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April 10 2018

Questioning The Equal Pay Day Narrative

via Forbes
by Karin Agness

Today is Equal Pay Day, the day that supposedly marks how much longer women must work to earn what men did the previous year.

Some women will wear red to symbolize that women are “in the red.” In past years, some businesses have offered discounts to women patrons. And The American Association of University Women, the National Organization for Women, and other organized feminist groups will promote the idea that additional federal legislation, such as the Paycheck Fairness Act or Fair Pay Act, is needed to ensure women are paid equally in the workplace.

Of course, Equal Pay Day is part of the narrative that women face rampant discrimination in the workplace and in turn, positions government action as the solution.

But women of all backgrounds and political stripes should review the facts about equal pay, and question the broader narrative.

For starters, let’s get some things straight.

Everyone wants equal pay for women. This isn’t a discussion about whether women should be paid equally or whether it is wrong for an employer to discriminate in pay against women. That’s been the law of the land for more than a half century. The 1963 Equal Pay Act made sex-based discrimination in pay illegal. Additionally, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 made workplace discrimination based on sex illegal.

Sisters selling the Equal Pay Day narrative argue that women make 83 cents for every dollar a man makes in the U.S. economy, thus implying that American employers are guilty of widespread discrimination.

But the basis for the 83-cent per dollar statistic is U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics data that actually measures median earnings of women and men in full-time wage and salary jobs.

This statistic does not compare two people in the same job, but overall earnings of women and men. It also does not compare two people making the same labor choices, such as hours worked or education.

Advocates of the Equal Pay Day narrative don’t include this fine print in their advertising.

But who really wins when women are taught that they are victims of rampant discrimination in the economy?

The answer: supporters of increased government intervention in businesses.

Women should recognize the Equal Pay Day narrative as a political tool for a particular point of view about how government should affect our lives in the workplace. After all, new legislation in this area often drastically expands the role of government in employer-employee relations and business decisions. Even The Washington Post recognized the downsides to one popular piece of legislation offered by Democrats, the Paycheck Fairness Act, in an editorial, noting that this legislation “would allow employees and courts to intrude too far into core business decisions.”

This Tuesday, don’t fall for the misleading Equal Pay Day narrative. Women don’t pay a nearly 20 percent tax in the workplace just because they are women. Women are smarter than that.

IIndependent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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