Feminism and how to lie with statistics
April 18, 2012 2 Comments
1) Women are discriminated against in the work place. 2) I don’t like it. 3) But people have to stop lying with statistics. (From Momsrising)
Today is not just Tax Day. It is also Equal Pay Day – the day that symbolizes how far into 2012 women must work to earn what men already earned in 2011.
That’s right. Women have to work for 16.5 months to earn what men make in 12 months. Even though it is 2012 and even though the Equal Pay Act was passed almost 50 years ago, the sad reality is that across industries, women are still not getting equal pay for equal work.
Yes, it’s 2012, but Wisconsin State Senator Glenn Grothman offered this justification for his bill repealing the state’s fair pay law:
“You could argue that money is more important for men. I think a guy in their first job, maybe because they expect to be a breadwinner someday, may be a little more money-conscious.“
WHAT??? State Sen. Glenn Grothman seems to think that money just isn’t that important to women and mothers! And sadly he isn’t alone in this dated, inaccurate thinking since the fair pay legislation in WI was actually repealed.
Did I wake up in the 50s? No. I did not. It’s 2012 and State Sen. Grothman said this in a time when women, for the first time in history, now comprise half of the entire paid labor force, yet still make only 77 cents to every dollar earned by men. That lost money is more critical than ever since more and more women are now the primary or co-breadwinners for their families. Money, most certainly is not “more important for men” as he says.
I’ve said it before I’ll say it again– this statistic is the median wage for a wage-earning female as opposed to the median-wage for the wage-earning male. The truth is that a lot more men are doctors and women are nurses. Men are more likely to be attorneys; women paralegals. Men in construction; women as office help. The list goes on. Maybe that’s discrimination, but this oft-repeated statistic is just hugely misleading of the actual situation. Also, the presumably trogolodytic State Senator is onto something. Men actually do work harder than equivalently-placed women. They sacrifice family life to do so. It’s a choice I personally reject, but it does actually lead to higher earnings. I’m pretty sure that there’s evidence men start working more when they become a parent; definitely not the case for women.
Listen, there’s very real discrimination in the workplace– primarily against mothers– and there’s a very real cultural impact of how society seeks to constrain the career choices of men and women, but I’m just tired of people pretending as if it’s a simple matter of wage discrimination. This is a very complicated issue and I don’t think basically lying with statistics gets us any closer to solving it.