This week Democrats have been holding symbolic votes in the Senate and holding press conferences, even trotting out the lone female Democratic governor, to try to draw attention to the notion that women earn 77 cents for every dollar men make. But what does this statistic really mean? It means that the median salary for women in the United States is 77 percent of the median salary for men.
By this logic, even the White House has a gender pay gap, with women earning only 88 cents for every dollar a man makes in the White House. So does the White House and all of corporate America really just hate women? Probably not. If it were the case that employers could pay women less than men for the same work, then why would they hire men at all?
If you take into account differences in hours worked, education, experience, and type of job, the wage gap falls to just 6 cents. So what does the Paycheck Fairness Act actually do? Well, it basically makes it easier to sue employers over wage discrimination, creating a big payday for trial lawyers. Not only that, but the Paycheck Fairness Act would place the burden of proof on employers to prove they didn't discriminate.
The Paycheck Fairness Act will make it harder for women to negotiate their own salaries, and for the company to respond to the needs and demands of those it employs. There are many conceivable reasons a woman might accept a lower salary: perhaps they’d like to market themselves competitively when coming back to work after raising children, or exchange lower pay for flexible hours. Under the Paycheck Fairness Act, these women will find themselves at a disadvantage.
The White House understands this, and yet at the same time they mislead voters by citing the pay gap statistic as evidence of discrimination. The White House recently had to defend itself against accusations of pay discrimination amongst its own employees. They claimed the calculation used wasn’t fair, that it measured “the aggregate of everyone on staff” rather than looking at equal positions.
But this is exactly what the 77-cents statistic also does. It is an average of all salaries made in all positions. Discrimination happens, but why not first take a closer look at why there is a gap instead of jumping to conclusions and rallying for more government?
What’s not fair is the White House and Democrats continuing to deceive female voters for political gain, while ignoring the fact that this policy solution, while well intentioned, does not help women. Instead, it holds us all back.
Rather than pass more laws that will do little to advance women, we should encourage promising young women to pursue careers in typically male-dominated, but highly technical fields, such as computer science, engineering, and the hard sciences. Also, not using women as cheap election props to score political points would help. Remember Julia?