Thanks to Sue


This is the 41st in a collection of newspaper ads written by Harry Gray, then CEO of United Technologies, that appeared in the Wall Street Journal from the late 1970s through the early 1980s. Here is the text from that ad.

When her family possessions were seized to pay off her father’s business debts, she taught school to help support her family.
She worked for abolition and temperance.
She was arrested and fined.
She found that woman’s voices were falling on deaf ears.
She felt that those ears would continue to be deaf until all women could vote. And for nearly 40 years she fought for that right.
It finally came 14 years after her death.
And last week more women voted in a Presidential election (1980) than ever before.
Susan B. Anthony showed what you can accomplish with conviction and determination.
Of course, it will be a little easier now, thanks to Susan. 

And not only did more women than ever before vote in the 1980 election, it was the first time that a greater percentage of women voted than men, and that has continued to be the case since. In the 2012 election, 63.7% of women voted versus only 59.8% of men. In terms of just raw numbers, more women than men have voted in every Presidential election since 1964. (stats courtesy of the Center of American Women and Politics).

Women first got the right to vote in 1920, and given the turnout numbers, it appears that they have taken full advantage of such a right, again thanks to Susan B.

I’m guessing if Susan were alive today, one of the issues she might be focused on is the wage gap that exists between men and women. However, I think she would need to proceed with caution, as the following excerpts from a recent article in The Economist would suggest:

The most commonly-cited statistic is that women make just 77 cents for every dollar men do, with the implication being that the 23-cent gap is a result of discrimination. While the statistic is accurate, interpreting it requires some nuance: at least some of the gender pay gap can be explained by differences in things like the number of hours worked or type of careers each gender pursues.

Economic research suggests that the majority of the gender pay gap is because of differences within occupations rather than across them. What is tougher to determine is if women make less for “same work”.

A new report from PayScale, a jobs website, takes a stab at this very problem by looking at the gender gap in various occupations controlling for factors including experience, education, company size, and crucially, job title. The pay gap for all workers is 25.6% before such differences are controlled for, and 2.7% afterwards.

Another study noted that in effect, much of the gender pay gap can be thought of as the cost of having children.

In one sense, PayScale’s findings are obvious: one should not expect too much of a difference in pay for two people doing the exact same job. What the report does do is help policymakers ask the right questions. Rather than fixating on just the overall ratio earnings between men and women, it would be more interesting to ask who gets which jobs and why.

So yes, there are wage differences, but not to the extent that is often publicized, and not for the reasons that are usually offered.

Given her previous success as an advocate, I do think Susan B. would have been the right person to solve the gender pay gap issue. I wonder who will successfully champion the cause today.

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