Digging Into the Pay Gap

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Are women paid less than men? You betcha. Are they paid 77 cents for every dollar that men make? That’s more contested, and Bob Somerby is pretty scathing about Rachel Maddow’s insistence on sticking with that number even when her own guests tell her it’s not quite right.

But this argument sort of misses the point. It’s true that some of the gap goes away when you account for the fact that women tend to work in different jobs than men and take more time off to have children. But that’s all part of the story. When all’s said and done, women are punished financially in three different ways: because “women’s jobs” have historically paid less than jobs dominated by men; because women are expected to take time off when they have children, which reduces their seniority; and because even when they’re in the same job with the same amount of experience, they get paid less than men. All of these things are part of the pay gap. Whether you call all three of them “discrimination” is more a matter of taste than anything else.

And where is the pay gap most pronounced? That might surprise you. (Or might not.) The Institute for Women’s Policy Research took a look at pay for the most common men’s professions, and the biggest gap came in the very area that’s supposedly the most meritocratic job title in the country: CEO. How about them apples?

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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