Saturday, January 28, 2017

How do I fix this thing which may not even be broken? Part Deux.

Please start here in order to get context for this discussion ... or, just jump in with no background, and leave inappropriate, uninformed comments!

Option #4: Fight it

You're going to hate this one, if you feel that employers should pay everyone equally regardless of their cost and ROI to the company.

If you want women on average -- across all professions, ignoring experience and work preferences and maternity -- to earn the same wages, then options #1 and #3 are not only Right Out, but it becomes your job to "educate" your female friends that they've chosen the wrong careers, that having babies (and, god forbid, staying home and raising them) will set them back professionally, that they have to become far more greedy and hard-ass professionally, and that they need to stop taking advantage of any of the potential benefits of gender differentiation or playing into ingrained gender roles.

#4a: Change thousands of years of societally- (and possibly biologically-)ingrained role-modeling.

As long as women choose "superior providers" as mates (and they often do, even if you don't believe in Darwin), guys will need to make more money than other guys to get the genetic-selection pay-off, setting up an "income arms race" in just one gender ... maybe you should make different choices in spousal attributes.

You probably need to evaluate the "genderness" of every human interaction in your life. If you are a female, pick up the check for that date that YOU asked out based on looks and/or fertility and/or potential domesticity. Don't fight for custody to the extent it may impact your career. Don't buy your daughter a doll; get her a Tonka truck. Get on her case when she gets a C in math and an A in English Lit. Don't let her read fashion magazines (60 sexy ways to please your man!). Watch women's sports (or don't accept that paying a lot of money for a men's sporting event is a good use of societal resources). Stare at men's crotches when speaking to them. I'm sure the list could go forever, and I'd guess that so much of this is implicit in our nature and/or nurture that we don't even realize we're doing it. Good luck with that.

Personally, I think gender roles are somewhat a byproduct of biology, and you can't trump that without some gene editing ... but either way, you cannot get the feds to legistlate this component away, assuming it's even driving wages (which, I think, is what most women assume when they infer why women make less than men ... even though it may be among the smallest factors of a very small gap). But if parenthood makes women want to nurture instead of career climb while making men want to double down to provide for their families, then there will be a gap that you can only eliminate by paying a women more than she is worth.

#4b: Don't have kids, and discourage your women friends from having kids

If this bit pisses you off, I think the assumption is that it's society's job to help people make and raise kids ... in that sense, I believe you are oppressing me, as well as the planet, and you can go knob yourself. "Let's work out this food/air deal. Then go back to your rutting." (Bill Hicks). I don't think there should be any incentives for having children, not just because I don't want to pay (even more than I do already) for your screaming brood that will be sitting next to me on my next flight, but because babies will keep coming no matter what you do, and at a rate that will ultimately over-tax our resources (and has on many fronts already). Subsidizing that behavior, even thought it is culturally expected -- just like equal pay for equal work is expected -- may in the long term not be in our best interest. There, I have now offered up an opinion (without supporting data) which you can get legitimately pissed at me for.

Even if you are single and childless, and employers are doing a surprisingly good job of not imposing a penalty on maternity, don't be surprised if some fields or companies are amortizing the costs of all maternities over the female population, given that they can't ask your maternity plans. Not telling your friends to choose between careeer and family is potentially hurting your income. They're proabably also hurting your chances of promotion:
Concerns that women will ... spend more time away from the office ... can create a labor market where it’s difficult for women to achieve to the most advanced and highly paid positions.

Really, if you want people to be paid an equal proportion of their value to a company after costs, which seems like a reasonable goal, stop cranking out kids. Unless you want companies to be able to determine (and enforce) whether you plan to have kids, baby-making females are actively lowering wages for childless females, so in some respect, women are their own problem here. If you believe women you should get compensated just as much for producing less and costing more, then I think what you want is an unlevel playing field, which is exactly what you were complaining about before I started typing.

Critically, don't agitate for increased costs to companies to cover baby making. That just reduces the value of a woman to the company. If you want family leave, it's going to have to come from the government (a given in most industrialized countries). Either method seems unfair to the childless ("But I don't want an unfair advantage ... I just want my fair advantage"), but by externalizing corporate costs to the taxpayer, you remove much of the math from the equation of what each gender costs a company (in about the same way energy companies don't have to factor in the costs of superfund sites because frackers get exempted from the clean water act and taxpayers will ultimately foot that bill).

If you must have a kid, and you want to minimize the wage damage, crank the kid out and get back into the field, Pearl-Buck-style, and make your hubby raise the kid. First, marry a guy who lacks career ambitions and can somehow wet-nurse a baby. Aside from minimal maternity leave (and maybe some sick days during pregnancy), the question in this case should become "why do women raise children?" rather than "why do women make less?" If you have a good answer for the former, then you should probably not be asking the latter.

#4c: Work like a man

Individually, you (as a woman) need to become one of those people who will do anything to make a buck, which might require adjusting your moral compass (data-free assertion: men are more likely to be scammers, hucksters, ponzi-schemers, and shorcut-takers, possibly -- but not necessarily -- driven by the darwinian status afforded high-wage-earners). Make your husband stay at home with the kids or sick parent, make him leave work to deal with the kid that missed the bus or needs a ride to sports practice, or to be the one that has to relieve the nanny or pick the kid up at daycare where they're charging $2/minute overtime, etc. This makes the most sense if you are the primary bread-winner, so trading job satisfaction for income becomes doubly important, and it wouldn't hurt to marry someone down the pay scale.

Even once your hubbie is the stay-at-home, you still need to sacrifice family for career if you want to offset the males who get paid to do the same. The male employee who leaves at 5pm several times a month to watch his kid play sports is not going above middle-management; it's just currently less common than the woman who has to leave to deal with all kid issues.

Get an MBA or PhD, then don't have a baby. Stick it out no matter how much you hate it:
So the highest-paid lawyers, for example, are mostly the men who’ve stuck it out at the most grueling and prestigious law firms that pay the most amount of money. The women have fallen off that elite track.

While you could certainly make the argument that bottom-line-free jobs like caretaking and teaching are at least as important as bottom-line-measurable jobs like pillaging the economy and strip-mining mother earth, there's really no way to quantify the "caring" jobs, and it's easy to say "this piece of equipment, code, process, etc. made us $10M this year, so we're going to pay more money to get more of the best of those kinds of employees." If your measure of your worth and the rewards of your job are in the form of cash, then you should go to industries where your value can be quantified. You can argue that those doors aren't as open to you as women, but there's no data to indicate that, and a lot of CA tech companies are complaining about the absence of qualified female STEM graduates when attempting to balance pay by gender.

Where I went to college, which was NOT in the most liberal state in the union (TX), the only thing we considered unusual about a women in a STEM course was that there were so few of them to unsuccessfully hit on. At least in education, where you are paying for the privilege and choosing your major freely, there are no enforced obstacles to getting a degree with massive lifetime earning potential, and the only obstacle is self-selection: women believing they aren't going to be good at or interested in engineering. That's not a legislate-able problem.

And how do you legislate against this sociological contributor? Probably by becoming the primary (or better, sole) bread winner:
The greater tendency of men to determine the geographic location of the family continues to be a factor even among highly educated couples.
Certainly, if you're still living in a patriarchal state (i.e. KS) full of good-old boys who would conceivably rather tank their business than share their wealth with women and minorities, there are plenty of lovely places you could live in a state of equality. [Note, I'm not saying that discriminatory behavior doesn't exist, but where it does exist, it raises the relative skills of the pool of unemployed females and minorities, and is self-regulating vis-a-vis wages, with some possible asymptotic wage delta reflecting a time-lag in hiring.]

Unionization closes the unadjusted gaps as well, but we’ve already decided as a society that unions and the inequalities they currently address, are passé. If you’re anti-union (because you think union people are paid more than they're worth) but pro-equal-pay, you may have some thinking’ to do.

& Remember: you women have far more retirement years than us men do, so making top-dollar -- assuming you want to be financially independent of your spouse -- should be MORE of a priority for you than us.

#5: Stop spreading the wage gap myth, as it's probably a feedback mechanism

If women are convinced they're going to get paid less, they'll accept lower paying jobs, and they will get paid less (this would explain the low unemployment rate for women in post-recession America). And if you think women choose to raise children because they BELIEVE they make less, and so it makes more economic sense than the guy staying home, and you share that false belief with others, then you are, unfortunately, part of the problem again.

What was the point of all this? Or, be careful what you ask (the government) for.

This may have been a poor example, since it's so easily tinged with assumptions of sexism. [Let me be the first to say that I'd be fine with being a kept man, and would hope whoever was keeping me was making a ton of money.] But understanding data & cause-and-effect are critical skills we lack as a populace. Unless we can build up those muscles, which requires checking our assumptions (and privilege and biases and wishes) at the door, we will suffer antivaxxers, a no-fly list which will fail by design, climate change deniers, Crosscheck and other "massive voter fraud" disenfranchisement efforts, trickle down economics, poor threat assessment and security theater (e.g. take your shoes off while 95% of breach tests fail), torture that's counterproductive, blowback from repeating the same international adventurism, fake news, astroturf-roots movements, scientific suppression, and a president who can get elected on the strength of whatever feels good for him to say and/or for his audience to hear.

We also need to spend our energy where it matters: get mad at the insanity going on in DC and exert yourself learning high-paying job skills ... or get mad at those "awful" women who want to spend time with their children, and are dragging down all females' wages by association ... or make peace with your tradeoffs and fight a fight that doesn't involve fighting reality. Don't ask the government to legislate the unlegislatable, since that will create inequality. If you want equal pay for equal work, you can't start agitating for protected class status when you aren't really being discriminated against. The price of ignoring these kinds of inconvenient explanations is that you'll never solve the problem. So, ultimately, what might be an actual problem on the gender-wage front?

What is left is a tangle of cultural norms, implicit biases, individual preferences and other, subtler forms of discrimination that are much harder to change or even to measure.

If there are societal pressures for girls to play with dolls and become mothers, and for guys to play with dump trucks and become engineers, that's what you need to solve for, and what's "worse," you need to make that change yourself, and make the effort to point that out to people in your environment, even at the risk of becoming a pariah. If you have a big-hair girlfriend in Texas, who works in a beauty salon because she dropped out of high school and enjoys the work environment, extolling how cute her 8-year-old daughter looks in her Lil' Nurse halloween outfit (or her 15-year-old in her Sexy Nurse outfit), and you say nothing, you may in fact BE the problem, not sexist big business and an uncaring government (both of which certainly exist, but are not demonstrably the root cause of the problem of unequal wages, if that problem even exists).

Thanks for slogging through this, and please tell me where I got it wrong.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

How do I fix this thing which may not even be broken?

A lot of this is going to come down to baby-making and role-modeling, and is going to make some females unhappy. Remember, I'm just trying to pick truth from off the bones of "common wisdom" (which is usually one or the other, but not both). It's important (to me) that you understand I'm pro-labor, pro-equality, and heavily anti-{whatever the worst of corporate America is doing at any given time}. I'm pro-regulation where it makes sense (which is an awful lot of places), probably moreso than you are. So when you read something here you don't like, please bear in mind that I'm not agitating in favor of a wage gap, or that I'd be happy doing nothing in the face of injustice, but it's important (to all of us) that we expend our political energies where they will do something positive (e.g. legislate the climate, not the weather), and I'm trying to bring facts and reason to what is typically a pretty shrill and uninformed debate. There are, no doubt, specific cases where one person's crappy situation bucks these overall trends, and while I realize this conversation could look like kicking that person when they are down, the plural of anecdote is not data.

Note that absent from this entire conversation is anything about women being poor negotiators, failing to "lean in," or other gender-based "sociological" issues ... there just isn't the data to support these claims, and the gap can easily be explained without them. 
"The researchers assign minimal importance to theories suggesting that psychological factors such as the notion that men are bigger risk takers, or that women are more averse to tense negotiations have all that much to do with the ... gap.

Anywho, here are some approaches if you want to close the unadjusted wage gap (i.e. pay for ALL women's jobs vs. ALL men's jobs), or eliminate the debatable few cent gap that *might* remain in adjusted wages.

#1: Do nothing

SOME of you may already be living in the Best of All Possible Worlds. It's possible that even if a true gap exists, it's there for good reasons, and the trade-offs are ones that you should be happy with as a woman.

It's very possible that women have intrinsically (even genetically) different career and life preferences. It could be that they are trading off income for other benefits, as previously discussed. For example, my experience in the non-profit world is that 37.5 hours is a long work week, that the demands of the job are lower than private sector, that the work is more rewarding ... and that it's work largely done by generally happy females ... and it pays far less than the private sector. Nurturing jobs may not pay as much because they often require little education, but if you like that work and *still* you'd prefer a job you don't enjoy just because it pays more money, I'd say you (not society) has some issues to work through.

For what it's worth, I'm with the opted-out women here ... I long ago decided that trying to race the over-ambitious to the top of an ever-narrowing pyramid was just not worth it. I work at home for a sharp reduction in earnings potential. Yes, I would like to make more money without having to put in 60 hour weeks. No, I don't feel that anyone owes that to me, and I'm very happy with the bed I've made and am currently lying in.

#1a: enjoy the health benefits and extra years afforded by the status quo

According to this: men take on a greater share of economic responsibility in their marriage, they reported greater strains on their wellbeing and health. In years where men in question were their family’s sole breadwinner, their psychological and health outcomes were at their worst.
For women, taking on a greater financial responsibility in their marriages had positive effects on happiness and wellbeing. “Women ... may approach breadwinning as an opportunity or choice. Breadwinning women may feel a sense of pride, without worrying what others will say if they can’t or don’t maintain it. After all, they have accomplished something rare for their gender,” the study says, about women who are their family’s primary breadwinner. “Should they fail to maintain this status, however, they have less to lose than men in the same position, based on social expectations."

This stress of responsibility and the lack of an "opt out" is literally shaving years off mens' lives in the form of poorer health. This is also likely reflected in the uneven suicide stats by gender and the life expectancy gap (currently at least 5 years, and as much as 8).

What has been demonstrated, sociolically, is that men are still considered failures should they be unsuccessfully relied on to support their family, whereas should women end up hating their job, it is completely acceptable to "drop out" and become mothers (or kept women, or mothers-with-nannies, which is the job I want).  These are expectations that the majority of people -- including women -- place on gender roles in this country, and that's something that you just can't legislate away.

#1b: raise kids in one-earner families, and enjoy the alternative to rat-racing

If parenthood makes women want to nurture instead of career climb while making men want to double down to provide for their families, a gap is inevitable, but an opportunity is there as well.

I'd love the additional *option* of staying home, doing something I loved, and not facing societal approbation for it. This would be the flip side of women not having the option of bayonetting civilians for a living, and one that many people would be happy with (and, if a lot of women choose this route -- and they do -- in lieu of working in their prime income years ... well, that alone should explain a huge unadjusted wage gap to anyone who remains unconvinced).

As a child of two working parents, I can tell you that there are benefits to a traditional family, and the traditional roles may have evolved for reasons other than patriarchy.

#1c: feminize the workforce

I was hoping that when women entered the workforce at the managerial level, it would reshape buesinss ... instead it's the women (think Meg, Carly, Marissa) that get reshaped. If you don't like what it takes to get ahead (which is almost the opposite of what's involved in getting a degree, where women are currently "in the lead"), then don't try to get ahead, at least not by using the current ruleset. Some prices may not be worth paying. And when you do get into a position of responsibility, don't continue to turn the workplace into a sterile, emotion-free environment, but do promote solely on merit (not on those traits like bullying and backstabbing that some might associate with males). In the short-term, this will lead to lower pay, because the highest pay goes to those who are willing to do anything to get ahead, but it will make your job suck less, will provide better lives for your subordinates, and may even transform the workplace into something that doesn't seem like the worst parts of a high school locker room, and which may be an environment more amenable to womens' strong suits.

#1d: Wait it out

The wage gap is largest for older women; but when you look at those stats, you aren't looking at a women in her 30's compared to what she'll make in her 60's ... you're looking at a women who entered the work force 10 years ago (with comparable-to-males educational opportunities) with one who entered 40 years ago (when the workplace was far more discriminatory and female college educations much less common), or maybe one who entered 20 years ago after raising kids for a decade or two (a noble cause, but not experience that trains you for much more than daycare work). Birth rates are falling here as they are in all industrial countries, graduation rates are rising for women, manual labor (where I *would* expect men to have an advantage careerwise) is becoming less of a career path as technology improves, and societal assumptions continue to shift. Although there are headwinds to closing the unadjusted gap, things should continue to improve if you do nothing more than sit on your ass.

Then, if you still want something to be upset about, it should be the disparity in earnings for women of different races, adjusted for education. Those durned Asian-Americans get all the breaks.

#2: Run with it

As with any generalization (e.g. income for ALL folks in a gender), there are certainly exceptions. If your sole goal is to out-earn your male counterparts, here are some industries you can choose from. From one study (numbers represent how much all women make on average for each $1 made by males):

1. Social worker - $1.08
2. Merchandiser - $1.08
3. Research assistant - $1.07
4. Purchasing specialist - $1.06
5. Physician advisor - $1.02
6. Communications associate - $1.02
7. Social media - $1.02
8. Health educator - $1.01
9. Procurement - $1.01
10. Business coordinators and therapists - $1.01

I'd argue that anything under 5% is basically noise, when you consider how many factors are involved in "earnings," never mind the perceived inequalities between two sets of very different people, but some other fields worth considering, from a separate study:

HR (which is largely populated by women): $1.01
Elementary school teacher: $1.01
RN: $1.02
Software developer: $1.04

Also, female part-time workers are now out-earning their male counterparts on an hourly basis. Granted, some of those jobs suck, and this isn't for everyone, but the *option* to make a decent living working part time is a good thing, and some of those jobs like bartending and waitressing do have potentially professional career tracks (think 5-star hotel bar and Michelin Star dining), can pay very well, and are generally tax-reduced (I suspect at least a fraction of the wage gap comes from *reported* wages, with women working for tips more than men, keeping a higher percentage of their pre-tax income, and appearing to net less than reality).

#3: Work it!

If you accept societal gender roles, there are additional opportunities for you ... every thing from having your lifestyle subsidized by your date to being a kept woman to working a job where you will get paid well just for being a woman. Again, and I'm sorry I know I have to keep saying this, I'm not implying these would be good options if they were your only options, just that options, particularly for a group as diverse as "all women," are definitely a good thing.

As a former bartender in a bar full of male patrons, I can tell you there are industries with a "reverse wage gap" wherein pay goes up if you have lady bits. And there are certainly plenty of sales jobs -- particularly in the pharma and medical devices field -- where your qualifications for a 6-figure job are basically a rack, literacy, and a willingness to bat an eyelash. Or ... strippers! I played soccer with a woman who put herself through a very, very pricey law school working at the "Pink Poodle." Again, maybe not for you, but if I could have made more than minimum wage at 20, I probably would have G-stringed-up.

Societal presumptions are also unequal in ways that would make some women happy (and others sad). For example, women are still generally awarded custody in divorce cases, where women also receive alimony and child support. Family support is a drain on the NET earnings of males but is not factored into the wages for females, which coupled with societal expectations about who picks up the dinner tab and buys the jewelry would leave me to believe that the net (not gross) all-income-after-expenses gap goes the other way. I understand some women pay alimony, that there is nothing wrong with women collecting alimony, and I'm not dissing women who gave up school and career to be home makers. But if our goal is to try to get our brains to look past the first "obvious" conclusions, then considering a "disposable income gap" might be a good first step for anyone unconvinced about the absence (or paucity) of the adjusted wage gap.

On the other hand, if you do NOT like the gender roles that society has doled out, yet you still let a man hold the door for you, pick up the check, or buy you a summer home, you may be a part of the problem to the extent that you are reinforcing those gender roles. Equality means just that -- with no differences -- so if you're actually looking for "fair but unequal" then you just have to accept some trade offs and unintended consequences in any bargain. Asking for equality in areas where you are at a (percieved?) disadvantage while not throwing away the benefits of the same deal would make you sound like today's white, wealthy, hetero, Christian male who is chronically complaining about being a persecuted class. Sometimes, if you want to keep the baby, it's only fair to keep the bathwater.

Having used this many words just to annoy a bunch of people, I think I will draw the curtain here for now, and present Act III next week.

Friday, January 13, 2017

You are probably wrong, but that (in of itself) does not make me a dick

Statistics are tricky. Many people feel that if you can't draw a knee-jerk conclusion from the data, then statistics -- in general -- are no good (e.g. hard alcohol consumption goes up with teacher salaries, so clearly if we give teachers more money they'll just spend it on booze). Or if they've ever seen statistics misapplied (e.g. IQ is correlated to race, and therefore President Trump), they assume that all data can be manipulated and don't trust anyone (which may be exactly the conclusion certain creationist, anti-science, vote-against-your-interests, and believe-both-evils-are-equal politicians want you to draw). The truth is, statistics are only as good as the statisticians wielding them, numeracy in this country is pretty low, and it's the lack of analysis (aka effort) that lets people misrepresent stats, or hold onto convincing (but wrong) data-attributed beliefs. I'm going to make the women of the world like me even less by explaining away the gender-based wage gap (in the USA), one of those things that everyone "knows" to be true, but is not.

There are two issues here: one is that the stat you commonly hear -- which is that women make $.77-.80 on the dollar -- is not comparing males and females doing the same work. Secondly, when you do compare those jobs for people with comparable years of experience, location, education level, etc., males and females generally aren't doing those jobs in the same way.

So how do we explain (away) the gap? I will be the first to admit that even with a math degree, the multi-multivariate separation of cause-and-effect is beyond me, even if I had that kind of time and energy (this is why we have division of labor in the first place). But the kind and number of factors are so deep and wide that I have no trouble buying the mathematicians' conclusions. In fact, I've read several studies explaining the gap to within a few cents of even -- including some of the ones cited below -- but each of those studies used *different* factors to explain the gap; in other words, adjusting for everything, it's quite possible the gap goes the other way (if, for example, business is reluctant to pay a class of individuals their effective "worth" because it appears discriminatory, or you add back in the value of time off, paid or otherwise, or equal insurance rates for unequal insurance costs).

Here's one such conclusion, from a decidedly pro-women's group: The American Association of University Women (AAUW) has now joined ranks with serious economists who find that when you control for relevant differences between men and women (occupations, college majors, length of time in workplace) the wage gap narrows to the point of vanishing. The 23-cent gap is simply the average difference between the earnings of men and women employed “full time.” What is important is the “adjusted” wage gap-the figure that controls for all the relevant variables.

Here are just some of the many causes of the perceived gap (quotes come from references at the end of this article, or can easily be found with a quick Googling):

1. Women on average (and more so historically) enter the workforce later, with fewer job skills, and have less education among older workers.

While the education gap has completely reversed itself, with more women college graduates than men, that's not the composition of the current work force, and that also does not hold for advanced degrees or STEM degrees (where a lot of the big money jobs are):
"...those who always see themselves as going to be mothers (and yes, there’s still a substantial portion of the population who do indeed regard life as being one of those things best run by the traditional gender time allocations, whatever you or I might think about that) tend to invest less in education and careers when they know that they’re intending to drop out of that rat race."

Many of those women entering the workforce later in life are coming off careers as homemakers, which limit the types of jobs they are eligible for, and their expected pay.

2. Women choose different types of jobs than men. Those jobs have lower pay, and, significantly, lower rates of pay increase.

"Jobs themselves seem to have a gender component. Jobs that involve helping and caring are typically female (though many men work in them) and lower paid, while men’s jobs (with many women working in them) involve controlling and managing and are higher paid."

In the older salary surveys, a whole bunch of white-collar jobs get lumped together (including, say, a broad category containing "pro athlete," where pay is commensurate with the dollars those performances bring in), skewing those "buckets" so they were actually apples-to-adam's-apples comparisons. Newer, better analyses (again, doing the work matters in statistics) shows these studies to be flawed, so please don't quote them when commenting (which you are encouraged to do).

3. Women leave the workforce, often permanently, to have kids.

This is going to be the most controversial one, since many women feel they should be able to do just that without affecting their career options. However, companies aren't just hatin' babies (in fact, single folks help subsidize the insurance costs of full families in companies that provide insurance benefits, males now subsidize females, there are several benefits available only to the childfull, etc. ... so one could argue -- but I won't -- that non-breeders that can't host an embryo are the discriminated class here). It's not just that some businesses've evaluated the cost of maternity in the face of current laws, in terms of expected time off (both for leave and future child-related time costs), in the cost of holding open a position that may get vacated, etc. and discounted the average value of a women's contribution to the bottom line, but that time off takes away from anyone's future earnings, and dropping out of the workforce before peak earning years is obviously going to affect the mean income of all females severely.

One studies estimate wage costs at about 5.7% less for each child women have. The gender wage gap for unmarried people with no kids? About $300 out of $47K. [I consider that in "rounding error" territory.]

Even if women just took maternity leave, and were willing and able to raise a baby without impacting their job, in many high-paying careers, *any* time off is a massive income hit:
"Specifically the penalties for time out of the office — regardless of gender — are high among those with MBAs and JDs."

The timing of this departure, when permanent, is a huge driver in the wage gap. Women's pay growth stops *outstripping* men's (not just matching, but surpassing) in their 30's, which is when, on average, college-educated women start having children.

Interesting aside: There is clearly a significant pay gap between women who have children and those who don't. However, there's a wage *bonus* for fathers over single men, comparable in size, so *families* don't end up earning much less even when women do. I don't know what accounts for that bonus, but I suspect it's a division of labor + having responsibilities thing.

There's always going to be the question of how a *family* maximizes its earnings and minimizing daycare expenses, and for a family with at least one parent in a high-wage, high-demand job, that’s generally having one full-time-plus worker and one part-time-or-less caregiver, except in those cases where both parents are both such highly paid workers that they just farm out child rearing:
The “motherhood penalty” — the relative decline in wages for women when they have children — has disappeared or even reversed for highly paid, highly educated women.
This would also apply in the increasingly popular but still relatively rare cases of the stay at home dad, which brings us to ...

4. Women have different life preferences, somewhat (but not entirely) based on expectations of life roles:

I'll touch on this in depth next time, but the bottom line is women *are* nurturers (whether by nature or nurture it's hard to tell, but you can see a feedback cycle here if you are a women and were raised by a nurturing woman, and that is your dominant role model, because your daddy is at work all the time). On the balance, women also have different life priorities (or nurturing responsibilities) than males, which limit their commitment to certain professions (I am NOT saying this is true of ALL women, only that's it's measurably more true for women than men, and will probably continue to be so until I too can lactate out my nipples).

Being a nurturer limits your available time in total: 
Women are more likely to spend time away from the workforce and are more likely to work truncated schedules as they try to balance both professional and personal priorities, such as caring for children or parents.

In the latest stats I can find 19% of men and 7% of women worked more than 55 hours a week. And women not working those long hours is spreading the unadjusted wage gap the "wrong way" (which implies that there are still advances being made in the absolute gap, ignoring job types, in spite of the appearance of stagnation):
"In the past, the tendency of men to work longer hours would not actually have contributed much to the wage gap, because the payoff for doing so was negligible. In 1979, workers who chalked up more hours actually earned less per hour than those who worked full time. The average man working a typical full-time job, 35 to 49 hours a week, now earns about $26 an hour. But the man working 50 hours a week or more now earns close to $33 an hour."
"Men make up a bit more than half the full-time workforce, but they account for more than 70 percent of those working 50 hours a week or more. So as wage gains have gone disproportionately to people working long hours, they have also gone disproportionately to men."

Note that is more hours AND more per-hour, which is an N-squared contributor, PLUS a bonus for promotions going to the most "dedicated." Also interesting: women who work long hours have seen even faster gains than men.

Women are also less likely to give up their life and sanity to claw their way to the top (we address why next week). One study saw this attrition highest in the most grueling (and highest paid) professions: "the penalty for M.B.A.s is higher than in any other profession she’s looked at. A high percentage leave the highest paying jobs after just a few years."

This issue also affects the simple comparison of same-job-different-sex in a manner not factored in previously (i.e. under point #2, wherein the gap was still a few cents after accounting for ONLY "identical" jobs, experience, title, etc.):
"For instance, a woman with young children may have a job with a title that reflects her seniority but opts to work at a company that pays somewhat less in exchange for more flexibility. "

5. The economic supply-and-demand argument (or, "it must be so because it makes sense superficially, not because I have irrefutable evidence" ... this tack doesn't work for me, but if you're the kind of person who falls asleep during these discussions and just want the Karl-Rove-style "there's this simple argument that appeals to many plain-ol'-folk and makes any convoluted truth sound faggy*, elitist, and wrong" then you can have this nugget, which completely defeats the point of this post):

If women were truly cheaper, and did the same work as males in every way, a business trying to increase its bottom line would hire more of them, and you'd see a lower unemployment rate for females (ceteris paribus, which they always ain't). Although the female unemployment rate was much lower after the last crash -- possibly due to everyone losing earnings potential and men taking a longer time to get over their entitlement, and women convinced they're going to get paid less, thus taking the lower paying jobs first -- that's evened up again, which is business as usual, and I'm a bit surprised how consistently about-equal these rates are. There's pretty much no other axis and metric along which you can slice up the work force and come up with roughly equal numbers on both sides of the fence.

* With apologies to Idiocracy, as well as my gay friends

Some references (and generally good reading if you're a 538-type-of-person):

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

EXIT POLLS: Flawed Methodology, or a Dying Canary?

I know it sounds tinfoilhatty to some people, but there is plenty of hard evidence (including actual legal convictions, and the inevitable "whistleblower dies in small plane crash the day before testifying" story) that elections have been stolen in the past, and lots of implications that they're being stolen today. FL '00 was stolen by the Republicants (I'm specifically referring to win-at-any-cost neocons here: they're like Replicants ... nearly indistinguishable from human beings) long before the polls opened, and the Crosscheck program (brainchild of the AZ Rebublicant responsible for AZ's "living while brown" laws and Trump's "build a wall and get MX to pay for it" scheme) is just part of the recent attempt to take that strategy national. The presumption in all the hand-wringing following the recent election is that the pundits and exit polls were wrong; I'll agree with the former, but the latter is the standard by which we judge whether international elections were free and fair, and asking a voter "who did you vote for?" will be different than the actual results based on many factors such as whether the scantron machines (which are older are less frequently updated or calibrated in poorer areas) misread your ballot, or whether the poll worker challenges your right to vote based on a disenfranchisement effort and hands you a provisional ballot (which you would be surprised to find out typically lands in the trash, and is often prohibited from being used in a recount).

The fact that, e.g. Ohio turned off the security and accounting features on its e-voting machines for no good reason just prior to the 2016 vote; or the existence of laws like the ones in MI mandating that a recount CANNOT include comparing paper ballots to machine totals (allowing only for retabulation, but throwing out once again any precinct where the voter roll counts differ from the vote total by a single vote, even if that's a mis-scan or a forgotten tick mark (oops!) by a poll worker); or that Secretaries of State are inevitably highly partisan hacks (I'm looking at you, Ms. Harris) tells me that these shenanigans are not only known, but welcomed by our perpetual overlords. There are a lot of bad election laws that only make sense in the context of preventing meaningful auditing or recounting. There are plenty of real election experts that know how to run a free and fair election that are being willfully ignored.

Exit polls in '04 were right in 49 of 50 instances, the exception being Ohio, which both decided the election and is the home to Diebold, the voting machine company that runs most of the Ohio e-voting machines, and which is run by a staunch Republicant who promised to "deliver Ohio to Bush." Similar, they nailed the exit results well in '00, aside from calling FL as a clear victory for Gore.

Exit polls, where wrong in '16 (which was often), failed beyond statistical probability in favor of Republicans in all but one (non-contested) state. Where the states were swing states, those error bars were most violently violated. Even if you believe in a Shy Trump Voter (have you ever met one of those?), this doesn't explain errors in down-ballot elections or the collection of locations where the skew was heaviest, and the odds of pollsters (who make their living on the strength of their accuracy) missing in this manner (not just missing, but with extreme prejudice) are winning-the-lottery-while-being-struck-by-lightning-like.

But don't just take my word for it, please:
I invite you to tell me where any of these claims are wrong, as long as you use a reasonable citation.

This ignores "legal" disenfranchisement efforts such as gerrymandering, voter ID laws (which address exactly the wrong kind of vote fraud), provisional balloting, roll purges, rewriting the laws determining the balance of power based on whether or not your party is in power, willfully not doing your job once elected, using your office to ensure reelection and/or campaigning in lieu of governing, etc. These issues plus additional evidence of (sufficiently) widescale fraud intended to give a minority of the population (white, male, conservative, religious, wealthy ... i.e. those who feel most put upon these days) the majority of the political power -- in what used to be a democracy -- will be coming soon to this space, under "Electoral Shenanigans." So, you have that going for you. Just remind me not to board any small aircraft any time soon.