Sex and Pay in the Federal Government: Using Job Evaluation Systems to Implement Comparable Worth

By Doris M. Werwie | Go to book overview

cause managers felt that their salaries were out of line when compared with those of similar positions in the private sector. The study was intended to justify wage increases. As a result of the 1973 study, the State of Washington increased wages ( Remick, 1978:92).

In 1974, a public employees' union in the State Women's Council saw evaluation systems as a means of establishing that their jobs were underpaid. This group requested that the governor fund another salary study for a number of non-exempt jobs, some held predominantly by males and some held predominantly by females.

A total of 121 positions, each having at least 70 percent of the same sex, were re-evaluated using a job evaluation plan developed by Norman Willis and Associates ( 1974). Jobs were then grouped by total comparable worth scores. The wages for predominantly female occupations averaged about 80 percent of those for male occupations. Willis did a follow-up study in 1976. Both studies showed that women's jobs were, in fact, underpaid.

A second such study resulted from a 1974 compliance review of exempt staff of the University of Washington, which indicated major salary differences between males and females. Since the University of Washington previously had no formal job evaluation system, it argued that salary differences were due to differing levels of effort, skills, and responsibilities rather than to bias. The University agreed to hire the Hay consulting firm to evaluate exempt positions. Because of this study, the University upgraded the salaries of all employees ( Remick, 1978).


SUMMARY

Advocates of comparable worth argue that reviewing existing job evaluation systems in terms of sex bias merits consideration as an alternative approach for eliminating pay inequalities between men and women.

Strategies for eliminating sex bias within existing job evaluation systems such as those implemented by Willis and Hay also revolve around court interpretations of existing equal pay laws. The implementation of future comparable worth job evaluation systems may rest upon the court interpretations of the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and upon the

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