Friday, January 8, 2016

The superhero pay gap

I was listening to the new episode of the Freakonomics podcast this morning, and they had a compelling argument that the oft-repeated statement that women make 77 cents for each dollar that men work is an average and is subject to problems because of that.

Though there is male-female discrimination, the guest (whose name I have already forgotten: she's president of the AEA) argued that when you control for other factors, a big factor is that women get paid less because they take jobs where flexibility is prized. Corporations pay for the amount of time that they have employees available. According to her studies, women also tend to avoid owning things, because ownership of a business is time-consuming.

Assuming that's correct....

Another group who prizes work-life balance and needs to be able to do jobs flexibly is superheroes, particularly the kind with secret identities.

For the most part, this isn't going to come into play. Some characters will be wealthy, some characters will be so poor that it doesn't matter, some will have exotic life support and don't need a place to live, some will be paid to be superheroes.

But sometimes you can make it affect play.

If you have a player who wants to play this sort of thing, you can have an extra source of angst for the hero: people who started their careers at the same time are further along or make more money because they don't have a sideline. They don't need to escape at a moment's notice. They are (male or female) the underpaid ones in this scenario because they can't commit to being there Sunday or working late, or even a straight nine to five.

If you want to do a sideline of "this is the choice I made: be a hero and do it secretly, and this is the cost" this might be an extra bit of filigree to add to it.


Quote of the day, because I thought it was appropriate to superheroes and villains:
A certain kind of rich man afflicted with the symptoms of moral dandyism sooner or later comes to the conclusion that it isn't enough merely to make money. He feels obliged to hold views, to espouse causes and elect Presidents, to explain to a trembling world how and why the world went wrong.

—Lewis H. Lapham, editor and writer (b. 8 Jan 1935)

That sounds sooo pulpy to me, not just because the phrase "moral dandyism" does not get used much.

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