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The Wage Gap is Real and it Matters

I’ve had this sitting in my drafts for a while and have decided to release it in honor of equal pay day. I lead off with a somewhat out-dated article, but I have seen basically the same arguments echoed on twitter today so I think it is still relevant.

Christina Hoff Summers:

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.”

Emphasis mine.

If the President had said, “Controlling for occupational differences, positions, education, job tenure and hours worked per week, women only earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns” then it would be fair to say that he was using a wildly discredited factoid. Perhaps that’s how the average person will interpret what he said. Perhaps he’s even being intentionally misleading. Either way, we definitely shouldn’t take solace in the fact that the “correct” figure is five cents and we shouldn’t ignore the 77 cent figure either.

If we were to do a blind study of wages and we found that Group A was earning only 77% as much per hour as Group B, we’d be pretty interested in why that was. If we looked into the data and found that Group A tended to work as Psychologists, Educators, Counselors, Social Workers etc. and Group B tended to work as Engineers, Mathematicians, Computer Scientists and Doctors, we’d want to figure out what was causing these two groups to sort into such different professions. If we found out that Group A has blue eyes and Group B has brown eyes, we wouldn’t be satisfied concluding that blue eyed people just had different preferences. When we know Group A happens to have a long history of oppression at the hands of Group B, our hypothesis must be that the history of oppression is playing a role.

My chosen profession, software development, is one of these careers that women just don’t seem to “prefer”. Software development pays well. It offers a good deal of flexibility, plenty of opportunity for advancement, intellectual and creative challenges, high status, and job security among many other benefits. Obviously individual preferences vary, but to think that it would be normal for any sufficiently large subset of the human population to collectively not prefer this job is completely bonkers. Yet, we know that a very small proportion of women pursue careers in software development.

The reason few women become software developers is that many men in my field (and I suspect in many of the other higher paying fields that are also responsible for the gender gap) create an environment that is intimidating for women if not outright hostile. Not only that, but our culture teaches girls from a very young age what roles are acceptable for them to play in society. It is impossible to separate individual choices from these cultural factors.

The 77 cent figure is important because it is a good measurement of the extent of these cultural factors. We have no reason to believe that the general population of women should be earning less than the general population of men. To the extent that we know this is the case, we have every reason to believe that it is because our culture has a long history of female oppression that we have yet to overcome.

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pegobry:

Civilization!

pegobry:

Civilization!

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USA’s Amazing Opening Ceremony Uniforms

Above are this year’s official Olympic Opening Ceremony uniforms. As you can see, they’re absolutely perfect. You don’t think so? Let me try and convince you.

Given that the Olympics are held only once every couple of years, it is important that the uniforms represent the times that they were worn in. Decades from now, we should be able to look back at pictures of athletes in the uniforms and know exactly what time period they were from. By going with a classic look the 2012 uniforms completely fail to do this.

The new uniforms perfectly embody 2014. The sweater design fits in very well with our current love for ironic (but not entirely ironic) nostalgia. A year after Thrift Shop, the athletes are going to be wearing their grandparents’ sweaters. The over the top Stars and Stripes demonstrate America’s continued sense of unapologetic nationalism in the face of the internationally embarrassing NSA scandal. The Polo logo on the front represents our love for branding and commercialism. The year 2014 is printed nice and large so that we won’t forget what year it is. All of these elements combine to make a very memorable uniform that serves as an icon for the times.

Maybe the year on the sweater is cheating, but still.

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wilwheaton:

                 wow

                      very magazine
       such model

                                                wow

wilwheaton:

                 wow

                      very magazine

       such model

                                                wow

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tommy2shoes:

"Human society cannot be governed by a "law of the jungle" by which everyone tries to snatch what he can, at any cost.  And we know, only too painfully, that there is no "automatic" mechanism for ensuring fairness and justice.  Only an ethical choice transformed into specific practices, with effective means, is capable of preventing man from falling prey to man. But this is the same as postulating an order of values that is more important than personal gain and, therefore, a type of asset that is superior to tangible ones.  And we are not talking about issues that require a certain religious belief in order to be understood; we are talking about principles such as human dignity, solidarity, and love."
- Pope Francis

tommy2shoes:

"Human society cannot be governed by a "law of the jungle" by which everyone tries to snatch what he can, at any cost.  And we know, only too painfully, that there is no "automatic" mechanism for ensuring fairness and justice.  Only an ethical choice transformed into specific practices, with effective means, is capable of preventing man from falling prey to man. But this is the same as postulating an order of values that is more important than personal gain and, therefore, a type of asset that is superior to tangible ones.  And we are not talking about issues that require a certain religious belief in order to be understood; we are talking about principles such as human dignity, solidarity, and love."

- Pope Francis

(via pegobry)

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thefrogman:

Imogen Quest by Olivia Walch [website]

[h/t: tastefullyoffensive]

(Source: tastefullyoffensive, via wilwheaton)

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I just watched the controversial Miley Cyrus thing. You can watch it above.

First off, it’s way overblown.

Second, I think the most off-putting thing about it, and perhaps this is what people are reacting to, is that Ms. Cyrus seems like she is trying way too hard. If her schtick is that she’s the good girl turned bad, that’s not a bad thing to go with, but she doesn’t really seem to have thought it through any further than that. It seems like her entire plan was to just go out there, stick out her tongue and gesticulate a lot, and that was going to be it. She just doesn’t seem confident in the persona she’s created. I think that internal tension and lack of confidence comes through in her performance and that is why it feels so weird to watch her and Mr. Thicke on stage together.

Now, to cleanse your pallette, he’s Lady Gaga’s excellent performance of Applause from earlier in the night: