'Equal pay day' rubbish

April 8 is Equal Pay Day, marking the number of extra days into 2014 the average woman has to work to earn as much as her male counterpart did in 2013.--HuffPost


Variations on the theme that women make 77 cents for every dollar their male counterpart makes are endlessly repeated, often by careless, biased or comfortably ignorant media. (See below for links at the bottom for some.). I've tried to shed some light on the subject in my Chicago Tribune column today. Here it is in full:

Tuesday is "Equal Pay Day." Meaning that it's time again to unleash the hounds to flush out all those misogynists who are keeping women in chains.

Women's paychecks don't equal men's because a vast male cabal is populating human relations departments across the land making sure that women's paychecks always and everywhere are smaller.

At least that's the idea that you might get from everyone who rolls out, as they will today, the oft-repeated canard that women "are paid 77 cents on the dollar for doing the same work as men."

It's not true, according to PolitiFact.com, which noted that a 2012 campaign ad for President Barack Obama repeated the deception when it said, "The son of a single mom, proud father of two daughters, President Obama knows that women being paid 77 cents on the dollar for doing the same work as men isn't just unfair, it hurts families."

Obama played a variation on the same tune when he said in his State of the Union address, "You know, today, women make up about half our workforce, but they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns." In this, he left out "for the same work as men," but the statistic remains simplistic and deceptive.

First, it is based on the median income for all women in all jobs, hiding important factors, such as the number of years worked, occupational differences, seasonal employment, self-employment, part-time employment, race and union membership.

How the wages are measured also makes a difference; if you look at weekly instead of annual averages, the wage gap narrows.

When you account for all these differences, a statistical, albeit a smaller, gap between men's and women's wages does remain. Just how much is caused by intentional discrimination is far from settled. Various studies claim that from about 4 percent to 40 percent of the difference cannot be explained by those demographic and other differences, leaving discrimination as the presumed cause. The wide disparity speaks to the inexactness of the science.

But inexact science makes no difference when you're out to make your case by ridiculing, misrepresenting and smearing the other side.

A prime example was some reaction to a recent panel discussion assembled by the conservative Heritage Foundation on "Women's History Month: Evaluating Feminism, Its Failures, and Its Future."

Dana Milbank, in a Washington Post column titled, "Conservatives to women: Lean back," sneered at the female panelists for daring to argue that women can benefit from marriage. It's like arguing, he suggested, that women should to go back in history. To what, I'm not sure.

Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Robin Abcarian called the discussion "only a misguided indictment of (feminism) based on the premise that having children outside of marriage is bad for kids, bad for women, the fault of feminism and should be restigmatized. Also, panelists said, feminism is bad because women are not as happy as they used to be."

Exactly so. Research shows childbirth outside of marriage does women no favors. And that marriage in many ways, such as emotionally and economically, is beneficial. And that women aren't as happy as they used to be.

After watching the one-hour video of the panel discussion (available on heritage.org), I wasn't sure the two writers paid much attention. But cherry picking the panelists' quotes did serve the purpose of painting a stereotypical portrait of conservatives and Republicans as people (including the women panelists) who would keep women barefoot and pregnant.

Except that the panelists — Karin Agness, founder of the Network of Enlightened Women, columnist Mona Charen and The Federalist senior editor Mollie Hemingway — cited studies showing that marriage does, indeed, reduce some of the perils that women today face.

Agness pointed out that one of feminism's faults today is that it persists in portraying women as victims, an outdated, 30-year-old strategy. It's hard to imagine, for example, an education system as it is set up today that is not promoting girls' achievements, she said.

Certainly, everyone should earn equal pay for equal work. The argument succeeds on its own merits without having to resort to scorn and deception.

Now follow the links to the endless irresponsible commentary:

"Today Is Equal Pay Day -- No One's Favorite Holiday,"  HuffPost.

"White House: The '77 cents' wage gap figure isn't accurate, but they'll use it anyway," Washington Examiner

"Today, women still make only 77 cents to every man's dollar..." The White House propaganda mill.

Finally, CNN attempts to set the record straight on the 77-cent claim:

Professional fact checkers at Factcheck.org (“exaggeration”), Politifact(“Mostly False”) and The Washington Post (“one Pinocchio”) have all found problems with the claim. The American Association of University Womenreleased a report that concluded the pay gap was closer to 7% than 23%.

Oh, and by the way, the White House's own record isn't all that great, according to the American Enterprise Institute:

Gender wage gap in Obama’s White House: Female staffers earn only 88 cents on the dollar compared to men.

Commented CNN:

A question on that discrepancy caught White House press secretary Jay Carney off guard Monday.

"What I can tell you is that we have, as an institution here, have aggressively addressed this challenge, and obviously, though, at the 88 cents that you cite, that is not a hundred, but it is better than the national average," he said. "And when it comes to the bottom line that women who do the same work as men have to be paid the same, there is no question that that is happening here at the White House at every level."

Confusion is good for the soul.

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Filed under: Women

Tags: equal pay day, feminism, Obama, White House


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  • Just read on grabstats.com that the homeless are made up of 44% single men versus 13% single women. Another site said 89% of those on the front lines of Iraq and Afghanistan were men. How does higher pay for higher risk jobs skew that number? How much does the top .5 percent of the old guard aristocrats skew that number?
    A study by Forbes in 2012 showed that using a mean average was a crude analysis, that it should be weighted. This narrowed the gap 33%, to a gap of 84% from Obama's 77%.
    The study also said that 60% of the remaining gap was attributed to factors other than gender discrimination, such as choice of industry, choice of occupation, years of work experience, and union status, which would get us to that 7% gap you quoted.

    But all this reality doesn't divide people like the Presidents narrative does, so what good is it politically?

  • In reply to 4zen:

    Facts rarely get in the way of political rhetoric.

  • So a small gap still remains, as you say. Maybe you can find a few more reasons to make it disappear too?

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    You mean as opposed to finding a very large political reason to enlarge it?

  • fb_avatar

    One of the most telling facts showing how unrealistic the 23% differential parroted by the White House is is that fact that the AAUW, a group that would most likely benefit by having the gap larger, not smaller, published research showing the gap closer to 7%, a 67% decrease.

  • Have you been reading Christina Hoff Sommers , resident scholar for the American Enterprise Institute and prominent t anti-feminist? Or just listening to Fox News? Gotcha Wayne.

  • I'm surprised. Shouldn't it matter what was said more than who said it?

  • In reply to Dennis Byrne:

    My mom always said to consider the source. It's still a bedrock principle of journalism.

  • Here's what Obama and the Democrats don't want anyone to know about women, men, and the wage gap:

    In general, women not only live longer and enjoy better health than men, who die sooner and at a higher rate of the 12 leading causes of death, they also control most of consumer spending and most of the nation's wealth. Soon they will control even more.

    "Over the next decade, women will control two thirds of consumer wealth in the United States and be the beneficiaries of the largest transference of wealth in our country’s history. Estimates range from $12 to $40 trillion. Many Boomer women will experience a double inheritance windfall, from both parents and husband." -http://www.she-conomy.com/facts-on-women

    I suspect that many if not most of women's advocates think employers are greedy profiteers who'd hire only illegal immigrants for their lower labor cost if they could get away with it. Or who'd move their business to a cheap-labor country to save money. Or replace older workers with younger ones for the same reason. So why do these same advocates think employers would NOT hire only women if, as they say, employers DO get away with paying females at a lower rate than males for the same work?

    Here's one of countless examples showing that some of the most sophisticated women in the country choose to earn less while getting paid at the same rate as their male counterparts:

    “In 2011, 22% of male physicians and 44% of female physicians worked less than full time, up from 7% of men and 29% of women from Cejka’s 2005 survey.” ama-assn.org/amednews/2012/03/26/bil10326.htm

    A thousand laws won't close that gap.

    In fact, no law yet has closed the gender wage gap — not the 1963 Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, not Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, not the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act, not affirmative action (which has benefited mostly white women, the group most vocal about the wage gap - tinyurl.com/74cooen), not the 1991 amendments to Title VII, not the 1991 Glass Ceiling Commission created by the Civil Rights Act, not the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, not diversity, not the countless state and local laws and regulations, not the thousands of company mentors for women, not the horde of overseers at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and not the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which is another feel-good bill that turned into another do-nothing law (political intentions disguised as good intentions do not necessarily make things better; sometimes they make things worse).... Nor will a "paycheck fairness" law work.

    That's because women's pay-equity advocates, who always insist one more law is needed, continue to overlook the effects of female AND male behavior:

    Despite the 40-year-old demand for women's equal pay, millions of wives still choose to have no pay at all. In fact, according to Dr. Scott Haltzman, author of "The Secrets of Happily Married Women," stay-at-home wives, including the childless who represent an estimated 10 percent, constitute a growing niche. "In the past few years,” he says in a CNN report at tinyurl.com/6reowj, “many women who are well educated and trained for career tracks have decided instead to stay at home.” (“Census Bureau data show that 5.6 million mothers stayed home with their children in 2005, about 1.2 million more than did so a decade earlier....” at tinyurl.com/qqkaka. If indeed a higher percentage of women is staying at home, perhaps it's because feminists and the media have told women for years that female workers are paid less than men in the same jobs — so why bother working outside the home if they're going to be penalized and humiliated for being a woman, as illustrated by such titles as this: "Gender wage gap sees women spend 7 weeks working for nothing" http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/cwgbaueysnsn/rss2/.)

    As full-time mothers or homemakers, stay-at-home wives earn zero. How can they afford to do this while in many cases living in luxury? Answer: Because they're supported by their husband, an “employer” who pays them to stay at home. (Far more wives are supported by a spouse than are husbands.)

    The implication of this is probably obvious to most 12-year-olds but seems incomprehensible to, or is wrongly dismissed as irrelevant by, feminists and the liberal media: If millions of wives are able to accept NO wages, millions of other wives, whose husbands' incomes vary, are more often able than husbands to:

    -accept low wages
    -refuse overtime and promotions
    -choose jobs based on interest first, wages second — the reverse of what men tend to do (The most popular job for American women as of 2010 is still secretary/administrative assistant, which has been a top ten job for women for the last 50 years. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/11/gender-wage-gap_n_3424084.html)
    -take more unpaid days off
    -avoid uncomfortable wage-bargaining (tinyurl.com/3a5nlay)
    -work fewer hours than their male counterparts, or work less than full-time more often than their male counterparts (as in the above example regarding physicians)

    Any one of these job choices lowers women's median pay relative to men's. And when a wife makes one of the choices, her husband often must take up the slack, thereby increasing HIS pay.

    Women who make these choices are generally able to do so because they are supported — or, if unmarried, anticipate being supported — by a husband who feels pressured to earn more than if he'd chosen never to marry. (Married men earn more than single men, but even many men who shun marriage, unlike their female counterparts, feel their self worth is tied to their net worth.) This is how MEN help create the wage gap: as a group they tend more than women to pass up jobs that interest them for ones that pay well.

    Other ways men help create the gap:

    -Far more men than women link their self-worth to their net-worth.
    -Far more women than men seek spouses with a high net-worth (hypergamy)
    -Far more single women than single men ask prospective dates, "What do you do?" And they listen more closely to the answer.
    -Far more women than men expect their spouse to be the primary provider who will give them the option of staying at home to raise the children, while the spouse raises the income that pays her to raise the children.
    -Far more women look at a prospective spouse as an "employer" who will pay them to stay at home when they choose to do so.

    "The more alarming wage gap might be the one between mothers and childless women: One recent paper (http://www.npr.org/2012/02/07/146522483/the-wage-gap-between-moms-other-working-women) found that women with kids make roughly 7 to 14 percent less than women without them." So why do organized feminists and the liberal media focus only on -- and criticize -- the wage gap between men and women? http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/02/the-mommy-track-myth/283557/

    More in "Does the Ledbetter Act Help Women?" at http://malemattersusa.wordpress.com/2011/12/03/will-the-ledbetter-fair-pay-act-help-women/

    See also:

    "Feminists don’t want you to know how women help create the wage gap: Women 'want rich husbands, not careers'" http://malemattersusa.wordpress.com/2012/03/29/what-feminists-dont-want-you-to-know-women-want-rich-husbands-not-careers/


    “By the late 1990s, the proportion of women who were 'marrying up' had almost doubled to 38 percent. Similar patterns are seen across much of Europe, the US and Australia. Hakim said many women did not want to admit that they were looking for a higher earning partner. They even keep the fact secret from the men they are dating, Catherine Hakim said.”

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