New Research: Women Aren’t Paid Less Because They Have More Flexible Jobs

They work in low-paying jobs because they have no other choice.

A recent study shows that the global gender pay gap has increased to 32 percent, and projects that at this rate, women will have to wait another 217 years for the pay gap to close. It’s not just your own gender, but the gender makeup of your workplace that predicts your wages. Workers in female-dominated workplaces have been shown to be paid less than other workers. An industry’s pay level even starts to decrease when women take over a male-dominated field.

Some argue that the low pay for women is justified by the fact that ‘women’s work’ is generally less strenuous/hazardless work compared to men’s work, and that, in exchange for lower wages, they have better working conditions—especially those that allow a better work-life balance. Some well-meaning scholars argue that women sometimes forego higher pay to have that flexibility in their jobs—an argument sometimes extended to suggest that women voluntarily “choose” lower paying jobs to facilitate their “life choices”—read: to take care of children.

This is what I found in a recently published paper in the European Journal of Industrial Relations. Using data from across 27 European countries, I tested to see whether the gender of the worker, and the gender makeup of the workplace has an influence on workers’ access to flexible working arrangements—namely flexitime—the ability to control starting and ending times of your work. The results show that there were no significant differences between men and women in their access to flexitime across Europe—if anything men getting slightly better access. What’s more, workers in female-majority workplaces had the worst level of access to flexitime compared to their counterparts in male-majority workplaces or workplaces where men and women were equally represented.

The gap was significant: In some cases, working in female-dominated workplaces such as care work, primary education, or places where the work tends to be largely clerical meant you were only half as likely to have access to flexitime compared to other workplaces. This was the case for both men and women in those workplaces, and held true even when other factors such as skill levels, working hours, contract status, and other relevant factors were taken into account. Furthermore, female-dominated workplaces were worse off in terms of flexitime access in all of the 27 European countries investigated. It isn’t just flexitime. I also found similar results for other types of flexible working arrangements such as the ability to take time off work a couple of hours to tend to personal issues.

 This isn’t just true in Europe: Studies dating back to the 1990s using data in the U.S. found similar results. So why does this myth of women and workers in female-dominated workplaces having better access to flexible working arrangements persist, despite the facts?

One reason is because of how the debate over flexible work has been framed. Many countries, including the U.K., have introduced the right to flexible working as a major way of addressing work-family issues for workers. Thus many assume that those who are in most need of family-friendly arrangements will be those who are most likely to have access to it. Given that in all countries, women still take up the bulk of the care and household responsibilities, people think they will have better access to these arrangements.

Employers tend to provide workers control over their work when they trust and believe that will contribute back to the company rather than to skive off work. As a result, this control isrewarded only to high-skill workers in top occupations. Since society still holds rather gendered views of men and women—believing that men’s priorities lies in breadwinning while women will prioritize their family life, employers are more reluctant to provide control over work time to women, believing they will use it to care for their families rather than use it to improve their work performance.

So what does this all mean? It means that workers in female-dominated workplaces are paid less, and they are worse off in having access to family-friendly policies that enable them to maintain their careers while meeting demands at home. This may also explain why so many women have to end up working part-time when they have children—it isn’t an unfettered life choice, but precisely because other options that can help them balance work with family lifeare not available to them. They have no other option but to reduce their hours. And in many countries, including the U.S., part-time work is usually accompanied by, you guessed it, lower pay.

A good example comes from a friend who had an administrative job in a predominantly female department. Despite the fact that her work could be done anywhere and any time, her boss would not let her work from home especially if it had anything to do with childcare reasons. This is despite within the same company, in other departments where it wasn’t quite female dominated, working from home was much more easily granted.

What can we do to change this? The example of the U.K. shows that the introduction of right to request flexible working alone does not help to enable flexible working access to workers, especially those who need it most. Employers need to see the vast benefits flexible workingcan provide to their company through recruiting and maintaining their workforce.

Read more…
Source: Why women get less flexibility and lower wages.

Jian Schmian…! ~tales from Brandiland

Jian Ghomeshi is not news.

If you think it’s news that a man with even an inkling of influence thinks he can exert some measure of power over a women…then you are clearly not a woman.

The big news here is that half of the people reporting on it have done it too. And that every single woman on the planet has been victimized by a man at one or multiple points in her life. Every. Single. One.

We like to make up stats that say around 70% of women have had unwelcome advances from a man because 30% of those women likely don’t even recognize what unwelcome advances means. We can accept that a man who physically lays hands on woman may be overstepping his bounds. If she has a bruise. Or some recognizable wound perhaps in the shape of a hand. Or she wasn’t wearing a short skirt or a low cut blouse. Or a positive rape kit (which in case you didn’t know is basically a secondary form of being violated after you’ve been violated so you can potentially lay charges on the violator who originally violated you. But probably not) Mostly, women do not bring sexual misconduct cases forward because they stand the risk of being slandered and traumatized without ever seeing justice. And besides, it’s just a part of being a woman. We understand the risks…like travelling to the middle east in the middle of a conflict, we get it. We always have.

A friend of mine who works in an office down town advised me that she rarely attends a  meeting where a man does not say something condescending to her. She has been called “sweetheart”, “toots” or “baby” on a regular basis. When she stopped wearing make up to work in an in effort to stem the constant attention she was getting, a co-worker declared her a “dike” and comments ensued  about the possibilities of threesomes and videos with her lovers. The less she dressed for their satisfaction, the more the harassment increased  but now more to declare her unattractive at every opportunity as if it was a personal offence to the men in her office that she was no longer dressing to their desired taste.

Another friend of mine who works in HR admits she often has to tell women to “toughen up” because there is no chance that the harassment in her field will stop and it is an expected class of conduct that you either accept or don’t do that job. It is common in male dominated fields for women to accept a certain level of intimidation which they either handle “gracefully” or they are deemed incompetent. As one male I heard proclaim, “If you can’t take the heat, get back in the kitchen”.

I think it’s fair to tell you that I am not a woman who anyone would accuse of being a wallflower. I like male attention – sometimes. I’m not afraid of showing cleavage. I’m not afraid of discussing my sexuality openly. I suppose you could say I’m taking back my power in that way. I’m no longer afraid to be labelled as a tramp, slut or a whore. Frankly, these words are so common place when faced with a disgruntled man, they barely register for me any more. It is always the first line of assault regardless of what your perceived crimes are as a woman. It is meant to bring you down a peg or ten, to shame you, to make you subservient. Men have threatened various forms of assault on me since I can remember – “Hey beautiful…I’d like to butter your muffin”. You would? Does it matter to you if I am conscious or not? Just checking sweet talker.

There is no line of defence in this whole situation. Women will always be casualties of the sex war. I have taken a defensive stance in that most men who know me understand that I have started playing the same game as them. One guy told me that if I didn’t watch myself I was going to end up alone…as if that was a fate worse than ending up with someone who objectified me or showed his friends nude pictures of me as if he had a right to. Or someone who immediately upon my arrival threw me up against the wall by my throat and slapped me – like it was a fun a game. Proclivities be what they may, let’s be real, some people like that sort of thing and they have a right to. Just as the same people have the right to agree to and set the boundaries of their inclinations with the ability to change their mind at any damn time.

To be blunt, the Jian Ghomeshis of the world are common and everywhere. They are the Pollyannas of predators. Arrogant men with some kind of success that trips them just over the line of deviant. Big deal. I could throw a stone and hit a 100 different Jians on my block alone. The one who told me it was rude to mow my lawn in anything but shorts, the one who let me know his mistress was going to park in front of my house because no one would ever ask questions about a strange car in front of MY house, the one who showed up at my BBQ and said he knew I liked to party…wink, wink. The bigger offence to me is that the police have decided to pursue allegations NOW after everyone has jumped on the “crucify Jian” band wagon. Do we think it’s a coincidence that none of the women filed formal complaints or charges until now? Or that CBC execs are taking time off and saying things like they just don’t remember the conversation about Jian’s bad behaviour? Jian has become a convenient scape goat for the bad behaviour of men everywhere, masking over even more heinous crimes against women every day that will never see the light of a media frenzy. If we’re feeling so hot to trot about sexual injustices, let’s investigate the commentary of the Youtube “10 hours of walking in NYC as a woman” who has been threatened and intimidated by men since the day it went viral. Take a stroll through that comment section and then tell me Jian is big news.