Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The gender gap revisited

The student journalist at our student newspaper who addressed the myth of a gender based wage gap appears to have maintained his job though the experience so far. There have also been no published letters to the editor in response. However, there have been a flurry of feminist flavored opinion pieces in the last few weeks ("reproductive rights" are about women's health-yeah, right- and how fans should accept the new female mascot who has traditionally been a male figure with distinctly masculine characteristics).

Today, I had a conversation with one of my female colleagues related to the "wage gap".

Colleague (C): Did you fill out the faculty satisfaction survey?

Learner (L): Not yet. What kinds of questions are on it?

C: About the work environment. They asked if you think you get treated differently because you are a woman. If you get paid less, are respected less, that kind of thing.

L: How did you answer?

C: Well you know we get paid less. (as state employees, anyone can look at the state website and see what our salaries are)

L: Are you sure that is because we're women? There really isn't a valid comparison between us and the guys. We all have different levels of experience and education as well as different job titles.

C: Well A (most recently hired male) does make less than us.

L: I don't think it is a male/female thing.

C: B makes more than us, but what does he do?

L: B is the (administrative title), that's why he makes more. He can have it, I wouldn't want that job.

C: D makes more than us.

L: D finished his PhD and is a higher rank.

C: Okay...... I still think it is discrimination. We'll see what happens when you finish your doctorate.

L: D will still have more experience and a higher rank than me. Those sorts of things really can explain the difference for the most part.

C: ends conversation


So, after my colleague left I had to check out the survey for myself. The invitation email said "The purpose of the survey is to identify factors that contribute to a positive work environment for all faculty. Although the survey is being administered by the Council for Women's Concerns, survey results will be used to inform administration of ALL faculty needs."

After I read that, the language in the survey came as no surprise to me. There were gender neutral questions that read "do you get treated differently because of your gender?" (notice, it is not asking better or worse) and woman specific questions like "are women overly sensitive to workplace discrimination issues?" but no male specific questions. It was not hard to see a feminine bias in the survey. It doesn't seem that the information gained is actually going to serve the needs of all faculty.

35 comments:

Jesse said...

...new female mascot...

Wow. That's a first. And because I'm not associated with the school I can say it's kinda funny. Is the mascot a female during men's sports events too? For selfish reasons, I dearly hope so...

Learner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Learner said...

Yes, the mascot is for all varsity sports events. Sigh...

Jesse said...

Nice, that definitely gives me some material to work with when I visit friends in Maryland in a few weeks. Given you've claimed before to be a Steelers fan and your school has earned a reputation far and wide as a party school unlike any other, I think I have a good idea of what state university that is. And a few friends are alumni. I can't wait to bring this one up...

Learner said...

Ha! Our reputation preceeds us!

Though I prefer to not advertise
specifics, it would not be hard to figure out my uni, so I bet you are right. Glad to give you some ammo :)

Ame said...

my ex earned his mba after we were married, graduating top of his class ... and excelling at statistics. he always said, "it's all in how you ask the question." so, any result one is aiming for, one can achieve, as long as they ask the right question.

Learner said...

Ame,

Very true. I have had students have to scrap entire surveys and start over because the questions would have influenced the outcome. Even in clinical work you have to watch how you ask questions of patients because they may try to tell you the "right" answer rather than the truth.

Elusive Wapiti said...

"Although the survey is being administered by the Council for Women's Concerns, survey results will be used to inform administration of ALL faculty needs."

Hmmm. Color me suspicious. The "Council for Women's Concerns" conducting a survey to determine what the entire faculty needs? How'z that any less fishy than the Mountaineer Man Mob surveying the faculty to determine what the men and women on staff need?

Elusive Wapiti said...

PS Learner, do you ever get flak for shooting holes in other women's closely-held-yet-false impressions?

I'd be that C still thinks she's discriminated against, despite all the evidence you gave her to the contrary.

catwoman said...

"are women overly sensitive to workplace discrimination issues?" probably was meant to be a male-specific question, rather than "female specific". It sounds like the researchers were fishing for complaints about political correctness, which is fair enough. I think you're looking too hard here for a "feminine bias".

Learner said...

Catwoman,

I think you're looking too hard here for a "feminine bias".

Well, you're entitled to your opinion. But here are some items, copied and pasted directly from the survey (with only the name of the school changed) with a few comments to explain.

The actual item I referred to read: Female faculty are overly-sensitive about women’s issues in the work environment. I referred to this item because it was the one I remembered as an example of a question that was asked just about women and their concerns.

People who make complaints of sexual harassment are protected from harmful consequences. (How about the people falsely accused of sexual harrassment? Are they protected from harmful consequences? Are people who make false accusations disciplined?)

I believe qualified men are given more career opportunities than qualified women.(There is no question that asks if women are given more opportunities than men.)

Women are adequately represented among the X University faculty. (there is no question about if men are adequately represented.)

Women’s views are represented fairly on major committees. (What about men's views? No question is asked about men's views)

Women are interrupted at meetings more often than men. (How about men? Do they get interrupted at meetings? There is no question about this)

Learner said...

How'z that any less fishy than the Mountaineer Man Mob surveying the faculty to determine what the men and women on staff need?

Agreed. Too bad we don't have a Mountaineer Man Mob

Learner said...

PS Learner, do you ever get flak for shooting holes in other women's closely-held-yet-false impressions?

I'd be that C still thinks she's discriminated against, despite all the evidence you gave her to the contrary.


Yeah, I get some flak, but it's not too bad. I ask people questions about most things (I'm curious about lots of things) so people who know me are accustomed to that. I don't get aggressive about it. I say what I think, and I try to just rationally report data and challenge the person to think for themselves. I guess in some ways I approach it like sharing my faith, with gentleness and respect (though I do not always succeed in maintaining that attitude).

I have been working on "C" about these issues for quite some time. She will concede some points to me. While I thinks she does still think she is discriminated against, she does listen, though it annoys her at times. I'm wearing her down ;)

MarkyMark said...

Well indoctrinated is C...

Learner said...

MM,

You sound like Yoda :)

catwoman said...

I can see that the last four questions are female specific, but I disagree that the first two are. Again, the first one sounds like fishing for male complaints about female political correctness. I predict that this survey won't yield particularly dramatic results. Most people (even those who consider themselves feminists) understand why engineering profs make more than those in home ec.

PS. I'm an optimist too. : )

Learner said...

Catwoman,

You don't think looking for annoyance at women's "sensitivity" demonstrates a femine perspective?

The second question that asks about sexual harrassment is definately female focused since ~90% of sexual harrassment claims are made by women. Thus the concern only for the accuser is focused on women.

Anyhoo...you're an optimist? I'd not have guessed that.

catwoman said...

"You don't think looking for annoyance at women's "sensitivity" demonstrates a femine perspective?" Not necessarily, but it could be, and since you've posted those last four questions, I can see how you'd be concerned that it might be. Is the questionnaire designed to break down differences across gender? If so, they could just as easily find no significant difference between men and women annoyed by oversensitivity to women's issues (something that annoys me too, and I'm wondering if you couldn't have guessed that either).

"The second question that asks about sexual harrassment is definately female focused since ~90% of sexual harrassment claims are made by women. Thus the concern only for the accuser is focused on women." Do you really think balancing this question with another reflecting concern for the accused would be regarded by most men as being more sensitively "male focussed"? The issue is about sexual harrassment and whether people who make complaints are protected from harmful consequences (I'm assuming this is particularly WRT complaints against higher ups).

As an (yup) optimist, that's what I find so annoying about the trumped up victimology that comes from either the feminist direction or from MRA, MGTOW or whatever. But just because there are a few blowhards out there doesn't mean that there aren't also some valid concerns on both sides.

It's quite troubling when some people have taken the rhetoric so far that to discuss any issue relating to women (ie. that DV shelters for women might still be necessary and have largely improved) is to risk being branded as a feminist or siding with feminists.

It's equally troubling that critical issues relating to men, such as fairness in child access & support (father's rights or FRA) get derailed by those stuck on women-are-skanks worst case scenarios. Just as the radical feminists unwittingly thought they were doing all women a favor, MRA is no friend of FRA.

Anyways, just my thoughts for the evening.

Learner said...

Catwoman,

If so, they could just as easily find no significant difference between men and women annoyed by oversensitivity to women's issues

They don't explain what variables they will group for analysis. They did ask for gender, so they could see if there is a sex difference for believing that women are oversensitive to "women's issues" in the workplace. However my point remains that the question is woman centered. It is specifically asking about "women's issues".

Do you really think balancing this question with another reflecting concern for the accused would be regarded by most men as being more sensitively "male focussed"? The issue is about sexual harrassment and whether people who make complaints are protected from harmful consequences (I'm assuming this is particularly WRT complaints against higher ups).

I prefer not to assume what most men would regard as male focused. Would questions about false accusations and discipline of false accusers help generate information that would address the needs of the entire faculty better than questions about the rights of the accuser alone? Yes.

It's quite troubling when some people have taken the rhetoric so far that to discuss any issue relating to women (ie. that DV shelters for women might still be necessary and have largely improved) is to risk being branded as a feminist or siding with feminists.

Catwoman, who said that DV shelters are not necessary? Whether or not the sexism exhibited related to DV is better than it used to be or not (I don't know off hand) many DV programs are geared specifically at protecting women from men even though women initiate DV as often as men do. Why is DV an issue relating to women for you?

It's equally troubling that critical issues relating to men, such as fairness in child access & support (father's rights or FRA) get derailed by those stuck on women-are-skanks worst case scenarios. Just as the radical feminists unwittingly thought they were doing all women a favor, MRA is no friend of FRA.

Well, I would not give radical feminists (or feminism in general) a pass on the harm they have caused to women or men. I don't think they are or were as unwitting as you seem to think they are.

Do you think that men who are not fathers have any valid concerns?

Jesse said...

~90% of sexual harrassment claims are made by women"

So a whole 10% of claims are by men?? That half of the stat is the far more shocking one to me. I'd have guessed it in the neighborhood of 1-2%.

MarkyMark said...

Yoda, great Jedi master is he!

Learner said...

So a whole 10% of claims are by men??

Jesse,

I'm not certain that figure would hold across all workplaces or not. It was what I found when I did a quick search for the gender split of workplace sexual harrassment complaints in university settings.

Learner said...

My favorite bit of Yoda wisdom:
"Try not. Do or do not, there is no try."

catwoman said...

"However my point remains that the question is woman centered. It is specifically asking about "women's issues"."

How else could you find out from men (or women, for that matter) that what they are experiencing is overkill on women's issues? You could ask the same question about male faculty and men's issues, but overkill is hardly a problem there, so that would be a bit coy.

"Would questions about false accusations and discipline of false accusers help generate information that would address the needs of the entire faculty better than questions about the rights of the accuser alone? Yes."

Again, would this question even be worth asking? Is this issue even on the radar screen for faculty of either sex? Even if only 10% of accusers are male, it's hardly a "woman focussed" question, although with the other questions you provided, I do see that there was an imbalance of those that were.

"Catwoman, who said that DV shelters are not necessary?" I didn't say that anyone did. I was pointing out the fact that with some people (esp. re: your blog visitors, blogs you've linked to) the topic of DV shelters for women is with few exceptions discussed in an entirely negative manner, and those who express any measure of positivity towards them are pretty much regarded as feminists or gullibly supporting them. Yes, there have be problems with DV shelters, historically and recently as well, I'm sure, I just don't think the level of negativity towards them is proportionate.

As for your contention that it's "sexism" that "many DV programs are geared specifically at protecting women from men even though women initiate DV as often as men do". Well I disagree as far as shelters are concerned, because even if women as a whole initiate DV as much men do, what evidence do you have that this is the case for women who actually wind up in DV shelters? Is there the same demand for programs specifically protecting men from DV? When specific programs are not available, are general alternative programs provided? DV is more than just an issue relating to women for me, but personally, I don't think women should appropriate men's voices on that, just like I don't think white people should sound off about what black people "need".

I would not give radical feminists (or feminism in general) a pass on the harm they have caused to women or men. I don't think they are or were as unwitting as you seem to think they are."

Excuse me, but where do I give radical feminists (or any feminists) a pass on anything? That they thought they were doing women a favor was exactly the problem. And that's what the MGTOW guys are doing to the FRA cause. And it's what pro-cannabis activists are doing to the pro-hemp lobby that is trying to gain some legitimacy but failing as the hippie-dipshits have glommed onto it.

"Do you think that men who are not fathers have any valid concerns?" For the most part, their concerns fall into the category of irksome "battle of the sexes" stuff, which lacks the political gravity as the legal concerns of dads with custody, access and support issues (likewise, you also have to consider that women going through divorce also have financial and legal burdens to deal with). I know that sounds a bit dismissive, but it's essentially what MRA types have pointed out about feminism these days.

Learner said...

Catwoman,

Regarding Female faculty are overly-sensitive about women’s issues in the work environment.

The question was about women's issues which was the issue. I didn't say that the same question should be asked about men's issues.

Are false accusations on the radar screen of university faculty? Yes, absolutely they are. The fact that only questions about the rights of the accuser were asked (representing mostly women) and none about the rights of the accused, and particularly the falsly accused (representing mostly men) were asked demonstrates a bias. I don't know how to explain that any more clearly.

"Catwoman, who said that DV shelters are not necessary?" I didn't say that anyone did.

What you said was that someone would question the idea that DV shelters are necessary. I'll ask again, who did that?

was pointing out the fact that with some people (esp. re: your blog visitors, blogs you've linked to) the topic of DV shelters for women is with few exceptions discussed in an entirely negative manner, and those who express any measure of positivity towards them are pretty much regarded as feminists or gullibly supporting them. Yes, there have be problems with DV shelters, historically and recently as well, I'm sure, I just don't think the level of negativity towards them is proportionate.

Unless you give specific examples I don't know what you are talking about. I have not seen what you are claiming. Since it appears that you are referring to EW, I would again suggest that you head over to his blog and have this exchange with EW. He is a rational person with whom it is easy to have such a discussion.

Well I disagree as far as shelters are concerned, because even if women as a whole initiate DV as much men do, what evidence do you have that this is the case for women who actually wind up in DV shelters?

None, because I didn't claim that.

Is there the same demand for programs specifically protecting men from DV?

My point is that men are the victims of DV, just like women are. Yet, if one looked at what is said about DV via public service announcements and the number of programs addressing male victims it is not difficult at all to see that there is a bias. That is where there is no proportionality. That does not mean that I think violence against women if just fine, or that it has no meaning.

When specific programs are not available, are general alternative programs provided?

Not in a manner proportional to the number of victims, no. Look in the yellow pages of any city in the US.

DV is more than just an issue relating to women for me, but personally, I don't think women should appropriate men's voices on that, just like I don't think white people should sound off about what black people "need".

Then why are you asking me about it instead of having this exchange with a man as I have repeatedly suggested?

Learner said...

Excuse me, but where do I give radical feminists (or any feminists) a pass on anything?

When you claimed they were unwitting, as I said.

"Do you think that men who are not fathers have any valid concerns?" For the most part, their concerns fall into the category of irksome "battle of the sexes" stuff, which lacks the political gravity as the legal concerns of dads with custody, access and support issues

Like false rape accusations and false paternity claims? Or being discriminated against by employers seeking to meet gender based hiring quotas?

I know that sounds a bit dismissive, but it's essentially what MRA types have pointed out about feminism these days.

If you are not a feminist and don't ascribe to feminism then why would dismissiveness about feminism be an issue for you?

catwoman said...

"Regarding Female faculty are overly-sensitive about women’s issues in the work environment...The question was about women's issues which was the issue. I didn't say that the same question should be asked about men's issues."

Yeah, yeah, and because the phrase "women's issues" appears, that reflects a bias towards women, in your opinion. And in my opinion, it doesn't because it taps something that could be annoying to reasonable men. Let's leave it at that.

"Are false accusations on the radar screen of university faculty? Yes, absolutely they are. The fact that only questions about the rights of the accuser were asked (representing mostly women) and none about the rights of the accused, and particularly the falsly accused (representing mostly men) were asked demonstrates a bias."

Again, all I'm doing here is expressing disagreement, or at least doubt. I doubt that anyone other than yourself would perceive that it reflects a **bias** to ask a question about protecting the accuser, but not about protecting the accused, even if the accuser is usually but not always female and the accused is usually but not always male. However, I can see that direct questions about the fairness of female representation without asking about male representation is indeed biased.

"My point is that men are the victims of DV, just like women are. Yet, if one looked at what is said about DV via public service announcements and the number of programs addressing male victims it is not difficult at all to see that there is a bias."

I beginning to think that you don't think you understand what the word bias means. Online Merriam-Webster defines bias as ":an inclination of temperament or outlook, esp. a personal and sometimes unreasoned judgment: prejudice".

When I asked you if specific programs are not available, are general alternative programs provided, you said not in a manner proportional to the number of victims. What proof do you have that this is caused by "bias", as defined above, and not by other factors? As I've mentioned elsewhere, men are almost always less likely than women to volitionally seek help on psychosocial issues, even where they are overrepresented (such as addictions). And where there's not as much demand, there's not as many services (at least not for long), that's how it is for all markets, even in human services.

Certainly, services should be made to be as male specific and male friendly as possible (ie. services by men, for men). And indeed, where there's no "issue specific/gender specific" counselling or protective services available, there's certainly general counselling and sheltering. Unfortunately, you're using the same kind of outmoded argument that feminists use to keep afloat affirmative action (ie, that there aren't as many female engineers even though half the population is female because of "bias" against women in that field, as if there aren't other reasons why not as many women go into engineering).

"Then why are you asking me about it instead of having this exchange with a man as I have repeatedly suggested?"

Why am I asking YOU? You were asking ME the following: "Why is DV an issue relating to women for you?". What I wrote was the response to your question. I'm trying in good faith to answer your myriad questions, even though I'm not sure you always ask them in good faith. As MM pointed out on another thread, your incessant questioning comes across as belittling and undermining among other things. So as far as your questions are concerned, I don't have my entire life to go around in circles with them, so I'm going to ignore those that are menacing and meaningless.

I asked: Excuse me, but where do I give radical feminists (or any feminists) a pass on anything?

And you said "When you claimed they were unwitting, as I said."

Well, excuse me again, but I did not say that "unwitting" is the only thing that they were (or are). You've mischaracterized what I've said.

"Like false rape accusations and false paternity claims? Or being discriminated against by employers seeking to meet gender based hiring quotas?"

All issues in decline, thanks to modern physical and social science.

"If you are not a feminist and don't ascribe to feminism then why would dismissiveness about feminism be an issue for you?"

Who says it is? I'm saying that if you use the same bad argumentation on which much of feminism was built to create an MRA platform against feminism, then it won't be long before it self-destructs.

Learner said...

Catwoman,

Unfortunately, you're using the same kind of outmoded argument that feminists use to keep afloat affirmative action (ie, that there aren't as many female engineers even though half the population is female because of "bias" against women in that field, as if there aren't other reasons why not as many women go into engineering).

The reason affirmative action is a problem is because it does not just guarantee equal opportunity or access, but rather because it guarantees equal outcomes. That is not what I am saying at all. I am saying men should have equal access to DV programs that serve their needs. The program in question closed rather than meet male victim's needs.

Well, excuse me again, but I did not say that "unwitting" is the only thing that they were (or are). You've mischaracterized what I've said.

I didn't say it was the only thing you said Catwoman, I said "I don't think they are or were as unwitting as you seem to think they are" You did say they were unwitting, did you not? To refresh your memory I'll directly quote you: Just as the radical feminists unwittingly thought they were doing all women a favor

You are welcome to comment here Catwoman, but please remember that you are commenting on my blog. If you don't want to answer the questions your comments generate in my mind you are free to not comment here. I have been patient with the jabs and pokes you have taken at me personally but I will not continue to do so. So, the next time you feel compelled to accuse me of "menace" or something similar or address another commentor using language that I determine to be rude, disrespectful, or otherwise bitchy, know that I will delete your comment.

catwoman said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Learner said...

Catwoman,

The program could have had a separate waiting room for male victims, just as any service could have separate places for men and women. The government funding agency did not ask them to have male and female victims in the same room, just that they provide the same service to both men and women. The program in question closed rather than accomodate male victims.

catwoman said...

There's nothing in the original article or in any of your writings that allowed for the option of a separate waiting room. Here's what you said on your blog and EW's respectively:

"just like when women say most men are to blame if women are slutty it makes men the "enemy" (or like when women say that an abused woman shouldn't have to even be in a room with a man because it isn't "safe" it makes all men the "enemy")"

"When an organization says that women shouldn't have to be in the presence of men (not be counseled or examined by them , but just have to sit in a room with them) after they experience DV at the hands of a man, they send the message that men as a whole are not safe to be around, and that is not true."

As I said in my last blogpost (which you removed), with few exceptions THERE ARE NO CO-ED SERVICES WHERE VIOLENCE IS CONCERNED. It doesn't matter whether you're talking about DV, non-DV, intimates, strangers, perpetrators, victims (and yes, many victims are perpetrators: all the more reason), men to men, women to women, women to men, etc. Ever notice that co-ed jails are hard to find? It's not sexism, it's called best practices.

Anyways, there are a multitude of reasons why it has always been considered best practice to keep the sexes apart in providing services for people dealing with violence. But I don't see the point in going into the details if you keep removing my posts when they challenge you.

Learner said...

Catwoman,

I didn't realize I needed to voice all of the options that they could have tried rather than close. The point is they didn't try any other options than closing. They closed rather than offer services to men, even segregated services.

And yes, I do think that the idea that a man cannot even be in the room with a female victim (what is she going to do if the judge is a man? Or the court bailiff? Or the police officer?) is overkill and reinforces the idea that men are not safe. However I would not insist that male victims be allowed in the same room, just that male victims had access to a similar room and services as the female victims do.

I am not arguing for coed services, just for equal access to services. Any program can offer services to both genders without mingling them.

And yes, I did remove your last comment as I said I would. If you don't want me to do that, turn down the sarcasm and snark or don't comment.

catwoman said...

Now you're back pedalling. Whatever.

catwoman said...

Quite ironic that you'd be pointing the finger at me about sarcasm and snark, after you say on another thread (among other things) that I'm "misinformed about DV"... and then all along it turns out to be you that's misinformed.

Learner said...

Catwoman,

I'll repeat my comment on this thread, in case you missed it on the other one.

I could ask you how I am backpedaling or how I am misinformed, but since you find my questions so trying I won't.

In order to remove any risk of me asking you any more questions I am asking you to not post any more comments to this blog for at least the next 30 days. If you choose to not honor my request I will delete any and all comments you post on this blog for at least the next 30 days regardless of the content.

That means I will delete any comments coming from your IP address, your employer's IP address, as well as any that originate from your city and province.

After 30 days, if either my ability to tolerate your commenting style increases, or your ability to turn the snark and sarcasm down increases, you are welcome to comment here again. If you choose not to, that is your option as well.