February 27 2010
What's Really Behind Female Inequality in America?
Carrie L. Lukas
In her Feb. 21 Outlook column, "For women in America, equality is still an illusion," Jessica Valenti claimed that the Independent Women's Forum exists to tell women that equality is actually bad for them" and criticized me for arguing that the wage gap largely reflects women's trade-offs for taking jobs with more flexibility and personal fulfillment.
Ms. Valenti may pretend that sexism is the reason women earn 76 cents on the dollar for doing the same job as a man, but the data say otherwise. Even the liberal American Association of University Women concluded that three-quarters of the wage gap is due to factors such as education, occupational choice and hours worked.
Yes, women face unique challenges in society. But it's hardly empowering to wallow in the false notion that intractable discrimination condemns us to second-class earnings. The fact is, full-time working men spend more time in the office, take less time away from the workforce and accept more risk (men suffer 93 percent of workplace deaths) than full-time working women. These are the primary reasons for the gap.
Instead of encouraging victimhood and thus discouraging those who want to maximize earnings, feminists such as Ms. Valenti would better serve women by realistically describing workplace trade-offs.
Carrie Lukas, Washington
The writer is vice president for policy and economics with the Independent Women's Forum.