lec032410 - Sociology 101 Introduction to Sociology...

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Sociology 101 Introduction to Sociology Wednesday March 24, 2010 Topic: Gender (cont’d) and Family B. Theoretical explanations for the gender gap in pay 1. Human capital theory (economists) a. Argument: Human capital theory is advanced by economists, and explains wage differences as the result of individual differences between workers. The labor market is believed to operate fairly, along standard rules of competition. Those with the most skill, education, and work experience earn the most money. Women are believed to earn less than men do because they invest less in their “human capital” such as their education or work experience. Thus, women deserve their lower pay. i. A further argument is that women’s human capital tends to become devalued over time, as women reduce their LFP in order to raise children. Women either exit the labor market or cut back on paid employment when they have children and thus “deserve” less pay because they are fewer skills to sell on the market. b. Evidence for HCT: Weak. When men and women are matched on educational attainment, years work experience, and hours worked per week, men still earn significantly more than women. The earnings gap DECLINES when human capital characteristics are taken into consideration, yet the gap still persists. 2. The kinds of work women do (dual labor market theory) a. Argument: The dual labor market is a theoretical description of the occupational system as comprised of two systems: the primary labor market and secondary labor market. Women and men work in different segments of the labor market, and these differences are reflected in their pay. Thus, the gender gap does not reflect personal characteristics, but rather the type of sectors that people work in. IMPORTANT: Sectors are different than jobs. i. Primary labor market - Jobs are relatively stable, wages are good, opportunities for advancement exist, and fringe benefits are quite good. These tend to be jobs in major corporations, where there are ladders of upward mobility. Even within this sector there are high-status managerial and professional jobs, and blue-collar and clerical jobs. The second tier jobs are still secure, yet they still provide fewer intrinsic and extrinsic benefits than the former (e.g., jobs in major corporations, school systems, hospitals, etc.).
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ii. Secondary labor market – High job turnover, arbitrary work rules, short promotion ladders, few benefits, poor working conditions, and many jobs are part-time or have irregular hours. Women, ethnic minorities and immigrants tend to be clustered into this sector. (e.g., fast food, cashiers, waitresses at small/low-end restaurants) iii. Informal sector. No benefits, poor wages, and no
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lec032410 - Sociology 101 Introduction to Sociology...

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