Forum: Inequal pay – fact or myth?

Disparities exist between men and women
Bernard Pollack
April 15 is the date this year when women will finally earn as much as men earned by Dec. 31 for their work last year. This is National Equal Pay Day. And this year is the fortieth anniversary of the Equal Pay Act, a congressional act that first outlawed wage discrimination and insisted that women be paid the same as men for comparable work. According to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau statistics, women today, on average, are paid only 76 cents in wages for every dollar that men are paid.

Commenting on this disparity, National Business and Professional Women/USA President Susan Dailey said, “Is it acceptable then for women to leave at 1:48 on Thursday afternoon because that’s three-quarters of a work week?”

For our female students graduating this year or those still searching for summer jobs, a college education does not render you immune from this inequality. In fact, according to the National Organization of Women, “Women account for 47 percent of the labor force and receive more than half of all bachelor’s degrees, yet continue to be paid significantly less than their male counterparts. Women with college educations are still paid only 72 percent as much as men with the same level of education.”

Over the course of the average career, for a woman with a college education, she will make an estimated $250,000 less than a college-educated man, because of this wage gap.

My advice: If you live in Washington, D.C., don’t move.

According to the AFL-CIO Public Policy Department, women here actually rank first in the nation for pay equity. While women nationwide will not achieve pay equity until after 2050, it is estimated (due to low wage growth for men) that women will have achieved wage parity by 2006 in the District.

Opponents of Equal Pay will often argue that the market will correct wage discrimination on its own. They say that when pay is too low, employers will not be able to hire anyone and wages will naturally rise. In response to this objection, it is important to note that the market has shortcomings; in practice it is not free from sex or race bias, as evidenced by the need for legislation like the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Alan Greenspan told the Boston Globe, “Discrimination is against the interests of business… Yet business people often practice it. In the end, the costs are higher, less real output is produced, and the nation”s wealth accumulation is slowed.”

Through labor unions, working women have negotiated better health care and pensions, and on average earn 30 percent more than their non-union counterparts. Laws protecting workers’ rights to organize are one clear way of correcting the wage gap, as union workers are able to negotiate better pay and to combat workplace discrimination without fear or retribution.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) are now proposing a Fair Pay Act, which would prohibit wage discrimination based on sex, race and national origin by requiring employers to provide equal pay for work of equal value, whether or not the jobs are the same.

Bills in support of pay equity have been brought up this year in over more than 20twenty states, with many more advocating for a commission to study wage discrimination issues. Congress and state legislatures must address this issue to ensure justice for working women.
-The writer, a graduate student in the School of Political Management, is a Hatchet columnist.

Bias reports skew reality
Jenni Bradley
And so it is – another proclaimed day of unfairness for the left to pander to their constituencies and gain sympathy. With their skewed figures formatting nicely with whatever is believed to be iniquitous, let the rallies and handholding commence.

One can hardly keep up with the designated days of discrimination in this country anymore. It seems as if every day and month, for that matter, gets a label to remind Americans of how intolerable or unfair they are.

What day is fast approaching us and should be marked up in your calendars or day planners for remembrance of what is wrong with this country? That’s right – Equal Pay Day.

It is not unjustified for Americans to expect equal pay for equal work. On its face, the 74 cent to the dollar average that women make comparable to men is in fact absolutely ridiculous, no doubt about it. Regardless of gender, sex, race, etc., all people should be paid equally in comparable jobs in their fields – it is the only fair thing to do. Any other option is completely unacceptable in this country.

However, it is imperative to understand how the 74-cent average is calculated – by comparing the average median wage of every single full-time working man and woman. That means that younger workers are compared to older ones, CEOs to sales clerks – you get the idea. According to these evaluations, full-time means any number of hours above 35 a week, and in some cases less, those working 35-hour weeks are weighed against those working 60 hours.

When comparing pay across the states, the figures are calculated in the same way. Diana Furchtgott-Roth, resident fellow at the American Enterprise institute, notes “in Louisiana, women’s earnings are supposedly 67 percent of men’s, whereas in the District of Columbia women earn 97 percent of men’s wages.”

According to Furchtgott-Roth, these estimates do not reflect significant issues when determining wages, including education, age, part- or full-time status, experience, number of children and consecutive years in the workforce.

She goes on to say “in states such as Louisiana, where it is less common for women to work, and where they have less education and work experience, the wage gap is wider. In areas where it is more usual for women to work, such as the District of Columbia, the gap is smaller. But this average wage gap, as it is known, says nothing about whether individuals with the same qualifications who are in the same jobs are discriminated against.”

Furthermore, according to data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, among people ages 27-33 who have never had a child, women’s earnings are close to 98 percent of men’s. Women, not necessarily urban or college educated ones, often choose to take jobs that earn less money and require less experience and education of their own volition – to stay home and raise families. Bundling these women into statistical equations to produce the disparaging 74-cent figure is not only unfair, but it is also reckless

Given all the misused statistics to the contrary, equally qualified women make about 95 to 98 cents on the man’s dollar, according to studies by June O’Neill of the City University of New York.

So on April 15, this girl will worry more about getting her taxes in on time for a refund from the hours she worked this year rather than agonize about phantom wages stemming from fictional hours that never existed.
-The writer, a graduate student in the School of Political Management, is a Hatchet columnist.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.