Everybody knows that women are twice as likely to develop depression as men. But it takes a bunch of Ivy League scientists to come up with the zaniest explanation ever for the disparity: the "gender wage gap." You see, if a female knows that she's making less money than the males in her office, she sinks into a tailspin of depression and also anxiety.
Hey, Ivy League scientists, what if it's the other way around? What if the actual reason she's paid less is that her depression prevents her from doing her job as :ell as the men?
You see, there's this logical fallacy of mistaking correlation for causation. Look up the two words in the dictionary.
But what's a little logical fallacy if you're a bigshot at Columbia University? Here's the report in the Washington Post:
The study, published in this month's volume of the journal Social Science & Research, found that when a woman's income was lower than a male counterpart's, her odds of reporting anxiety disorder were more than four times higher than his. But if she made the same or more, her odds of suffering from it were much lower.
A similar pattern held true with depression. A woman who was paid less than her male counterpart had 2.4 times higher odds of depression; when her income was equal to or more than a male peer's, her odds of reporting multiple symptoms of depression were no different than his. Jonathan Platt, one of the authors of the paper and a doctoral student in epidemiology at Columbia, said in an interview that while his findings were in line with what they predicted, "I was surprised to see such clear differences. It was good to see the results, but also dismaying, of course, for what they represent."
Platt and his co-authors examined data on more than 22,000 working adults, putting them into matched pairs of men and women who were comparable in age and educational background, as well as who worked in similar industries, for similar types of employers and at similar occupation levels. While such matched pairs aren't perfect — the counterparts didn't necessarily do the exact same job or work in the same organization — they were a proxy that helped control for other possible explanations for the pay differences.
Similar industries, for similar types of employers and at similar occupation levels? Uh, in other words, we aren't even talking about women working for the same company that employed their supposedly better-paid male counterparts. How then were they expected to know that the men were earning more than they were, and thus to experience one of those anxiety fits? Isn't that something the scientists should have tried to "control for"?
Also, as might be expected, the Columbia scientists assume that the gender wage gap is at least partly due to gender discrimination (that's another logical fallacy, called begging the question):
Another question is whether it's the wage gap itself that could be upping the likelihood of depression and anxiety — or whether it's actually discrimination or bias that underlies it. [co-author Katherine] Keyes said they cannot be sure, as their research only measured the difference in wages itself. "But I would hypothesize that it's all the things that the wage gap represents," she said. "I think what makes this study really unique is the wage gap represents so much that is unseen."
After all, workplace bias often isn't something that's easily described or detected even by women themselves, much less studied by outside academics. The gap, Keyes said, is used "as a broad indicator of many things women appraise as discriminatory — as well as things they don't."
Ha ha! Workplace bias is so subtle that nobody can detect it! You've got to be an Ivy League scientist to say something like that with a straight face.