If employers want 50 percent women, is it obvious that they must pay them more?

The Google Heretic is the gift that keeps on giving for anyone publishing a blog.

The Heretic’s memo and firing wouldn’t have happened but for Google’s desire to have a workforce that is “representative” of the general population, i.e., roughly 50 percent women. Despite management’s noble sentiments and the preponderance of Hillary supporters within the company, Google failed at their stated goal. This led the former science grad student (and current heretic) to turn to his science journals while it led me to ask “Why not pay women more if you’re so keen on hiring them?”

Supposedly it is illegal to pay women more simply because they are women. I’m not sure if this is true in practice because we are told by various politicians that employers pay women less because they are women.

I’m wondering if the sex discrimination laws that were enacted to help women get higher pay are now working to reduce female pay below market-clearing levels.

BLS data show that male labor force participation rate for ages 25-54 was 88 percent in 2014. Female labor force participation rate the same age range only 74 percent. With approximately equal numbers of men and women in this age group, there will be 88 men for every 74 women in the labor force, right? If every employer wants to have a 50/50 gender ID distribution not all of them can succeed. In a market economy, the typical way in which a scarce resource is allocated is via pricing. Women should be worth more in the labor market than men and companies such as Google would have to outbid other firms that seek gender ID balance in order to achieve it.

Readers: What am I missing? Now that being seen as pro-women is a business necessity, given the relative scarcity of women in the American labor force, are laws requiring equal pay to men and women working against women?


14 thoughts on “If employers want 50 percent women, is it obvious that they must pay them more?

  1. I think all-female companies, in every area of occupation, is a much better idea assuming as you did that employees value a female set of skills more than their male counterparts’:

    It is not illegal to have companies of this kind as the references I gave earlier indicate, there will be no discrimination, harrassment, microagression, etc. from the male-semi-neanderthal population. Compensation will be much better too since who but the female manager can understand and appreciate a fellow female employee objectively ?

  2. Phil with gender identity being so fluid how do we know who identifies as a women at one particular point of time? Perhaps google should offer a small bonus for men to identify as women during working hours.

  3. Wait a minute. Wouldn’t the goal be a ratio of 88 men to 74 women. I would think the goal is to reflect the labor force, not the population as a whole. I mean I doubt the percentage of Google employees under ten years of age comes anywhere near to reflecting the percentage in the population as a whole. So it all should balance out.

  4. Maybe we do not have more women in the workforce because some companies are not enlightened enuf to have generous parental leave and child care policies? Someone might argue that, anyway. The argument would be that Google should be so good to women that they want to work there as much as men.

  5. “ratio of 88 men to 74 women”

    That’s assuming a random choice from the overall willing to work population.

    Google claims 0.3% selectivity from the right side of a presumed skill-set vector distribution (as opposed to the mere 3% HU selectivity). Assuming SAT math scores is a good enough approximation to the kind of programming skills Google may require and generously applying 1% selectivity, that would give us about a 2 to 1 M-F ratio in the pool of qualified applicants.

    The 2:1 gap in the 99 p-tile has apparently been unchanged for 50 years despite the best efforts to reduce it (e.g. females were over-represented in the math AP/H classes, science AP/H classes, etc).

    Since the pool of qualified applicants is so small, they should be paid substantially more than their male counterparts or they could just establish all-female companies, in my view a more efficient way to solve discrimination and other attendant problems, and enjoy the fruits of their labor !

  6. It seems very logical that paying women as much or more than men would solve the under representation problem. And really, who is worried they will be sued for this type of reverse discrimination? No one.

    So there must be a hidden (profit-related) motive that prevents this approach?

    If we assume that companies want to get cheap labor regardless of gender (as evidenced by H-1 Visa exploitation) so that management itself can benefit from its share of profits via higher salaries and bonuses, then we can see why companies really don’t want to pay more for anyone’s salaries (females included). At the same time if females can be had cheaper, then companies should be close to 100% staffed with lower paid females (at least at the rank and file level) to maximize management salaries and bonuses.

    Clearly high performing “rainmakers” of both sexes are in short supply. Perhaps the shortage of female “rainmakers” in the workforce is leading to hiring higher cost males?riving the hiring of males

  7. The best solution would be to bring in lots of high IQ female immigrants instead of lots of male H1-B workers. I suspect that would probably cut down on female support for immigration, however.

  8. We need to outlaw alimony and put a federal cap on child support.
    Let’s celebrate female financial independence!!!

  9. Phil, actual stated goal for Google’s diversity program is to match graduation numbers (AFAIR). I don’t remember exact number, but it’s something like 2:1 Ivan is talking about.

    Diversity all-hands was canceled, otherwise we would have been reminded about these numbers again.

  10. SK: Are you sure about that? If the goal is a workforce that matches “graduation numbers” for all college degrees then Google would have to be mostly women (since a lot of college-age men are busy in prison, playing Xbox, etc.). If the goal is a workforce that matches CS graduation rates then the goal would be 4:1 male:female (http://fortune.com/2015/03/26/report-the-number-of-women-entering-computing-took-a-nosedive/ says only about 18 percent of CS graduates identify as “female”).

  11. When Google finishes sorting the workforce and analyzing the results, who is going to maintain the algorithm? My impression is a huge inefficiency of properly-sorted staff being carried by a core of competent developers regardless of gender. Do these in the core ever catch on and demand more pay and donuts, or does management quietly try to keep them satisfied while frantically recruiting for some more core-grade women (I assume they do this because they could never have too many)?

  12. Another front in the war, from Slashdot:
    269 People Joined An Age Discrimination Class Action Suit Against Google

    Slashdot reader #9,119 BrookHarty writes:
    “269 people have joined a class-action lawsuit against Google claiming they were discriminated against in the workplace based on their age…” reports BizJournals. “The lawsuit originated in 2015 with plaintiff Robert Heath and was certified as a class-action in 2016.” Google has stated it has implemented policies to stop age discrimination but still has an average employee age of 29.

    In 2004 Larry Page fired Brian Reid nine days before IPO costing Reid 45 million in unvested stock options. Reid was fired for lack of “cultural fit”. Reid has settled for an undisclosed amount.
    Now Google has to recruit OLD qualified women? Should lead to immediate vacancies in HR. Great time to Lean In though.

  13. bjdubbs: we should preferentially let in female migrants of all kinds. (or more accurately, exclude male migrants) 1. Many of them are fleeing sexist oppression for worse places. 2. Should we let in significant numbers of men from places more sexist than here? I think not. 3. How often do women blow things up, shoot places up, or drive cars into people (that they don’t know) compared to men? Not often.

Comments are closed.