Deceiving Women On “Equal Pay For Equal Work” By Betsy Newmark

Senator Obama is running an ad hitting John McCain for opposing equal pay for women. This is so dishonest. First of all, since the 1963 Equal Pay Act,, is has been illegal to pay women differently for the same work. So no matter how much of a Neanderthal you think John McCain is, he can’t block equal pay for equal work. It’s been the law for 45 years.

The ad cites the statistic loved by liberals that women earn 77 cents for every dollar that men earn. This is such a phony statistic. As Carrie Lukacs pointed out last year, this stat says nothing about women’s training and steady presence in the job force.

Yes, the Labor Department regularly issues new data comparing the median wage of women who work full time with the median wage of men who work full time, and women’s earnings bob at around three-quarters those of men. But this statistic says little about women’s compensation and the influence of discrimination on men’s and women’s earnings. All the relevant factors that affect pay — occupation, experience, seniority, education and hours worked — are ignored. This sound-bite statistic fails to take into account the different roles that work tends to play in men’s and women’s lives.

Women are more likely than men to drop in and out of the job force in order to raise a family. They are less likely to work the overtime hours and travel out of town on business that might be necessary to climb the promotional ladder. Men are more likely to take the yucky or dangerous jobs that have higher salaries as compensation.

So what happens if we examine the statistics and control for such factors? Do women still earn less? Well, no.

When these kinds of differences are taken into account and the comparison is truly between men and women in equivalent roles, the wage gap shrinks. In his book “Why Men Earn More,” Warren Farrell — a former board member of the National Organization for Women in New York — identifies more than three dozen professions in which women out-earn men (including engineering management, aerospace engineering, radiation therapy and speech-language pathology). Farrell seeks to empower women with this information. Discrimination certainly plays a role in some workplaces, but individual preferences are the real root of the wage gap.

When women realize that it isn’t systemic bias but the choices they make that determine their earnings, they can make better-informed decisions. Many women may not want to follow the path toward higher pay — which often requires more time on the road, more hours in the office or less comfortable and less interesting work — but they’re better off not feeling like victims.

Of course, making women feel like victims is part of the liberal playbook so that they can then propose laws to protect the victims. Paying attention to what lies behind those figures would mess up the easy demagoguery of screaming about women earning less than men.

Obama’s ad is deceptive. IF you didn’t know anything about the issue, you’d think “Oh my gosh, that old geezer, McCain, wants to keep women earning less than men for equal work. What a chauvinist!” Of course, none of that is true.

The Obama campaign is referring to the Lilly Ledbetter case. She got a big play at the Democratic convention and her Supreme Court case has given the left a chance again to posture as the protectors of all those women supposedly earning three-quarters of what a man earns. Erin Sheley explains what is so wrong with the whole Ledbetter storyline.

Three weeks ago at the Democratic National Convention, Lilly Ledbetter delivered a soliloquy on “fair pay” for women–a cause the Democrats are certain to highlight in the coming weeks of this increasingly woman-centric campaign. She’s the “grandmother from Alabama” and former supervisor at a Goodyear Tire and Rubber plant who sued the company in 1998 under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, claiming gender-based wage discrimination. She was also a timely reminder of Barack Obama’s views on judicial activism.

In her convention speech, Ledbetter chided the Supreme Court for “sid[ing] with big business” by ruling that she “should have filed her complaint within six months of Goodyear’s first decision to pay [her] less.” The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a proposed amendment to Title VII that would have overturned the Supreme Court decision, failed in the Senate in April, but only after voting was delayed until 6 P.M. to give Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton time to return from the campaign trail and give impassioned speeches in support of the measure and pose for photo-ops with Ledbetter.

This casting of Lilly Ledbetter as feminist martyr, though, has serious problems. First, the High Court’s decision in her case had nothing to do with gender discrimination as a substantive matter. It turned solely on the requirement that an employee must file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days of the discrimination occurring, which Ledbetter did not. Second, Ledbetter herself would not even have needed her namesake act to avoid this requirement if her lawyer had pressed Ledbetter’s claim under the existing Equal Pay Act of 1963 instead of under Title VII.

Read the rest to understand what a phony issue this is.

The McCain campaign’s answer to the Obama ad is to point out that women occupy more senior positions in his senatorial office so that women who work for McCain actually earn more than those who work for Obama. This is also silly. Once again, this uses statistics without controlling for differences in the positions and seniority. And it really is a non sequitur. If women are upset by the Obama ad and thinking that they’re getting paid less than a man for equal work, hearing that a few women working for McCain earn more than another anonymous group working for Obama isn’t going to be much of a comfort. What matters to them is that they are being told that they earn only 77 cents for what a man earns. I’d much prefer that they answer the ad as it’s presented and note all the deceptions contained in one short ad. Sure it takes longer to explain why that statistic is so stupid, but it would be worth it to answer a deception that liberals have been waving around for such a long time. Without that pushback, the fake statistic just sits out there and gets accepted as a fact indicating what a sexist society we live in.

Obama is trying to appeal to women whose support is less strong for him than for most recent Democratic presidential candidates. He’s employing phony statistics and deceptive statements to do so. John McCain should take him head on and refute this malarkey.

This content was used with the permission of Betsy’s Page.

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