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March 28, 2005

Another bad poll, this one on wage gaps

Michelle Malkin reports that a recent study shows that women in minority status make more money than white women. If you read the article, you find that it reports white men make most, and men make more than women overall in all races. So, what does this say?

Check this link for the first part of my answer.

Polls like this are unreliable. Rather than taking the average for each of the jobs seperately, they average the salaries for each race and gender only. This produces a flawed report in a number of ways.
- Some jobs do not have an equal between genders. For example, there is not a women's football league that is the equal to the NFL, skewing the men's average heavily. And while I will acknowledge that the NBA equivalent of the WNBA gives salaries far lower than their male peers, the WNBA does not produce the same ratings, merchandise sales, and tickets sold as the men. Essentially, they are less productive than their male counterparts, and like in any job, for that reason they do not deserve the same pay (just as a salesperson at a retail store who is effecient and good with customers deserves a higher salary than one who isn't).
- While discrimination is far lower than it used to be, many higher positions are still filled with white males, mostly as many have held these positions for many years (meaning no turnover for equally qualified people of any race), or the turnover has been to other whites who have been working their way through the system while minorities still have not acheived those positions at as high of numbers yet either. And while this may be due to racist tendencies in the past, immediate changes here are not possible as those formerly deprived of appropriate promotions would likely not be prepared for the responsibilities of such a large shift in position so quickly.

Do white males make more money? The polls are probably accurate in that way. However, their interpretation is poor. The media continues to show that they are unreliable with numbers. Be prepared anytime you see a poll to remain skeptical of the interpretation of the data or the data itself. It is far too easy to make a study say something that is not proven by it.

UPDATE 3/29 8:05 PM: I just recognized that I didn't address the issue that Miss Malking primarily covered. Women of minority status earn more each year. Likely cause? My guess is the rise of civil and women's rights at around the same period of time. While it would take some time for both to make significant gains, women of minority status had a distinct advantage of both movements in gaining employment or promotions. Coincidence? I think not.