Thursday, September 11, 2008

Pay Grades

Another comment-turned-post:

WhiteCoat has a post up bemoaning US priorities based on census reports.  My comment ended up taking a long time to write, so I may as well get some readership out of it.  Go read his post first, and then my comment:

It can at least partially be explained by the amount of training involved and the difficulty in replacing some at the higher end of the spectrum.  My brother was a school teacher until this last year when he got fed up with the increasingly shocking behavior of America's unparented youth and the low pay of teachers.  And there were dozens of potential teachers standing in line to take his place, so there was no motivation by the district to try to keep him.

On the other hand, managers, doctors, nurses, computer programmers and the like are more difficult to replace so there is motivation to keep them.  I dare any fast food worker to say to their boss "unless you give me extra vacation and a 5000 dollar raise, I'm leaving."  They will probably get help out the door by means of the manager's shoes.  Moral of the story?  I suppose it can be summed up in the words of one of the greatest minds of our times: "You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq."

As for the gender gap, I don't know the details about how they come up with that figure, so I can't say too much on it.  If a manager is paying a woman less money to carry the same responsibilities, then that is just plain wrong, but I suspect that even if common decency does not motivate one to equalize pay amongst their employees, the threat of lawsuits will, so I have to wonder about the figures.

One possible explanation is the Mommy effect.  I know that among my co-workers, many of the women who have children work a lot less hours so that they can be home more often with the children.  I don't know if that is accounted for in the figures.  Another possible factor is different jobs within the general categories.  For instance, in my scientific survey of healthcare providers (in other words what I've seen around me), there are many more male doctors and many more female nurse practitioners.  If they are lumped together in the same category than there will be a big discrepancy even if the MDs are being paid the same and the NPs are being paid the same.  And on another vein of the same branch of thought, a lot of fields that have been primarily dominated by men (such as doctors) are just now starting to catch up (the last teaching hospital I worked at had 8 female and 7 male residents), but still the ones with experience and thus higher pay grades are mostly the males - this, of course is excepting Obama, who apparently does not have a high enough pay grade to have his own opinions.

Just a few thoughts.

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