Caught this little nugget last night while reading The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature by Steven Pinker, a damn fine book for anyone interested in the innateness of human nature:
The point is only that gender gaps by themselves say nothing about discrimination unless the slates of men and women are blank, which they are not. The only way to establish discrimination is to compare their jobs or wages when choices and qualifications are equalized. And in fact a recent study of data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth found that chlidless women between the ages of twenty seven and thirty three earn 98 cents to men's dollar. Even to people who are cynical about the motivations of American employers, this should come as no shock. In a cutthroat market, any company stupid enough to overlook qualified women or to over-pay unqualified men would be driven out of business by a more meritocratic competitor.
This is what the Younger and I have been saying for years in regard to both race based and sex based discrimination. While it still may exist in some isolated situations most American corporations cannot afford not to hire the most talented people for the position given the competitive realities of the market.