Do you think being allowed to discuss pay rates will make a difference in whether men and women are paid equally?
Are you allowed to discuss your pay with co-workers?
Would you want to?
Can workers talk about pay? - Apr. 8, 2014Salary is often the elephant in the room.
Colleagues rarely discuss it, sometimes out of fear that offending their employer could have real consequences. Often talking about pay is just not considered polite.
President Obama signed an executive order Tuesday aimed at increasing transparency around wages, in an effort to narrow the pay gap between men and women. It prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who discuss their compensation. It only applies to companies with federal contracts, but the Senate is set to vote on legislation that could extend those rights to all workers.
The order itself won't impact most American workers. But it has sparked a discussion about what protections they do have when it comes to discussing compensation.
Half of all workers report that talking about wage information is either discouraged or prohibited and could lead to punishment, according to a survey from the Institute of Women's Policy Research and the Rockefeller Foundation.
The effort to boost transparency over wages is not new, said Esta Bigler, the director of the Labor and Employment Program at Cornell University.
The National Labor Relations Act already protects employees' rights to discuss their wages without fear of retaliation, she said.
But some experts say Obama's executive action will expand those rights and give them some real teeth.
"This would seem to substantively expand the NLRA," said William Gould, a former chair of the National Labor Relations Board and Stanford Law professor emeritus.
The NLRA, he said, only protects employees if they are talking about pay in the context of protesting unfair wages. Plus, Gould added, most workers aren't even aware that they have rights under the NLRA.
Obama's executive order goes beyond that to cover any conversation about pay between two employees, even if they aren't planning some kind of protest. It also opens up these protections to cover more types of employees. The NLRA excludes supervisors that can make recommendations on hiring and firing, according to Katherine Kimpel, a partner at the Sanford Heisler law firm. But Obama's executive order includes these individuals, too.
Related: Five things you need to know about equal pay
Even if you are covered by the NRLA, the remedy is to bring an unfair pay claim to the board, not the court, Kimpel said.
"That's not even a slap on the wrist for the company, it's more like the wind brushing by them," she said.
The executive order strengthens the remedy since a company could have their federal contract revoked.
Still, Obama's order only applies to those who work for companies with federal contracts. On Tuesday, he urged Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would apply to all workers.
Mom to Lee, Jake, Brandon, Rocco
Stepmom to Ryan, Regan, Braden, Baley
Granddaughters Kylie 10/18/2010 & Aleya 4/22/2013
I never consider a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosopy, as a cause for withdrawing from a friend. --Thomas Jefferson
I am a SAHM, but I will use DH' s jobs as an example. For his full time job he works for the state of GA and his salary is public record. Any one who wants to know badly enough can look it up online. For his part time job it is against the rules to decuss his salary, however I am good friends with a few of his co workers and they have told me what they make. It is a predominantly female field so I do not believe that plays a role in pay. Education, certification, and years of experience do.
I'm not supposed to discuss pay/raises/bonuses with coworkers because we are paid differently. In my role, it's staggered. Time in role, time in company, performance etc. trigger all that. I'm not concerned in my job that I'm paid less as a female but yes I think it might help others.
Mom to Elizabeth (6) and Corinne (4)
I dont believe that this will help. I think the only thing it will do is cause unnecessary tension in the workplace.
Molly, Morgan, Mia and Carson
I've never heard of not being ALLOWED to discuss pay. Most people simply don't, because it's a personal thing, and obviously supervisors who have access to that info for other people don't share it. But I've been in the work force for decades and have never heard of a rule that you CAN'T tell people what you make.
Laurie, mom to:
Nathaniel ( 10 ) and Juliet ( 7 )
Baking Adventures In A Messy Kitchen (blog)
Interesting sub topic of if woman really do make less than men.
No, Women Don
It’s the bogus statistic that won’t die—and president deployed it during the State of the Union—but women do not make 77 cents to every dollar a man earns.
President Obama repeated the spurious gender wage gap statistic in his State of the Union address. “Today,” he said, “women make up about half our workforce. But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment.”
What is wrong and embarrassing is the President of the United States reciting a massively discredited factoid. The 23-cent gender pay gap is simply the difference between the average earnings of all men and women working full-time. It does not account for differences in occupations, positions, education, job tenure, or hours worked per week. When all these relevant factors are taken into consideration, the wage gap narrows to about five cents. And no one knows if the five cents is a result of discrimination or some other subtle, hard-to-measure difference between male and female workers. In its fact-checking column on the State of the Union, the Washington Post included the president’s mention of the wage gap in its list of dubious claims. “There is clearly a wage gap, but differences in the life choices of men and women… make it difficult to make simple comparisons.”
Consider, for example, how men and women differ in their college majors. Here is a list (PDF) of the ten most remunerative majors compiled by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. Men overwhelmingly outnumber women in all but one of them:
1. Petroleum Engineering: 87% male
2. Pharmacy Pharmaceutical Sciences and Administration: 48% male
3. Mathematics and Computer Science: 67% male
4. Aerospace Engineering: 88% male
5. Chemical Engineering: 72% male
6. Electrical Engineering: 89% male
7. Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering: 97% male
8. Mechanical Engineering: 90% male
9. Metallurgical Engineering: 83% male
10. Mining and Mineral Engineering: 90% male
And here are the 10 least remunerative majors—where women prevail in nine out of ten:
1. Counseling Psychology: 74% female
2. Early Childhood Education: 97% female
3. Theology and Religious Vocations: 34% female
4. Human Services and Community Organization: 81% female
5. Social Work: 88% female
6. Drama and Theater Arts: 60% female
7. Studio Arts: 66% female
8. Communication Disorders Sciences and Services: 94% female
9. Visual and Performing Arts: 77% female
10. Health and Medical Preparatory Programs: 55% female
Much of the wage gap can be explained away by simply taking account of college majors. Early childhood educators and social workers can expect to earn around $36,000 and $39,000, respectively. By contrast, petroleum engineering and metallurgy degrees promise median earnings of $120,000 and $80,000. Not many aspiring early childhood educators would change course once they learn they can earn more in metallurgy or mining. The sexes, taken as a group, are somewhat different. Women, far more than men, appear to be drawn to jobs in the caring professions; and men are more likely to turn up in people-free zones. In the pursuit of happiness, men and women appear to take different paths.
But here is the mystery. These and other differences in employment preferences and work-family choices have been widely studied in recent years and are now documented in a mountain of solid empirical research. By now the President and his staff must be aware that the wage gap statistic has been demolished. This is not the first time the Washington Post has alerted the White House to the error. Why continue to use it? One possibility is that they have been taken in by the apologetics of groups like the National Organization for Women and the American Association of University Women. In its 2007 Behind the Pay Gap report, the AAUW admits that most of the gap in earnings is explained by choices. But this admission is qualified: “Women’s personal choices are similarly fraught with inequities,” says the AAUW. It speaks of women being “pigeonholed” into “pink-collar” jobs in health and education. According to NOW, powerful sexist stereotypes “steer” women and men “toward different education, training, and career paths.”
“Much of the wage gap can be explained away by simply taking account of college majors. In the pursuit of happiness, men and women appear to take different paths.”
Have these groups noticed that American women are now among the most educated, autonomous, opportunity-rich women in history? Why not respect their choices? For the past few decades, untold millions of state and federal dollars have been devoted to recruiting young women into engineering and computer technology. It hasn’t worked. The percent of degrees awarded to women in fields like computer science and engineering has either stagnated or significantly decreased since 2000. (According to Department of Education data, in 2000, women earned 19 percent of engineering BA’s, and 28 percent in computer science; by 2011, only 17 percent of engineering degrees were awarded to females, and the percent of female computer science degrees had dropped to 18.) All evidence suggests that though young women have the talent for engineering and computer science, their interest tends to lie elsewhere. To say that these women remain helplessly in thrall to sexist stereotypes, and manipulated into life choices by forces beyond their control, is divorced from reality—and demeaning to boot. If a woman wants to be a teacher rather than a miner, or a veterinarian rather than a petroleum engineer, more power to her.
The White House should stop using women’s choices to construct a false claim about social inequality that is poisoning our gender debates. And if the President is truly persuaded that statistical pay disparities indicate invidious discrimination, then he should address the wage gap in his own backyard. Female staff at the White House earn 88 cents on the dollar compared to men. Is there a White House war on women?
Traditionally, female-dominated professions pay less than male-dominated professions. If suddenly men flooded ECE, the wages would go up. If women flooded the IT profession the wages would go down.
Women-dominated professions - secretaries, teachers, nurses, ECE workers, etc. were viewed as supplementing their husband's income. Most of my cousins work in male-dominated professions. They make bank! Those of us who went into teaching get by.
My dad has an MBA and was paid very well when he worked in the business world. He always wanted to be a teacher but couldn't support his family on a teacher's salary. He finally went into teaching at age 55. He's had to have a side business the entire time.
I think nothing very bad will come of letting people talk more freely about their wages. Its not like people will all of a sudden start gabbing away about it, for the most part people don't feel comfortable doing it. But i could see certain circumstances arising where people may want to. I would have discussed it with close individuals that i worked with if I was concerned about something. If that caused tension? Well maybe there is a good reason for that and it shouldn't necessarily be avoided.
As far as the gender gap issue goes, i think its extremely complicated. Its not as simple as "Women get paid less than men for the same job" nor is it as simple as "The gender gap doesn't exist at all"
In my own experience working in a male dominated industry, there are a lot of things that stand in my way of doing as well as my male colleagues. None of it really has to do with blatant sexism, its way more complicated than that. I think a lot of it actually has to do with the fact that my family hasn't fully escaped the traditional role expectations in my house, not that I'm upset with it day to day, just an observation. I do a ton more work/family balancing than my husband does.
Ever hear the phrase "jack of all trades master of none"? Well I think its kind of like that.
Last edited by KimPossible; 04-11-2014 at 03:33 PM.