CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

1 This book is intended as a practical guide to wage income inequalities between men and women for both academics and the private sector. Its ambition is to clearly present the magnitude of these inequalities in the United States, highlight their consequences, and propose concrete solutions.

2 The deliberately hybrid format chosen by the authors makes this a clear and educational book, which is well suited for readers without a background in the topic. Its highly detailed statistical presentations enable the reader to grasp the extent of gender inequalities in employment income. The authors offer an overview of the basic points in this discussion: for example, one chapter looks at explanations for the persistence of the pay gap, while another explores the notion of the adjusted gender pay gap. Given how much one can say about the latter subject, however, it is surprising that the authors devote only a few explanatory pages to this notion and do not use it in the rest of the book.

3 Although the authors’ aim of offering a general overview of the issue of gender income inequalities in such a compact work is laudable, the attempt is not successful. The book’s content sometimes lacks rigour, particularly in the statistical descriptions presented in the first chapters and the inferences drawn from them. Regrettably, causality and correlation are sometimes confounded, notably in Chapter 2.

4 The part of the book that focuses on the consequences of wage inequalities and suggests solutions to remedy them is both the one with the most potential and the most disappointing. The authors present important arguments on the role of language in job advertisements, and on the need for companies to tackle the problem head on. But this is also where the problems with the book are greatest: the authors’ core focus is on breaking the glass ceiling, and they exclusively emphasize gender inequalities in highly remunerated, high-ranking corporate positions. Although these are no doubt matters of real concern, the choice to make this the exclusive focus actively contributes to obscuring the wage inequalities affecting the many women who do not hold such positions.

5 While the authors take pride in proposing concrete solutions, they offer no remedies for the fundamental structural problems that they identify upstream: adjusted pay gaps, of course, but also the negative effects of interruptions in women’s careers to take care of their families, and the penalty associated with being a mother. The reader may also be surprised to find that the proposed solutions are rarely supported by academic work demonstrating their effectiveness, but instead articulate a political agenda. Unfortunately, their content mainly amounts to a call for the dominated to comply with the norms of the dominant: the authors literally advise women to behave like men in order to be more successful in the corporate world.

Uploaded on on 19/04/2022
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