The truth about Utah's and the nation's gender pay gap

Is the wage gap real? Yes. But it might not be what you think it is.

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  • crimsonruin Orem, UT
    Sept. 9, 2017 2:02 p.m.

    This is such a well-written article. However, many of these comments are irritating when people misunderstand or misrepresent the data. Women are paying a price choosing jobs with job flexibility, and instead of asking for more flexibility in more jobs (which is economically possible, as mentioned in the article), people are content to just say it’s fine? If men are more willing to counter-offer, is it really fine to chalk that up to increased aggression rather than teaching women how to make counter-offers? Let’s also think about how women choose jobs— do gendered toys and same gender role models in certain careers teach girls which jobs they are ‘supposed’ to like? Rather than excusing the wage gap, we ought to analyze and address these underlying factors. I was raised in Orem, and insinuating that women are happy at home so it’s fine if they are paid less is idiotic. I want to be happy, successful, and equal at work, church, and home. Let’s make sure our partnerships are made of real partners and move forward, Utah!

  • elpis Blue Springs, MO
    Sept. 7, 2017 1:50 p.m.

    more utah women working part time is not sufficient to explain the dead last ranking in gender income disparity. The NYT published the results of a study this year 2017 which had BYU-provo graduates who were male making a median salary of $72k, vs. women at only $800 annual. That's a >8800% gender income disparity.

  • christoph Brigham City, UT
    Aug. 31, 2017 7:35 a.m.

    For 30 years now women obtain more college degrees than men, and during the recession, men's jobs (construction, etc) were cut more than lady jobs. Before 1970, schools probably favored men and boys, now it is the reverse. Further proof that more schooling doesn't translate into more pay.

  • HappyDad Cedar Hills, UT
    Aug. 29, 2017 10:02 a.m.

    This is an excellent, balanced article that examines the whole picture in much greater depth than most, and I appreciate the excellent reporting.

    It is vital to understand the many facets that account for the income gap between men and women, and as a father of daughters, I am very interested in closing the "unaccounted for" portion of the gap, and in understanding better some of the factors that account for the explainable parts of the gap. More transparency in understanding the situation is good.

    One thing I don't believe was addressed in the article was something I think I've read in a past article (or it's possible that I might be completely making this up) but there may be, on average, a difference in the way that women and men manage their own careers. In my experience, I have never received a raise or promotion because someone else was looking out for me--it has always been because I have proactively gone after it. What I seem to remember reading before is that women typically don't "go after" raises and promotions as agressively as men do. If there's truth to that, that's good news because it's something women can proactively do to better their situation.

  • HSTucker Holladay, UT
    Aug. 29, 2017 7:48 a.m.

    Outstanding job, Sara. Thank you for utterly eviscerating one of the left's key talking points in its effort to drive a wedge between men and women. It should come as no surprise that evil identity politics is often based on deception and statistical lies.

    What leftist sacred cow will you tackle next? I hesitate to make suggestions out of fear of censorship, but there are plenty to choose from.

  • worf McAllen, TX
    Aug. 28, 2017 10:26 p.m.

    Nothing in life is fair.

    Quit nursing hurt feelings, and we'll all be happier.

  • normal_person_1980 Provo, UT
    Aug. 28, 2017 6:28 p.m.

    Some of these comments are hard to bear. I am the primary earner for my family and my husband cares for our four children. Do you know what 5% means to our family? Let's say a man in my same role with similar experience makes 100k and I make 95k; that's 5k every year my family doesn't see. Let's talk about what we could do with 5k - music lessons for our kids, memory-making family trips, paying off student loans, helping extended family members in need, and the list goes on. Yes, these are nice to have and not needs - but why should my family get less because I am a woman? And no, Kevin, it's not for lack of counter-offering and negotiating on my part. But even in that, women are penalized for being "pushy" and "aggressive" in ways that men are not.

    Unless you have walked in a woman's shoes and felt the sting of sexism - especially when it spills over and harms those you love - you would be wise to listen and pay attention to excellent articles like this one.

  • Kevin J. Kirkham Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 28, 2017 5:08 p.m.

    Regarding that last 5% difference, a few have already mentioned that women are less likely to negotiate than is a man. This accounts for some of the difference.

    I think that MOST of the remaining difference comes from women wanting to work fewer hours. Other studies have shown that men work 10% more hours. When they start having kids, they work more to pay for the kid. Women work less to spend time with a kid. Even women doctors have fewer and fewer office hours than male doctors. Men are more likely to burn the midnight oil to get a project done as well. When a company needs to promote someone, are they going to promote the person who works overtime and nights and weekends or the person who leaves work early to go to a kid's dance recital? If a woman has a husband with a high paying career, the family is more likely to move if he gets transferred making her quit her new promotion. This is another reason a company may be less willing to promote a woman.

    Another reason for the gap is that men's testosterone often makes them more aggressive in sales. They'll work harder to beat out another guy in the office just for bragging rights.

  • Vermonter Plymouth, MI
    Aug. 28, 2017 11:41 a.m.

    Two points:
    @SAS.
    Valid point on women who are mother really never being able to be on vacation. But, are you also saying that men who take vacation and actually spend time with their children and families also not really taking vacation? Are children and families now such a burden and chore to the average American?

    Second point. I suppose the statisticians who compiled this data already accurately took into account the more dangerous nature of many of the jobs that are predominantly done by men. But, just to emphasize, in the United States, 93% of workplace fatalities are men, and, of course, 7% are women. With the current state of much the mainstream media, if these statistics were reversed, I don't doubt that some would call it the biggest national crisis (and perhaps scandal) of the past 100 years.

    Finally, to echo many other readers, this is one of the very best articles I have seen on this topic for years.

  • Florwood American Fork, UT
    Aug. 28, 2017 9:55 a.m.

    I appreciated your thorough, dispassionate article on an important topic. Keep up the good work!

  • Lane Myer Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 28, 2017 9:50 a.m.

    There is actually a nursing shortage here in Utah...

    No one has yet explained why Utah is on the bottom. All these factors are in all the rest of the states, but Utah is still on the bottom? Why?

  • Brave Sir Robin San Diego, CA
    Aug. 28, 2017 9:40 a.m.

    This is a really good article.

    One thing it fails to address is that women are less likely to push back on their first offer. I've hired dozens of women and dozens of men for high-tech jobs, and I can say a few things with certainty:

    1. I've never offered a woman less than I would offer a man for the same job, same qualifications, etc. I've never once said "hey, my first choice candidate is a woman - I'm going to offer her less."
    2. With that said, women I've hired are much more likely to accept the first offer than men. Men are much more likely to make a counteroffer.

    I'm not sure if that's men are more aggressive or if women are more afraid that the offer will be pulled, but this is likely the contributor to that unexplained portion of the gender wage gap.

  • logical Meridian, ID
    Aug. 27, 2017 8:50 p.m.

    There is one very important point of logic missing from this discussion, economics and the law of supply and demand. Where there is a big supply of eligible employees the price goes down. Does anyone besides me think there is connection to the gender pay gap in female dominated careers? Maybe it has little to do with the fact that they are female dominated? And the follow on question; why don't women choose more STEM careers where there is a bigger demand?

  • tabuno Clearfield, UT
    Aug. 27, 2017 8:14 p.m.

    Why confuse the ultimate issue of the wage gap that this article appears to want to explore as if it is some important myth in part? It exists period! The rest of the article is great and expands on more of the root problems of the wage gap and suggests from pernicious issues that need to be addressed. Let's focus on what the wage gap implies in terms of how it reflects how it personally and cultural burdens women in particular, What's really needed is a follow up article that describes specific steps to reduce the wage gap whatever the apparent myth it appears to portrait. There is still a hurtful situation that impacts women, perhaps yes to there is too much evidence regarding the wage gap because now it's turning itself into an intellectual debate and argument about details that don't need to be won or lost. It's time to do something.

  • SAS Sandy, UT
    Aug. 27, 2017 6:54 p.m.

    So Utah women choose to stay at home and help raise children? That's a valid choice, and a valuable asset to society.

    We might confirm both its validity and its value if we PAID THEM for the work they do, every day, with no vacation.

  • Frozen Fractals Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 27, 2017 6:15 p.m.

    It's long been established that most of the 79 cent thing is because of differences in jobs (which is why, despite being liberal, I really don't like the use of that stat since people figure out what it means and then assume the problem doesn't exist at all).

    However, there remains some portion of a gap and there is still some smaller portion that is wage discrimination (if you think about it, if the overall wage gap, accounting for other things was 2%, and 10% of women were discriminated against then those 10% of women would be paid 20% less than men since 20% of 10% is 2%). A tiny overall percentage would still be a big deal to those subject to it.

    And then there's the other issues like the societal push for some jobs to be "men's" jobs and others to be "women's" jobs. Doctors/nurses. Professors/elementary teachers. Many STEM careers are quite skewed.

  • jparry Provo, UT
    Aug. 27, 2017 5:58 p.m.

    I, too, appreciate the breadth and the depth of this article. Sarah Israelsen-Hartley has done us all a great favor in showing how complex this issue is and how deeply entrenched and normalized gender-based discrimination is not just in society, but in our own individual sense of how things should work.

    This article makes me ask questions like this: Why don't we have "workers compensation" for mothers injured on the job?

    Mothers, working outside the home or not, are a huge source of production and service in our economy. We need the workers we pay to work. But mothers, or "mothering" by caregivers of both genders, do work that must be done, too; work that has obvious, consequential results in the lives and well being of our most vulnerable fellow citizens if it's not done.

    Caregivers at home are workers. They "produce" people trained in life skills (moral behavior, social skills, problem solvers, etc.) that are crucial to their well being and to mine. I depend on people to make and do things I can't. In depending on workers, I also depend on the work parents have done to enable them to do this work for me. Why shouldn't I pay a little something for that?

  • Orem Parent Orem, UT
    Aug. 27, 2017 5:39 p.m.

    We will gladly accept this label. Everyone that lives in Utah knows that we value strong families. In order to have those strong families we are probably going to have one parent at home raising the kids. Many of the women here are more than happy with that. Why should we be fighting and clawing at this? If it brings them happiness and provides for stronger families shouldn't we be praising that? I laugh when the women are told they shouldn't be happy.

    I've lived in several states and nobody does it better than Utah. Great families, great schools, strong kids. We are the standard every state should be striving for, not the other way around.

    Seems like every time the media is fighting for something, it is against what is best for the family.

    Thanks Utah! Keep doing it right!

  • Bruce A. Frank San Jose, CA
    Aug. 27, 2017 5:35 p.m.

    This is one of the best articles I have read, with detail uncommon on this subject. We seldom see this depth of evenhanded reporting. It would be very encouraging to see national distribution of this well researched article. I encourage Deseret News readers to share the link.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    Aug. 27, 2017 5:21 p.m.

    while the Republican looks at equality of opportunity

    Of course you do. There's been such strong Republican support for all civil rights legislation.

  • Sabrecat South Jordan, UT
    Aug. 27, 2017 5:07 p.m.

    @P Bundy - You didn't actually read the article did you? I mean if you had you would have realized that the article says, "Yes, there is a pay gap, and its around 5-8%". The 20% figure is nonsense and was *never* an apple to apples comparison.

  • search diligently Lehi, UT
    Aug. 27, 2017 5:00 p.m.

    I am grateful for the article and all others that show discrimination of any sort (including reverse discrimination). Discrimination to anyone is discrimination and should be addressed as such.

    One thing however I don't think these studies quantify is how much of the pay differential is based on a perceived flexible lifestyle that is so much more important to women with LDS values. There has got to be an association with this and the fact that 40% of Utah women work part time, the highest in the nation. Can this not contribute not only to the bottom take home pay figure but also the per dollar rate difference? I think there is a difference in basic values and when this is true the mighty dollar is less important to many people who want a real family life.

  • Llew40 Sandy, UT
    Aug. 27, 2017 3:22 p.m.

    What's the most popular four year college major for female students in Utah?
    How many female graduates in Utah were able to find jobs in this field?
    Are they making the same amount as men?
    Answer these questions first before writing an article about Utah's gender wage gap.

  • JimDabakis slc, UT
    Aug. 27, 2017 3:09 p.m.

    This appears to be an apologist approach to the issue. Might be better on editorial page.

  • Max Upstate, NY
    Aug. 27, 2017 2:57 p.m.

    Did Hillary Clinton discriminate against women? Did Barack Obama discriminate against women? Well, they paid significantly lower salaries to women on their staffs, but they did not discriminate.

    The fact is that when you adjust for field, education and experience, the gap virtually disappears, as both Clinton and Obama were very quick to explain. So when you want to fire up the base, you talk average pay gap. When you want to defend yourself against accusations of discrimination, you quickly become an economist and make the necessary adjustments.

    Google The True Story of the Gender Pay Gap Freakenomics for Harvard Labor Economist Claudia Goldin's explanation. Bottom line: there is a pay gap on average but there is little, if any, evidence of discrimination.

  • gb says Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 27, 2017 1:53 p.m.

    Very comprehensive article, goes into the issues underlying of the "tip of the iceberg" indicator (the gender wage gap among year round full time workers). Shows that our choices are shaped by the societal context and policies. Kudos to Sarah Israelsen-Hartley!

  • RCDavis Provo, UT
    Aug. 27, 2017 12:46 p.m.

    It is great to read an article that reaches beyond journalism sound bites and engages a topic at sufficient depth to uncover some of the complexities of the issue.

    The issues brought up in the article ring true to me. I work in physics, a well paying field where women are underrepresented nationally and locally. Both science and society could be greatly benefitted by the capabilities and perspectives of more women in our field. However, inflexibility in institutional work time (or a significant part time penalty) in both business and academia are a reality that women in science usually face. This inflexibility is sometimes exacerbated by federal mandates but government nudges have often been effective at increasing participation.

    Thank you for this in depth article on an issue with particular local and LDS flavor and relevance.

  • Fair Flower Layton, UT
    Aug. 27, 2017 12:42 p.m.

    I knew that when I became a school teacher, I would never make as much money as I could have in another profession. I could have easily gotten a higher paying job, as school was always easy for me, but it was not the way I felt I should go. I loved my job and miss it very much.

  • Utes Fan Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 27, 2017 11:44 a.m.

    Income equality can sound like a good thing. But historically it has been Socialist, totalitarian governments that have advanced the idea of income equality.

    Free societies, as a result of freedom, have income inequality. Let's stop the talk that income inequality is such a bad thing. I would rather live in a society that has many levels of income while maintaining freedom than the horror of living in a nation that does not have freedom but might have more equality (but that equality is grounded in poverty).

    Come on. Let's resist Communism here.

  • Paloma10 Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 27, 2017 11:23 a.m.

    One of the worst working situations I have ever faced was in Utah. The women, doing the same exact job were all paid less and they accepted it because the men all had families. The lack of gender equality screams in Utah. On any given day, people often work 12-14 hours to bill 8. I have spoken with several other people who faced the same workplace abuses, and yes, big companies. The state is in dire need of humanity and could use some Union support. However, the workers and public are brainwashed and accepting of what could be abusive tactics by their employers. I know that many will hate this message, but they probably have never worked or lived outside of Utah.

  • Utes Fan Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 27, 2017 11:20 a.m.

    Men are more aggressive in wage negotiations. Let's not ignore that also.

  • P Bundy Albuquerque, NM
    Aug. 27, 2017 10:35 a.m.

    "Currently the state ranks 50th out of 50 states and the District of Columbia with women being paid roughly 68 cents for every dollar paid to a man,"

    The gender gap isn't some "liberal" fantasy - it exists because far too many people are caught in the past believing that men are the bread winners and a woman's only place is in the home. Those days are past, long, long past. Time for Utah to come into the 21st century.

  • Doug Ex-Fat Guy Fair Oaks, CA
    Aug. 27, 2017 9:38 a.m.

    If the so-called "gender gap" were really due to bigotry, discrimination, and sexism, then it seems that sooner or later some entrepreneur would catch onto an inherent savings in wages by hiring only women, and do so, and clean up!

    In fact, the debate points out a huge difference between the proverbial "pointy-headed liberal Democrat" and the "pro-business 'conservative' Republican"...the Democrat looks at equality of result, regardless of cause, while the Republican looks at equality of opportunity. The former assumes that men and women, save for obvious anatomy, are 'identical', without regard to individual abilities and characteristics, while the latter looks specifically at the individual and what (s)he can do. Which, do you think, is more in line with American values and promotes freedom and prosperity?

  • rvalens2 Burley, ID
    Aug. 27, 2017 9:31 a.m.

    For me, this quote from the article seems to address one of the bigger issues in the pay discrepancy between men and women.

    "The gender gap in hourly compensation would vanish if firms did not have a financial incentive to pay employees working 80 hours a week more than twice what they would receive for 40-hour weeks . . ."

    When evaluating the income differences between men and women, this is the type of data that is what is often left out by those claiming a 20% pay difference.

  • rvalens2 Burley, ID
    Aug. 27, 2017 9:29 a.m.

    One of the best articles published in the Deseret News this year on an issue that never seems to go away.

    Is the wage discrepancy real? Yes, but it's a lot smaller than what's constantly blasted out by the media and liberals and progressives.

    Should women always be paid the same as men? Absolutely, if you're doing the same job as the man next to you and have similar experience and training there can be no justification for paying women less.

  • KarlGatling Sandy, UT
    Aug. 27, 2017 8:42 a.m.

    This is one of the best articles on the gender pay gap that I've seen. One of the few mainstream media articles that examines the causes of the pay gap rather than just screaming "sexism!"

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    Aug. 27, 2017 8:40 a.m.

    So, in claiming some jobs should pay more are we finally admitting that the pay gap is due to differences in career choices rather than discrimination?

    Nursing is very important. No,less important than doctors. But the fact is, nursing requires 2 or 4 years of college (LPN or RN) while an MD requires 8 years of college.

    Teaching grade school is crucial. But a lot more people are able and willing to get a teaching degree than are able and willing to get engineering degrees. Turns out pedagogy is easier to understand than indefinite integrals and Maxwell.

    Supply and demand is not discrimination.

    It also turns out that we pay a premium for dangerous, dirty, or physically demanding work. I don't see near as many women picking up garbage, working high voltage power lines, or spending their lives in coal mines as I do men? Gender discrimination? Or legit, individual choices made by women themselves?

    Gender gaps in the amount of overtime worked, or travel supported also affect pay.

    Can we stop the narrative that all differences in outcome must be due to bigotry or discrimination?

  • scrappy do DRAPER, UT
    Aug. 27, 2017 7:00 a.m.

    It is nice to see an article that peels back the onion on this liberal headline grabber that is used by the Democrats and their media allies on a daily basis to bash anyone who is seen as a supporter of business in this country (i.e. Republicans)