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Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Google Finds Unexpected Gender Gap in Worker Pay: Reason Roundup

By Elizabeth Nolan Brown - March 05, 2019 at 09:30AM

Gender gap in Google pay goes against prevailing perceptions. For years, folks have insisted that Google underpays its female employees. The U.S. Department of Labor even opened an investigation into just that matter two years ago. But according to a new analysis from Google, it's actually male staffers who may be missing out.

According to a Department of Labor assessment in early 2017, Google engaged in "systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce." Janet Herold, the department's regional solicitor, told The Verge at the time that the investigation was ongoing but they had "received compelling evidence of very significant discrimination against women in the most common positions at Google headquarters."

The idea that this is an ongoing problem at Google has persisted. But according to the company's latest yearly survey, more men were facing lower pay relative to women doing similar work.

The study "disproportionately led to pay raises for thousands of men," reports The New York Times.

The fact that things needed to be corrected for pro-woman bias should be seen as a good sign for women's stature and progress in the tech sector. But the study has yielded little celebration from professional gender-equality advocates.

Astonishingly, some are insisting instead that the study only masks much deeper discrimination by focusing on things like "equal pay for equal work." From the Times again:

Google seems to be advancing a "flawed and incomplete sense of equality" by making sure men and women receive similar salaries for similar work, said Joelle Emerson, chief executive of Paradigm, a consulting company that advises companies on strategies for increasing diversity. That is not the same as addressing "equity," she said, which would involve examining the structural hurdles that women face as engineers.

Google has denied paying women less, and the company agreed that compensation among similar job titles was not by itself a complete measure of equity. A more difficult issue to solve — one that critics say Google often mismanages for women — is a human resources concept called leveling. Are employees assigned to the appropriate pay grade for their qualifications? The company said it was now trying to address the issue.

If women do face discrimination in starting pay, that's certainly something worth looking at, too. But it's ironic to see some "equal pay" advocates now arguing for more nuance on the issue, when these same activists insist on lumping together all workers at all levels to make misleading proclamations like women getting only 49 cents or 77 cents for every dollar men make.

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