Some' Contrary Evidence
The foregoing paragraphs (allow the functionalist disperse. They stress the importance of women's· work as a determinant of women's status. Yet.the experience of recent decades does not fully support this analysis. The proportion of all women who are in the labor force nearly doubled between 1940 and 198Q(from 27 to 51 percent), yet the Income g~p' between employed men and women increased during most of this period. Annual earnings of full time, year-round f~ale workers fell from 64 .percent of male earnings in 1955 to 60 percent in 1979. Some of this decline may be attributed to the very rapid growth of the female labor force. As compared with the-male labor force, the female labor force became overloaded with beginning workers at entry-level earnings [Lloyd and Noemi, 1979, p. 74]. But even when seniority is held constant, women still fall far behind men in average earnings. Why? There are several explanations. Among "full time" workers, women' average· about fewer hours per week than men [Lloyd and Noemi, 1979,.p. 57]. In.the highly paid careers, the crucial years in which one either gains or fails to gain career momentum is the decade from 25 to 35-prey the decade when women are most likely to take time out for children [Thurow, 1981]. Only about 10 percent of women workers' are unionized, compared' with' 26 percent for men,' and highly unionized occupations usually pay.more than non unionized occupations" The greatest single reason, however, is that women" workers" 'especially older .women, are heavily concentrated in jobs which are, transitionally low-paid. All "female" jobs are and have been poorly paid company with "male" jobs that are comparable in training and skill demanded. The present earnings gap is greatest with the older women workers who are' the most heavily concentrated, in low paid "female" jobs [Lloyd and Niemi, 1979, ..p. 59]. Today the principled of "equal pay for equal work" is firmly established in law, although sometimes evaded in practice. More important it applies only when men and women do the same kind of work. Jobs of equal difficulty and jobs demanding equal training or skill may be differently paid if the work itself is different. For example, the city of San Jose made a. study,oL22S 'city government jobs, rating each on a point scale for know how required, -problem-salving responsibility accountability, and working conditions, [Bunzel,'1982, p. 8O}. A typical comparison senior telephone operator; 175 points (female dominated), $15,210; senior water technician, 172 points (male-dominated), $21,710. A National Academy of, Sciences study in .1981 conduced that less than half the 40 percent difference in, men's and women's average earnings were due to men's greater ski,island experience [Lubin, 1982aJ.' These and many other studies show that even when occupation, training, seniority, and productivity are equal, pay scales usually are not equal [Suter ancfMiller, 1973;Treiman and Terrell, 1975; Featherman and Hauser, 1976; Lloyd and Niemi, 1979, p. 74). ,A: f~al bit of evidence: A''questionnaire sent to 170 persons who had sex-change operations (transsexuals) found that "each person Who changed from female to male earned more after the change" [Fisk, 1982]. Examples of inequality could cover many more pages, yet there arc some improvements. For young women who work as many hours as young men, earnings are now almost equal [Scanzoni, 1978, p. 169]. Some unions are now replacing" equal pay for equal work" with "equal pay for comparable worth" as a goal [Lubin, 1982a]. Unless there is 'a strong backlash against women's rights, average earnings should .soon reflect current changes in women's work roles. There are a few places where women are favored, Private pension plans pay equal monthly pensions to men and women with equal work histories and contributions, but since women (on the average) live longer, they collect more pension dollars per dollar of contributions than men collect. The Social Security system treats men and women work exactly alike, yet women collect more in benefits than men for two reasons: They live to collect benefits for.an average of four more years, and the system returns to low-paid _ workers far more benefits, per, dollar contributed than to high-paid workers. Thus women make 28' percent of the contributions, but receive 54 percent of the benefits [Stiglin, 1981J. Women .also pay lower life insurance premiums. One life insurance actuary reports that "a representative working Woman, will', pay between $5,600 and $3,300 'less during her lifetime for coverage then the equivalent working man" [Aug rt 1982], Yet on balance, women, are far more 'often the victims than 'the beneficiaries of sex inequality. It may be true that in the long run functional roles determine sex statuses, but this force takes a long time to operate. In the short run, the conflict perspective may suggest more effective techniques for changing sex roles, The present feminist effort to, change sex roles through organized action is dearly based upon the conflict model of social changes .