Comment Of The Day (1): “Thank The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team For Illuminating The Muddled Ethics Of Wage Gap Arguments In Women’s Professional Sports”

I’m not sure this photo fits exactly, but I’ve been dying to use it for years, so what the heck…

Are women inherently worth as a much as their male counterparts in similar or the same jobs?

Here is reader slickwilly’s Comment of the Day on yesterday’s post, “Thank The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team For Illuminating The Muddled Ethics Of Wage Gap Arguments In Women’s Professional Sports”:

This is rich… equal pay for an equal job… when the job (and skills) are equal.

Years (decades) ago, I was a trainee engineer for a large company. Part of the job was installation of large racks of equipment involving a fully stocked tool box, weighing between 35 and 50 pounds.

Many of the buildings we installed in did not have elevators, so you carried tools and supplies up flights of stairs.

Another trainee was a slip of a girl, likely 125 lbs soaking wet. She was good once on site, but could not carry her own toolbox up a single flight of stairs, or help when major upper body strength was needed to move equipment into position. Yet she got the same pay and incentives the guys did, for less work (she sat around while the guys lugged stuff up the stairs.) There was no offsetting brilliance that compensated for her lack: just plain competent work when she could perform it. Don’t think the guys did not grumble about doing her work in addition to theirs!

To add insult to injury, she was promoted out of the field first because a)she was black; b) she was a she; and c) the work supervisors wanted a stronger person working the jobs (they did not get extra time to do the job when she was on the crew, either) and could not fire her because of the optics of a) and b). This was a corrupt form of the Peter principle, and my first exposure to such.

Another take: in the Army, each person in a platoon must carry his weight and be able to carry a wounded teammate to safety… unless that person was female. Females could not carry their own equipment, depending on their role, and most likely could not carry a man out of battle. And the standards by which they are judges are not the same. You must be able to pass a fitness test of a certain number of push ups, sit ups, and be able to run two miles under a certain time. This scale slides down by age (an 18 year old must do more than a 35 year old to pass, and rightly so) but the scale is significantly reduced for a female soldier. So a female might be able to do 12 push ups, but get a higher test score for those than an 18 year old who could do 40 push ups)

Now in many jobs this will not matter (how often will a clerk or radar operator be called on to run two miles, for instance?) but these test scores impact promotions and therefore pay. It also places less capable people in the line of fire (remember the female caught by insurgents while driving a truck?) when everyone needs to pull their weight. This policy places lives at risk, on a social engineering (progressive) pipe dream.

Telling girls they can do anything is good: let them try. However, should they fail, explaining that if they cannot compete on a level playing field they should try something else is anathema today. Instead we lower the standards, bend the rules, and make exceptions at other’s expense. BOYS are told to pound sand until they can perform better every time they do not make the football team: there is a standard one must meet to participate, and this makes for the best team possible.

The sexes have different strengths. Neither is better than the other, just gifted in different areas. When we ignore those differences we do a disservice to everyone.

 

31 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Comment of the Day, Gender and Sex, Rights, U.S. Society, War and the Military, Workplace

31 responses to “Comment Of The Day (1): “Thank The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team For Illuminating The Muddled Ethics Of Wage Gap Arguments In Women’s Professional Sports”

  1. Why is it ok for an older person to have fewer standards but not a female? If the job requires you to do X age, sex, or race shouldn’t matter.

    • Wayne

      This is kind of a red herring. An older person in a professional job has acquired expense that a younger person lacks. For example in the military you don’t see many 30 year old generals as men/women in the military have accumulated command experience that makes them far more aware of the complexity of a battlefield situation. As far as the older folks working for Home Depot, they are either in management or have some knowledge of a speciality that younger folks haven’t yet aquired.
      I have a friend who now is in his early 70s who works as a handyman. Would I trust him to do complex repairs on my home or a 20 year old? I think the answer is obvious.

      • Wayne

        Whoops, that should be “experience”.

        • I wasn’t trying to distract from the statement. I was trying to figure out why he believed it was ok for a female and older person to have different standards. But I think you are changing the goal post by changing the position of the older person. So now we have people who are not in the same position.

          I agree that I would be likely to trust someone with experience, but if the experienced person can’t do the job then that doesn’t really help. Say in this scenario I have the 70-year-old handyman build my new house. If I have to carry his tools and hold the ladder that doesn’t really help with my situation. Thus though he is qualified, he is not capable which I think is what the subject is about.

          Now in the military scenario, if it is relevant that a soldier must carry a 100 pounds (this is what my gear weighed when I deployed to Iraq) it helps no one to make those weight requirements less for different people. It seems like what the military is doing is this:

          We need you to be able to carry 100 pounds
          Females: 100 pounds
          Older people 120 pounds
          males: 150 pounds

          Or something like this
          Females 75 pounds
          Older people: 100 pounds
          Males: 125

          Are they expecting males to pick up the extra slack? Then we have slickwilly’s first example that everyone is being slowed down.

          Ultimately, I think this is Jack and slickwilly’s point. If you’re going to have a standard apply it equally.

          • Point of order: I don’t necessarily agree with posts that are COTD. In this case, I do.

          • John,

            Thank you for your service, first of all. You spent time eating sand, something I was not called on to do (but would have if told to: part of the military job)

            I thought I would address a few of your comments, to see if we are on the same page like I think we are.

            …why he believed it was ok for a female and older person to have different standards.

            First, I was not endorsing females having lower standards, I was criticizing them. If they wish to perform the same job as men, then meet the same standards.

            As you know, the PT (physical training) test is not just to assess combat ability (combat troops have much higher standards!), but to be sure that soldiers are healthy and have a base line of physical ability. The theory is that anyone might have to fight unexpectedly, in extreme circumstances, so should have a minimum of physical ability. The same reasoning requires everyone to qualify on their rifle routinely (and there are no sliding standards there, last I heard!)

            Older people, on the other hand, are usually not front line combat troops. They usually are in positions of authority and/or in skilled positions, where greater experience dictates their value. As a person ages, physical ability in general drops. The PT test is scaled to provide better assessment of those in that age group.

            In short, older people generally are not in competition with younger ones for positions, nor are they routinely expected to be in combat. This is not the same for females, who DO compete for the same jobs, and who many progressives apparently wish to see in combat. (My feeling for women in combat are complex: Israeli women serve with distinction, I understand, but the situation is different there. Nevertheless, I don’t want them in OUR services that way unless they meet the same standards as their male counterparts)

            Are they expecting males to pick up the extra slack?

            Yes, they are. There is no other way around it, and this is my experience in the military and in civilian situations where the rules are unequal between the sexes.

            • Sorry I wasn’t trying to put words in your mouth. I assumed your assessment was a criticism of lower standards for females, which I agree. When I was in AIT there was a girl who was considered to be the Sargent Major (but not really, it was a status given to a trainee every month) who couldn’t pass a PT test. If you want to be equal, you need equal standards. I just didn’t understand why you didn’t apply it to age.

              The sliding scale makes sense when you assume different jobs and pay grade. An O3 isn’t going to be doing the grunt work an E3 is doing. I also fully believe that older officers (normally ones that have first been NCOs) are better officers than those who went through ROTC. However, in the context of the same job and same status the requirements should be the same. Now I don’t expect many 45 year olds to be below an E5, but there are situations where it is possible. My first captain was demoted to E5 because he couldn’t move up. I met a guy who was an E7 and screwed up so badly he was demoted to an E2.

              With that being said, there are plenty of awesome females in the military. My platoon Sgt. always outran me (and I was doing 15:30 two mile). They have earned their place and respect among their peers, leaders, and subordinates.

              What’s the solution to that then? I don’t know. Is it something that even needs a solution (maybe not).

              Either way, efficiency (not the military’s strong suit or better known as hurry up and wait) is wasted by having others do your job (which I believe was your point).

          • Wayne

            You of course have the choice to hire or not hire a 70 year old handyman to work on your house. I would happily hold the ladder for the guy or help him carry the tools If need be. My friend btw is an ex fireman and in pretty good health and has more people requesting his services than he can accommodate.

  2. Spartan

    Interesting anecdotes by SlickWilly, but none of them apply to sports. Sports has little to do with “who is the best,” but rather, who has the highest ticket sales. The Washington Redskins players make a bundle, but they aren’t very good compared to other teams.

    Women’s sports generally bring in less money because ticket and ad revenue are not as high for those events. As a result, there is no shame in those female athletes being paid less. There are exceptions to this — I think women’s tennis (which I know nothing about) draws in a larger audience.

    Once (or if) women’s sports increase in popularity, then the franchises should pay them accordingly.

    What I do have a problem with right now in football (besides the inherent awfulness of the sport) is that female cheerleaders are paid peanuts — less than minimum wage in many instances. Given the amount of merchandise surrounding many of these cheerleading teams, I think they should be paid appropriately. They do draw in audiences, sell calendars, etc. They deserve to be paid.

    • Very much agree: last I checked, some weren’t paid at all. Pure exploitation.

      • John Billingsley

        I agree they should be paid an appropriate wage but I think it is between them and the employer to come to an agreement on that just like any other contract. I don’t see pure exploitation. Exploitation to me means treating someone unfairly to take advantage of their work. An example would be migrant laborers. You tell them you can pick my lettuce for what I will pay or you and your family can go hungry and homeless. They are between a rock and a hard place. I don’t see that with cheerleaders. There is no coercion of any kind placed on any woman to be a cheerleader. They or their families are not going to suffer deprivation if they don’t cheerlead. They have the opportunity to say no and take a different job or demand higher wages. I expect a lot of qualified women would agree to cheerlead for nothing just for the excitement and exposure on national TV as well as other opportunities it might open up such as modeling or personal appearances. There are so many applicants for the positions that they have to hold highly competitive auditions. I haven’t heard of other workers auditioning to get an opportunity to be exploited. Are we saying these cheerleaders are so incompetent they have no idea what their services are worth and are competing to be exploited? Is it really pure exploitation to say yes to a fully competent and informed person who without coercion is begging you to be allowed the opportunity to do something they want to do for you even if you profit from it? To answer yes would seem to say that allowing someone to volunteer or accept less than an appropriate wage for anything that makes someone else a profit would be pure exploitation.

        • Spartan

          The women that take these jobs are all wannabe models, actresses, choreographers, dancers, etc. They are similar to the widespread (now illegal) use of interns up until a few years ago. An intern theoretically is someone who is receiving on the job training for free who can then can use that experience to get a paid job down the line. However, courts and legislatures determined that what employers actually were doing was: 1) zero training; and 2) filling actual jobs (that otherwise would be paid) with interns.

          That is what is happening to cheerleaders. They are doing their own practices and choreography. They are at their teams’ beck and call, and are required to do numerous events outside of the games. They are huge moneymakers for their franchises but make no money in return.
          Cheerleader cases currently are making their way through the courts. I will bet a week’s salary that the courts find that they have to be paid.

          This is why actors/actresses are unionized. The same practice existed in the entertainment industry, because if your career requires exposure, people would otherwise have to work for free in order to get it. It is an unfair labor practice, plain and simple.

          • I have threatened to make a case out of The Little Theater of Alexandria. The group has runs that are similar to professional companies in the area—25 or more shows. It is rolling in money; often sells out all performances; owns its theater, yet requires all performers to join the organization: they cast you, and then you pay them. Of course, actors need to act, so they put up with this exploitation. I once called a mass meeting of the organization’s board and confronted them on this. Guess what the defense was. They said that it worked. That’s all. It works: they get plenty of actors auditioning, and they make lots and lots of money.

            Despicable. There are three local companies that I have vowed never to patronize or direct for, and to warn off any artist or audience member I can until the organization crumbles into putrid dust. LTA is the worst of the three.

          • John Billingsley

            My problem with calling this situation exploitation is because, at least in my mind, exploitation connotes acts that give the worker no choice or omit vital information that the worker needs to make a choice. Keeping people working in industries with known health hazards without informing them is exploitation. Paying a worker an inadequate wage because you know they have no other option is exploitation. Interns were exploited by being given false information about what they were actually volunteering for and misled as to the value of their experience. I don’t think any of these situations apply to the cheerleaders.

            I accept that the cheerleaders are making a lot of money for their franchises and I totally agree that they should get a share of it and if I was one of them I would be strongly agitating for my share. It is up to them to take action. If for any reason they as fully informed competent adults choose not to make decisions others consider to be in their best interest, does it then become someone else’s job to make decisions for them? Who?

            As you pointed out, actors unionized to avoid a similar situation. I believe the cheerleaders are intelligent, competent adults and as such could make the same decision the actors or any other group of unionized workers made. They are not powerless and it is their responsibility to make decisions they consider to be in their best interest.

            • Spartan

              First, let me quibble with this comment: “Interns were exploited by being given false information about what they were actually volunteering for and misled as to the value of their experience.” In my opinion, for the most part, they knew what they were getting into, but they had no choice. I had an unpaid internship myself back in the day. I needed it for my resume, but I knew going in that I should have been paid. But if no paying jobs are available, you will take an unpaid one while waitressing at night so at least you can eat.

              Second, it is hard to unionize when you are one of 12. Each franchise is separately owned. This is not like a factory or a large studio where hundreds or thousands of people show up for work each day so they have bargaining power. A single dancer (or a dozen) can be replaced in any major market without too much trouble to the company. This is absolutely exploitation. If I were an aspiring model (and what a sad, middle-aged one I would be), I would have to let a sports team exploit while keeping my fingers crossed that someone important would notice me — other than the tens of thousands of creepy men who bought the swimsuit calendar that the franchise made a bundle on of course.

              • John Billingsley

                Thank you for taking the time to reply. I have found your insightful comments helpful in this thread and others. I would classify your intern experience as exploitation because of the lack of choice which was a criteria I had previously mentioned.

                There are successful actresses, models, and dancers who are not former NFL cheerleaders, therefore it is not true that a woman aspiring to one of those careers has to become a cheerleader and let a sports team exploit her in order to succeed. Whatever the reason a woman chooses to be a cheerleader, she should be fairly paid because all people are entitled to the fruits of their labor.

                Were you to pursue the swimsuit model career I wouldn’t get to be one of the creepy men; all my calendars tend to feature either airplanes, sailboats, or ads from an insurance agency.

                I think I have pretty much exhausted my thoughts on this topic. Best wishes.

    • Spartan,

      Once again we are in violent agreement.

    • I don’t know why professional football even has cheerleaders.

      Professional sports is not High School sports where they are trying to hype up at a few hundred local yokels with the standard fare “Ready, Okay…”. I think cheer leading beyond the High School level is senseless nonsense where females are showing off their bodies and the people in the crowd close enough to actually see them are just ogling while they wait for a wardrobe malfunction of some sort.

      • Two reasons:

        1. Football fans are overwhelmingly male, with wives and girl friends being good sports about it. I have encountered many women who swear they are big football fans, but few actually can converse knowledgeably about the game.

        2. They are also overwhelmingly made up of guys who shift into battle, violence, sex and hormones mode for a few hours every weekend, turning off their brains and going back about three evolutionary steps.

        • Wayne

          This is a gross overgeneralization Jack. I used to enjoy watching my college football team play smart games against the teams they were competing against. Occasionally somebody got hurt but what I generally sensed was concern for the injured player and relief when they walked away and seemed to be ok.

          • My apologies: I was focusing on the NFL, since we were talking about paid cheerleaders. Of course college fans are different—even at Penn State—but those cheerleaders aren’t being exploited.

  3. Great comment of the day!!

    Standards are standards and they need to be based on the needs of the position NOT based on the person in the position.

    Speaking of the Army and the different performance scales; try dealing with the frustrations of being an instructor and telling trainees that you treat everyone equally and then have to deal with these blatantly different physical performance standards that directly affect basic TRADOC MOS specific training standards. When my unit was going to start training platoons of mixed-gender trainees for specific combat MOS’s, I left TRADOC, and within two years I left the Army permanently. I have absolutely no problem with females in the military; however, if they are in line units, it is mission critical that they need to pass the exact same basic standards of performance that everyone else in the unit is held to, period, end of discussion. Yes I know that limits what kind of units that many females will be able to be part of, that’s the job. If a male cannot meet or maintain the base standards of performance for the position in a unit he is reassigned to another unit or he is not retained, the same standard should apply to all regardless of gender.

    Standards are standards and they need to be based on the needs of the position NOT based on the person in the position. This same basic concept needs to be applied to all jobs.

    • Steve

      Revenue doesn’t matter anymore, nor does any other metric or logic. It has been decided by progressives that women must be allowed into every position/job and that no males must make more money than a woman that has the same job title. The slippery slope is well behind us and many citizens realize that these progressive ideals have swung society into an unhealthy place. Many people looked at our presidential choices and went with the one which was likely to apply the breaks. For the same reason I think republicans will maintain and even expand their hold on government in 2018.

      I am getting ready to retire from the military, I have lived through many off the social changes demanded of dod and have to admit most really didn’t have high impact, the opening of infantry and other combat mos isn’t one of those. Forget for the moment any other argument against this change other than physical. Look at what sports tell us about the physical performance between men and women, an amateur high school team beat the professional women’s team, a team who isn’t practicing a few times s week for an hour, part of the year, but one who does this for a job, has more experience, that goes up against the best women’s teams in the world. Now think what would happen if you would take a few of these world class women athletes and put them on the boys team and then send that team it to face other boys high school teams, the would get beat regularly. This is what we just did to our infantry.

      Now look at this at the standpoint of advancement, the women graduating the school of infantry are all graduating at the bottom of their classes, historically the men graduating at the bottom are not the ones who are allowed to reenlist. The military structure resembles a pyramid, the vast majority of infantry only serve one term, there are just a few spots to advance to, only the best are asked to stay, unless politicians get involved women just won’t advance. Think of it as a draft who is a better choice to blindly draft from the women’s professional team or the boys high school team? Now a not publicized issue is what do we do with the majority (90 percent) of the females that don’t make it through SOI? The ones that aren’t permanently injured, more on that later, what job should they get? How do we deal with the overage in manpower?

      Now on the fiscal side we have a huge fucking disaster, more than HALF of the females that don’t make it through SOI are discharged due to permanent injury, service connected, they will rightly receive disability payments the rest of their lives! As mentioned above you have a large portion of women that don’t make it through, who do you displace to give them jobs? How do you recruit to authorized numbers? There is a growing cost to this as well.

      The bottom line is progressives ignore reality in effort to create a socialist utopia, one that is impossible because they can’t change human nature.

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