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Another Fallacious Gender Gap Study— About Teachers

According to Education Week, there’s yet another pay gap crisis.  This time it’s between male and female teachers: Male teachers earn more than their female counterparts.  How is this possible when teacher pay is typically determined by a structured and transparent salary schedule?  As it turns out, male teachers earn more pay for “extra duties.”  Shall we call that sexism?

From the Education Week:

“We are presenting evidence that female labor in public schools is systematically sidelined or devalued relative to men’s labor,” said Michael Hansen, a senior fellow in the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution and a co-author of a new report that quantifies the gender wage gap in the teaching profession.

According to the study by the Brown Center, female teachers make on average $2,200 less than their male counterparts—when you combine all sources of pay, including extra duties.  This study was published by the liberal think tank, Brookings Institution.

Because male teachers choose to do extra duties at a rate slightly higher than female teachers, duties which obviously the school needs done, such as coaching or working summer school, we are to believe that this shows “female labor in public schools systematically sidelined.”   

from Brookings

In a way, it is similar to the debate about the supposed gender pay gap in the larger economy: Once you control for hours worked and the choice of profession, the wage gap veritably disappears.  In this study, instead of controlling for hours worked, hours worked is viewed in itself as a kind of systemic bias. 

If you’re a male in education, pretty much your only option to advance in terms of your income is to take on extra duties after school or during the summer, or become a principal.  For either of these actions, however, one would be perpetuating the pay gap and contributing to the systematic “sidelining” and “devaluing” of “female labor.”  In a field where there is said to be a need for more males to enter, this is not exactly a welcoming message.

The study further points out that male teachers are slightly more likely to leave (12%) if they work for a female principal rather than a male principal.  Why might that be?  It’s an intriguing piece of data that doesn’t necessarily suggest bias against females.   

According to the study, male principals are more likely to help out male teachers, such as giving promotions or extra duty pay, as a kind of solidarity in a female-dominated profession.  The evidence for this is pretty thin gruel, but let’s assume it’s true.

Yet as Education Week’s own article about bias against females in education notes, 56 percent of principals are female, an imbalance that the article’s author Madeline Will does not find particularly disturbing.  

A teacher is quoted in the article:

“When you come into a profession that’s predominately women, you look for an ally in the room,” she said. “You reach out to the person you think you can relate to or build rapport with.”

I should clarify, she says this as though it’s a bad thing that needs to be fixed. 

When you’re in a female dominated profession such as education (77 percent female), that’s not necessarily going to be a seamless transition for a male.  It’s great to work with females, but one is liable to feel out of step with the work culture, shall we say, just like women complain about working in male-dominated workplaces, and how everything needs to change so they feel more comfortable.  A male principal knows how it feels to have the shoe on the other foot, because he too was once a teacher.  God forbid he should show some empathy and solidarity, just as women are exhorted to show female solidarity. 

Read More at Washington Examiner

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