The lesbian pay gap

February 13th, 2012 at 11:02 am by David Farrar

quotes Big Think:

The wage premium paid to workers is a bit of a mystery. Sure, women are better-educated on average, are more likely to be white, live predominantly in cities, have fewer children, and are significantly more likely to be a professional. But even when you control for these differences, the wage premium is still on the order of 6%. …

Eric offers some theories on why this might be:

First, and most importantly, maternity risk. If an employer expects a lesbian employee to be less likely to take maternity leave, and if maternity leave imposes costs on an employer, then the employer will be more likely to hire and to promote the lesbian over the straight woman. What evidence do we have? Petit’s field experimentshowing that maternity risk is responsible for a fair bit of women’s lower average salaries.

How could this be tested in the data presumably available in the original study? Test whether the wage gap between lesbian and straight women is larger for younger women than for post-menopausal women. That will confound with age cohort effects, but there may be a way around it: use state insurance mandates on assisted reproduction, or state policies with respect to same-sex adoption. If some states require that insurers cover fertility treatments as part of an employer’s insurance package and others don’t, or if some states make it easier for lesbians to adopt kids, then we’d expect the wage gap between lesbians and straights to be smallest in those states that make it easiest for lesbians to have kids.

Second, testosterone and negotiation strategies. Women, on average, are less aggressive in wage negotiations. If testosterone correlates with aggressiveness in salary negotiations, and some evidence suggests higher than average testosterone levels among lesbians as compared to heterosexual women (though that evidence iscontested), then we’ve another candidate explanation.

I’d put money on the maternity risk variable. I’d only put money on the negotiations one at decent odds.

I go the other way to Eric. I think the theory of more assertiveness in salary negotiations is most likely to explain the gap.

 

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27 Responses to “The lesbian pay gap”

  1. Crampton (214 comments) says:

    Alas, the testosterone theory isn’t testable in US Census data. But I hope an honours student this year picks the project on forward-looking maternity risk!

    Oh: to prevent linkrot, try this one to the direct post. I’d screwed up when tweeting it the first time round.
    http://www.offsettingbehaviour.blogspot.co.nz/2010/12/lesbian-pay-gap.html

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  2. J Mex (184 comments) says:

    Surely the way to test for this is to test the wage gap between people who identify as “out” lesbians and “Closeted lesbians”.

    The employer difference should not exist where the employer is unaware as to the sexual preference of the employee.

    Of course, “out” lesbians could well be, on average, more confident and assertive than their “closeted” peers, thereby confounding this variable.

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  3. Fletch (6,026 comments) says:

    Lesbians would make more money because of political correctness. Secular society seems to bend over backwards to accommodate homosexuals in just about every arena because it seems to be the thing to do.

    ps, I find it hard to believe that people are doing studies on this…

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  4. Grendel (957 comments) says:

    sure fletch. i have many times thought that i should pay someone more becuase they are gay.

    i suspect that lesbians are pretty good at networking and therefore getting the contacts who can help them earn more by getting the jobs they want.

    certainly all the lesbians i know are really good at networking, quietly and efficiently as opposed to gay men who tend to focus more on being the life of the party.

    gross stereotyping i know, but its interesting.

    but i bet more fundies will be along to ruin an interesting topic soon (fletch is here the rest should be any minute now).

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  5. Andrei (2,504 comments) says:

    i bet more fundies will be along to ruin an interesting topic soon

    Wasn’t going to bother – this is just another empty headed thing about empty headed people who have not a clue about what life is really about.

    The sad thing is all those Lesbians who spend their lives climbing the corporate ladder will be food for the maggots soon enough.

    What will they be worth then?

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  6. Murray (8,838 comments) says:

    Jesus Andrei who piddled on your weetbix?

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  7. gump (1,488 comments) says:

    Andrei said:

    The sad thing is all those Lesbians who spend their lives climbing the corporate ladder will be food for the maggots soon enough.

    What will they be worth then?

    —————————–

    You also will be food for maggots one day Andrei.

    Though judging from your recent posts, certain parts of your body may have already succumbed.

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  8. RRM (9,467 comments) says:

    The +testosterone theory sounds a bit far-fetched.

    But lesbians are already used to living in a world where they need to really back themselves if they want to get what they want; no doubt that helps when negotiating pay rates…

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  9. RRM (9,467 comments) says:

    Andrei: GAY DOCKING.

    Google images, NOW.

    (It has nothing to do with the topic at hand. But you will learn something, for sure… )

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  10. kowtow (7,634 comments) says:

    For goodness sake,how far does this sexual identity rubbish have to go?
    A lesbian pay gap,FFS.

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  11. Scott Chris (5,880 comments) says:

    Andrei do you think Jesus would approve of your bitter attitude towards gays?

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  12. RRM (9,467 comments) says:

    Fletch (2,365) Says:
    Lesbians would make more money because of political correctness.

    ACTUAL LOL.

    Political Correctness, the new Satan. No-one can see it, but everybody says it exists, and it is to blame for all the wrongs in the world.

    You know nothing. Ever met any real lesbians? They don’t go around advertising it, because they know the world is full of haters like you.

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  13. Ryan Sproull (7,033 comments) says:

    Everyone knows that lesbians are given small incremental pay rises by Satan in exchange for their services in undermining masculinity and scaring Good Right-Thinking Men into blaming lesbians for their own sense of inadequacy in a fast-changing world.

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  14. Chuck Bird (4,682 comments) says:

    “Sure, lesbian women are better-educated on average, are more likely to be white”

    That seems strange that lesbians are more likely to be white particularly if they war born that way. They are slightly more males born than females. I wonder if this ratio varies between the races.

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  15. AzaleaB (2 comments) says:

    I have an alternative theory. I work (and have worked for 20 years) for large Corporates. What I notice is Lesbian managers holding back heterosexual females. I have had conversations with lesbian managers asking why they have not promoted some very competent females in their team. The answers vary from weak, not good enough, have to prove herself etc. Heterosexual women are at times getting knocked back by both old fashioned conservative male managers AND lesbian managers.

    I have even observed one lesbian HR manager seemingly sabotaging pay increase recommendations for women in her business. I could not see why she turned down their pay recommendations but her bullying attitude to heterosexual women is well known with high staff turnover as a result. She is only one example I have noted of lesbian -sourced bullying. The result – these women lose self-confidence and set their career goals lower…could lead to lower pay and poor remuneration negotiations.

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  16. Psycho Milt (2,265 comments) says:

    That seems strange that lesbians are more likely to be white…

    Well, the ‘out’ ones at least are more likely to be white, on the basis that Whitey is somewhat less likely than other cultures to subject out lesbians to immediate physical violence, up to and including rape and murder (or, as Fletch would phrase it, Whitey suffers from “political correctness”).

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  17. Scott Chris (5,880 comments) says:

    AzaleaB

    I doubt the bullying behaviour you have observed is anything to do with these women’s sexuality. How could it be?

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  18. dubya (214 comments) says:

    “Scott Chris (3,648) Says:
    February 13th, 2012 at 3:05 pm
    AzaleaB

    I doubt the bullying behaviour you have observed is anything to do with these women’s sexuality. How could it be?”

    Perhaps not biologically. But potentially a side effect of a sub-culture? From my experience, there’s plenty of bullying among and by Gay men.

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  19. pct (19 comments) says:

    Its been quite a few years since I worked in a corporate environment. How do you identify these lesbian employees – do they have badges now?

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  20. nasska (10,674 comments) says:

    Scott Chris

    Consciously or otherwise our attitude to others is at least partly influenced by the way we have been treated by identifiable groups. eg if the only contact you had with polynesians was a time when a gang of them kicked your head down K Road you could be prejudiced in further dealings with other polynesians.

    Lesbian women would often be ostracised by straight women…hence a possible bias when a gay woman reaches a position of authority.

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  21. john.bt (170 comments) says:

    One thing I am often tempted to ask the lesbian women I know is… would you like me to introduce you to some gayboys who could offer some advice with your clothes and make-up?

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  22. Scott Chris (5,880 comments) says:

    nasska says:- “influenced by the way we have been treated by identifiable groups”

    I’d have thought that if a lesbian were to subconsciously discriminate against one group, wouldn’t it most likely be men? In my experience openly gay women have generally been strong advocates of women’s rights.
    ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    dubya says:- “there’s plenty of bullying among and by Gay men.”

    Sure, but disproportionately so? Bullying of one form or another is really very common amongst men.

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  23. Dazzaman (1,123 comments) says:

    This is a pisstake isn’t it? Not April yet.

    WGaF

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  24. gump (1,488 comments) says:

    I had to pay quite a bit extra last night for the strippers to do a lesbian show.

    So yes – it definitely costs a premium if you want to hire lesbians.

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  25. nasska (10,674 comments) says:

    gump

    You’re on form today……I trust the extra outlay was worth it.

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  26. eszett (2,337 comments) says:

    Andrei (1,189) Says:
    February 13th, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    i bet more fundies will be along to ruin an interesting topic soon

    Wasn’t going to bother – this is just another empty headed thing about empty headed people who have not a clue about what life is really about.

    The sad thing is all those Lesbians who spend their lives climbing the corporate ladder will be food for the maggots soon enough.

    What will they be worth then?

    And the supreme ironic statement of the week goes to……….

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  27. salt (123 comments) says:

    I recently read a study which questioned the notion that lack of aggression in pay negotiations is behind the gender wage gap – I’ll try and find a link to it. But what it essentially found was that in the group of Americans? it followed, the ladies who were proactive in seeking and pushing for payrises and promotions actually, on average, received less increase in status and remuneration over a few years than the women who were not pushy about it. Both groups of women were on average less likely to get payrises or promotions than either pushy or passive men. The study’s authors suggested it might be because aggressive women subverted accepted norms of female behavior, so bosses (usually older and male) didn’t look kindly upon that aggression.

    Not exactly relevant to the lesbian pay advantage question, sorry. I found it interesting though.

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