DC: A pair of Harvard University Ph.D. candidates may have put a dagger in the mythical “gender wage gap” oft cited by politicians and pundits as an issue that can be addressed through governmental policy.
In a paper titled, “Why Do Women Earn Less Than Men?” Valentin Bolotnyy and Natalia Emanuel study the unionized environment of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA).
Economist John Phelan describes the MBTA as a “union shop with uniform hourly wages where men and women adhere to the same rules and receive the same benefits. Workers are promoted on the basis of seniority rather than performance, and male and female workers of the same seniority have the same choices for scheduling, routes, vacation, and overtime. There is almost no scope here for a sexist boss to favor men over women.”
And yet, Bolotnyy and Emanuel reported that “female workers earn $0.89 on the male-worker dollar (weekly earnings).” The Ph.D. candidates used “confidential administrative data” on the authority’s bus and train operators “to show that the weekly earnings gap can be explained by the workplace choices that women and men make.” MORE