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February 20 2014

"White House Equal Pay Day" Pokes at Wage Gap Hypocrisy

Hadley Heath

Each year in April, liberal activists and the Obama White House "celebrate" the faux holiday "Equal Pay Day."  This holiday is meant to demonstrate how far into the following calendar year women in the United States have to work in order to earn what men earned in the previous year. This approach is not exactly honest, since it relies on aggregate wage statistics and doesn't take into account the consideration of "equal work." As IWF has explained many times, the wage gap is driven largely by varibles like career field, education, years of experience, hours worked per week, etc.

Today - February 20th - some critics of the Obama White House are calling out the Administration's hypocrisy on the wage gap issue. You see, women who work in the Obama White House also experience a wage gap, earning 12 percent less than their male coworkers. In order for women in the Obama White House to earn a salary equal to men's earnings in 2013, they would have to work all of 2013 and through today in 2014 to catch up.  

But this comparison, too, is not apples to apples. It does not account for positions that men and women hold, or how many years of experience they have on the job. If a man works in a more demanding job, has held the job longer, and spends more time in the White House office, then it's perfectly fair to pay him more than a woman who works in a less demanding job, has worked fewer years and therefore has less experience.  The powers-at-be in the White House understand that wages should correspond to the value of each individual's contribution.

The problem is simply that there is a double standard. The White House forgives itself for a gender-pay discrepancy because they are willing to see the whole picture and consider all variables that drive pay discrepancies. But the President and his allies continue to criticize the broader U.S. economy, painting a picture of the workplace as hostile to women. In talking about this issue, they refuse to take into account the same considerations they make when paying their own employees.  

The solution is not to pay White House women workers more, or to reduce the pay of the men who work there. The solution is to adjust our understanding of the wage gap, as an economic phenomenon driven by the choices of individual workers, not driven by large-scale or systemic sexism against women.

I won't criticize the White House for its wage gap. And the President should stop harping on similarly misleading characterizations of the American workplace at large.

Today presents another opportunity to explain how the wage gap really works. Want some straight talk?  Check out IWF's video on this issue below:

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Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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