Today is the National Equal Pay Day for 2013 earnings. The day is defined like this:
Throughout our Nation's history, brave women have torn down barriers so their daughters might one day enjoy the same rights, same chances, and same freedoms as their sons. Despite tremendous progress, too many women are entering the workforce to find their mothers' and grandmothers' victories undermined by the unrealized promise of equal pay for equal work. On National Equal Pay Day, we mark how far into the new year women would have to work to earn the same as men did in the previous year, and we recommit to making equal pay a reality.
I have written vast mountains of text on the gender gap in earnings, on the question what "equal pay for equal work" means in contexts such as the one above and so on and so on. Rather than rewriting all of that, I'd like to propose a short program of reading. It's all on this blog, so you don't have to go anywhere! And I've tried to make it clear and simple.
If you are very interested in the gender gap in earnings, you might wish to read my 2006 series. The first part is about the theories trying to explain why women, on average, earn less than men, on average. The second part shows one example of how economists analyze the evidence, and points out that the answer is never a simple one. Though the data in that example is now outdated, the methods of analysis are not. The third part addresses some of the common conservative counter-arguments, the kind you will see pasted all over the net today, too.
What's the role of labor market discrimination in explaining the gender gap in earnings? The basic answer can be found in the above series. Two additional posts, written expressly as responses to the conservative argument that such discrimination cannot exist or doesn't exist, come recommended by me:
The first one cracks the old chestnut which goes like this: If men and women are equally productive workers but men cost more, why would any profit-focused firm hire men?
The second one answers a question I was posed, which was to "prove" that gendered labor market discrimination exists. It covers several types of studies on that phenomenon. Many more could be found in my archives.
Here are two posts I wrote in response to a 2011 anti-feminist piece that came out around the National Equal Pay Day then. The first post is about gender differences in unemployment, the second post about misconceptions concerning how to interpret the gross gender gap in earnings.
Last, but certainly not least, I have written a lot about occupational segregation by gender recently, especially in response to Christina Hoff Sommers' piece on the topic which was entitled "No, Women Don't Make Less Money Than Men." I recommend the whole three-post series. Different posts in it address slightly different questions.
The first post is a get-to-know-the-different-types-of-gender-gaps and has lots of important stuff about what can legitimately explain such gaps and what cannot. The second post is a long (and interesting?) treatise on the meaning of occupational segregation by gender and how that segregation relates to the gendered earnings gap. The third post is all about the choice of college majors, about STEM careers and so on, mostly because Hoff Sommers chose to go there as an explanation of the overall gross gender gap in earnings.