South-Western - Management  
Bridging The (Gender Wage) Gap
Topic Human Resource Management
Key Words Wage gap, work-life balance
InfoTrac Reference A126351703
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News Story 

The debate over the gender wage gap has been raging for a long time. Statistics show that women typically earn 80 cents for every dollar that men make. However, it's possible that this statistic doesn't tell the whole story. There are things that men are willing to do at work that put them into higher earning categories like clocking longer hours, relocating to undesirable places, traveling extensively, and working in crummy conditions. Companies that need workers to do these types of things often offer higher pay to make up for the demands.

Also, the evidence shows that women earn as much or more than men until they have children. It is typical at this point for men to take on more difficult work assignments with the hope of earning more, while women scale back in order to spend more time with their children. It's a question of having more earnings vs. having a more balanced life. Warren Farrell, author of "Why Men Earn More: The Startling Truth Behind the Pay Gap-and What Women Can Do About It" says that there are six strategies anyone can use if they are more interested in earning higher wages than in having a balanced life.

  1. Sign up for a job with bottom-line responsibility: Operating jobs generate revenue and companies are willing to pay more for people who take on the responsibility and risk of being held accountable for the bottom-line.
  2. Find a field that entails financial or emotional risk-taking: Venture capitalists are handsomely paid for taking huge risks. Where the stakes are high, the personal rewards are often high as well.
  3. Work more hours, weeks, and years: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the average person working 45 hours a week earns 44% more than someone working 40 hours.
  4. Be willing to relocate anywhere: Tough jobs in remote locations often lead to bigger positions, because you have less corporate bureaucracy to deal with and can rise to the top more easily.
  5. Pick technology or hard sciences over the arts or social sciences: On the BLS chart of "20 Occupations that Pay the Most", nine were various types of engineering jobs. Meanwhile, only 10% of engineering managers are women.
  6. Choose a field where you can't "check out" at the end of the day: Farrell calls these jobs "7-11s" because they never close. Doctors, lawyers, and executives have trouble getting away from their work, even for vacations, but are paid well for their commitment.

Farrell does not necessarily endorse these means to a higher paycheck. Ultimately, he would like to see companies find ways to reduce the burden of work. And if the workplace doesn't change, they may find themselves unable to find young talent to take on the demanding jobs. A Radcliffe-Harris poll reported that 70% of men in their twenties said they would be willing to trade more money for more time with their children.


To what does the author of "Why Men Earn More..." attribute the gap in wages between men and women?


The article concludes that if companies do not find ways to reduce the demands of work on an employee's personal and family time, they may struggle to find talented young candidates to fill demanding positions. With all the emphasis on improving the economy and increasing corporate profits, what do you think the trend will be in ten years for the demands of higher paying positions? Do you think companies will implement changes to create a more balanced life? Or do you think the demands on employee's personal time will continue to grow? Research work-life balance in your textbook or on the internet. Then, decide where you stand on the issue. Give at least three reasons to support your thesis and be prepared to debate in class.

Source "Bridging The (Gender Wage) Gap," Fast Company, Jan. 2005, v90 p85(3).
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