April 17 2011

IWF in the News: Time to Stop Mining for "Equal Pay" Grievances

Carrie L. Lukas

"COAL" is a new reality TV show set in West Virginia and featuring people who work in one of the country's most dangerous jobs. What it doesn't feature is any women.

Were women commonly found in the dark and damp mines, as well as in other dangerous workplaces, the pay average for all women would rise. Were more women found in those jobs, the unemployment rate for females would be pushed up. And if feminist politics were pushed aside for reality, there'd be no "Equal Pay Day" every year at about the same time as "Tax Freedom Day."

Equal Pay Day is the mythical date on which compensation for women supposedly catches up with what men earned as of the previous Dec. 31. In other words, in the feminist mythos, women had to work from Jan. 1 to April 12 (which was also "Tax Freedom Day") this year just to make as much as men did before Jan. 1.

This is the storied glass ceiling that still raises high the roof beam of bile over alleged gender discrimination. Were women working in those underground coal mines with a ceiling of less than four feet, or in any number of jobs that aren't for the faint of heart (male or female), the pay differential between men and women would shrink. And the unemployment rate for women would go up.

The National Committee for Pay Equity, promoter of Equal Pay Day, wasn't organizing marches during the recent recession over its inordinate effect on men. This wasn't called a "hecession" for nothing.

Men tend to work in jobs that pay more but are also more dangerous, more physically demanding and more vulnerable to layoffs. Construction, manufacturing and trucking are examples of jobs dominated by males but also disproportionately affected by downturns.

Carrie Lukas, executive director of the Independent Women's Forum, makes this point in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published on Equal Pay Day. Lukas shatters the glass ceiling myth and characterizes Equal Pay Day as an event "dedicated to manufactured feminist grievances."

The gender gap makes for a good fable but it's based on the assumption that women make less as a whole because they're women rather than because of the choices they make. Those choices often involve jobs in the health care and public sectors, which may not pay as well as mining and manufacturing but are less vulnerable to recessions.

Women make other choices as well, working fewer hours than men on average and taking more time off for family. And one study of childless urban workers aged 22-30 found that women earned 8 percent more than men.

Let's stop mining for grievances and focus on Tax Freedom Day instead. Men and women would both benefit from working less just to pay taxes.

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