Equal Pay

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GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4116
Equal Pay

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?

Salary 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.

Can workers talk about pay? - Apr. 8, 2014

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6561

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.

Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1686

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

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.

Is it because there is a large cap in wages? The only places I've worked that had this rule was because we were being paid different amounts for the same job.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6561

"ethanwinfield" wrote:

Is it because there is a large cap in wages? The only places I've worked that had this rule was because we were being paid different amounts for the same job.

I am not sure. Of the people that I know what they make, one makes $28/hr. She has a BS but is not certified. DH makes $30/hr but has a BS and is certified. The other girl I know that works there makes $36/hr but she has her masters and is certified. I believe paid is largely based on Education, Certification, and years of Experience. I do not think that is unfair. I would expect that if DH went back to school for his Masters that there would be some compensation.

Joined: 08/17/04
Posts: 2226

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.

mom3girls's picture
Joined: 01/09/07
Posts: 1535

I dont believe that this will help. I think the only thing it will do is cause unnecessary tension in the workplace.

Joined: 03/08/03
Posts: 3189

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.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6561

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?

Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1686

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.

KimPossible's picture
Joined: 05/24/06
Posts: 3312

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.

GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4116

I also work in a male dominated industry, and I do probably earn less than some males but I think it has a lot more to do with personality types than male vs female. In my experience men have more of an aggressive personality than women. I am not the ambitious type person I want to do my job and go home, and I am not interested in managing other people. If I wanted to take more of a management style role I would earn more, but I would rather earn less and not be responsible for anyone else.

Joined: 03/08/03
Posts: 3189

I agree with Kim (big surprise). I don't think it hurts to talk about wages, and that's up to the individual. Early in my career as a freelancer, I negotiated to get paid more than my weekly rate if I worked an extra day, and I was given what I wanted and told not to tell anyone. I did tell the one other person who was working extra days too, because I felt it was my responsibility to do so. She went to our boss and demanded the same treatment, and got it. He was just cheap (and a jerk); we were making really crappy money anyway and working ridiculously long days.

Anyway, I do think there is still a boys' club in many industries. At my last job, our department was run by a bunch of men who all knew each other from their last few jobs, and so when it was time for promotions or raises, they just instinctively thought of their buddies who were around them. And the only new people invited into the pack were other guys who also liked to talk about sports and finance, neither of which had anything to do with our jobs. It was frustrating.

So it wasn't that I necessarily made less than others in my position, but I made less than the senior men, because they were all at the upper level and then there were a bunch of women right under them, at my level.

I assume this happens in many industries.

Also, when a man would take time off to go do something special for his kids -- go to their school, coach a hockey game, whatever -- it was all about what a great dad that person was. If I took time off for a school thing (like parent-teacher conferences, I never did any of the field trips because of my job) then it was about the time I was taking off work and that was a negative.

There is not equality yet. It's a lot better, and you can fight it, and you can move up the ladder, but the gender gap is still there. I don't know about specific salaries, as that's not something I ever discussed with people.

Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1686

"GloriaInTX" wrote:

I also work in a male dominated industry, and I do probably earn less than some males but I think it has a lot more to do with personality types than male vs female. In my experience men have more of an aggressive personality than women. I am not the ambitious type person I want to do my job and go home, and I am not interested in managing other people. If I wanted to take more of a management style role I would earn more, but I would rather earn less and not be responsible for anyone else.

"GloriaInTx" wrote:

I'm just wondering if Walmart paid their cashiers $12 an hour why would anyone bother trying to go to college and get a better job or try to learn a skill? In this area to get a job that pays $12 an hour you need to have at least some kind of experience or skill, an entry level person isn't paid that much. Why would anyone try to do a harder job if they could get paid just as much for something like a cashier that doesn't take as much skill?

http://www.pregnancy.org/bulletinboards/face-off-debate-arena-205/walmart-food-drive-709488/index2.html#post9110323

"GloriaInTx" wrote:

No they can't all move up. Most of them use it as an entry level job while they are going to school or get some experience and then quit and move on to something bigger and better. But I very much doubt many people stay at a cashier position for 10 years unless they are just lazy and not interested in advancing. There are a lot of jobs between starting out as a cashier and management with varying degrees of responsibility. There are also jobs such as in the back office that pay more that you can move into such as handling cash and receipts or human resources, managing computer systems, etc. There a lot more positions in a retail store than just the ones you see up front.

http://www.pregnancy.org/bulletinboards/face-off-debate-arena-205/walmart-food-drive-709488/index3.html#post9110855

"GloriaInTx" wrote:

I supported myself. My parents didn't have the money to send me to school and I did it all on my own with student loans and working. I worked cashier jobs at a few different places that is how I know that other retail places are no different than Walmart in how they work people part time and do their scheduling, and the pay. I worked at Sears during my college years and started out at $4.10 an hour. And I didn't mean lazy as in standing there working all day, I meant lazy in not attempting to see what other positions are open in the company and applying to work in other departments and learning how to advance yourself. When I worked at Sears I started out as a cashier in the catalog department, but even though I was just a part time college student I learned how to do my job well and then started applying for other positions in the company to get pay increases. Eventually I moved up into a main cashier position with much more responsibility and then into the back room where they did all the bank work depositing checks, balancing all the cashier drawers, etc. At any company if you are responsible and do your job well you will have the opportunity to advance if you want to.

http://www.pregnancy.org/bulletinboards/face-off-debate-arena-205/walmart-food-drive-709488/index3.html#post9110915

"GloriaInTx" wrote:

A grocery store would have a lot less chances for advancement than Walmart since they don't really have many other positions. I can't imagine working at that kind of job for 10 years without even wanting to find something better. I'm sure maybe there are people who just want to do a menial job for their whole life, but most people would want to move on to something else besides an entry level job after 10 years.

http://www.pregnancy.org/bulletinboards/face-off-debate-arena-205/walmart-food-drive-709488/index3.html#post91109173

I want to make sure I understand your position here. You could move up if you wanted to, but you have no interest in doing so. You want to do your job and go home.

Why wouldn't this also apply to a cashier at Walmart? Or any other "menial" job? Why are they judged as lazy when you, yourself are content with your situation? Is it because you have a career?

I guess I am having a hard time with blaming the women (or low-paid workers) for their situation. Perhaps some of the "choices" we make are based on not having the opportunity to make other choices.

GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4116

"ethanwinfield" wrote:

I want to make sure I understand your position here. You could move up if you wanted to, but you have no interest in doing so. You want to do your job and go home.

Why wouldn't this also apply to a cashier at Walmart? Or any other "menial" job? Why are they judged as lazy when you, yourself are content with your situation? Is it because you have a career?

I guess I am having a hard time with blaming the women (or low-paid workers) for their situation. Perhaps some of the "choices" we make are based on not having the opportunity to make other choices.

Wow way to take things out of context. I have done my time in school and learning new skills to get where I am. I do continue to learn new skills and further my skill set and education. I just don't want a supervisory role. I do my job well and continue to advance because of that. I work in the IT field and you have to continually learn new skills to even try to keep up with the technology. So I am definitely not being lazy I just don't want to be in management.

Anyone who has ever worked in an IT field knows that it is a constant learning curve just to keep from becoming obsolete.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6561

"freddieflounder101" wrote:

I agree with Kim (big surprise). I don't think it hurts to talk about wages, and that's up to the individual. Early in my career as a freelancer, I negotiated to get paid more than my weekly rate if I worked an extra day, and I was given what I wanted and told not to tell anyone. I did tell the one other person who was working extra days too, because I felt it was my responsibility to do so. She went to our boss and demanded the same treatment, and got it. He was just cheap (and a jerk); we were making really crappy money anyway and working ridiculously long days.

Anyway, I do think there is still a boys' club in many industries. At my last job, our department was run by a bunch of men who all knew each other from their last few jobs, and so when it was time for promotions or raises, they just instinctively thought of their buddies who were around them. And the only new people invited into the pack were other guys who also liked to talk about sports and finance, neither of which had anything to do with our jobs. It was frustrating.

So it wasn't that I necessarily made less than others in my position, but I made less than the senior men, because they were all at the upper level and then there were a bunch of women right under them, at my level.

I assume this happens in many industries.

Networking happens in both female dominated fields and well as male dominated fields. In many professions getting a job is about who you know. In your example above, if your boss was a woman she might do the same things among the woman she knows. This only stands out to me more because the profession I am most familiar with is mostly woman.

Rivergallery's picture
Joined: 05/23/03
Posts: 1301

It doesn't matter to me even if it is true at this point.
Why is the President making laws!

What happened to separation of powers this is so wrong... He is not our king, and he is acting like a dictator..

It will ruin the very fabric of our great democracy.. Pisses me off.

Joined: 03/08/03
Posts: 3189

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

Networking happens in both female dominated fields and well as male dominated fields. In many professions getting a job is about who you know. In your example above, if your boss was a woman she might do the same things among the woman she knows. This only stands out to me more because the profession I am most familiar with is mostly woman.

I've had many female bosses in my career, but they don't create that same "club" atmosphere, and usually hire from a larger pool of people. They don't look for people who share the same interests, who they'd hang around with. It's a different mentality.

But everywhere I've worked, when it's a tv network, there's a boys club. I've been interviewing a lot of chefs lately for the site I'm working for and the women there say the same thing, even the very accomplished ones.

Danifo's picture
Joined: 09/07/10
Posts: 1377

Where I've worked (medical research), I haven't noticed the boys club in the last decade but most of my bosses have been women (I'd say all my good bosses were). When I first started, my boss worked her *** off and the old boys club of professors always commented how "lucky" she was that she got all that grant money. it wasn't luck, it was lots of hard work. She did very well professionally but had to make sacrifices in her personal life that I wasn't willing to make. Making a stereotype, women generally aren't willing to make those sacrifices.

Where my husband has worked, men and women got paid based on experience. If you looked at the bonuses, you would say that then men got bigger bonuses but that is because none of the women (kids or no kids) would stay late if something "emergency" came up.

One of my friends' husbands is a manager in Oil and Gas. I remember when he first started and a group of Oil and Gas guys came up from Texas, he was told to entertain them by taking them out for supper then to the strip club. So inappropriate. I always wondered what would happen if one time a woman showed up.

To the original question. I have never been forbidden from talking about my salary and in many cases it is public record. However, I don't usually like talking about money with other people because I get irritated when I hear about people making poor financial decisions.

Joined: 03/08/03
Posts: 3189

I have horror stories from way back in the MTV days...men pressuring female coworkers to come WITH them to the strip clubs. Awful stories. Fortunately that era has passed.

Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1686

"Rivergallery" wrote:

It doesn't matter to me even if it is true at this point.
Why is the President making laws!

What happened to separation of powers this is so wrong... He is not our king, and he is acting like a dictator..

It will ruin the very fabric of our great democracy.. Pisses me off.

What law is he making?

Part off the checks and balances is that the executive branch can propose laws (e.g., President Bush proposed NCLB). As can the average citizen (e.g. Marc Klaas, John Walsh). The demise of democracy is when we can't look past whose ideas they are.

Rivergallery's picture
Joined: 05/23/03
Posts: 1301

"ethanwinfield" wrote:

What law is he making?

Part off the checks and balances is that the executive branch can propose laws (e.g., President Bush proposed NCLB). As can the average citizen (e.g. Marc Klaas, John Walsh). The demise of democracy is when we can't look past whose ideas they are.

He did not propose a law.. he signed it into law himself by executive order... "what law is he making?"---- OP... seriously.. why do you need me to quote what we are discussing?

I do NOT care whose idea it is.. nor if it is a good idea.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6561

While I agree that Executive order is a terribly abused thing that should be done away with other than procedural issues, it really is a separate debate.

Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1686

"Rivergallery" wrote:

He did not propose a law.. he signed it into law himself by executive order... "what law is he making?"---- OP... seriously.. why do you need me to quote what we are discussing?

I do NOT care whose idea it is.. nor if it is a good idea.

The executive order addresses the federal government’s gender wage gap by mandating that contractors publish wage data — by gender and race — to ensure compliance with equal-pay laws. The order also prohibits contractors from retaliating against employees who compare salaries.

Sorry, still not seeing how he is making laws.

Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1686

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

While I agree that Executive order is a terribly abused thing that should be done away with other than procedural issues, it really is a separate debate.

I don't think you can do away with it completely. President Bush created the President's Commision on Excellence in Special Ed via executive order. President Carter established the Defense Meritorious Service Medal via Execution Order. Reagan fired the air traffic controllers. Should Congress have passed those first and let the president sign it into law? Angel It takes away presidential power and (B) Would waste a lot of time.

whether I agree with the firing of the air traffic controllers or not, I think it was necessary for the president to exert his power at the time.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6561

"ethanwinfield" wrote:

I don't think you can do away with it completely. President Bush created the President's Commision on Excellence in Special Ed via executive order. President Carter established the Defense Meritorious Service Medal via Execution Order. Reagan fired the air traffic controllers. Should Congress have passed those first and let the president sign it into law? Angel It takes away presidential power and (B) Would waste a lot of time.

whether I agree with the firing of the air traffic controllers or not, I think it was necessary for the president to exert his power at the time.

I think there should be special circumstances where it is allowed. Sweeping changes I do not think it should be.

KimPossible's picture
Joined: 05/24/06
Posts: 3312

Well seeing as these special circumstances don't exist and Obama is not doing anything different then those he came before him, i don't see how one get all riled up about him issuing executive orders...i mean unless people are getting riled up at every executive order both from his presidency and the thousands of executive orders that came before him too.

Anyway...Equal pay anyone?