Today on LRC, Hans Sennholz has an article titled "Women, Work, and Wages." It has all the usual stuff about how it's not discrimination that is responsible for the fact that women earn less than men. No, no, it's the result of sensible economic decisions by employers that account for the fact that women may get married and/or pregnant and quit working, or their husbands may make more and then they'll quit. As an anarcho-capitalist, of course I agree with Sennholz that the gov't should keep its nasty nose out of this issue, and I find the last paragraph of the article very sensible: "Society cannot rest for long on a judge’s order and the power of the police to enforce it. It must build on the solid foundation of freedom and morality, which are the principal elements of social peace and the guarantors of its prosperity." It's the rest of the article that ticked me off.
Yeah, sure, maybe there are reasons why a female employee won't wind up dedicating as many hours of her life to a career than a male employee. And that most likely accounts for part of the wage difference. But this doesn't explain why in other areas women get the short end of the stick as well. I'm not saying that women are consistently treated as second-class citizens in America, but as an American female, I've dealt with plenty of rude pricks in my life who were confident that possession of a penis made them superior. One of the standout experiences was when I was trying to rent an apartment in Tallahassee. In the spring, I arranged to rent an apartment starting in August, paid the deposit, and signed the lease. The apartment complex sent me a letter telling me what my address would be, and giving me the numbers of the local utility companies so that I could set those up before I moved in. So, I made all of those arrangements. I was in Auburn (working for the Mises Institute) over the summer, and at the very end of the summer, after the last day of Mises U, I came back to my apartment at the end of the day, and checked the messages on my phone. The apartment complex had called, saying they wanted to give my apartment to someone else right then, and could I please call them by the end of the day if I objected. Well, this was Friday evening, and the office wouldn't be open again till Monday morning, and I was moving to Tallahassee on Tuesday! I called first thing on Monday, and spoke with the owner of the apartment complex, who was beyond rude. He yelled at me, called me a liar, and hung up on me. I called back, and he just let the phone ring and ring. Scared I wouldn't have an apartment for the fall semester, I called my parents for advice. My dad, incensed, called the apartment complex and called me back within 15 minutes. After talking to my dad, the guy totally changed his tune, apologized to him, claiming a "misunderstanding," offered to let me stay in the model until the utilities could be turned on in my new apartment, and offered to have his maintenance men unload all my stuff and help me move in. (Notice my then-boyfriend Bob Murphy has no hand in this story.)
The story doesn't quite end there. I had changed the address on my amazon.com wishlist to the address the apartment complex had sent me, and Bob had ordered a gift for me through it, so it was sent to the wrong address. I told the tenant of the apartment I was originally assigned I was expecting a package from amazon, and gave him my apartment number, and he said he'd keep an eye out for it. Months go by. The guy stops answering his door when I knock. One day I catch him outside, and he ducks in his apartment, and returns with an open box. He had opened a box addressed to me, removed the gift wrapping from two cd's with notes to me on them, and opened the cd's. And this is the best part--one of the cd cases was empty! I caught him outside once again, headed out of the parking lot in his truck, and my cd was in his truck's cd player.
Anyway, the last thing I want to say about women and money has to do with some experimental results from game theory. Familiar with the ultimatum game? A Proposer offers a division of a sum (usually $10 in experiments) to a Responder, who decides whether to accept the offer or reject it. If the Responder accepts the offer, the money is divided in the way the Proposer suggested, and if the Responder rejects the offer, both players get nothing. Orthodox game theory assumes that players are only interested in getting the most money possible, so it predicts that the Proposer will offer the smallest amount possible and the Responder will accept it. In experiments this isn't what happens. Most Proposers offer about half, and it's generally accepted, and offers below 20% are generally rejected. Anyway, many experiments involving the ultimatum game have been run, and of course sex differences have been looked at. The only consistent result found regarding sex differences is that men are offered significantly more. I highly doubt this is because female Responders kept running off and getting pregant in the middle of the game. I do think that whatever the reason for this is, it's related to why women are paid less in the workforce.