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July 04, 2014



I think the jury is out as to whether the disappearance of the gender pay gap in the youngest working cohorts will be sustained as they age. There may be persistent (gender-related) structural reasons which will continue to prevent full wage equality for women over time.

A peripheral take: http://epicureandealmaker.blogspot.com/2014/02/even-cowgirls-get-blues.html

Dave Timoney

I think there is more to it that just technology, though that is unquestionably the dominant manifestation. The dynamic is necessity.

For example, when faced with an existential threat, we can rapidly amend centuries-old customs. Thus women take on manual labour during wartime. But, when necessity weakens, we're happy to revert to older customs. Thus women lose their jobs at the end of war and are exhorted to return to breeding and homemaking.

This might suggest that a narrowing in the pay gap is superficial and that innate sexism remains strong, which would certainly explain why the advance of female employment over the last twenty years has been paralleled by the expansion of Spearmint Rhino et al.

That said, necessity/technology (the base) must gradually temper custom (superstructure). The Aussie evidence of persistent sexism is about relative degree - i.e. some areas are laggards but the overall direction of travel is common.


Is it possible to test between the two hypotheses - whether cultural change or market forces are more important?

What's the difference in the pay gap, between, say, investment banking where the culture may still be sexist but markets are at work, and the public sector, where diversity training is more likely to be used, but market forces are weak?

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