Meet Misogyny Math
As a man, I don’t understand a lot of things about the experience of being a women. Further, as a gay man, I understand significantly less than most about the actual physical differences which seem to somehow have created such a divide between the two genders. That being said, I do share a certain amount of experience with having to fight harder to get to the same place and to constantly have some people value you less because of how you were born.
So when I combine this bit of empathy over a shared experience with an undergraduate degree in economics, experience serving at the executive level of two businesses, a subscription to The Economist, and a partially finished certificate in financial risk management, I get a fiery rage over the gender pay-gap.
Namely, how people seem to use the same subversive logic that created the gap to try to fix it. The solution is not complicated, and it certainly isn’t economic.
A phrase most anyone reading this post will have heard is “supply meets demand.” A bit of extra knowledge: these two meet at the market price. This is a gross oversimplification of reality, but it’s the jist of one of the most important foundations of modern economic theory.
Right now we have an issue in that, all else the same (ceteris paribus), men sell at a higher price than women in the labor market.
This is made even crazier by the ton of research which suggests women are, in reality, better investments as far as employees go at all levels of a company in the vast majority of industries. If this were an economic problem, the market would drive women’s wages higher to reflect their relative value to alternatives (read: men).
There is luckily an easy, non-economic solution that doesn’t even require legislation. And it is something I really think we should shake hands on trying before the end of this post. It goes a little something like this:
Go to work, sit down in the morning meeting. If there is no meeting, schedule a morning meeting.
Sip that nice, hot cup of joe (or jane).
Now look around.
Do a quick headcount of men, write this number down. Then, do the same for women.
Now divide one number by the other, it does not matter which.
If this number is smaller than .5 or larger than 1.5, stand up in your chair.
Clear your throat so you are ready to speak to your coworkers.
Read the following prepared, gender-neutral script:
I must apologize as we have been doing this wrong, and I do mean all of this.
(Spread arms outward to direct attention to all of this.)
Because of our mistakes, we have limited this organization from attracting the top talent, increased our recruiting and hiring expenses, and decreased our overall productivity and competitiveness. We have hurt the performance of both our company and this nation’s economy.
I refuse to continue like this.
Then drop the metaphorical mic, and leave the room. Everyone will know there is something wrong, really wrong. But what?
When you get a text from your work-spouse with a friendly “wtf? :smiley poo:,” resist the urge to throw your phone at the wall. You did the math—why can’t they? Don’t they know how to divide? Even if not, Siri or Google surely does.
Now stand fast in your refusal to continue doing this all wrong and repeat for every meeting where the formula tells you to.
I like to think the solution to the gender pay gap is this simple. There will always be some industries with more of one sex, but that isn’t the problem. The issue is that when we get together to have discussions and make decisions, we usually leave one party out of the process. And I want you to just stop it, simple as that.
If most meetings had at least one woman at the table, would women still mysteriously make less? Would organizations still be overwhelmingly run by men at the executive level, if, of six board seats, at least two are women?
If you ask me, rooms full of men have made most of the decisions guiding mankind for the last five millennia. I don’t think it would hurt to retire the practice altogether.
So start today, in your morning meeting.
While you’re at it, remember it isn’t just the pay gap that has an easy fix. Any time a person or group of people isn’t getting a fair chance, don’t leave it for someone else to fix and certainly don’t try to fix it for them. Just give them a voice in the meeting and bring them into the decision-making process, and you’ll see that most problems involving inequality begin to solve themselves.