A number of Anderson faculty have written an email reply (and the discussion back and forth is proceeding as your truly types this post).
The following message is being sent on behalf of the several faculty listed below.
Thank you for circulating your interesting thought experiment suggesting that gender pay gaps may exist even without intentional discrimination. While we appreciate the free exchange of ideas, many of us are disappointed by the unintentional justification you provide for not attempting to fix the real biases that do exist for women in both academia and corporate America.
Even though you may personally be aware that many of the assumptions on which your simplified island economy is based are false and that discrimination is real, your post is likely to lead some readers to think, “well, I guess pay discrimination is built into the system without any bias, so there’s nothing we can do to fix it.” Creating an artificial simulation where the pay gap persists, without first acknowledging that its two fundamental assumptions – 1) that women and men of equal quality receive equal pay, and 2) that women and men of equal objective quality are equally likely to be categorized and rewarded as “superstars” – are unfounded, seriously undermines our attempts to make people appreciate the importance of debiasing the system.
Your argument, at its essence, absolves everyone of personal responsibility for the current climate, and therefore prevents us as a school from making any real progress on this important issue. The hypothetical case you consider is an interesting exercise for a student, but it has little to do with the reality of gendered pay . We'd be happy to share with you some of the large body of research that has been devoted to this issue, and look forward to continued discussion of it on a school-wide basis.
Aimee Drolet Rossi