The Instigator
Pro (for)
The Contender
Con (against)

The gender wage gap is NOT due to discrimination.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/28/2017 Category: Economics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 784 times Debate No: 106213
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (6)
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I am arguing that the gender wage gap is not due to gender discrimination - to put another way I argue that the wage gap can be closed *almost* completely by controlling for various factors, I say almost as a small portion of the gap could be due to discrimination - however, the actual amount due to discrimination (if any exists) would be so insignificant that it might as well not even exist.

The uncontrolled gender wage gap (described as a woman earning about 80 cents. to every dollar a man makes earns in the US, however, it varies between countries) is often cited by the layman and sometimes the more informed as discrimination against women in the workplace.
I will show 3 different pieces of evidence that this wage gap is not due to discrimination, starting now:

1) Studies controlling for different factors other than discrimination reduce the size of the wage gap to near non-existence - There have been many studies which control for various confounding factors which could affect earnings, these include numbers of hours worked, overtime, type of job, time off, ect. When these calculations are done the wage gap vanishes. For example, in the USA, a company called CONSAD conducted a meta-analysis to eliminate non-discriminatory reasons for the gap - the report, which was produced for and endorsed by the department of labor reduced the gap to between 4.8 and 7.1 percent, from the original 20.4% - now that's not to say that the rest is due to discrimination, as noted in the report, it is impossible to control for every factor. [1]
Another study in the US showed the same thing - a report by Payscale (an American website which provides information about salary, benefits, and compensation) was able to use the salary information in their database to reduce the pay gap to 2.4% from 23.7% (this method is likely more accurate as unlike the meta-analysis their database can be used to control for differences between their 1.4 million employees they have on it). [2]

This pattern is also international, The HayGroup (an international consulting firm, which e collect job size and pay information for over 20 million job holders, in more than 25,000 companies across over 110 countries) used its database to control for company, level and function between 8.5 million employees in 33 countries and found that in all of them the wage gap decreased greatly, on average the controlled gap was 1.6% and the uncontrolled was 17.6%. [3]

2) The wage gap is in favor of women...when they are in their 20s-
Women in their 20s out earn the men of the same age (UK) [4]. If the wage gap was down to discrimination then how come women in their 20s outearn the men - what is the reason for companies to be sexist towards women over 30, but not those younger.

3) There is no correlation between gender equality of a country and the wage gap - Using data from the 2016 Global gender gap report as a measure of gender equality (I know that it is not a perfect measure of gender equality of a country, but it is the best I could find) [5] and plotting it against the uncontrolled wage gap from the HayGroup in the 33 countries [3]. I was able to find that there was a positive correlation between the equality value wand the wage gap, meaning that at equality of a nation increased, so did the magnitude of the wage gap (note that when Spearman's rank correlation coefficient was found the correlation was insignificant). This shows that discrimination based on gender is not a good indicator of the wage gap - hence discrimination has an insignificant effect of the gap, so other factors likely contribute to the existence of the gap.

Final Thoughts-

I would just like to add an excerpt from the CONSAD report as it sums up the existence of a wage gap even when factors are controlled for quite nicely:

"differences in the compensation of men and women are the result of a multitude of factors and that the raw wage gap should not be used as the basis to justify corrective action. Indeed, there may be nothing to correct. The differences in raw wages may be almost entirely the result of the individual choices being made by both male and female workers...
it is not possible now, and doubtless will never be possible, to determine reliably whether any portion of the observed gender wage gap is not attributable to factors that compensate women and men differently on socially acceptable bases, and hence can confidently be attributed to overt discrimination against women. In addition, at a practical level, the complex combination of factors that collectively determine the wages paid to different individuals makes the formulation of policy that will reliably redress any overt discrimination that does exist a task that is, at least, daunting and, more likely, unachievable."







To start, I would like to thank JTC for creating this debate, and for providing a website where we can have civilized, intelligent debates. I wish you good luck, and will begin my arguments. Throughout history, women have been payed less than men in the same position, which has been labeled as the "wage gap." I am arguing that the wage gap is caused by sexism and discrimination. I will respond to your arguments in your order, add my own, and then provide closing arguments.

1) First, some defense: Your first argument relies almost solely on this Consad study. However, this study is extremely flawed, and fails to account for the parts of the wage gap that are caused by sexist tendencies. The researchers themselves cautioned that they did not have enough data to make a definitive, reliable claim. Elizabeth MacDonald writes, "But the researchers also warned that either they did not have enough long-term data or the studies they looked at had too few workers to definitively ascertain why exactly the wage gap exists, as well as the size of it. The government researchers also warned they did not have enough data to ascertain the impact of various factors like work experience, tenure, occupation and industry to deliver "adequate analysis" of what the true wage gap really is." [1] The researchers themselves say they couldn"t deliver "adequate analysis." We have no reason to trust this study - It failed to account for the factors that drive workplace discrimination. Also, the evidence they looked at was short term, and did not cover the span of a worker"s life. As you pointed out, much of the discrimination comes later in life. They continue to express uncertainty when they say, "As a result it has not been possible to develop reliable estimates of the total percentage of the raw gender wage gap." The research doesn"t even analyze "whether women are rejected from jobs they apply for right from the get go because they have children, even if they had resumes identical to men"an all too prevalent reality that undercuts the theory that the "pay gap doesn"t exist."" This is a factor that you never accounted for. It"s harder for women to get jobs in the first place, a statistic that isn"t examined when evaluating the wage gap.

The Consad study gets worse. The worst flaw in the study is that it analyzed part time and full time workers. A post on the blog Alas! explains. "The standard wage gap figure only includes full-time, year-round workers,2 but CONSAD included part-time (and, I suspect, short-term) workers, which means it"s looking at a significantly different population" The single largest factor that CONSAD found "explained" the wage gap is the difference in hours worked. Since women are more likely to work part-time, and since CONSAD (unlike standard wage gap studies) included part-time workers in their sample, in effect CONSAD is comparing mostly female part-time workers to mostly male full-time workers. Then " what a surprise! " they determined that the difference in hours worked accounts for a huge portion of the wage gap they measured." [2] This practice is extremely negligent. The study is comparing two completely different types of jobs, and then attributing this to the wage gap. If women are more likely to work part time, its self-evident that they"re going to have less hours. This doesn"t mean they"re payed equally. This is a huge flaw in the study, and should be enough to discredit it, thus hindering your argument. The study also ignores things like occupational discrimination and the fact that men are more likely to be promoted.

Onto offense: Your claim that other factors cause the wage gap is discredited by your own evidence. The payscale article you cite concedes a lot. "The first thing to know is that, no matter how you slice it, there is a gender pay gap. Do men really make more than women? Yes. The gender pay gap is very real" When we compare men and women who hold the same jobs" there is a gap: the controlled gender pay gap. Nationally, when we control for job title, job level and other important influencers of wages (like years of work experience), women still only make 98 cents for every dollar earned by men." [3] Here, it concedes not only that the pay gap exists, but that even after accounting for ALL OTHER INFLUENCES the wage gap exists, undoubtedly because of discrimination. And what"s important to remember is that many of the influences it accounts for are caused by discrimination. For example, "Men are 85% more likely than women to be VPs or C-Suite Execs by mid-career, and 171% more likely to hold those positions late in their career." While many wage gap skeptics have long tried to chalk that up to a lack of courage in women, it is undeniably caused by discrimination. An article in the Harvard Business Review says, "In repeated studies, the social cost of negotiating for higher pay has been found to be greater for women than it is for men... However, in most published studies, the social cost of negotiating for pay is not significant for men, while it is significant for women." [4] Women who try to negotiate raises or promotions face intense social consequences, which is not true for men. Sexism has scared women out of trying to negotiate, creating a fear-based environment of discrimination in the workplace.

2)Offense and Defense: Turn: This statistic proves my case. Women enter the workforce at close to equal, but are denied promotions and other opportunities because of their gender. (Cross apply my payscale evidence.) Keep in mind though, that this argument doesn"t account for the fact women are less likely to be hired at that age, meaning less of them are working or making money. Also, this article is about the UK, and not the US " which makes it carry less weight.

3)Defense: Your evidence is from Hay Group, a consultant firm with little history in studies or polling. This is reflected in the flaw with the study you provided: It has a TINY sample size. Roughly 260,000 people per country. That"s less than 1% of their populations. Even so, there is correlation between wage gap and nation. The two countries with the largest pay gaps were Mexico and Brazil, both of which have problems with sexism. Mexico has a consistently growing problem of sexism in women that is reflected by the Homicide rate against women. Not only is this rate incredibly high, [7] but women are scared out of reporting such crimes. Brazil is a historically patriarchal society that is heavily impacted by Iberian culture " which is inherently sexist and has women in subordinate positions in the household. Neither of these are progressive countries with good track records on gender treatment.

Conclusion: Because of the flaws in the Consad study, which is the bulk of your argument, and the evidence that jobs lose their value when women become common employees, as well as the evidence from Cornell and Harvard economists that at least 38% of the wage-gap is direct discrimination, which doesn"t even account for aspects such as backlash against women that ask for raises, the prejudice against women applying for jobs, and many other factors I laid out above, clearly proves that a substantial portion of the pay-gap is because of discrimination. One final statistic from payscale, "a staggering 36 percent of female MBAs believe they have been denied a raise or promotion because of their gender."

Quick Note: My original argument was 5,000 characters too many, so I had to get rid of a lot of my offense, I'll try to bring it up in the second speech, though. Also, I wrote this is word and then copy/pasted it, so there was more formatting originally. Sorry for that. Finally, thanks for reading, and can't wait to respond to your argument.

1-Elizabeth MacDonald writing for Fox Business.
2-Alas! Blog.
4-Hannah Riley Bowles writing for the Harvard Business Review.
5-Claire Cain Miller writing for the New York Times.
6-Nolan Feely writing for Time Magazine.
7-Report presented before the Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, CEDAW.
8-Asaf Levanon"s abstract to her study titled, "Occupational Feminization and Pay: Assessing Causal Dynamics Using 1950"2000 U.S. Census Data" From Oxford Academic Journal.
9-Madeline Farber writing for Fortune.
Debate Round No. 1


I would first just like to say how glad I am somebody decided to debate me, honestly, I was getting a bit worried that nobody would. Anyhow, I supposed that I will be going on the defensive a lot in this part of the debate - so, here we go:

1) CONSAD Defense: This is a little point, but I would like to disagree that the Consad study was my main argument - I even stated that the database analysis would be more reliable than the meta-analysis, however, I am still going to defend it. You see, I do not believe that the Consad study is a bad as you are making it out to be, it is indeed by no means perfect and has its fair share of flaws, but it still supports the view that wage gap is mainly not due to discrimination. Just because a study has limitations doesn't mean that its conclusions are invalid or that it should be thrown out. The study itself did say that " additional research in this area is clearly needed" but it also went on to say "this study leads to the unambiguous conclusion that the differences in the compensation of men and women are the result of a multitude of factors and that the raw wage gap should not be used as the basis to justify corrective action. Indeed, there may be nothing to correct. " And this is directly after acknowledging that the longitudinal databases that contain such information include too few workers, however, to support adequate analysis of factors like occupation and industry. And I have to agree, although it's not the best study out there it is still good enough to be mentioned and used as evidence.

"The worst flaw in the study is that it analyzed part time and full-time workers." - This is actually not that big of a deal, the part-time work is controlled for in the end anyhow so it doesn't really matter - if they did an analysis on just full times workers the end wage gap would be similar, it's just that there would be fewer differences in hours worked which would need to be controlled for, all the other factors would still be controlled for and the end result would (or at least should) be the same.

2) Types of discrimination- I am glad that you brought up different types of discrimination which could cause a wage gap, as I left it out of my original analysis. Economist Solomon W. Polachek suggests three possible instances of discrimination: Unfair hiring, unfair pay, and unfair promotion practices. Suggesting they could be explained by outright corporate discrimination, possibly motivated by corporate monopsony power, given that there are far fewer employers (buyers of labor) than employees (sellers of labor); employer misperceptions regarding women’s relative productivity (statistical discrimination); male employees’ distaste for dealing with female fellow workers; and consumer distaste for purchasing products made or sold by women. He also argues their validity one by one, and although I normally hate just leaving a giant quote, I think ill make an exception in this case: " Outright corporate discrimination (paying higher wages to men for the same job) is incompatible with profit maximization: Profits sink when a firm pays men more, rather than hiring less expensive female employees. Stereotyping based on statistical discrimination is possible in the short term, but surely not in the longer term. Firms cannot sustain long-term losses in a competitive environment either by paying men more or by promoting less qualified men over more qualified women, or simply by misjudging women’s abilities. A male distaste for female coworkers is possible, but if so should result in gender-segregated work environments, not gender wage differences within the company. Consumer distaste for products made and sold by women is also possible, but all too often consumers are not aware who actually makes a product, although they are aware of where the product is manufactured. Relative wages for females in sales roles are no different from those in other occupations. Women earn less than men in (almost) all of the most common occupations, including sales...
Each type of possible discrimination is inconsistent with negligible wage differences among single and younger employees compared with the large gap among married men and women (especially those with children, and even more so for those who space children widely apart). Again, why would companies discriminate against married women, and even more so against married women with children, but not against younger women, or singles? If employers discriminate based on misperceptions of worker productivity or male employee (offensive or derogatory) feelings about working with women, then why do they discriminate against married women, but not single women? Why should children (especially widely spaced children) exacerbate the level of discrimination?" [1]

3) Payscale Defense - "The payscale article you cite concedes a lot...Here, it concedes not only that the pay gap exists, but that even after accounting for ALL OTHER INFLUENCES the wage gap exists, undoubtedly because of discrimination." - The most important thing which I want to say is that it is likely impossible to control for every other factor - even if you were somehow able to control for every factor that we know of there are likely loads of other small factors which influence the gap in tiny amounts. Take for example negotiation, how do you control for "ability to negotiate"? Indeed it would likely be impossible as even if you gave people a script to read off to try and control for negotiation skill it wouldn't be enough as everything from body language to the speed of speech to appearance, or even just how the boss is feeling that day could have an effect. Now, I am not claiming that negotiation ability or the frequency of negotiation or whatever, I am merely trying to illustrate to you that it is impossible to control for every factor - and I am sure that if you were able to control for every factor there would be a very small amount of the gap due to discrimination.
You did mention that the Payscale study conceded that the pay gap still exists after controlling for factors - a statement which I have never disagreed with. Now, the report didn't directly say that the controlled gap was due to discrimination (I think it is up to interpretation what they were saying), but even if a assume they did say that then it would be a total non-sequitur, because, as stated, it would be very difficult for every factor to be controlled - you see what you are using is a variation of the "god of the gaps" argument, lets call it the "sexism of the gaps" argument - because any gap you have left you just stuff sexism in it to try and explain it; hypothetical scenario lets say that another factor was controlled for and the 2% controlled wage gap went down to 1%, would you then say that that 1% must be due to discrimination as all other factors have been considered as you are doing now?

4) HayGroup Defense - "there is a correlation between wage gap and nation" - No, no, no, no! As I stated previously I ran a statistical test (spearman's) to determine the correlation coefficient between the gender equality of a nation and its raw wage gap, and there was an insignificant correlation. You are cherry picking Mexico and Brazil to prove your case, using the same logic I could say that "the more patriarchal the society the smaller the wage gap " as I could Saudi Arabia has a gap of only 20%, where it is about 28% for the UK, 24% for Australia and 22% for Switzerland, and I am sure we can all agree that Saudi Arabia is WAY more patriarchal and sexist than any of those three countries.

"Your evidence is from Hay Group, a consultant firm with little history in studies or polling. This is reflected in the flaw with the study you provided: It has a TINY sample size" - Now I'm not an expert on statistics, but I don't think that the sample size is too shabby, have you put this through a sample size calculator or something? Because most surveys/studies have what you would consider a "small" sample size (a <1% of the population sample size). To give an example Pew research often has about 1000 participants per country surveyed, now I am unsure if we can compare surveys sample sizes on the general population with employee database sample sizes and if you say we can' I want a good reason why, but even if we can't I would like proof that 10's or 100's of thousands of people are not enough.

5) One final thing on discrimination - Though we just assume that women are going to be the victims of discrimination there is some evidence that women are preferred. Women are preferred in STEM field hiring for example [2] (BTW, I already know the arguments you are going to bring up to try and dismiss this research, this follow up paper: should address any criticisms:[3], I maintain that this experimental evidence along with the real world evidence presented shows a sturdy advantage for women), and women are preferred in shortlisting for senior positions [4] and male reviewers displayed markedly more positive discrimination in favour of minority candidates than did female counterparts. Now, of course other studies show the different results and I am sure we could go back and forth all day about the validity of these studies, but due to the inconsistency in the data, we should probably conclude that there is not yet enough evidence that males are neccesarily discriminated in favour of.

[3]; (SEE: "Possible reactions to these findings" section)
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Debate Round No. 2
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Debate Round No. 3
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by JTC 2 years ago
Okay, okay. One more comment - The [3] source I use during round 2 for some reason added an extra "/" to the url and it doesn't work, so here is the link again:
Posted by JTC 2 years ago
Jesus Christ, I should really proofread, I mean that the CONSAD report is probably not a meta-analysis, but it is a statistical analysis of the attributes that contribute to the wage gap and a synopsis of the
economic research that has been conducted on the issue.
Posted by JTC 2 years ago
Can I just say right now: I'm not sure why, but I keep saying the Consad report is a meta-analysis, I don't think it is a statistical analysis of the attributes that contribute to the wage gap and a synopsis of the
economic research that has been conducted on the issue - I don't think that would really be classed as a meta-analysis, so I don't know where I got it from. My B guys!
Posted by David-McDermott 2 years ago
Hey, I just accepted, but my argument is 12,000 characters. Do you mind if I just add a link to the full version in my argument?
Posted by IvanC 2 years ago
I wanna argue with someone so bad but i agree with you!!!!
Posted by Coveny 2 years ago
From your payscale article: "Men are 85 percent more likely than women to be VPs or C-Suite Execs by mid-career, and 171 percent more likely to hold those positions late in their career."

So even when you compare them apples to apples on the job it's not fair. Here's another article on the matter.
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