate that my job performance was like, twenty fucking percent more profitable).

    I still got turned away for a raise, and later found out that I was actually being paid the lowest. My resume was comparatively “green,” yet all these wage gap deniers are all blabbing on about merit this merit that–I had an objectively produced number that said my job performance was not only making the most money for the company, but costing it the least. Yet I was being paid–literally–80 cents for every dollar the men made.

    I don’t know if Canada has something similar to the EEOC. I don’t know if I would’ve fought even if it did, because my boss would’ve started searching for a backdoor excuse to get rid of me. He already was, after I called him out on his bullshit.

    My vindication is that after I left, the company’s stock plummeted and they ended up selling a shit tonne of their assets. I had half my fleet get in touch with me asking if they could use me as a reference because my former operation sank fast in the hands of my male colleagues.

  25. says

    The older people are, the more they’d be affected by that gap. Vice-versa, studies show that women between 20 and 30 earn more than men. So, give it some time so that the older women and men that created that gap in the previous century die out, and you will have a gap where the women earn more. After all, most people who graduate from university nowadays are female, academies everywhere are desperately trying to hire more women, prefering a female applicant to a male one in a 2:1 ratio, and a degree in women’s studies is bound to score you lots of funding, as opposed to, let’s say, mathematics. Because fuck the STEM fields, they don’t deserve bigger salaries than a daycare worker. And fuck individual choices and biologically pretedermined aptitudes, women should be at least 50% of every field. What about the men, who make up half of the population, but can’t get either in fields where they hire more women so that they reach the 50% quota, or in fields, dominated by women? Don’t worry, the homeless are agendered. Nobody cares if you are male or female if you are homeless. The statistics there is just that: a statistics. So you can’t get any sympathy just because most homeless are men. After all, there is no pay gap there. And, on the other hand, what about the women who are actually good at what they are doing? Don’t worry, all of my colleagues in my university who work in the same specialized part of mathematics as me will continue to be kickass females, and will always earn their positions based on merit alone.

  26. Athywren - Frustration Familiarity Panda says

    Do you think homeless people appreciate being used as a rhetorical tool against your pet hate?

  27. Rowan vet-tech says

    erejnion at #30-

    Fuck your idea that day care work is easy. Teachers of all flavors absolutely should get high salaries because they are the ones who make up a large portion of the earliest exposure to organised education that children get.

    Fuck your concept of ‘biologically predetermined aptitudes’ that is so ridiculously blatantly false that I’m surprised your fingers didn’t fall off in protest after you wrote that.

    Fuck your apparent belief that society in general treats ‘female dominated’ fields the same as ‘male dominated’ ones, instead of the actual fact that they’re viewed as softer, easier, and more ’emotional’ and requiring less logic than ‘male’ fields. Also, you want to know the reaction to pretty much any male veterinary technician? “OMG HIRE HIM!” But being a vet tech, “playing with animals” is seen as girly and easy and stuff, which is all total bullshit of course, but because of that men don’t often enter the field and it’s frustrating!

    Also, fuck your willful ignorance and naivete.

    Please try taking an actual look at the world around you, not your preconceived notions of it.

  28. Lesbian Catnip says

    “Biologically predetermined.” Just reading that makes me gag.

    There’s a lot about biology that’s really fucking random, but whatever, the dice were SUPPOSED to fall a certain way.


  29. zenlike says

    I love how erejnion equates daycare job with ‘female’ and STEM job with ‘male’.

    Idiot. (Also, likes Milo Yiannopoulos, but that’s the same right?)