April 3 2007
The Wage Gap
In today's Washington Post, IWF's Carrie Lukas takes on the biggest myth surrounding women in the workforce: the wage gap (referring to the notion that women make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes).
That pure statistic is true, but as Carrie points out, it is also misleading:
"Yes, the Labor Department regularly issues new data comparing the median wage of women who work full time with the median wage of men who work full time, and women’s earnings bob at around three-quarters those of men. But this statistic says little about women’s compensation and the influence of discrimination on men's and women's earnings. All the relevant factors that affect pay -- occupation, experience, seniority, education and hours worked -- are ignored. This sound-bite statistic fails to take into account the different roles that work tends to play in men's and women's lives.
"In truth, I’m the cause of the wage gap -- I and hundreds of thousands of women like me. I have a good education and have worked full time for 10 years. Yet throughout my career, I’ve made things other than money a priority. I chose to work in the nonprofit world because I find it fulfilling. I sought out a specialty and employer that seemed best suited to balancing my work and family life. When I had my daughter, I took time off and then opted to stay home full time and telecommute. I'm not making as much money as I could, but I’m compensated by having the best working arrangement I could hope for.
"Women make similar trade-offs all the time. Surveys have shown for years that women tend to place a higher priority on flexibility and personal fulfillment than do men, who focus more on pay. Women tend to avoid jobs that require travel or relocation, and they take more time off and spend fewer hours in the office than men do. Men disproportionately take on the dirtiest, most dangerous and depressing jobs."
What would happen if the government tried to "fix" the wage gap (as Hillary Clinton has promoted)? The answer isn't pretty:
"Government attempts to 'solve' the problem of the wage gap may in fact exacerbate some of the challenges women face, particularly in balancing work and family. Clinton’s legislation would give Washington bureaucrats more power to oversee how wages are determined, which might prompt businesses to make employment options more rigid. Flexible job structures such as the one I enjoy today would probably become scarcer. Why would companies offer employees a variety of work situations and compensation packages if doing so puts them at risk of being sued?"
Read Carrie's article here.