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Monday, August 27, 2018

A Gap in Perspective

Our pastor decided to do a series of messages over the summer that involved answering questions from the congregation. One area of questions I knew would arise involved women in leadership at the church. Congregations differ on how this is handled.

The arguments raised over women in church leadership mirror cultural questions. Aren’t women as capable as men to offer leadership? How should gender equality be administered in the workplace to assure its viability? Does the principal “equal pay for equal work” have application in all spheres of the workplace?

Answers are not always easy—or what people want to hear. Worth reading is a story in The Atlantic describing a video interview with Jordan Peterson and the British Journalist Cathy Newman. It’s titled, “Why Can't People Hear What Jordan Peterson is Saying?” Peterson is the outspoken University of Toronto clinical psychologist who aggressively defends the role of men in a society.

In part of the interview with Peterson, Newman presses the professor on the equal pay issue. She’s pressing the issue of a nine percent pay gap in median hourly earnings between men and women. From the transcipt…

Peterson: Yes. But there’s multiple reasons for that. One of them is gender, but that’s not the only reason. If you’re a social scientist worth your salt, you never do a univariate analysis. You say women in aggregate are paid less than men. Okay. Well then we break it down by age; we break it down by occupation; we break it down by interest; we break it down by personality.
Newman: But you’re saying, basically, it doesn’t matter if women aren’t getting to the top, because that’s what is skewing that gender pay gap, isn’t it? You’re saying that’s just a fact of life; women aren’t necessarily going to get to the top.
Peterson: No, I’m not saying it doesn’t matter, either. I’m saying there are multiple reasons for it.
Newman: Yeah, but why should women put up with those reasons?
Peterson: I’m not saying that they should put up with it! I’m saying that the claim that the wage gap between men and women is only due to sex is wrong. And it is wrong. There’s no doubt about that. The multivariate analyses have been done.”

Peterson then proceeds to cite examples and evidence to his point.

On August 2nd, published an article titled, “Mothers’ low productivity hurts overall pay for women.” It is an opinion piece by Yana Gallen, an assistant professor at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy. She received a PhD in economics from Northwestern University. Her research focuses on understanding the sources of the gender pay gap—preferences, discrimination, and/or productivity.

She writes, “The backbone of the equal pay movement—equal pay for equal work—assumes that men and women are equally productive in the same job. But the evidence does not support this claim. Using Danish data, I studied the relative output of firms employing more men compared to firms employing more women and found that productivity differences explain about two-thirds of the gender pay gap. On average, women are 8-percent less productive than men, so we would expect them to be paid 8-percent less.”

Professor Gallen’s conclusion? “A large gap between pay and productivity would suggest that women are being paid less for the same work. But I do not find a large gap between the pay of women and their productivity.”

What’s the point? No person should be discriminated against because of race or gender in hiring. Or for pay purposes. However, people should be paid for the quality of work they do commensurate with the factors of experience, education, and their relative value to the success of an organization. That’s not always easy to measure.

Blanket statements about equality without facts to support a position can lead to wrong conclusions. And in the end, these do not serve any of us well.

Want true equality? The Bible gives us one of the greatest examples in our standing before God. It says, “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith….There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26, 28, NIV)

God is an equal opportunity lover of mankind if you accept His gift. Refreshing, isn’t it?

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays from 4-6 PM Central. To listen outside the Chicago area, tune to for live streaming or podcasts, or download the AM1160 app.

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