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Sexual Harassment and the Gender Pay Gap

In part, I take exception to the phrase, “a growing body of research” because one single study in addition to zero is “growing”. So that’s a meaningless phrase. They let on that they know this with phrases like, “…In one of the only studies that looks at the …” Though it may be a growing body of research it’s not much of a body to begin with.

That said, the article does two things that I think are nice to see. First, it acknowledges that the gender pay gap can be explained by differences in education and child-bearing. That it at least hints at that is better. But it still uses words like “disparities” and “opportunity” which should be left out.

The second thing it does is suggest an interesting application of the results of sexual harassment. “What’s more, women who experience sexual harassment at work are six-and-a-half times more likely to leave their jobs compared with women who don’t, according to research by Amy Blackstone, Christopher Uggen and Heather McLaughlin.” Then it suggests that when they leave these higher paying jobs they stay in the work force but take lower paying jobs.

There are some obvious flaws in this. First off the number of women this is talking about is relatively small compared to the overall workforce. Though I don’t have the statistics I feel comfortable saying it’s not a high enough number to impact the average.

Here’s where we always get into trouble with this kind of attempt to mix the social and the mathematical. “Understanding exactly how much harassment affects earning power isn’t easy, said Claudia Goldin, a Harvard professor who studies the gender-pay gap. Abuse at work is notoriously under-reported…” you see, they just guess at what that “under-reported” number is. They say, it’s small when you look at the numbers, but we REALLY know it’s more than that. While I do think the author has a point that this may apply to some women I do not think it at all does much to make the gender pay gap an issue of social concern.

Female executive looking out window

Understanding exactly how much harassment affects earning power isn’t easy, said Claudia Goldin, a Harvard professor who studies the gender-pay gap. Abuse at work is notoriously under-reported

Source: Sexual Harassment Explains a Lot About Why Women Get Paid Less – Bloomberg

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