Salon gets wonderfully thorough: At the start of the week, we were puzzled by some of the work we found at Salon.
Our most significant puzzlement concerned a piece by Katie McDonough. McDonough started this-a-way concerning the gender wage gap:
MCDONOUGH (3/23/14): There is something bizarre about celebrating the “top five states for women’s salaries” when women who live in these five states are still making, on average, 90 percent or less of what their male colleagues earn. It’s not wrong, it’s just … strange.“The gender wage gap is still a real thing,” McDonough wrote, making a perfectly accurate statement. “Women, on average, make 77 cents on the dollar.”
Women in the District of Columbia came out on top, according to an analysis of government and other data from personal finance site NerdWallet, but that means that they make 90.1 percent of what their male colleagues bring home for similar work. Women in Maryland came in second, making 85.3 percent; women in New York rounded out the top five with earnings around 83.9 percent of their male peers.
The gender wage gap is still a real thing in 2014. Women, on average, make 77 cents on the dollar. That gap is bigger and more financially devastating for black and Latina women; trans women are incredibly vulnerable to pay discrimination, as well as other forms of job discrimination.
You may note that she didn’t say “for the same work.” But she said “for similar work” in the preceding paragraph.
We’ll guess that this topic may get lots of play in the coming year. Ideally, that will give us a chance to get more clear on the way the wage gap works.
In those, her first three paragraphs, McDonough was repeating familiar claims. In these, her next two paragraphs, the Salonster began to fight:
MCDONOUGH (continuing directly): And since I am so incredibly tired of hearing that the gender wage gap has been “debunked,” let’s direct everyone’s attention to a report from the Government Accountability Office on how the pay gap persists even after one takes into account part-time work and women working fewer hours or taking time off to raise children or care for family members. (All lifestyle “choices,” by the way, that are deeply informed by cultural norms that shoulder women with a majority of caregiving responsibilities, but I digress or whatever!)McDonough says she’s incredibly tired of hearing the gender wage gap debunked. In the interest of debunking that debunking, she cites a GAO study (from 2003) which said the gender wage gap is 80 percent (or was in the year 2000).
After doing a quantitative analysis of a nationally representative longitudinal data set, the GAO found that while many factors influence wage disparities, when you remove all of these differences, women still earn around 80 percent of men’s wages. “Even after accounting for key factors that affect earnings,” the report notes, “our model could not explain all of the difference in earnings between men and women.” (For more on this, Bryce Covert has a wonderfully thorough piece over at the Nation.)
She recommended Covert’s “wonderfully thorough piece,” which, in its wonderfully thorough way, restricted itself to that one study when it came to the size of the gap.
We’re not experts on this topic. We’d like to understand it better. For that reason, McDonough’s piece sent us clicking around.
We’re still not experts on the gap. That said, in the next few days, we’ll post some of what we’ve found.
Two guesses: This topic may get large play this year. If it does, the new Salon may plow some old or new ground.