Monday, 4 January 2016

Why The Wage Gap Argument Persists

Hi guys, welcome to Orygyn.

Quickie here as it's a response to a tweet. I hope my shorthand here is understandable:

"no-one has refuted the pay gap" (pic of bemused looking manga girl)

My response
It hasn't. Studies showing there are POSSIBLY other factors do not constitute a refutation.

Response (combined from 2 tweets)
taking in all factors beside gender it minimizes to 6 or 2 cents. and even then there is no evidence its caused by gendered discrimination on the wages. god in the gaps is your answer

Rather than attempt to condense my response into a tweet or a few tweets, I'll do it here.

First, a clarification of my tweet. I've looked at the studies that have been done that are normally cited to try to discredit the wage gap. When I said that the studies POSSIBLY show that the gap can be explained by other factors, what I'm referring to here is the fact that just because a study, or studies, have been done purporting to show that the wage gap can be explained by other factors, doesn't mean you've debunked the wage gap argument. In order to debunk the argument, you have to show that the gap CANNOT be explained by gender discrimination. None of the studies I've seen at least ever try to claim this, in fact, when it comes to studies in general, I tend to find repeated disclaimers about not over-interpreting the results.

Now you may argue that this is not possible to do, and you'd be right. This is precisely why the argument persists. My own position is that I think the studies have a lot of merit in explaining MOST of the wage gap AT PRESENT, but, having made my point that the wage gap argument CANNOT ever be fully debunked, I believe we should always keep an eye on it, keep doing studies to assess why there is an absolute wage gap, what explanatory factors are involved, and that as little of it as possible is caused by discrimination, implicit or otherwise. This leads me to my next point: the statement that there is no evidence it's caused by discrimination is flat-out false. It takes nothing more than looking at the Wikipedia page to find links to studies that have demonstrated this. Even if I grant that, however, the POTENTIAL always exists. We do not live in a police state. Businesses, no matter where you live, have some degree of freedom to hire and fire, and no regulatory process will ever screen out discrimination entirely. A counter-balance is always necessary to make sure that discrimination doesn't run rampant, and, in following on from my earlier point, I think a reason why the argument is still made is precisely to provide this counter-balance.

Finally, "god in the gaps" is not relevant here. "God in the gaps" refers to science eliminating the number of possible contexts under which a god can exist and religious people squeezing it into the remaining ones. The existence of a supernatural god is practically unprovable by definition. On the other hand, we know that gender discrimination happens. We know that it has happened in the past. We know that we have subconscious and conscious attitudes that may lead us to believe that women are not just physically weaker than men, but possibly psychologically too. In order for feminists to have a valid point, they need only demonstrate that there is doubt that the wage gap is FULLY explained by non-discriminatory causes, and, as I've said, this doubt always exists.

To summarize, the issue of whether the wage gap "exists" isn't one that interests me. It fundamentally misses the point. The point is that discrimination can and does happen. We need to keep doing these studies and we need to realize whether you're feminist, anti-feminist or indifferent, that the wage gap isn't a weapon to use against the other side, but a tool to help vanquish the discrimination that we all agree shouldn't happen.


No comments:

Post a Comment