Warren Farrell was elected to the board of the National Organization for Women three times. Like a lot of men, he protested the fact that men earned a dollar for each 59 cents that women earned for the same work. He wondered why, forty years after the Federal Equal pay Act, hard-working women still got paid less than the guys on the job. His latest book suggests that it is not the result of rampant discrimination, but rather because of career choices women (and men) make.
Based on the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, that women earn 80 cents for every dollar men earn, Farrell figured he could start an all female firm and produce products for 80 cents that would cost an all male firm a dollar to produce. After three years of researching the U.S. Census Bureau statistics he found out that isn't true, why it isn't true, and what women can do to erase the pay gap, if they want to. He published his results in a book titled, “Why Men Earn More: The Startling Truth Behind the Pay Gap-and What Women Can Do About It”.
His book has been out for several months. The hype has begun to subside and people are starting to look into what Farrell suggests. Despite the title, his book is written to women and for women as he explains in the introduction to his book. He points out that many women make career choices that give them a better balance between work and life. He provides concrete examples of choices men make that earn higher pay than other men (the pay gap between never married and married men is bigger than between men and women) and he tells women how they can actually make more money than their male counterparts if they are prepared to make the same choices.
Discrimination ExistsI won't suggest that women are never discriminated against in hiring, promotion, and salary decisions. Sometimes they are. They are not alone. Ample studies document workplace discrimination against men and women because of their weight and against men (and seldom women) based on height. Racial, ethnic, and religious discrimination still exists as well. Farrell's book, however, documents the much greater role that choice plays in maintaining the pay gap between men and women and it provides a roadmap for women who want to close the pay gap with men rather than simply complaining passively about that pay gap.
Why Can't Women Be More Like Men?Farrell claims, "It's all about trade-offs. You earn more money, you usually sacrifice something at home." His research into jobs data found that higher-paying jobs are more likely to require longer commuting times, safety risks, frequent travel, long hours and other factors that, in his tests, men are more likely than women to choose.
In the book, he identifies 25 different choices men and women make in their careers that affect their income. To each of these 25 choices he attaches specific ways women can earn higher pay and includes the research to support the claim.
"The purpose of the book is not just to determine whether or not there was a real a pay gap, but also to be able to direct women to having better lives," said Farrell. "If you are making personal decisions, then you can choose to change them if you wish to. The great news is that there are 90 fields that pay women more than men and there are 39 fields that pay 5 percent more than men."
Why Can't Men Be More Like Women?So if a woman can close the pay gap and even earn more in some professions than her male counterparts, is there an upside for men to be learned from Farrell's book? Perhaps it is in learning the benefit of balance.
All workers need to find a better balance between their work and the rest of their lives. We may not all have the option to do what we really want in our careers. If we did, there wouldn't be so many men who were too slow to play baseball for a living or so many women who grew too big to be professional ballerinas. However, we all should find something to work at that fires our passion for the job.
Farrell notes, "Women and men look at their life, and women say, 'What do I need? Do I need more money, or do I need more time?' And women are intelligent enough to say, I need more time. And so women lead balanced lives, men should be learning from women."
We all make choices every day. Make sure the choices you make are the right ones for you, not for anyone else.