Sure, maybe there’s more we should do policy-wise to lessen the disparity between men and women but leading Democrats– including President Obama himself– basically lying about it by repeating this $.77 for the same work trope is just too much for me to take. Nice to see Wonkblog’s Sarah Kliff take this on:
On its face, the gender wage gap is enormous: women working full-time earn just 77 cents for every dollar that men earn, contributing to a $431,000 lifetime wage gap, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The White House has rolled out such figures again this week in its push for Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which strengthens the Equal Pay ABut the numbers don’t tell the full story. Women are more likely to work in lower-paying occupations and leave the workforce when they have children, for example. When such circumstances are factored in — along with race and other demographic data — about 40 percent of the gender wage gap is still unaccounted for, says Ariane Hegewisch of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), citing a 2007 study by Francine Blau and Lawrence Kahn.
That means that women earn 91 cents for every dollar, as compared to men, due to factors that have nothing to do with life choices — a difference that many researchers identify as discrimination.
Other studies also confirm a similar gap that’s not accounted for by life choices. Among college graduates, women earned 5 percent less than men one year after graduation, and the gap grew to 12 percent among full-time workers a decade after graduation, according to Catherine Hill, director of research at the American Association of University Women, or AAUW.
Again– there’s real discrimination that we should address, but politicians and feminists need to stop lying about the true state of the world. And as for the Paycheck Fairness Act that this is all about, color me somewhat skeptical. Here’s the CS Monitor summary of the key issues:
The Paycheck Fairness Act would offer several additional protections for women in the workplace, including an increased ability to pursue punitive damages for unequal pay claims; prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who inquire about payment practices or who disclose their own salaries; and require businesses to prove that differences in pay between genders were rooted in business requirements.
Now those first items all sound reasonable to me, but the last item strikes me as problematic. I do not think the burden of proof should be on a business to show that every wage disparity between male and female employees. I think that, especially with the other reforms this act includes, that burden of proof should be on the employee. I do not think the default assumption in these cases– especially given all that social science has taught us about women’s vs. men’s working patterns– should be that a business is guilty of discrimination until proven innocent. This strikes me as an example of conservatives actually being quite right about an overly-intrusive, over-regulatory government approach to business. (Of course, even a broken clock…) And I don’t think liberals should be doing anything to make conservative’s job easier for them.