Monday, April 10, 2017

Let's Not Become Victims

Last Tuesday was the celebration (?) of women not being paid as much as men.  It seems odd that people would go out of their way to make themselves feel bad, but that’s the way it is.  Maybe taking on the status of victimhood draws sympathy or gives one a chance to express pent up anger and resentment, but it doesn’t really do anything to solve the problem.  What’s worse was the blatant exaggeration to make the point – 20% indeed!

But that’s what politicians were telling us last summer and for many years, and there is no reason to change the story now.  CBS proudly reported:  The gender pay gap is a well documented phenomenon” according to a new study by an organization called Glassdoor.  The lead was that a survey of half a million people in America revealed that a woman earn 76 cents for every dollar a man earns.  But they then added, the “statistic may be slightly misleading, in that it doesn't compare men and women on an apples-to-apples basis, such as comparing women with similar levels of education and experience with men in the same situation.”  Later in the article this apples-to-apples comparison yields a real difference of 5.4%.  Another source using similar calculations had come up with about 1% less.

In a different article they elaborate on this:  “Yet even when controlled for those factors and other issues (such as employers and job titles), women earn more than 5 percent less than men.”  So where does the 20% number come from, except from an attempt to purposely make the gap look a lot worse by using an invalid comparison?  Apparently trying to soften this discrepancy, they argue:  “Male preschool and kindergarten teachers earn $16.33 per hour, compared with $14.42 per hour for their female counterparts.”  Instead of providing further evidence for a deliberate gap, this should strike us as odd.  Don’t almost all kindergarten teachers belong to a union that negotiates wages for schoolteachers?  I’m sure their contracts don’t say, “Just pay the guys a little more.”  As an attempted example of a valid comparison, this statistic is incredible.

Yet people continue to make these false claims about the size of the gap, despite the ease of finding information like this from Forbes to clearly explain the misconceptions, both from faulty calculations and from poor understanding of the situation.  President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act in 1963, making sex-based discrimination in pay illegal.”  We don’t need more laws; we need better enforcement.  The government is quick to point out to a business owner when there are fewer than the required number of handicap parking spaces, but for nine presidential administrations this wage-gap problem persists.

Of course advertisers have been jumping on the bandwagon to promote the falsehood.  Several businesses showed support by offering a 20% discount for women on the wage-gap “holiday” last week.  Some say those businesses are doing this to “try to raise awareness” about the unfairness.  Get real! – They are not trying to raise awareness; they are trying to sell stuff and to develop a base of loyal customers.

Now it’s not right that any woman with the same background and experience should be paid less than any man for doing exactly the same job.  Until the 4% or 5% becomes zero the problem is not solved.  (Nor would it be right if positions were reversed.)  However, it’s also not right to intentionally mislead women by exaggerating the size of the problem as a ploy to gain support for political or commercial gain.

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