Women are just as inclined as men to vote against a policy to reduce a gender pay gap if they are personally benefiting from the status quo. This is one of the main findings of my new study, which was published in January 2021 in the journal Applied Economics Letters.
I conducted a series of laboratory experiments in which I recruited participants to do a 30-question quiz. The participants knew from the start that they would be paid based on the number of questions they answered correctly. In roughly half of the sessions, the quiz was written in a way to give men an advantage. I achieved this by choosing questions that were mainly on topics that surveys show men tend to be more interested in than women, such as sports and certain movie genres. The quiz for the other half of the sessions were designed in a similar way to give women an advantage.
In the version with a male bias, men answered an average of 21 questions correctly, while women answered only 13 right. This was meant to mimic the current real-world situation in which men, on average, earn more than women. The questions were carefully chosen so that the quiz that favored women had mirrored results: The average woman answered 21 correctly, the average man just 13.
Three times at different stages of the experiment participants voted to either be paid $1 for every correct answer or to give the group that was at a disadvantage a leg up. If the second payment option won the majority vote, the disadvantaged participants would get $1.25 per right answer, while those who benefited from the biased test would receive just 85 cents.
In all three votes, which had similar results, I found that women were actually more likely than men to vote against the policy that would have led to a narrowing of the pay gap when they earned more money in the quiz. On average, 96.8% of women’s votes were against the proposed corrective payment policy when they were more likely to correctly answer the questions, compared with 90.5% of the men’s votes when they had the edge.
In addition, when women were at a disadvantage, they were more likely to vote in favor of the corrective policy, with 79.5% supporting it versus 73% for the men.
While social science laboratory experiments like mine cannot fully capture every nuance, I believe my qualitative results are similar to what we would find in the real world.
And surveys have found that men are more likely to oppose measures to correct this gap and even question whether the gap exists in the first place. A 2019 SurveyMonkey poll showed that 46% of men believe the gender pay gap “is made up to serve a political purpose” rather than a “legitimate issue.”
My research suggests women might feel the same if the positions were reversed. Additionally, it suggests that men would also likely be equally vociferous in calling for a narrowing of the gap if they found themselves in a world where they were holding the short end of the stick.
Ideally, I hope this research will lead people to reexamine the positions they hold on issues like this one and consider how self-interest may be driving their arguments. Maybe it can lead to more understanding and increase the focus in these debates on the available evidence.
In my current and future work, I seek to experimentally determine people’s willingness to sacrifice personal financial gains in favor of an outcome that they see as serving the common good. This involves, for example, testing how much income the average employee or executive is willing to sacrifice to reduce income inequality.
Achieving global gender parity will take an extra 36 years because of the coronavirus pandemic, a World Economic Forum (WEF) report said.
Previously, the WEF estimated that the gender pay gap could take around 100 years to close. It’s now increased its prediction to nearly 136 years.
“Preliminary evidence suggests that the health emergency and the related economic downturn have impacted women more severely than men, partially re-opening gaps that had already been closed,” the report said.
The WEF calculated worldwide gender parity through economic participation and opportunity, political empowerment, health and education across 156 countries.
It will take around 146 years to attain gender equality in politics, and 268 years for men and women to get the same salary for similar work, the report said. It added that the data doesn’t yet fully reflect the impact of the pandemic, which could extend the gaps further.
Gender parity has improved in the education sector, taking another 14 years to completely close, and the gap in health between men and women will take a similar amount of time.
The WEF report cited the International Labour Organization (ILO) that said 5% of all employed women lost their jobs during the pandemic, compared with 3.9% of employed men. There was also a decline in hiring women into senior positions, according to LinkedIn data.
“There is a persistent lack of women in leadership positions, with women representing only 27% of all manager positions,” the report said.
Sectors such as cloud computing, engineering, data and AI are more likely to have gender gaps as the uptake of women for these kinds of jobs is fairly low, the WEF added.
WEF managing director Saadia Zahidi wrote in the report: “The hardest-hit sectors by lockdowns and rapid digitalization are those where women are more frequently employed.”
“Combined with the additional pressures of providing care in the home, the crisis has halted progress toward gender parity in several economies and industries,” she said.
Zahidi added that she hoped the report would be a “call to action” for countries to focus on gender equality in the post-pandemic recovery.
According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, average weekly earnings for men who were older than 16 and working full-time was $408 compared to $251 for women – that’s 61.5% of a man’s weekly earnings. This has increased to 81.7% in the third quarter of 2020.
Insider reported in March that the gender wage gap in the US varies widely by state, city and race, with Black and Hispanic women facing the largest pay gap in comparison to non-Hispanic white men’s earnings.
Several legislators – including Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren – announced on Wednesday that they’re introducing a bill to raise taxes for companies where top executives are paid 50 times more than their median workers.
It’s called the “Tax Excessive CEO Pay Act,” and, according to a press release, it’s targeted toward tackling corporate greed. Sanders and Warren are introducing the bill with Sens. Ed Markey and Chris Van Hollen, as well as Reps. Barbara Lee and Rashida Tlaib.
“At a time of massive income and wealth inequality, the American people are demanding that large, profitable corporations pay their fair share of taxes and treat their employees with the dignity and respect they deserve,” Sanders said in a press release. “That is what this legislation will begin to do.”
The legislation is targeted at larger public and private companies; only those with “with average annual gross receipts of at least $100 million for the three preceding years” would be subject to the tax.
Companies where CEOs make between 50 and up to 100 times the median worker’s pay would have their corporate taxes increase by 0.5%. For those CEOS paid between 100 times and up to 200 times more than the median worker, taxes would increase by 1%, with a 1% increase for every order of 100. The highest increase would be 5%, for companies where CEOs make over 500 times their typical worker.
Sarah Anderson, the Global Economy Program Director at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), testified at the hearing about the CEO and worker pay divide.
“What this bill would do is it would change the incentives by encouraging corporations to share their wealth – and discourage the outrageous CEO paychecks that have led to outrageous CEO behavior,” she told Insider.
Some cities have already implemented similar measures
Anderson highlighted that the city of Portland, Oregon has had a similar initiative for years. NBC News reported that that tax penalty brought in about $4 million in 2018, and it was projected to bring in a similar amount in 2019. It also inspired some skepticism from academics in the area, according to NBC News, with some saying it didn’t raise significant revenue or bridge a wealth gap.
San Francisco also passed a similar tax as a ballot measure in November 2020, which was projected to bring in around $60 million to $140 million a year. According to the press release, the bill could raise up to $150 billion in 10 years.
Anderson said, “I think we can send a message about our national priorities and values through our tax code and other public policies.” She framed the disparity between CEO pay and their workers as a self-esteem and morale issue, with frontline workers – like those working at grocery stores – not being rewarded for the work they’re doing.
The bill also comes as some billionaire CEOs have seen huge gains throughout the pandemic, with American billionaires adding $1.3 trillion to their collective net worths since March 2020.
“I think that a lot of people just haven’t ever thought about the fact that we are the richest country in the world. And so why can’t we get rid of poverty?” Anderson said. “And I think, unless we get rid of the concentration of so much money and power at the top, we won’t be able to get rid of poverty because it means that so much of our nation’s resources is flowing upwards.”
Kelly Ellis, a principal software engineer at the email-marketing company Mailchimp, accused the company of gender discrimination and harassment in a series of tweets announcing her resignation Wednesday.
“Welp, I guess it’s official: I’m leaving my job. I dealt with sexism and bullying, and found out that I, as the only female principal [engineer], was paid less than the other (male) principals outside of Atlanta. I would not recommend friends work at Mailchimp, especially women,” Ellis tweeted.
“Honestly, this sucks, I really didn’t expect to quit today. A conversation about comp went really south. I’m an unhappy camper, but hopefully brighter things are on the horizon,” she added.
Ellis and Mailchimp did not respond to requests for comment.
Ellis has garnered a large following on social media and has frequently spoken publicly about gender and racial discrimination.
In 2017, she and other female engineers sued Google – where Ellis worked for more than four years, according to her LinkedIn profile – accusing the company of paying women less than men, and a court is currently deciding whether to grant the lawsuit class action status. (In a separate case, Google agreed this month to pay $2.6 million to workers to settle racial and gender bias claims brought by the US Department of Labor).
Ellis’s resignation follows a series of high-profile departures by women and people of color from tech firms including Google, Pinterest, and Coinbase over allegations of bias, discrimination, and harassment.
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American workplaces have long been hotbeds of discrimination and harassment, particularly for those who aren’t white, light-skinned, male, straight, single, young, able-bodied Americans.
Since 2000, 99% of Fortune 500 companies have paid settlements in at least one discrimination or sexual harassment lawsuit, according to a report from Good Jobs First, and that’s not including the cases without a public record or incidents victims didn’t report.
In recent years, however, empowered in part by the #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo movements, American workers are increasingly turning to the courts to hold their employers accountable for breaking civil rights laws and demand companies fix racist, sexist, ageist, ableist, and other biased pay practices and work environments.
Here are some of the major workplace discrimination, harassment, and retaliation lawsuits that workers filed against America’s largest companies in 2020, as well as cases where new plaintiffs joined.
Have you faced discrimination or harassment in your workplace? Contact this reporter using a non-work device via encrypted messaging app Signal at +1 503-319-3213, or by email at email@example.com. We can keep sources anonymous.
Amazon was accused in lawsuits this year of having hiring practices and COVID-19 safety measures that were racially biased, as well as discriminating against a pregnant transgender man.
February: Former hiring manager Lisa McCarrick sued Amazon after her manager allegedly asked her to stalk job applicants’ social media accounts to determine their race and gender, and then fired her when she complained. [NBC News]
October: Shaun Simmons, a transgender man, claimed in a lawsuit that he faced harassment and retaliation while working at Amazon and was demoted and denied a promotion after telling his manager he was pregnant. [NBC News]
November: Former Amazon warehouse employee Chris Smalls sued Amazon over its pandemic response, claiming it violated civil rights laws by failing to protect Black, Brown, and immigrant warehouse workers from COVID-19 while looking out for its mostly white managers. [Business Insider]
November: Denard Norton, a Black Amazon warehouse employee, sued the company accusing it of denying him promotions based on race and ignoring his repeated complaints about coworkers’ racist remarks. [NJ.com]
Bloomberg LP was hit by lawsuits accusing it of aiding and abetting Charlie Rose’s sexual harassment, as well as racial and gender bias in its pay and promotion practices.
June: Two women who had accused ex-CBS News host Charlie Rose of sexual harassment also sued Bloomberg for “aiding and abetting” Rose, who operated his independently owned studio out of Bloomberg’s New York headquarters. [The Hollywood Reporter]
August: Former Bloomberg reporter Nafeesa Syeed sued the company for pay and promotion practices that were allegedly “top-down” and systemically biased against women of color. [HR Dive]
The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a private philanthropy run by Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, was sued by employees who claimed Black employees are “underpaid, undervalued, and marginalized.”
November: ex-CZI employee Ray Holgado sued the nonprofit, claiming he was consistently denied promotion and growth opportunities, and was treated differently because of his race. [Business Insider]
Disney was sued in 2019 over gender-based pay discrimination, and multiple additional women joined the lawsuit this year.
March: Chelsea Henke became the tenth Disney executive to join a lawsuit filed against the company in April 2019 that alleged “rampant gender pay discrimination.” [LA Times]
Facebook became the subject of a federal complaint alleging the company is biased against Black employees and candidates.
July: While not a formal lawsuit, a Facebook recruiter and two rejected job applicants filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission accusing Facebook of “racial discrimination” against Black workers and applicants “in hiring, evaluations, promotions, and pay.” [Business Insider]
Fox News ex-host Ed Henry was accused of sexual assault, while hosts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Howard Kurtz, and Gianno Caldwell were all accused of harassment in a lawsuit by a former producer.
July: Former Fox News producer Jennifer Eckhart claimed in a lawsuit that ex-host Ed Henry violently raped her, and that Fox News knew and refused to discipline him, while former Fox guest Cathy Areu alleged she was sexually harassed by Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Howard Kurtz, and Gianno Caldwell. [Business Insider]
Goldman Sachs allegedly covered up sexual misconduct by a top lawyer, and the woman who spoke publicly about it sued, claiming the company retaliated against her.
October: Former Goldman Sachs employee Marla Crawford claimed one of the bank’s top lawyers, Darrell Cafasso, sexually harassed a female subordinate and that Goldman covered up the allegations and retaliated against her for trying to speak publicly about it. [Business Insider]
Google ex-employees who sued the company in 2017 over gender pay disparities asked the court this year to expand their case to include 10,800 additional coworkers.
July: Four employees who sued Google in 2017, alleging women at the company are paid about $16,794 less than men in similar positions, asked the court to grant their lawsuit class action status, which would allow them to represent 10,800 other female Google employees. [Business Insider]
Hearst, the parent company of Esquire magazine, was sued by an ex-executive at Esquire who claimed she faced gender and age discrimination from her former boss.
September: Former Esquire ad executive Lauren Johnson, 52, sued Hearst, the magazine’s parent company, claiming she faced age and gender discrimination as well as retaliation for complaining, and that her boss Jack Essig “regularly mocked” older employees and female workers. [Business Insider]
Johnson & Johnson was sued by an ex-exec who claimed she faced “sexist, harassing and demeaning” behavior from male coworkers due to her gender and sexual orientation.
December: Gina Bilotti, a high-ranking 25-year veteran of Johnson & Johnson, sued the company, claiming she had endured years of discrimination, harassment, abuse, and retaliation on the basis of her gender and sexual orientation. [NJ.com]
Marriott was sued by a Black ex-employee who claimed he was fired in retaliation for complaining about racist behavior by coworkers.
July: Kaseam Seales, formerly a bellhop at a Marriott hotel in New Jersey, claimed the company fired him in retaliation for complaining that his coworkers were exhibiting racist behavior toward him, and that they consistently gave more lucrative shifts to white bellhops. [Providence Journal]
McDonald’s is facing two racial discrimination lawsuits from Black franchisees as well as a class action sexual harassment suit, and could be on the hook for billions of dollars in damages.
April: McDonald’s employees filed a $500 million sexual harassment class-action lawsuit against the company, claiming they faced physical and verbal harassment from coworkers and customers. [Business Insider]
August: 52 Black ex-franchisees filed a $1 billion racial-discrimination lawsuit against McDonald’s, claiming the company sent them on “financial suicide missions” by pushing them to open stores in less profitable locations, eventually cutting the number of Black franchisees by 50% over the past two decades. [Business Insider]
October: In a separate class action suit, current Black franchisees said they faced a “pipeline of discrimination” from McDonald’s, which allegedly imposed “two standards” for white and black owners, giving white franchisees better opportunities while being more strict with Black owners on safety inspections. [Business Insider]
Morgan Stanley’s first diversity officer sued the bank over claims of racial discrimination and retaliating against employees who tried to make its culture more inclusive.
June: Marilyn Booker, Morgan Stanley’s first diversity officer, claimed in a racial-discrimination lawsuit that the bank retaliated against her and other Black female employees and eventually fired her for trying to make the bank’s workforce more diverse and inclusive. [The Washington Post]
The NCAA was sued by HBCU athletes who claimed the organization’s academic performance policies are biased against their schools.
December: Athletes from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) sued the National Collegiate Athletic Association, college sports’ governing body, claiming its academic performance standards — which are ostensibly meant to improve graduation rates — simply ended up discriminating against their schools, and thus disproportionately impacted Black student athletes. [NPR]
Oracle was sued in 2017 by female employees over gender pay disparities, and a court earlier this year opened the class action to more than 4,000 other current and former employees.
May: Three female Oracle employees sued the company in 2017, claiming it paid women less than men, citing an economists’ study that found the pay gap averaged $13,000 per year. This year, a court granted the case class action status, opening the door for more than 4,000 current and former employees to join the suit. [The Mercury News]
Pinterest recently paid a former executive $22.5 million to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit and is facing another from shareholders over alleged racial and gender discrimination.
August: Ex-Pinterest COO Françoise Brougher filed a gender-bias lawsuit against the company, claiming she faced pay discrimination and sexist behavior from other executives. Pinterest paid $22.5 million in December to settle the suit. [Business Insider]
December: Following Brougher’s lawsuit and explosive allegations by dozens of current and former employees, Pinterest shareholders sued the company, accusing it of harming investors by creating and perpetuating a culture of racial and sex discrimination. [Business Insider]
Uber was sued by a driver who claimed the company’s five-star rating system is racially biased.
October: Thomas Liu, a former Uber driver, sued the company after it kicked him off the platform because his driver rating had fallen below a 4.6 out of 5. He claimed Uber’s use of the system amounted to “intentional race discrimination” because of the “widely recognized” notion that racism often slips into customers’ evaluations of workers. [Business Insider]
Warner Bros. was sued by a former executive who alleged she faced gender discrimination and harassment from men in the company’s senior ranks, which she called an “old boys club.”
October: An ex-Warner Bros. executive sued the company over gender discrimination, claiming she was fired in retaliation for raising complaints about sexist behavior and harassment by male executives. [Deadline]
WeWork was hit with at least three lawsuits from former employees alleging harassment, discrimination, and that a manager intimidated an employee by, among other things, bringing a crossbow and knives to work.
July: WeWork became the subject of three new gender and race discrimination and harassment lawsuits this year, including from an employee who claimed her boss brought a crossbow and knives to work, implied he had connections to the Mafia, and made unwanted sexual advances. Two Black employees also said they were paid less than white coworkers and faced retaliation for raising issues, with one also saying she was sexually harassed. [Business Insider]
Are there other high-profile discrimination or harassment lawsuits that should be added to this list? Contact this reporter using a non-work device via encrypted messaging app Signal at +1 503-319-3213, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.