Is There a Gender Wage Gap?

BlogHer Original Post

According to Carrie Lukas, Executive director of the Independent Women's Forum, women and men earn equal pay for equal work. Except that we work in entirely different professions because women like really comfortable, safe jobs. And that parity is only true for urban workers who have no children. So it is a total lie perpetrated by angry feminists that women only make 77 cents for every $1 a dude earns doing the same work. Well, that makes me feel better.

MoneyHere I was under the delusion that Equal Pay Day, which was on April 12, was necessary. I mean, I totally believed all of those studies that show, as the Ms. blog points out, that "men are perceived as more accomplished than women even when they have the same resumes." Or that "while it’s true that men are more likely to be working in higher-paid fields, women make less money than men even when they occupy the same jobs." That is probably because, as Ms. Lukas reports, men work 8.75 hours more per day on average and women are lazy slugs, clocking in with only 8.01 hours per day. Clearly that less-than-an-hour gap is a good reason to pay women 23% less than men, if in fact, that statistic is even accurate.

Oh, and we didn't even talk about race yet. Liz O'Donnell at The Good Men Project reminds us that "African American women earning approximately 67.5 percent of what men earn and Latina women earning just 57.7 percent." I am very curious how Ms. Lukas would explain that. Are women of color "opting out" of higher paying jobs, just like women in general love lower paying jobs because it is in our nature and we aren't really dedicated workers or whatever?

I would also love to know why, if pay is so equal, women with kids are paid less than men with kids. I'm sure that some will explain it by saying that women decided to take time off to raise up the young'ins, and therefore lose market share. I can see how that would affect lifetime earnings. However, I am confused as to why, then, a woman who is employed at a job with the same experience as a man still earns less than he does. Ms. Lukas does not dispute that women with kids earn less than men, and it turns out that mothers are less likely to be hired and are more likely to be offered lower pay than fathers. Must be that 0.74 hour difference again.

The fact is, discriminatory pay hurts more than just women. Whether we like it or not, we live in a society in which all adult family members often need to work. If half of those members are being paid less than they deserve, then it hurts the whole family unit. Men shouldn't want their wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, nieces, and friends to be paid less money for their labor. It makes no cents (sorry, bad pun I can't resist...).

Instead of splitting hairs and patting ourselves on the backs for the small number of women who are paid fairly (or even better than men), we should take action to ensure that all people are paid fairly for their work. Women's Philanthropy-Women's Issues links to some petitions developed by the National Women's Law Center to help pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which will help eliminate some of these inequalities. As Sin City Siren concludes at The Tired Feminist, "The wage gap is hurting us all!"

Suzanne also blogs at CUSS and Other Rants and is the author of Off the Beaten (Subway) Track.

Photo Credit: aresauburnphotos.

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