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A survey of salaries at Google revealed a surprising result: “Men were being paid less money than women for doing similar work,” said Daisuke Wakabayashi at The New York Times. Google managers can adjust pay based on a subjective assessment of whether an employee’s pay is in line with “peers who make similar contributions.” Though the company has been accused of bias against women in the past, Google’s 2018 analysis found that in these judgments managers actually tilted too far in the other direction. To remedy that, Google gave $9.7 million in additional pay to more than 10,000 employees. Google’s hasn’t provided precise numbers but did disclose that men, who make up 69 percent of the company’s workforce, got an even higher proportion of the money.
Sharing this “counterintuitive” statistic only serves to undermine the complaints of thousands of women, said April Glaser at Slate. Google faces a lawsuit from women who say that female engineers “hired with the same experience as men are given lower positions at the company.” It’s hard to know exactly what’s happening at Google, said Bryce Covert at The New York Times, because the company won’t release all its data. But a federal judge recently cleared the way for U.S. regulators to begin requiring companies with 100 or more employees to report information on pay by gender and race. In Britain, a similar rule forced Google “to cough up the fact that in 2017 its female British employees on average earned 17 percent less per hour” than men.
Google’s study should be seen as a good sign for women’s progress in tech, said Elizabeth Nolan Brown at Reason. Instead, the professional gender-equality lobby is “insisting that the study only masks much deeper discrimination.” If women are still facing discrimination related to leveling, that’s an issue worth reviewing. But activists have spread misinformation about the wage gap for years while lumping together every category of job. Now, when the data hasn’t showed what they hoped for, they are “arguing for more nuance.”
Women have actually been making gains relative to men in “cognitive/high-wage occupations,” said Justin Fox at Bloomberg. The reason? Women have better social skills than men, and social skills are growing in influence in those jobs. It’s what has made girls historically better than boys at school. Women have outpaced men in attaining their college degrees since the 1980s. “The consequences are still playing out.” In politics, “the Republican Party’s strongest base of support is now among non- college-educated white men.” And the advantages that propelled girls past boys in school are now growing in value in the labor market. “That’s reason enough to think that the earnings gender gap will keep shrinking.”