With that in mind, I want to draw your attention to the post "Let's Talk About Young Women" from Friday. Someone whose blog I read all the time - which means someone whose opinions I respect - DiveMedic from Confessions of a Street Pharmacist posted about his experiences with his fiance' and pay inequality. DM said that he had recently started teaching high school and since he was paid too closely to what she gets paid was thinking maybe there is something to this pay inequality stuff we hear about. Note he wasn't being paid more than her, just that in his opinion, he wasn't getting paid far enough less than her.
Let me summarize here. She has a Masters Degree, he doesn't. Instead, he has three Bachelor's Degrees. Because of the Masters, she can teach dual enrollment (high school/junior college) classes he can't. On the other hand, he's a science teacher and STEM teachers are in demand. (A search for "STEM Teachers in Demand" returns over 50 million hits). Given all that, his concern is that she only makes about $2000 more than he does.
To begin with, I'm almost 100% void of any real knowledge here. I've never taught college or high school. I worked my entire life in the electronics manufacturing industry, since my first full time job as an electronics technician. Over the years, I did have to interview and hire many folks. For a brief period, I hired technicians and quality control inspectors (both hourly, non-union jobs) then moved on to hiring engineers (salaried jobs). I have no idea what DM or his fiance' make in dollars. On the other hand, teachers' pay ranges are public information and I searched for the pay ranges in my county (pdf warning) and I'm going play with numbers a bit here to see what they tell me. (Always bearing in mind that "if you torture the data long enough, it will confess to anything"). I'm specifically using my county because I'm all but certain DM doesn't live or work here, and I have no desire to impose on anyone's privacy.
An entry level teacher in my county, baseline '08, made $36,000. A Master's Degree added $2625 to that base salary. It appears that for a teacher with any number of years experience at the Bachelor's level, if you add a Master's degree, you add that incentive ($2625) to your pay. There is a thing called a Specialist Degree which adds a larger incentive than the Master's degree, but not as much as a Ph.D. In my county, that's $3900.
Briefly, when you compare a Master's level teacher with eight years experience to a newbie Bachelor's level teacher, the experienced teacher should be making $5491 more. So why would the difference be the lower amount DM quotes ($2000)? The obvious place to look is qualifications. I don't have anything to offer guidance for applicants with multiple bachelor's degrees, but they're apparently being used for something here. If they were construed by the hiring managers to be equivalent to the "specialist degree", the expected difference drops down to $1591.
If I try to look for an analogy to places I've worked, I think of needing an engineer for a specialized arena; RF design (Radio Frequency) - my specialty. Because it's an advanced field, I start out saying I'm looking for an MSEE. Now let's say I get an applicant with a BSEE degree, and BS in Physics. In other aspects of the interview, they impress me that their physics experience adds something worthwhile to their profile. What would I do? I would probably recognize the second BS by more pay than an average BSEE, but not as much as a full MS. What if this applicant had a BSEE, a BS in Physics and a BS in Math, or perhaps Mechanical Engineering? Probably more along the same lines.
In the case of DM and his three BS degrees vs his fiance with an MS, it could be the difference seems a little out of line, but by looking at numbers (which are seven years old) I can't say, "no, he should be making $2500 less than her", or any other number. He does seem to be getting lots of credit for the three BS degrees. On the other hand, I could certainly accept that the difference is a hiring manager's decision. Not everything in life gets put into handy little boxes on forms, and while that's forever the dream of the cry-bullies and petty tyrants, it just doesn't always work out that way.
In general, when you hear the term "income inequality", it's referring to some ill-defined notion that jobs "women typically do" and jobs "men typically do" pay differently just because they're men and women. Because of that equivalent jobs should get equal pay and they try to enforce that notion. It's not men or women in the same job in the same industry, like this is. In reality, the term income inequality is absurd on its face; of course some jobs are harder than others and demand more pay. What they're trying to create is a world where job pay rates aren't set by market forces, but by a tyranny that decides what everyone will earn.