Comments & Discussion

Boston University moderates comments to facilitate an informed, substantive, civil conversation. Abusive, profane, self-promotional, misleading, incoherent or off-topic comments will be rejected. Moderators are staffed during regular business hours (EST) and can only accept comments written in English. Statistics or facts must include a citation or a link to the citation.

There are 33 comments on POV: Sorry Patricia Arquette, Women Are Doing Better Than You Think

  1. Kahn asks “why can’t people learn to be critical of statistics?” After reading this article, I ask, how do pseudo-scholars get away with their poor reasoning and research? Whatever ‘equalization’ Kahn finds in some sciences cannot at all be generalized. In other fields – most fields – it’s obviously not about “choices”: if it were, then women and men would get equal pay right out of college (the pay difference would then emerge later). They do not (as studies which Kahn deliberately ignores show clearly). This is typical economists’ reasoning: emphasizing correlation rather than causation, and universalizing models from basic (wrong assumptions) and restricted studies.

  2. I think this needs to be more intersectional. A lot of the stuff you say is true for WHITE women. That old 77 cents number was for white women while for black and latina women it was more around 69 cents. Also you didn’t really touch on one of the most disturbing parts of her speech like when she said “it’s time for all the women in America and all the men that love women, and all the gay people, and all the people of color that we’ve all fought for to fight for us now.” Ummmm excuse me? People of color don’t owe white women s**t! She stands there on her podium saying people of color need to stand with her as she accepts her award at a show that snubs people of color every year. She stands there asking for solidarity but I don’t remember seeing her at any of the #blacklivesmatter protests… hmmm

    1. EXACTLY! Naturally, I would hope the pay gap is decreasing over time, as more women receive higher levels of education and begin to break into historically male-dominated sectors. I don’t think Arquette’s comments were controversial for what she said during her speech (which is what this article focuses mostly on)–it was her after speech, where she showed her ignorance of intersectionality. What about women of color who typically make less and are of lower economic status, and therefore cannot achieve get to the levels where ‘white women’ are?

    2. Give it up, Tatiana. Not everything is about color. You see race in every little thing. How about agreeing with her instead of shooting her down? Maybe women would do better if you all banded together and stopped taking shots at each other

      1. What Ms. Arquette fails to understand is that the Civil Rights movement yeilded tremendous benefit for European-American women. They, essentially, piggy-backed off the movement. Moreover, the reality is European-American women were/are complicit in propagating white privilege when, as 51% of the European-American population and having access to power and European-American men that Blacks could only dream of, they could stamp it out, if they wanted. They don’t, bc they benefit from it. When European-
        American feminists wanted guidance and refuge they sought it out from the Black social justice movement. Blacks don’t owe anything to European-American women. It’s quite the contrary – a big debt is owed to Blacks and it is the height of arrogance for Ms. Arquette to make such demands.

  3. While I agree with you about the need to think critically about statistics, if you are accounting for all other variables in the “adjusted” number offered, the fact is that women are paid 92% of what men are paid simply and solely because they are women. THAT is unacceptable and highly problematic. While it may “leave a different taste” in YOUR mouth, it certainly does not make ME feel any better to know that just because I am a woman my work is valued at even an eight per cent discount.

    And, yes, there has been progress. Thank goodness and hard fighting people for that. BUT, we are still far from any point of fairness. Having a clear sense of what is causing the continued inequity, no matter the degree of difference, is a very good idea, but let’s not pretend that the problem is exaggerated. Any distinction in pay that is based on any individual characteristics other than one’s actual job qualifications, be it sex, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc., is and should always be utterly unacceptable.

  4. How can you be satisfied with “you get numbers closer to 92 cents on the dollar” – it won’t be equal until it is 100%, don’t you think?

  5. According to the recent BU statistics on promotion to a higher professorship rank a tiny fraction of women were promoted to associate and full professors: 5 women versus 16 men. And don’t tell me there are no women candidates in our school! being in academia for 20-something years I know women spent same or more time working but get fraction of recognition, especially at higher levels. The stigma of is deeply embedded in men and women alike, and in the mind of the author of this article.

  6. your conclusion on the statistics that drove your theory is suspect at best. Where do you factor for race, geography, professions etc. Until salaries are 100% equal there will be a bitter taste in our mouths and it should continue that way so that POVs like yours don’t gain traction. Written by a man!

    1. Perhaps before you attack Dr. Kahn’s argument and dismissing it because it is written by a man, perhaps you should check Dr. Kahn’s sex. I’ll give you a hint, it’s not male.

    2. Oh yeah, because I’m sure the multi billion dollar industry of airing white women’s grievances is going to shut down once everything is finally “equalized”.

  7. I opened the link to this article when I read the headline just to confirm my suspicion that it was a man who wrote it. I’m shocked a woman would write this. Just because things are better than they used to be, doesn’t mean they are where they should be and are still far from equal.

  8. I believe Kahn miss-spoke. People (esp. professionals) need to *understand* statistics. The minute people start inferring causality from correlation they need to climb out of the deep end (however qualified in their own profession, or edified with their own conclusions). I’m sorry, my wife and I feel similarly (and strongly) about her lower-paying work.

  9. Here are the facts: I think that the issues of gender income inequality and racial income inequality are symptoms of broader income inequality that runs rampant in our society.

    I think that many of the opinions expressed here are the result of the political rhetoric we hear all too often, purposely designed to divide us all into separate interest groups so that we can be easily categorized and corralled into voting for a particular political party. What we need is a unified voice on this issue not a man vs. woman, race vs. race, etc.. I am a white male and income equality is an issue for me too.

  10. I agree with many of the previous commenters. This article is just plain insulting. The author also fails to note that these pay inequality studies almost always involve comparing the salaries of men and women with comparable experience in COMPARABLE jobs and positions, effectively eliminating this idea that “women are unequal because they choose different fields”. I’m shocked BU posted this. It’s factually incorrect and incredibly insulting.

  11. “If the choices depend on the kinds of jobs people believe they can get (based on stereotypes, financial limitations, actual or perceived discrimination, and the like)…” << If? There is no "if." Of course, of course, of course the inequality in question is a result of systemic injustice and cultural history.

    In making some of the points you do above, you completely ignore related and very troubling trends, for just one example the expanding documentation of instances in which women are viewed and/or treated negatively compared to men simply for attempting to negotiate pay. As long as THAT stigma exists across the board — and it absolutely does — don't preach that the gap is happily closing and that it's potentially up to women to make different choices. Give me a break!

    To be fair, I didn't hear her speech. But I read this article carefully twice and to me its message rings totally empty.

  12. I am always surprised when I see people so passionate about equal pay completely omit all the issues surrounding parenthood. I think Kahn nailed it when he mentioned the importance of bringing up conversations about fatherhood. Lobbying for increased paternal leave and more flexible work hours for fathers is just as important as any conversation about male/female pay.
    Until fathers are not only perceived, but also *expected*, to be present and participating parents, there will always be a discrepancy in what males and females can bring to their professions. This discrepancy will, sadly, be reflected in pay.
    In no way do I mean to minimize the importance of pay. Yet, flexibility and maternal leave should also be understood as a form of currency.
    Personally, I would love to start having a family. Sadly, I can not substitute 23¢ on the dollar for the flexibility I would like to be a present and loving father. I need to either continue working the hours I do, or get fired. The women in the company don’t suffer the same conundrum.

  13. To echo the headline: Sorry, Dr. Kahn, women are doing worse than YOU think. There are so many points to make, but I’ll focus on just one. Your observation that women “dominate” non-tenure track jobs is an interesting one. Does it occur to you WHY that might be? It’s due to the fact that women are often passed over for tenure-track jobs despite all their education and experience, which is frequently greater than that of the men who get those jobs instead. It’s also because there is still a latent bias against hiring women for the tenure track (and for partnership in law firms, for another example) due to the seemingly unshakeable perception that women of child-bearing age might need to take time off for maternity leave and/or child care and are therefore liabilities to be minimized. If you really want to add to the discussion, Dr. Kahn, rather than simply focus on your narrow study of women who have, against considerable odds, managed to obtain those higher level jobs and earn nearly as much as the other accomplished men in their fields, then you need to look at some statistics other than your own.

  14. I agree with many of the previous commenters that this article is insulting on many levels. I would also like to point out that it’s a bit of a rehashing of old, already criticized ideas about “women’s choices” being the root cause of inequality in pay. The author cites the same work that sparked a NY Times piece entitled “Academic Science Isn’t Sexist”. The NY Times piece, which contains much of the same sentiment reflected here, and the work behind it was roundly dismissed as highly flawed, not to mention damaging to all the women who see and experience sexism in the workplace everyday. It is not all in our heads.

    I’ll just leave a sampling of these articles here:


    1. Ms. Kahn: You do not have the chops to be in this discussion. Stop writing of which you know so little and listen, learn. Give credit to Ms. Areuette for the courage to speak out.

  16. Quoting from the article: “you compare women and men doing the jobs with the same kind of job history and for the same time devoted to their current job, you get numbers closer to 92 cents on the dollar. While that’s not 100 cents, it leaves a very different taste in your mouth than 77.”

    This is still not equality by any means. Equality is when it is =100 cents for both men and women. I am rather disappointed in the article; I think women do themselves a disservice by attempting to minimize this issue. I agree with the other comments, this article was insulting to me as woman.

  17. I have worked 35 years as a chef. I can tell you, their is little pay equity in my field. For this woman to make blanket statements about how we are getting there,is insulting. Come out of your golden tower, we need equal pay (100%) and child care should be a universal issue.

  18. Mary Ann,

    Please explain to all of us what makes Ms. Kahn’s opinion less valuable than any of ours? If you look at some of the data tables on the census bureau’s website (rich vs. poor was kind enough to provide actual data to the conversation) you’ll see that the pay gap between men and women is closing in the younger age groups. From 1970 to 2013 the median income for a male worker between the ages of 25 and 34 actually fell 23%. The median income for a female worker in the same demographic and time period increased by 52%. The situation is, by the numbers, improving for women and getting worse for men. In defense of Ms. Kahn, there are valuable conclusions to be drawn from the trends. If you wish to make such strong statements about someone’s opinions, at least provide some additional food for thought to the dialogue.

  19. Job choices? Did the writer ever consider why the care of our elders is valued at a poverty wage, whilst lifting heavy boxes in a warehouse garners at least twice the pay? Our value system is misguided, the numbers only prove that. The fact that I make less than my male peers despite equal qualifications is adding insult to injury.

  20. I’ll admit, when I first saw the headline of this article, I was taken aback. However, I wanted to read it through and give Professor Kahn’s article some thought, before I formulated a response. Therefore it is after some research that I say this: really?
    I found that there was a discrepancy in this article regarding its statistic of 92 cents to a dollar in comparison to many other sources. For someone who says to be critical of stats, it seems you didn’t follow your own advice.
    After doing some research, it’s actually quite lower. For example, on a state level, in Louisiana a woman is paid 66% of what a man is paid. Nationally, a woman may earn 90% of what a man makes (depending her race and what state she is in) until the age of 35, but then that number decreases with age putting her into the 75% of what a man makes.
    Also, just touching on the differences in the wage gap regarding race,
    “Asian women show the smallest gender pay gap at 90% of white men’s earnings
    African American women were paid 64% of white men’s earnings
    Hispanic women were paid 54% of white men’s earnings”
    (All this information is from Spring 2015)

    Professor Kahn, you didn’t talk about the wage gap, you talked about the grievances you had on the topic of the wage gap. As a professor, I would hope you would put more thought and research into an article that is published to adhere to a university who’s biggest population is women. We care about what is written about us and what information is distributed as it directly IMPACTS us. By lacking in information and depth, you have not only let us down, but you’ve let yourself down. I know that as a professor at Boston University you must be an incredibly intelligent and talented woman as it is not easy, judging by the male to female ratio teachers on campus. An article like this is beneath you.

    However, I thank you for bringing your opinion to the table as it seems that’s this topic has sparked conversation between faculty on campus.

    For these stats, or more information check (nonprofit that focuses on this issue)
    Also for a more detailed report with the disparities in wage for every state from 2014 go to this website:

  21. There’s no such thing as pay inequality, it’s simply a tool to funnel peoples money to the top for massive multi billion dollar agencies. This is what happens when women are coddled their entire lives. If you’ve ever watched even young boys at play, everything is a competition, from jokes and jibes, throwing a stick is a massive competition, there’s a sort of friendly one-upmanship in everything boys/men do their entire lives. Women/girls never do this amongst themselves, so by the time they’re 25 years old no one has ever so much as told them no let alone competed in anything. Suddenly, when the woman who got an “A” for showing a crushed can of soda as some sort example of women’s eternal oppression has to compete in the real world for a position of employment, she gets stomped. All these women complaining about some horrible oppression all come from Harvard, Stanford and Yale, The average man would have to work for 100 years to save enough excess money to afford even one year at these prestigious nursery schools.

  22. As a BU prof, I am embarrassed by this article and by the author’s other related publications on the topic (e.g. her NYT editorial, etc.). The author writes as if she is asking new and provocative questions about the wage gap, but overlooks a slew of research that empirically answers many of the questions that she poses as somehow new and of her own origination and omits scholarship that disproves many of the “explanations” that she posits as accounting for the wage gap. I am not sure how much she actually knows about this topic. For one, as others have noted already, women’s choices matter less than she argues for explaining the wage gap. We know that women and men straight out of college entering the same job get paid very differently by employers. Of course, we could see this as the result of yet another of women’s “poor” decisions — their lack of bargaining, but that can’t account for the result of audit studies, which show that when researchers send otherwise identical (fictional) resumes to employers and only change the names to indicate differences in gender and race/ethnicity, employers respond at far higher rates to white males than any other group. Everything else being equal, men are seen as better employees than women based solely on their gender, which has little to do with the choices made by women. And the author omits from her range of potential explanations for the wage gap the fact that employers systematically pay less for the type of work that is typically done by women. So a woman who chooses to go into nursing or education with a BA will be paid far less than an equivalent type of job available to a post-grad that is typically dominated by men. Clearly, employers and society more broadly devalue the work of women — (which is not to say that the work of other social groups is also not systematically under-valued as well) — and to suggest that we need to understand the choices of women to address the problem is nonsense. Further, I take issue with her statement that women (or all those interested in equality) should be content with a wage gap of 92 cents for every dollar earned by men. Sure, a difference of 8 cents/hour sounds minimal but over the course of a person’s career, that minor difference adds up. One recent study found that a woman with a college degree or higher (where wage differentials between genders are the least) will lose $713,000 over a 40-year period as compared to a similarly educated male.

Post a comment.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *