Icelandic women walk off the job 14% early to protest 14% pay-gap

For example…

… here in Austria, I was forced to spend a year of my life doing below-minimum-wage work without the option to quit because of my male anatomy. But by the time I am old enough to retire, the legal retirement age for women will have been raised to match that for men (who will, statistically, die earlier anyway), so I guess I’m privileged.

Does any of that justify or outweigh the inequality against women that is happening at the same time? Of course not!

But when people pretend that being male is the universal privilege and even define terms like “sexism” to be unidirectional by definition, it just becomes harder to be an “ally”.

Also, everyone please note that this is an unadjusted gender pay gap. No, women in iceland do not get 14% less money for doing the same work. That would be the adjusted gender pay gap, which is incredibly hard to calculate properly, because “the same work” is very hard to quantify. Numbers usually vary from 2 to 10%, depending on who you believe.

The unadjusted gender pay gap shows different things about our societies. Such as women working more part-time jobs that tend to pay less per hour than full time jobs and have fewer carreer advencement options. Or why do women tend to choose different jobs than men, and why do many of these jobs pay less? In which cases is that justified, and when is it a product of discriminatory gender roles?

Another odd fact about gender pay gaps: Malta has the second-lowest gender pay gap in Europe (about 5%, unadjusted, IIRC). But that is not because Malta is a super-modern society. Only 44% of women work at all; apparently, women who would not earn as much as their male colleagues become old-fashioned housewifes.


What? Source? I’ve never really had close “work friends”. They are friends of conveniences while there, but if I or they moved jobs, I never see them again.

At my office there is only one person I see out side the office, and I was friends with him before that.

Ironically the only people I know who hang out after work sometimes are some of the women.

I am sure there are people like that, and certainly “who you know” helps in getting a job. But suggesting companies hire men so they will have friends at work doesn’t really make sense.

That was my question, is this just a flat statistic? Does anyone have a primer with stats on this? Because as you pointed out, a flat statistic doesn’t show unequal pay necessarily. Nearly all of my jobs have been with large corporation and I and my coworkers lowly drones. We all made the same pay, with the standard increases set in stone through corporate. Though I concede small businesses or positions where there is haggle room on pay and bonuses is where such gaps probably exist.


Funny how the “well-off” part of what I wrote keeps getting overlooked…


I did not overlook it. It is just that as a white male from an upper middle class family in a rich European country I am “well-off” according to all definitions of the word that I am aware of. I just pointed you to one example where people of my gender and nationality still need to fight for their equality (skin color and economic class aren’t really relevant in this particular case).
I will happily expend energy fighting for women’s equality in other areas, but I don’t like being told that I am universally privileged in my maleness, or that a gender-specific compulsion to military service is not discrimination against men, that I should not oppose it, or that I deserve that particular injustice because I am part of the otherwise privileged sex. (And I’ve heard all of those before, so please excuse my outburst if you didn’t want to imply any of that).

The generalization that as a male, I “never have to fight for equality” and that I’m “more equal from birth” is just painfully wrong.

The EU Commission uses the term “unadjusted gender pay gap” for the difference between average hourly wages between all men who work and all women who work. I assume that the government of Iceland uses something similar, because they most likely want to compare their statistics to the other Nordic countries (some of which are EU members).

I found a publication by the EU Commission here, but it is rather wordy and not very heavy on the statistical details.

If feel like digging through some references, the document states that the methodology is based on the methodology of Eurostat’s “Structure of Earnings Survey”, so you might find more detailed info there. BTW, there’s a German word for that: “Verdienststrukturerhebung”.

On the whole, the question is “why do women tend to end up in jobs that pay less”, not “why do women get less money for the same work”. The latter sometimes happens, too, but it happens a lot less than the former, it does not happen at all in some places (large corporations and public service with standardized wages), and it is measured by different statistics.

Unfortunately, this means that the reasons for the (unadjusted) gender pay gap are much harder to track down and it is a lot harder to know what can and should be done about it.

Is it wrong that nurses are paid less than managers, and if so, does it have anything to do with gender discrimination?
Is it wrong that engineers are paid less than managers (or are expected to become part-time managers if they want to get more pay)?
Is it the same work when two people have the same academic qualifications, but one person managed to convince the manager that they are better at their job and deserve more money?
If women are more likely to become kindergarten teachers than men are, is that a natural difference between genders, or is that something we should do something about?
I think those questions bring us deep into the area where well-meaning people of both genders can hold very different opinions.

Complaining that “men make more for the same work” and using the unadjusted number might be a good way to raise awareness, but it’s a lie, and it actually raises awareness for a different problem than the number says. I’m not sure if it actually contributes to solving any of the problems. It might put pressure on managers to make sure that they are paying fair wages, but it might also serve as an excuse (“The gender pay gap here is 14%, so how about you get 10% less than your male colleagues? That’s a win-win, right?”).


Regardless, as a white male you’re still playing life in the easiest setting.

The example you illustrate - compulsory military service - isn’t a good example at all. It’s not women who’re forcing you to work for a year at below minimum wages, it’s other guys. Struggle against it as you wish, but don’t pretend that you’re striking a blow for gender equality.


You go (home early) girls!

I don’t personally know anyone my age who’s wife makes less than their husband. My wife has made more than me our entire marriage…yet she has declared she wants to go part time to help our son with school work when that time comes. She has an advanced degree, yet will be considered part time, if anything that skews metrics like this horribly. But that’s irrelevant, because there is something far more important for her than making more money. I’m all for equal jobs, equal pay (all factors considered)…but equal just because seems to miss all the other reasons people choose to live their life.


I guess I was thinking of levels of management. Sorry for the confusion.

It is very hard to get ahead in banking, for example, if you don’t play golf. Sure, you’ll make it to some level, depending on your department, but by the time you’re interacting with the higher end customers (individual or corporate) and board members, you’d better know how to socialize the way they socialize. It’s not Japanese level (yet), but in the U.S. people in management prefer to work with people they will be comfortable spending time with outside the office, because a lot of business is conducted outside the office.

It’s why women and minorities have struggled to be allowed to join the private clubs, etc. that enable them to at least enter the same playing field.

This isn’t the same thing as becoming best buddies. It’s about socialization norms.


Good thing no one told you that, then.


The claim is the kool aid of the cult of the corporation. Some people have drunk deep from that well. Not everyone, but, I mean…look at the price of EpiPens, or shitlords like Shkreli - “maximizing value for shareholders” is the only way these people can look at themselves in the mirror the next morning.

Also, dammit, Iceland, stop making me want to move there. You keep this up and I’ll be in my cozy apartment in Reykjavik reminding people that vikings didn’t really wear those hats before this time next year…


Thanks for pointing this out. That 14% gap isn’t for the same work done, it’s across all occupations.

from your link (emphasis mine):

In the EU, the gender pay gap is referred to officially as the ‘unadjusted gender pay
gap’, as it does not take into account all of the factors that impact on the gender
pay gap, such as differences in education, labour market experience, hours worked,
type of job, etc

I think mostly when people hear pay gap, they assume it is for the same work. I wouldn’t argue that there can’t be some sort of gap there, but this 14% stat doesn’t tell us that. How does a government enforce that a field that may self select itself to be male or female dominated be paid the same as another field? This is societally complex and is hard to capture that with a simple “Men are paid 14% more than women”. What does the solution to what the 14% actually represents look like?


Some explainers:

Or, the short story: there is a gender wage gap, and it is based on gender discrimination. There’s also bigger systemic issues, like the expectations for women’s jobs, unpaid work, and, especially, lack of support for motherhood. (with a dash of that ol’ Protestant Ethic making sure that hours worked = moral virtue in the minds of the people determining pay)


Here’s a (not so) random example:

Me: “I have two people reporting to me. One is a smarmy white sales guy who doesn’t do a very good job and is just putting in time until he can get back into sales. The other is a highly-educated woman who is very effective and gets better every day. He makes 40% more than she does. I believe that puts us at serous risk and we need to equalize their pay, at the very least.”

Executive: “Traitor!”


This is particularly true in the US, but countries with a lot more support for motherhood (like Iceland) still have this gender gap. And I really don’t think it’s just because the government or circumstances are forcing women to take time off. My wife is considered odd by some other women for not working part time or not at all because of our children, even though our youngest is 4 and there are usually three adults at home while she’s at work. After all, she could get a similar income if she stayed at home or worked part time with all the benefits this would involve, and it wouldn’t even necessarily hurt her career path. Other women criticise her for not wanting to get a promotion into management. She doesn’t want this; she prefers the practical work with patients and would be happy to stay at this pay grade until retirement. I’m happy to support her if she wants to go further, but she’s willingly chosen to be part of the problem.

Of course there are cultural assumptions at play here too, but there is a hidden assumption in these unadjusted statistics that what should be expected is that women spend the same amount of time working as men, including the overtime, awkward hours, travel and all the rest of it. If women choose to stay at home more and men don’t choose to take the same amount of paternity leave, this is not an ideal situation and it should be changed (and this is an assumption that is made).

There are definitely a lot of issues to do with inequality here that should be changed (e.g. many of the assumptions underlying the criticism my wife gets), but there are also reasons why there could never be equal pay and equal work until children are born in vats and cared for by the state. One possible way would be for men to have national service that is guaranteed not to benefit them in their careers, but for some of the factors in the wage gap, you would have to artificially stop men from working, force women to work more or promote women with less experience, e.g. because couples with the freedom to choose don’t necessarily make the choices that would lead to equality in pay and other working conditions. And there’s a big unexamined implication that this is a bad thing.


Definitely no single solution.
Apparently, on top of a smaller “unexplained” gap that might well be pure men-earn-more-for-the-same-work discrimination, some life choices more likely to be made by women lead to less money.
First, we’d need to agree on which part of that is wrong, if any. Are women (or men) being forced into lifestyle choice X against their will? If so, we’d want to fix that. Otherwise, should women and men be equally likely to make lifestyle choice X? Or should lifestyle choice X have no impact on income? Or is it a free individual choice that has non-financial benefits and that people (of either gender) should be free to make, but also have to pay for?

I never pretended that. Struggling against inequality directed against me is not “striking a blow for equality”, it’s just regular self-interest. I’m just not buying into the theory that I/white males “never had to fight for [my own] equality”. It’s life on “easy mode”, not “peaceful mode” or “creative mode”.
This does not belong here, so if you want to enlighten me, open a new topic or reply in private.

(That is, unless you want to discuss what percentage of a gender wage gap is “compensated” by gender-specific military service and different retirement ages. I did a quick mental calculation earlier, and it looks like it’s nowhere near enough to even the scales, especially as the retirement age thing only applies to the generation with the highest gender wage gap.)

Well, we have that in Austria (but for old-fashioned reasons), it does not usually benefit men in their careers (police careers and careers in social services possibly excepted), it does give women a one-year head start in their careers, and Austria still has the EU’s second-largest gender pay gap.

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