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Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

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Host: Scott LaMar

Radio Smart Talk: Women and men pay gap

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Apr 2, 2013 9:01 AM
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Radio Smart Talk for Tuesday, April 2:

There is no disputing the fact that men earn more money than women. 

However, that may be where the agreement ends. 

The statistic most often quoted is that women earn 77 cents for every dollar a man makes.  That number was quoted by President Obama in his State-of-the-Union Address when he urged Congress to approve the Paycheck Fairness Act.

The 77 cent number was compiled from the 2010 U.S. Census that compared the median pay of men and women.

At the same time, the Institute for Women's Policy Research concluded that full-time working women were paid at a rate of 82.2% of what men earned.

The real question is why this gender pay gap exists.

Some have suggested that women choose careers that don't pay as much as men or that women don't work as many hours as men because of family obligations.

Still, others say it is flat-out discrimination that men are paid more. 

The real question then is are women earning less when working in the same jobs and hours as men?

We'll explore these questions and others on Tuesday's Radio Smart Talk.

Appearing on the program will be Maureen Powers, CEO of the YWCA in Lancaster and Dr. Heather Odle-Dusseau, an assistant professor of Management at Gettysburg College.



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  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-04-02 08:22

    E-mail from Duane:

    "I'm a male in a woman-dominated field. How do you feel about us being discriminated against?"

    • Maureen Powers img 2013-04-02 12:29

      Duane, I don't know what your experience has been, since you haven't shared it. I do know, however, that men in female dominated fields are, on average, paid more than their female counterparts, as we discussed on the show. For example, female elementary and middle school teachers make about 91% of what male teachers make. The pay gap for female social workers is about 88%, secretaries about 86%, waitresses about 84%. Male nurses are also paid more than female nurses.

  • Alison img 2013-04-02 08:29

    Discrimination is sometimes in the subtext. For example, men are rewarded for being strong, decisive, and even highly directive, while women who exhibit the same qualities might be marked as overbearing, rigid, and bossy. It has happened to me! There are subtle sanctions levied against women -- the same sanctions that work in favor of men.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-04-02 08:35

    E-mail from Manuel:

    "In today’s society, I’ve seen a focus on the expectation that men need to “take care of a family” even though we see the direction changing and an increasing number of single parent families which are primarily female led. (Although I myself am a single father of 5)

    Additionally, there is also a bias that I have actually heard a female HR person discussing, that women are more expecting that men will take care of them from the beginning of the relational cycle (dating) to the end (retirement planning). Until ALL these roles are addressed, the societal expectations will create bias."

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-04-02 08:41

    E-mail from Lisa:

    "I worked my way through college by waiting tables in a restaurant. I noticed that the one waiter I worked with continually received higher tips even when it was for something as simple as a cup of coffee. I asked one of the restaurant "regulars" why he tipped this man higher than the women. His response had nothing to do with the level of service, which tip should be based on, it was based on the fact that this customer figured the waiter had a family to support and the waitresses were just supplementing a family income. I think this viewpoint of only being a supplemental income is prevalent in female dominated jobs, even when those jobs are held primarily by the head of household."

  • raise.a.pint img 2013-04-02 08:42

    There are numerous job positions where variables can be controlled and leaving sex as the unknown. For example, teachers, hospital workers(excluding doctors), large institutions hiring for entry level positions. Would it not make for a better study to focus on these groups and avoid variables which cannot be controlled and therefore contaminate the study? The guests are making this sound like a cause in search of data as opposed to a discussion of a study's findings.

    • Maureen Powers img 2013-04-02 15:16

      I believe we did speak about numerous studies during the show. Time does not allow us to give the sources for all of our statements in this forum. But there have been a number of studies showing that when you take into account factors like education, occupation, hours worked, and experience that there is still a gender based pay gap that can only be explained by discrimination. A study done by a Yale University economics professor and the US Secretary of Commerce found that only 27% of the gender wage gap is explained by differences in characteristics such as those mentioned above. A later study by Cornell University economists Francine Blau and Lawrence Kahn stated that while the overall size of the wage gap has decreased somewhat over time, the proportion that is unexplained by these types of characteristics is increasing. I'm sorry that didn't come across in the show, but we certainly have plenty of data to support our comments.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-04-02 08:44

    E-mail from Alison:

    "Thank you for bringing us relevant, and "smart", discussion about timely topics. Around the dinner table on Sunday we had a lively discussion about this issue. The men didn't think it was true, and the women were frustrated.

    1. After college graduation, in 1986, a friend and I both accepted positions in Florida and relocated. She worked for the corporate office of a large nternational company, employing thousands. She was an Accountant; after about six months she shared with me that her counterpart, a male with exactly the same credentials, age and experience, was earning six thousand dollars more annually. His bonus structure was also different; his bonuses were anywhere from 5% to 9% higher than hers. After about a year she worked up the courage to talk to her boss, who was the department head. Verbatim, his response was "Someday 'John' will have to support a family, and someday you will get married and quit your job." At the time "John" lived with his mother, and had very minimal living expenses. BTW, she was a Lesbian, and did not get married.

    2. I worked for a college in Florida; over a years' time I discovered that my male counterparts earned about 10% more than I did, working in the same department doing similar work. Interestingly enough, I found that employees' who were black earned less money than I did (both men and womn), and futher, black employees' did not receive annual raises.

    3. In 2011 my friend's employer was sold out; she is in a 100% comission sales role. She is the only female salesperson. Her comission base was reduced to minimum wage X 40 hours. She has 28 years experience.

    4. I have always earned less than my male counterparts."

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-04-02 08:53

    E-mail from Blaine:

    "Union contracts NEVER permit wages paid to a woman from being paid less. MAYBE they are good for something."

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-04-02 08:54

    E-mail from Manuel:

    "I’ll be devil’s advocate and ask the unasked question. If there is parity of pay, will women stop expecting men to take care of the expenses of dating?"

  • Maureen Powers img 2013-04-02 15:10

    Yes, all gender stereotypes need to be looked at. We all are raised within a sexist culture, and boys and girls learn gender roles at an early age. It's even hard to buy gender neutral clothing for babies and young children! Boys learn to look down on girls through such messages as "You throw like a girl." Girls/young women internalize the sexist messages and learn that they are supposed to look up to boys/men. We know from AAUW studies that teachers treat boys and girls differently in the classroom, encouraging boys in their thinking much more than they do the girls. Both sexes learn to accept the power and privilege that is given to men, and both have to unlearn the falsehoods that prop up a sexist system if we are to achieve economic and social parity for women.

  • MaxymousAnonymous img 2013-04-02 16:19

    What a shame that it’s 2013, and yet we still hear of issues such as this taking place. With that said, what I find to be equally as shameful, is that the YWCA; a long-standing organization known for women’s advocacy can have the audacity to speak out on this very topic, and yet be guilty of paying their staff members an annual salary that is low enough for them to live in poverty. I can only imagine that the officers of the said organization do not share these concerns.