A new study explores whether you can pay an employee to be sexually harassed.
This blog post was published originally in September 2011. Unfortunately, since that time the journal of Basic and Applied Social Psychology has retracted the article. The information on that retraction a can be found on their website. It goes without saying that we can infer no information from the relationship between a woman’s name and her income from this research.
Taking her husband’s name at marriage suggests to potential employers that a woman is less intelligent, less ambitious, inclined to work fewer hours and more focused on family. Recent evidence suggests that women who make that choice can expect lower wages and fewer job offers as a result.
Over the past couple of weeks practically every media site has run a piece on a new “economic theory” that argues that gender equality is driving down the price of sex. Valid critiques have been made but analysts are missing one very important point: This is not an economic model and if it was it wouldn’t be a very good one.*
This week Feministing called the UK Bill that would have banned abortion counseling “anti-choice” legislation. I think they have got that all wrong. The current arrangement gives abortion providers a financial incentive to encourage uncertain women to choose abortion – if that is the case, can we really be certain that each abortion is the woman’s choice? Or is it possible that financial motives are dictating the decisions of some women who might choose otherwise not to terminate their pregnancies?
Employers may punish women who are obese with lower wages, but not all women are paying a penalty. Single women who are obese earn higher wages because they invest more in unobservable job skills. Why? Because heavy women have to plan on never having a husband to help pay the bills.
Porn stars aren’t paid nearly as well as mainstream celebrities—even the most famous ones. Given the size and stigma of the market, one would expect porn salaries to be higher to encourage actors to enter that market. As it turns out, this discrepancy has little to do with the way the porn industry operates and everything do with monopolies created by copyright protection.
If the average escort selling sex in the US worked 2,000 hours a year, her income would place her in the top 0.5% of the earnings distribution.
It continues to be a mystery as to why women are earning an average of $280 per hour to do, essentially, what the rest of us do for free. You may want to argue that their jobs are risky in terms of violence, disease and arrest, but if risk explained the high earnings then the women doing the riskiest sex work, those walking the streets, would earn more. Of course, they earn much less, only about $27 per hour.
In her memoir, accomplished economic historian (and my personal hero) Deirdre McCloskey, relates the conversation in which she informed her dean that she planned to transition from man to woman.* At the time, the dean joked that the change would be great for affirmative action (“one more woman, one less man!”) and meant that he would only have to pay her 70% of her current salary. I don’t think Prof. McCloskey was amused by the comment, but as her book reveals that was only the beginning of discovering what it means to be a woman in a male-dominated profession.
I have an idea for a Hollywood movie. An ambitious, young, heterosexual woman disguises herself as a lesbian in order to land herself the job of her dreams. Her handsome colleague takes her into his confidence and, of course, she falls in love with him. After a series of comedic events, she eventually gets her man and reconciles herself to mediocre wages, along with all the other heterosexual women. It could be a modern day “Twelfth Night.”
Dr. Marina AdshadeFollow
@UBC #Economics and #PublicPolicy / Author, Speaker, Social Commentator / Women, Work, Sex and Love