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tv   Inside Story  Al Jazeera  October 19, 2015 6:30pm-7:01pm EDT

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hollywood sequel. and you can find out much more on our website. all of our main stories that we are following, plenty of analysis you can find there. look it up at www.al jazeera.com. we will have the headlines in just a second. ♪ when the average working man in california earns a buck, the average working woman earns $0.84, with the intention of narrowing that gap, the governor has signed the most comprehensive equal wage law in the country. will that work in or is the modern workplace and the way wages are set so complicated that passing a law won't fix
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income inequality. balancing wage scales. it's the inside story. ♪ welcome to "inside story." i'm ray suarez. wage gap stories usually begin with stat ickses showing that working men make more money than working women. single straightforward, widely understanding. but dig a little deeper and everything let's more complicated. comparing the very different jobs sometimes tough. men and women of a similar age may have dissimilar numbers of working years because birth and child rearing falls differently.
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how do you fig it out? melissa chan reports from san francisco. >> reporter: the law requires equal pay for equal work. and it will prohibit retallation against anyone who discloses and discusses his or her pay. >> we have pay laws on the books, but they are not strong enough. >> reporter: equal rights advocates an organization that helped sponsor the bill. >> we represented women who clean hotel rooms, they are getting paid less than janitors who vacuum right outside the hotel room, doing substantially similar work. >> reporter: advocates say the new law will impact all industries and jobs from construction work to silicon valley. some of these biggest pay disparities take place in the
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cutting technology word. this law is expected to change things, but how much? success for women has still been measured by penny by penny increments. last year women earned 7 # cents for every dollar earned for men. looking at the bottom, the poverty rate among women was 14.7%, compared to 10.9% of men. critics of the new california law say it will mean more litigati litigation. employees taking their bosses to court. but proponents disagree. >> i'm sure a lot of people were concerned when the civil rights act passed that there would be more litigation. but it was an important step in making sure that people gained their -- their fair and equal rights. >> reporter: california is often ahead of the curve.
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that is certainly the hope of many advocates here who want to see new momentum in california d.c. with a proposed national paycheck fairness act. >> balancing wage scales. this time on the program. california is a super state, home to some 39 million people, one out of every eight americans, so it has a big say and influence over working conditions. will it be a trend setter? are wage scales for all kinds of jobs are going to catch up to women's changing roles and changing stature in the workplace. joining us to talk about the new california law is vice president of the national partnership for women and families. vicky does this law and the way it is written address what you see as the structural inequalities between working men and women. >> the california law makes
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great strides in the direction towards equallizing pay scales. it recognizes substantially similar work. so men and woman are paid comparably, and creates a better ability of workers to know what they are being paid and to discuss it with their colleagues. >> when you go to your boss and say, look, i do pretty much the same work, but there is the key phrase, pretty much the same work as tim and i know he makes more money per hour. who gets the final say? >> in the best case scenario, is the supervisor would consider what the man and woman are being paid and make a determination as to whether the women is being und underpaid, ideally that is how it has worked out, in looking at
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whether there is explicit or implicit bias going on. if that doesn't work out there is opportunity for them to go to court. under federal law and the california law, it strengthens that even more. >> but what are you saying? that someone can then sue after they find out that this -- this gap exists for the same work. couldn't they sue before? before this law was passed? >> the law sets out a better standard. a more -- a more responsive standard to what women are facing in the workplace. and tightens up what is considered equal pay for equal work. so that's the real benefit. but here what this law will do and ultimately the paycheck fairness act would do is to create a culture for workers to find out what they are being
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paid and not be retaliated against, so we're better able know whether people are being paid fairly, and employees themselves are able to make the case that they deserve to be treated equitably. >> in a medium-sized firm, where there are a small number of people doing a great many task, is it going to be a harder call than in a large enterprise where there are large numbers of people doing individual tasks. where there is not classes of worker, but tom and nancy and so on? >> that may be true, and there will be businesses and consulting firms that crop up to really help develop best practices around this. some of what the obama administration has done with respect to executive action is also to encourage employers to understood best practices and take a look at their pay scales, but it's really about correcting that substantial pay disparity that effects working woman and
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the families that rely on them. and that's really what matters here when we're thinking about closing that wage gap. >> when we say there's a wage gap, and it's a common place observation in all of these stories, what accounts for that gap? is it breaks in tenure? that are more frequent among employees. or certain kinds of work, a combination, or just as rude and blunt and straightforward as if tom and jane are doing the same exact job, it's likely jane is going to be paid less? >> the causes and the consequences of the pay gap are varied right. you have talked about things like education level. things like break in tenure, choice of jobs, but if you look across every industry and every job virtually every occupation women are paid less than men
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among those who are working full-time year around. so some of it can be explained by some of these different factors at play when you put all of women and all of men together, but some of it really just comes down to discrimination. somewhere between 7 and 9% according to experts. so it's not all discrimination, buddies krim nation is surely at play. >> vicky, thank you a lot. >> thanks for are having me. differentiation between workers have been a motif in the modern workplace. the weakness of unions, the rise of the professional manager, have all played a role in the destandardization between workers. balancing wage scales. it's the inside story. ♪
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♪ welcome back to "inside story." i'm ray suarez. we're looking at balancing wage scales this time on the program. california has just adopted the most far-reaching legal attempt to close persistent wage gaps between men and women. will it work? what is working for and against a goal of fair and equitable pay. joining me is richard, senior
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fellow at the hoover institution, and julie, associate professor of sociology at the university of washington. we just heard vicky lay out the thinking behind the california law. do you think it is going to have the desired effect? >> no, i think it's going to be highly counter productive. i regard this as one of the worst pieces of legislation i have ever seen. everybody knows that the 16% gap or the 22% gap is a gross figure. you have to correct. the factors mentioned had to do with experience, continuity of work ade indication. if you look at the statute none of them are admissible to correct these gaps. you will always find some kind of residual. this will be compounded because once the individual cases are brought, the administrator can
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bring it into class action. then they are entitled to recover expenses from the employer, but not vice versa. it is also the case when you are trying to make the comparables, you can make them outside the workplace to other peoples. you do not know which of the outside comparisons will be seized upon after the fact. if you are trying to figure out what is going on, the most the gender gap is, and most of it is explained by other factors not recorded, you are not looking at 9%, so they are not very good, it's much smaller than that. the administrative cost is very high. the arrogance that i think takes place in a world in which people have no experience in managing,
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in telling people how to run their businesses, i think this is really a colossal mistake. >> professor this sounds like a pretty blunt instrument, that it may hurt women as much as it helps them. >> first, let's look at the evidence as to whether or not gender discrimination and pay occurs. there's a -- professor epstein made mentions of studies that use incomplete regression models to figure this out. and there more recently has been research using more sophisticated models that look at things that we can't easily observe; that might help explain this residual pay gap that other earlier models discovered that put the differential somewhere between 7 and 9%.
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these more recent models show there is still a fairly persistent gap one that especially shows up when you look at working mothers. and in addition to these statistical studies we have a new crop of audit studies that look at the ways in which people make decisions about hiring and pay offers if they are confronted with two applicants for the same job with identical credentials and identic identical -- experience. and people who make these decisions members of the general public or employers, tend to show an implicit bias against working mothers. they are less likely to offer working mothers the job in question, and when they do offer them that job, they offer a lower wage. >> let me jump in there, because
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i want to know whether the law has written and signed by governor brown can address any of these problems? you both disagree on how much of the wage gap consists of bias, but even if you disagree, does this law do anything to address that gap? however large it is? >> okay. so the type of bias that i just spoke about is really sort of a pure, kind of equal pay for equal work bias. there's other research that is not just constrained to working mothers. the california pay act extends some of the provisions so it now looks at jobs that are substantially similar in terms of the tasks, and the requirements of the workers, and one of the things that has happened over the last two or three decades, especially with growth and large bureaucratic organizations that employee
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people, one of the things we know about these large companies they tend to generate lots of different job titles. so you have the proliferation of job titles some of which is functionally related to the kind of work that these organizations do. they need to make the distinctions between the types of jobs that people fill. so it makes sense to pay people a different wage if they are performing different kinds of work. but there is also research that shows, especially in large organizations it promotes status that don't relate to the actual performance on the job and also are related to increased gender provisions in pay. one of the parts of the act, actually addresses this phenomenon, which is very difficult to target if you are just working with policy that compares jobs that are equal in
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definition. the other -- >> i'm sorry, i have to go to a break. we're going to continue this conversation in a moment. head to a commencement this spring, and you'll see evidence of an important social trend. women are far outpacing men in earning four-year college degrees, and many graduate degrees. if we did nothing, would this force the age gap closed, or would we just find new excuses. balancing wage scales. it's the inside story.
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♪ welcome back to "inside story." welcome back to "inside story." i'm ray suarez. as i have gone to college commencements over the last 20 years, i have noticed something that has to play out in the coming decades.
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women are outpacing men in completing college degrees. many places they are running circles around graduating distinction. they are finishing high school at higher rates at well, and when demographic realities kick in, will that close the wage gap. professor brians is this something that advises us to tread lightly; that some of this is going to be taken care of by what is happening in the job market itself? >> well, it's interesting that you bring up the change in college completion that has taken place over the last 20 to 25 years. and it is true that women enroll in college and complete college at higher rates than they used to, and in comparison with men, more women complete college.
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it's not clear how this is going to ramify in terms of the gender pay gap especially in upper levels of management or the professions. this has been going on, actually for a couple of years, like i said. and we haven't seen one of the things that we have noticed is that if you look at the income distribution, it's precisely in the really well-paying professions, the upper income distribution where you see the largest gap between men and women in their pay. and that's true today and was true 20 and 10 years ago. we would have expected more change over the last 20 years if it was simply a matter of women's education gaining ground with men. at the same time, it's true there is a lot of turbulence in the labor market, and we have also observed a shift from manufacturing to the service sector, which has disadvantaged men. so the gender wage gap is a very
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complex product of what is going on with women. they are earning more relative to men. >> procefessor epstein you want to get in there. >> first of all on these so-called studies about working women, you can't normalize it that way. she is not equal to the man. you can't normalize by ratios under this thing. the second point to make is you are looking at a completely different hiring force. people doing these hires know there's no explicit discrimination. there are all sorts of women in senior positions who have a lot to say about personnel. there's also other ways of looking at this thing, which show there is a huge selection
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bias. one way to do this is not to look at the employment relationship, but the kinds of businesses that women and men set up when they go out on their own. and there's a huge gap in the kinds of businesses. women are much more likely to be brokers, and men are much more likely to be developers. if these things sort by sex, why is this discrimination? or if you look at law firms, by the time you get to the partnership level, it's typically something like 85/15, or 80/20. that is a function of choices by the women. none of these studies try to take that into account. and the thought that you are going to be able to piece this out in the form of a class action litigation is just a pipe dream. california has already done very
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well in these particular regards, the women coming into the educational force is very high. if you look at layoffs in the last recession, men were hit harder, whether it was by occupation, age, or education. this is not a world in which there is discrimination against women. and this statute will take a situation that is relatively good and make it infinitely worse. >> quick response? >> well, it's not clear where to start. first of all -- again, i'm just going to go through some of the special trends that we know about. we know there has been really dramatic change over the last 20 years in the length of time without of work among women who bare a child. they have increased their education. men are doing more child care than they once did. so the burdens that women traditionally once bore that were related to the gender pay
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differential have changed pretty dramatically. you would expect the wage gap to change in a way that corresponds with that. and that's not what we have seen. >> i want to thank my guests, richard epstein, and july brines. i'll be back in a moment with a final thought on work, men and women. stay with us. it's "inside story." and send us your thoughts on twitter, or follow me and get in touch. or visit our facebook page and tell us what you think it will take for women to make as much or even more than men. i would love to hear it. ♪ are related to increased gender provisions in pay. one of the parts of the act, actually addresses this phenomenon, which is very
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difficult to target if you are just working with policy that compares jobs that are equal in definition. the other -- >> i'm sorry, i have to go to a
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♪ it wasn't all that long ago that supervisors of all kinds would justify paying men more money for the same work by noting that they had responsibilities that women didn't as primary bread winners. wages for women's work were often seen as supplemental, as fun money, or meant to save for
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a specific item. the women have come into the workplace that makes those old assumptions outmoded and discriminatory. how we frame these conversations and how we think about women's work is way behind. but managers as a grouping haven't always helped. they have multiplied job positions and descriptions, try to structure shop floors in offices that used to be kind of flat, and made them highly stratified so that workers as a group would not move up the wage ladder together. maybe men who know their partner's wages are no longer pin money, will realize that raises for women are good for them too, but there will be plenty of male workers who see this was a zero-sum game, in a country where working people question whether others should get raises, there's only one
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winner, employers. i'm ray suarez. and that's the "inside story" clear ♪ this is al jazeera america. live from new york city. i'm tony harris. calling for action to stop the violence after an innocent bystander was accidentally killed in israel. canada's prime minister hoping to squeak out a fourth victory. registration required. the government's requirements for drone use. and the chinese are still launching cyber attacks on the

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