But “women’s 77 cents to men’s dollar” does NOT mean women are paid less than men in the same jobs. Nor does it mean, even more incredibly in the vein of “men are stronger than women” (which means to many that every man is stronger than every woman), that every woman earns 23% less than every man, perhaps leading some of the more benighted and the blinkered ideological to believe Diane Sawyer of ABC News earns less than the young man walking back and forth on the street wearing a “Pizzas $5” sign.
The figures are arrived at by comparing the sexes’ median incomes: women’s median is 77 percent of men’s. In 2009, the median income of full-time, year-round workers in all jobs (including, for example, office receptionists, who are mostly female, and chemical engineers, who are mostly male) was $47,127 for men, compared to $36,278 for women, or 77 percent of men’s median.
Median means 50% of workers earn above the figures and 50% below. That means that a lot of female workers in the higher ranges of women’s median make more money than a lot of male workers in the lower ranges of men’s median.
“Women’s 77 cents to men’s dollar” doesn’t account for the number of hours worked each week, experience, seniority, training, education or even the job description itself. It compares all women to all men, not people in the same job with the same experience. So the salary of a 60-year-old male computer engineer with 30 years at his company is weighed against that of a young first-year female teacher. Also, men are much more likely than women to work two jobs; hence, more often than women, a man earning $50,000 from his two jobs is weighed against a women earning $25,000 from her one job, so that he appears to be unfairly earning twice as much as she.
Over the decades, strategically ignoring the true meaning of “women’s 77 cents to men’s dollar” has been less than productive:
No legislation yet has closed the gender wage gap — not the 1963 Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, not Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, not the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act, not the 1991 amendments to Title VII, not affirmative action (which has benefited mostly white women, the group most vocal about the wage gap), not diversity, not the countless state and local laws and regulations, not the horde of overseers at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission….. Nor will the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act work.
“In fiscal 2012, EEOC filed only two lawsuits under the EPA (Equal Pay Act)….” -Bloomberg BNA, March 26, 2013
“…[I]t severely damages the credibility of the Administration and its allies to keep waving the bloody shirt of Lilly Ledbetter when it actually did pretty much nothing for the larger cause of equal pay and equal work.” -Firedoglake.com, Jan. 31, 2012
Says the far-left, extremely pro-female Daily Kos: “The reality, however, is that the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act doesn’t do much in the way of equal pay for equal work. A recent American Bar Association survey of cases under the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act found 66 cases, most of which determined that the Act did not apply. [Many of these cases pertained to racial discrimination. Women "have brought only about 35 lawsuits under the new law," according to National Review.] In Rodriguez-Torres v. Government Development Bank, for example, the court held:
[The Act] does not create substantive rights, but instead clarifies the point of commencement of the statute of limitations in instances of wage discrimination. And that’s it. That’s really all the Lilly Ledbetter Act does.”
-Daily Kos, June 26, 2011
[Well, that's really not all the Act does. It burdens business, especially small business, with the cost of complying with a new regulation created to prevent something that the Daily Kos tends to prove was never going to happen in the first place.]
Like all the other “pay-equity” laws before it, the Ledbetter Act will fail because women’s advocates and the vast majority of the big media continue to overlook the effects of this female AND male behavior:
Despite feminists’ 40-year-old demand for equal wages for women, millions of women as wives still choose to earn no wages at all. In fact, according to Dr. Scott Haltzman, author of The Secrets of Happily Married Women, stay-at-home wives, including those who are childless, constitute a growing niche. “In the past few years,” he says in a CNN August 2008 report, “many women who are well educated and trained for career tracks have decided instead to stay at home.”
“Stefania Albanesi, a senior economist with the Federal Reserve, found last year  that when educated women have a husband who out-earns them, they are more inclined to quit work. Between 1993 and 2006, that added up to 1.64 million fewer women in the workplace. ‘They stopped getting income they didn’t need and so they left the labor force forever,’ Albanesi told Reuters.”
(“Census Bureau data show that 5.6 million mothers stayed home with their children in 2005, about 1.2 million more than did so a decade earlier….” This may or may not reflect a higher percentage of women staying at home than in the previous decade, but if the percentage is higher, perhaps it’s partly because feminists and the media have told women for years that female workers are paid less than men in the same jobs, and so why bother working if they’re going to be penalized and humiliated for being a woman. And maybe some stay-at-home wives are frightened by the deliberately anti-male canard launched some years ago by Time magazine: “The leading cause of death on the job for women is homicide. Of women fatally hurt at work from 1980 to 1985, 42% were murdered, 64% by gun. Among men, accidents are the top occupational killer; homicides account for just 12%.”)
How can these full-time mothers and childless homemakers afford to receive no paycheck while in many cases living in luxury? Virtually any teenager knows the answer: They are supported by their husband, an “employer” who pays them half of his salary to stay at home.
If the sexes’ roles were reversed so that mostly women were the money raisers and mostly men the child raisers, men would earn 78 cents to women’s dollar. (But then, might not many ideological feminists, via helpful media, claim that women are forced by their husbands to work in stressful jobs to earn more?)
Both feminists and the media ignore what this obviously implies: If millions of wives are able to work for no wages, millions of others are able to work for low wages, to work part-time instead of full-time (“According to a 2009 UK study by Cristina Odone for the Centre for Policy Studies, only 12 per cent of the 4,690 women surveyed wanted to work full time.”), to refuse overtime and promotions, to take more unpaid days off, to avoid uncomfortable wage-negotiating — all which lowers women’s average pay. They are able to make these choices because they are supported, or anticipate being supported, by a husband who must earn more than if he’d chosen never to marry. (Still, even many men who shun marriage, unlike most women, feel their self worth is tied to their net worth.) That is how men help create the wage gap.
And here is one way men will help close the wage gap: Today’s possibility is tomorrow’s expectation. Today it is possible for a woman to acquire a high-paying job. Tomorrow it will be the expectation of young single men who don’t feel threatened by a well-paid woman (in the same way mothers often feel threatened by a more-competent father.) Single men’s growing expectation puts pressure on women to earn more, just as women’s expectation of greater male success has always pressured men.
Pay-equity advocates ignore this “discrimination”: “…[T]he pay gap between mothers and childless women is actually bigger than the pay gap between women and men.” -Ruth Schechter, Clayman Institute for Gender Research
What about single women who hope to marry? Most are keenly aware of men’s extant general willingness to sooner or later economically support the woman they marry. Thus countless numbers of these women configure their jobs, careers, and aspirations accordingly. Many hope to marry — and actively look for — a man who earns enough to offer them the three options cited by Warren Farrell in his book Why Men Earn More: work full-time, work part-time, or work full-time as a housewife. These women often regard a husband as their
“primary employer.” In return for their husband’s generosity — which goes unappreciated by feminists and the media — these women plan to offer him three slightly different options: work full-time, work full-time, work full-time with overtime when the wife departs from the workforce, nearly always at a time of her choosing.
The influence on women of men’s willingness to financially support their wives is the true, unacknowledged cause of the sexes’ infamous — infamous only to ideological feminists and the liberal media — gender wage gap, women’s 77 cents to men’s dollar.
The belief that women earn 77 cents to men’s dollar even in the exact same work has been the sole driving force behind not only the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act but also the defeated but continually proposed Paycheck Fairness Act.
Illustrations of why even the most educated, sophisticated women earn less than men even in the exact same work:
“I am a female physician with 5 children, and I certainly work part time. I got together with some women friends from medical school recently and I was the only one who was working at all.” -Grace, commenting on “Why the Gender Wage Gap Won’t Go Away. Ever” at City Journal
“In 2011, 22% of male physicians and 44% of female physicians worked less than full time, up from 7% of men and 29% of women from Cejka’s 2005 survey.” -American Medical News
Lilly Ledbetter supposedly helps prove women’s 77 cents is discriminatory. But putting her case aside for the moment, do you yourself personally know of any woman who works right along side a man in his exact same job, and, all things being equal, earns 23 percent less than he does? In the journalism business, do the female managers, editors, and reporters earn 23 percent less than their male counterparts? At the troubled auto makers, do the non-union female workers earn 23 percent less than their male counterparts working 36 inches from their elbow?
If so, why haven’t these women, as members of the group long taught to sue over the slightest injustice, already sued under the 1963 US law mandating equal pay for equal work? (Some feminists say it’s because women can’t afford an attorney and fear the retaliation from the employers. For supporting data, the feminists usually quote only one female employee who says all this. Probably the biggest reason women don’t use the 1963 law is that the EEOC is an easier, cheaper route. But see the note in blue above.) And if the women don’t know they earn less than the men, how would anyone else know besides their employer?
But suppose some newspaper reporters — because they secretly have taken on the “side job” of helping women, the “oppressed” — dug up wage data showing that at XYZ Company the women, after all factors such as seniority are figured in, are paid less than the men for performing the same jobs.
Having uncovered this injustice, why would the reporters do nothing more than write a report called “Women Paid Less Than the Men at XYZ Company?” Since they can’t be sure every XYZ female worker was apprised of and heeded their report, wouldn’t the reporters want to make sure — shouldn’t they make sure — that the female workers were in fact alerted to their lower-paid status so they could take action?
Does President Obama’s pay-equity legislation promote the notion that women everywhere are secretly paid less than men for the same work? But if it’s a secret, how does anyone except the employer know about it? And if Obama believes “all women everywhere are paid less than men,” how can he explain this from The Atlantic Monthly:
Suppose the reporters took it upon themselves to go so far as to personally advise the women of their status, and the women went to their company manager and demanded, “Make our pay equal, or we will sue for the usual millions.” Wouldn’t the reporters then want to do a follow-up report titled “Women Workers File Wage Discrimination Suit After Being Alerted of Their Unequal Pay”? Wouldn’t that be the fitting follow-up to the injustice, a follow-up that dutifully tells employers they can’t get away with sex discrimination?
Yet, although I’ve read hundreds of news reports and editorials (thanks to Google News alerts) stating that “women earn only 77 cents to men’s dollar for the same work,” I have seen not a single follow-up to any instance of women’s lower pay that the reporters and editors supposedly had in mind but failed to mention — not one follow-up showing that the women, as members of the group men often feel will sue for being looked at “wrong,” subsequently sued their employer under the provisions of the 1963 Equal Pay For Equal Work law.
As for Lily Ledbetter, I don’t know how her one case can prove “women are paid less,” sometimes without their knowledge. I do believe, however, that many politicians turned Ledbetter into the symbol they needed to create legislation that would give feminists, women, and trial lawyers the promised pay-back for their votes. But where are the thousands of other such cases that to me are needed to justify a Congressional act bound to burden the country’s employers with added cost?
The fact that [Ledbetter] continued to work [there] doesn’t re-victimize her, but hurts her claim that she was in fact victimized. -AustinG, a RealPolitics commenter
For the record, I as a man was once paid less than another man who was hired six months later to do the exact same work. (My employer had negotiated for a talented person whom they had to woo from another employer — a common practice.) This raises a question: How many reporters have ever thought about learning whether men are sometimes paid less — all things being equal — than other men for the same work? If they found just one case similar to Ledbetter’s, whose case is less than ironclad as indicated by the commentaries linked to below, it would blow the Ledbetter case out of the water. Which may explain why reporters and women’s pay-equity advocates haven’t looked for such data on men. (Perhaps they are less interested in being objective than in casting women as victims of discrimination who, incidentally, should vote Democratic.)
Those who were in a hurry to pass the Ledbetter Act side-stepped an important point: Women have long been “notorious” for being on average less aggressive than men when negotiating for salary or asking for a raise. Says Joanne Lipman, The New York Times‘ deputy managing editor, “In my time as an editor, many, many men have come through my door asking for a raise or demanding a promotion. Guess how many women have ever asked me for a promotion? I’ll tell you. Exactly … zero.”
Upon being asked to state their salary preference, women consistently give a lower range than men. This female pattern is acknowledged by the very feminists who urge women seeking management positions to be more aggressive in asking for what they want. (See Linda Babcock’s co-authored book Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide.) The pattern is acknowledged also by the proposed Paycheck Fairness Act itself! Note in the act this discriminatory provision: “In addition, the bill would require the [Dept. of Labor] to make competitive grants available that would help provide ‘effective negotiation skills training’ for girls and women.” I’ll wager that Ledbetter asked for less than her employer’s other managers. So although she may have received the same percent increase in yearly raises, her salary over time fell more and more behind.
Another discriminatory gesture on the part of our president is his White House Council On Women and Girls, which, among other things, will focus on “improving women’s economic security ….” Who is brave enough to explain all this antimale discrimination, pushed by our first black president, to the huge numbers of young men, especially black men, who’ve been jobless for years? Some black men already seem to be disturbed over the White House ignoring black males. We can’t say President Obama has ordered black men to the back of the bus, but we can ask whether he has effectively thrown them under the bus.
Or maybe Ledbetter received smaller raises based on poor performance reviews. “…[H]er years of poor performance evaluations,” says Stuart Taylor in the National Journal, “plus repeated layoffs that affected her eligibility for raises, convinced a federal magistrate judge (although not the jury) that her relatively low pay did not prove sex discrimination. Maybe Ledbetter was a victim of discrimination, as the jury found. Maybe not. The evidence is too stale to allow for a confident conclusion — which is one reason the justices ruled against her.”
“Ledbetter admitted in her sworn deposition that ‘different people that I worked for along the way had always told me that my pay was extremely low’ compared to her peers. She testified specifically that a superior had told her in 1992 that her pay was lower than that of other area managers, and that she had learned the amount of the difference by 1994 or 1995. She added that she had told her supervisor in 1995 that “I needed to earn an increase in pay’ because ‘I wanted to get in line with where my peers were, because… at that time I knew definitely that they were all making a thousand [dollars] at least more per month than I was.’” -Stuart Taylor
All of this is detail that the Ledbetter advocates, needing a symbol of “female oppression,” apparently don’t want to be troubled with.
Here’s an example of how women oppress men and perpetuate the wage gap that enrages feminists against men:
“I interviewed one woman who said, much to her surprise, ‘My feelings changed, and I found myself respecting him less as a man. He was a great dad and certainly doing the housework. That wasn’t a problem. But there was something in me that I hadn’t expected. I felt differently.’” [Emphasis by Male Matters] -National Public Radio interview of Lisa Mundy, author of The Richer Sex
There are many people who insist — almost always without giving an example — that women earn 23 percent less for the same work. A lot of them also say employers are greedy profit-mongers bent on doing anything to beat out their competitors. If so, and if employers can so easily get away with paying women less than men despite the 1963 Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, why, as people like Warren Farrell have asked, don’t the banks, the Big Three auto makers, and our nation’s other troubled companies fire all their (non-union) male employees and employ only women at 77 cents to the dollar paid to the men? Think about it: the Big Three might then be able to undersell the foreign auto makers, even allowing for their healthcare costs. Presto! Less red ink! Less need for taxpayer bailouts!
Says Richard A. Epstein in Forbes: “Even if this new law helps people like Lily Ledbetter — who conveniently bring their discrimination claims only after retiring — going forward, the law will force employers to incur higher costs to minimize potential liabilities that can never be removed from their balance sheets.”
“Men in dual-income couples work outside the home eleven more hours a week than their working wives or partners do (forty-two to thirty-one), and when you look at the total weekly workload, including paid work outside the home and unpaid work inside the home, men and women are putting in roughly the same number of hours: fifty-eight hours for men and fifty-nine for women.” -Richard Dorment, “Why men still can’t have it all,” Esquire, June/July 2013
Thusly encumbering employers in an effort to stamp out “wage discrimination,” the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act may motivate more U.S. employers to move out of the country. It may spur others to cut back on hiring women. Says David Hekman, assistant professor in the Sheldon B. Lubar School of Business at the University of Wisconsin, “Because customers prefer white men employees, even when women and minorities perform equally well, there is a real danger that increasing women’s wages so that they are equal to those of white men may cause managers to hire fewer women.”
To many people, the current legislation aimed at closing the gender wage gap soon begins to look absurd. But if you want to pass absurd legislation that would really work, would indeed close the gender wage gap — almost overnight — pass a law that prohibits men from supporting women.
To pay-equity advocates, not only has the 40-year-old Equal Pay Act failed, but so has, apparently, the government’s 30-year-old affirmative action programs, which benefitted mostly white women, the group that the advocates mostly represent. And now the advocates want even more legislation.
Think about it, factoring out the matter of children for the moment: Suppose a law barred men from supporting women, in marriage and out, and from spending money on them and giving them money or assets of any kind, directly or indirectly. Every unemployed wife in the country would be forced to get a job. And millions of employed women would be forced to obtain a better one, raising women’s average pay immediately and dramatically. “Without husbands,” says Farrell, “women have to focus on earning more. They work longer hours, they’re willing to relocate and they’re more likely to choose higher-paying fields like technology.”
And how would this prohibition effect men? Millions would no longer feel the need for a high-paying job to attract women and gain and hold a woman’s love. A good number of the men already holding a high-paying and likely stressful job would gleefully walk away, sending employers into a frenzy recruiting women.
Men wouldn’t have to earn as much, and women would have to earn more. Presto — the sexes’ wage gap would snap shut with a thunderous clap. An ideological feminist fantasy come true!
Feminists should compare women’s wages to gay men’s. The average woman, with regard to the kind of work she chooses, is probably more similar to gay men than to “straight” men. Gays, who don’t need a high-paying job to help them feel attractive to the sex that’s not on their radar, generally feel less pressure to be successful than straight men. That’s why gays are more likely than straight men to become waiters, hair dressers, and workers in other “female” occupations. Of course, many gays obtain good jobs to garner society’s respect as a man and to hide their gayness. But overall, gays, like most women, tend to look first for work that interests them and second for work that pays well, whereas as straight men tend to do it the other way around.
(See “An In-depth Look at ‘Pay Equity’ For Women.” The foreword advises deeply ideological feminists not to read it, though I certainly believe they should read it.)
Facts to consider regarding “female oppression”:
1. In the United States, women control most of the wealth.
2. Men earn most of the money, but there is no power in earning money, only sweat, stress, and responsibility. The real power of money is in spending it. And most of the household spending is controlled by women.
3. Women as a group live longer than men and in better health. See “Men die young, even when they’re young.”
Think about it: The sex that earns less money controls most of it, controls most of the spending, is longer-living and healthier than men — and feminists, President Obama, and most of the media think females are the sole group that is oppressed and in need of help.
4. Men incur 92 percent of the workplace fatalities and about five times more occupational accidents than women. (See the MSN report, “The 10 most dangerous jobs in America.” Note that few if any women demand to occupy these jobs, which are often poorly paid as well as hazardous. Note, too, that the report virtually masks men’s burden, mentioning “men” only at the very end: “Men were still, by far, the most likely to be killed on the job. Ninety-two percent of all workplace fatalities were male.”) The death and accident gap is a workplace gender gap that is never discussed but would be considered extremely alarming and would be brought to the public’s attention every day if women incurred 92 percent of the workplace accidents and about 500 percent more workplace deaths.
Sadly, no matter how much I and others like me shatter the myth of the gender wage gap, it will not matter. Consider: Nothing stopped health legislation and policies from being implemented to help only the healthier sex; nothing stopped the unconstitutional Violence Against Women Act from being implemented to protect the safer sex (men kill more men than they kill women; women do the same thing; both sexes commit more violence against men than against women; there are, in fact, more men who kill themselves than there are men who kill women); and nothing will stop wage legislation and policies from being implemented to help the wealthier sex.
This will happen because when considering gender issues, politicians, especially liberal politicians, often tend to study “gender facts” only from such groups as NOW and the American Association of University Women, whose leaders have a self-serving interest in promoting female victimhood and promise to deliver huge blocks of female votes to the politicians.
Politicians’ and the mainstream media’s version of “gender equality” (read: righting wrongs against women, at the expense of men where necessary) won’t change perhaps until men, likely led by black men, take to the streets in huge numbers. Unfortunately, the male courage to do this won’t coalesce for at least another decade. (See “Why Few Men Protest Antimale Sexism.“)
Further thoughts and commentaries for the independent thinkers who want to swim against the tide:
Says Allison Kasic at Townhall.com, “The wage gap — a real statistic measured by the Department of Labor — simply compares the median wage of the full-time working woman versus the median wage of the full-time working man. It is a single-variable statistic that fails to account for a variety of factors that affect compensation levels, including number of hours worked, education level, years of relevant experience, and type of occupation (just to name a few).”
Still, most feminists ignore all this and insist, “When men dominate a job, the job pays more; when women dominate, it pays less.” They mean, in other words, “Which sex dominates a job determines the job’s pay.” Actually it’s the other way around: a job’s pay determines which sex dominates the job. Just as society has steered women into low-paid jobs, its imposition on men of a “primary” provider role, thus tying men’s self-worth to their net worth, continues to steer men away from low-paid jobs and into jobs which pay more (but which men pay more for with greater seniority and education, as well as with the aforementioned job accident rate five times higher than women’s and a job death rate 15 times higher — a workplace gender gap no one talks about because it’s men who are the victims).
Many feminists also believe women should average the same pay as men. This presumes, incorrectly, that women are a primary or sole provider as often as men are (it’s not even close). Suppose men weren’t expected to be primary providers and didn’t need a well-paid job to feel attractive to women and respected by family, friends, and society at large. (Feminists and the media have said successful womendrive men away. By telling women this, they likely discourage many women from moving up and therefore help keep women’s average pay lower than men’s.) Men, feeling little or no need for impressive pay to impress anyone, would average an income much less than it is now (meaning men’s job-market choices have created the gender wage gap as much as women’s choices have). If money meant nothing more to either sex than economic survival, the average pay for each sex would, of course, fall somewhere in between women’s current average and men’s current average. As it stands now, many employers, in an effort to “help” women raise their average pay to that of men’s, voluntarily replace — or are pressured to replace — equal-opportunity programs with equal-results programs. The upshot sometimes is blatant discrimination against men, not to mention lowered employee morale and gender friction if unqualified women are selected solely to yield the “proper” gender balance.
What are we to make of this wage gap: “In his book ‘Beauty Pays: Why Attractive People are More Successful,’ economist Daniel Hamermesh contends that good-looking men earn approximately 17% more money than not so good-looking men….” -The Chart Blogs, CNN
Advocates for women’s pay equity no doubt strongly support the Age Discrimination In Employment Act. Without it, they may argue, employers who obsess over profit and cheap labor would routinely replace older employees with younger ones at lower wages. Yet these same advocates apparently believe employers’ obsession with profit and cheap labor is all of a sudden irrelvant when it comes to paying men more than women for the same work! In sum, the advocates believe employers would get rid of older workers to save money, but will not get rid of men to save money.
After pay equity makes women’s pay equal to men’s, many men may start demanding working conditions that are equal to women’s. A company’s non-union staff truck drivers, who often must work in harsh weather and dangerous, stressful traffic, may make this impossible demand of their employers: “Now that you’ve made the secretaries’ pay the same as mine, make my work conditions the same as the secretaries’.” Or some of them may assert, “I’m going to file a class-action sex-discrimination lawsuit to force you to make the secretarial pool 50 percent male.”
In the Canadian Hamilton Spectator’s “Library caught in pay equity bind” is this unintentionally astonishing statement: “With 90 per cent of its positions female-dominated, pay equity is a big issue at the library.”
In other words, it seems, the importance of pay equity for women increases as an employer’s job equity for men decreases; a blatant hiring discrimination against men apparently sharpens the need to focus on women’s pay. (For another example of this, see “Taking Apart the Sex-Bias Class-Action Lawsuit Against Wal-Mart.”)
“A study in the U.K. indicates the gap in pay between men and women no longer exists for people in their 20s. The report from the Office for National Statistics shows that women who remain single earn more throughout their lives than men. Women tend to have pay equity from the time they leave college until about 30, the average age when women first give birth.”
Over the past couple of years, I have emailed this commentary to hundreds of known-liberal newspaper reporters and editors. I never ask for a response. About four have responded, asking if I wanted to shorten this into a Letter to the Editor. Not one of them said anything along the line of “You’ve given us something to think about.”
Also, I’ve posted a very short version of this in hundreds of the Comment sections that follow a report or opinion on the gender wage gap.