In most developed countries, men have higher salaries, on average, than women. Much of the salary differential results from the tendency of women to be in lower-paying occupations. The question of whether this occupational employment pattern can be attributed to sex discrimination is a complex one. In fact, wage differentials among occupations are the norm rather than the exception. Successful athletes commonly earn more than Nobel Prize-winning academics; gifted artists often cannot earn enough to survive, while mediocre investment bankers prosper. Given such differences, the question naturally arises: talent and ability being equal, why does anyone—man or woman—enter a low-paying occupation? One obvious answer is personal choice. An individual may prefer, for example, to teach math at a modest salary rather than to become a more highly paid electrical engineer.
Some people argue that personal choice also explains sex-related wage differentials. According to this explanation, many women, because they place a high priority on parenting and performing household services, choose certain careers in which they are free to enter and leave the work force with minimum penalty. They may choose to acquire skills, such as typing and salesclerking, that do not depreciate rapidly with temporary absences from the work force. They may avoid occupational specialties that require extensive training periods, long and unpredictable hours, and willingness to relocate, all of which make specialization in domestic activities problematic. By choosing to invest less in developing their career potential and to expend less effort outside the home, women must, according to this explanation, pay a price in the form of lower salaries. But women cannot be considered the victims of discrimination because they prefer the lower-paying occupations to higher-paying ones.
An alternative explanation for sex-related wage differentials is that women do not voluntarily choose lower-paying occupations but are forced into them by employers and social prejudices. According to proponents of this view, employers who discriminate may refuse to hire qualified women for relatively high-paying occupations. More generally, subtle society-wide prejudices may induce women to avoid certain occupations in favor of others that are considered more suitable. Indeed, the “choice” of women to specialize in parenting and performing household services may itself result from these subtle prejudices. Whether the discrimination is by employers in a particular occupation or by society as a whole is irrelevant; the effect will be the same. Further, if such discrimination does occur, women excluded from certain occupations will flood others, and this increase in supply will have a depressing effect on wages in occupations dominated by women.
1) Which one of the following is the best little for the passage?
(A) Wage Differentials Between Men and Women
(B) Women in Low-Paying Occupations: Do They Have a Choice?
(C) Sex Discrimination in the Workplace
(D) The Role of Social Prejudice in Women’s Careers
(E) Home vs. Office: how Does the Modern Woman Choose?
2) In stating that “Successful athletes commonly earn more than Nobel Prize-winning academics” (lines 10-11), the author’s primary purpose is to
(A) demonstrate that education has little to do with making money
(B) suggest that people with talent and ability should not enter low-paying occupations
(C) show that highly paid occupations generally require long hours and extensive training
(D) imply that a person can be successful and still not make much money
(E) give an example of how certain occupations are better paid than others regardless of inherent worth or talent required
3) Which one of the following cases is least likely to involve sex discrimination, as it is described in the passage?
(A) An employer hires a man rather than an equally qualified woman.
(B) A woman chooses to enter a high-paying occupation that uses her talent and ability.
(C) A woman chooses an occupation that is already dominated by women.
(D) A woman chooses a low-paying job that allows her to devote more time to her family.
(E) A woman chooses to avoid the pressure of being in an occupation not considered “suitable” for women.
4) Proponents of the “alternative explanation” (line 46) argue that
(A) employers have difficulty persuading qualified women to enter relatively high-paying occupations
(B) women choose undemanding jobs because they wish to keep their career options open
(C) women will flood domestic occupations
(D) salaries in female-dominated occupations will decrease as more women are forced into those occupations by their exclusion from others
(E) women’s choice of occupation is irrelevant since they have always made less money than men and are likely to continue to do so
5) Which one of the following statements is the best completion of the last paragraph of the passage?
(A) Wage differentials will become more exaggerated and economic parity between men and women less and less possible.
(B) Finally, women will be automatically placed in the same salary range as unskilled laborers.
(C) The question is: how long will women allow themselves to be excluded from male-dominated occupations?
(D) In the last analysis, women may need to ask themselves if they can really afford to allow sex discrimination to continue.
(E) Unless society changes its views, women may never escape the confines of the few occupations designated “For Women Only.”
6) The author’s attitude toward sex discrimination as an explanation for wage differentials can best be characterized as
(A) critical of society’s acceptance of discrimination
(B) skeptical that discrimination is a factor
(C) convinced that the problem will get worse
(D) neutral with respect to its validity
(E) frustrated by the intractability of the problem