Wage Gap for Women: Both Sides of the Story

By Cooper, Mary Ann | The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education, February 18, 2013 | Go to article overview

Wage Gap for Women: Both Sides of the Story


Cooper, Mary Ann, The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education


Some arguments seem like no-braiiiers. Equal pay for equal work seems to be one of those arguments. How could anyone be opposed to such a democratic concept? And in a year where one political party is being accused - justly or unjustly - of waging a war on women, the equal pay for equal work battle cry is especially resonant with working women in America. But like even' other debate we are having lítese days in our polarized nation, the issue is complicated.

Here are die main arguments that support and refute the equal pay for equal work argument:

The Center for American Progress (CAP) uses hard statistics to make its case. It says women who work full time year round continue to earn only about 77 percent of what men earn. The gap between the median wage for a man and that of a woman in 2010 was $10,784 per year. The gender wage gap gets larger with age and builds up over time. For young women at the beginning of their careers - between the ages of 25 to 29 - die annual wage gap is about !61,700. But for women in die final five years of their careers before retirement, the wage gap grows to a whopping $14.352. Over a 40-year career, the average woman will lose S431,000 to the gender wage gap.

The Independent Women's Forum (FVVF) acknowledges that women do make less income than men, but don't view this as discriminatory and hits back at liberals for inflating this issue.

Wien nie Paycheck Fairness Act was being debated, Sabrina Sdhaeffer, executive director of Independent Women's Forum, issued this statement: "Democrats, who frame the issue as a 'War on Women,' should be embarrassed by this story not only because it hints at possible sexism, but also because it reveals die absurdity of die debate over die wage gap' and the Paycheck Fairness Act These 'raw' salaries tell us nodting about the qualifications, educational background or work-lite preferences of any of diese individuals,"

The FWF lias its own statistics to promote its argument. They say the average full-time female worker spends 7.81 hours per day on the job, versus the 8.3 hours for die average full-time working male. Men make up 55 percent of workers averaging more than 35 hours a week. In 2007, 25 percent of men working full-time jobs worked 41 or more hours a week, compared to 14 percent of full-lime women. Men were found to be more likely lo work in dirty or dangerous conditions, and sustained die overwhelming majority' of workplace mjuries and deadis. It is reasonable that these additional risks often warrant higher salaries, concludes the TWF.

CAP says that opponente to equal pay for equal work are using these statistics to confuse die issue. Arguably people working longer hours or in dangerous or unsavory conditions should be compensated more dian those working less and in safer conditions, but the Paycheck Fairness Act is about EQUAL pay for EQUAL work. Differences in hours logged or working conditions have nothing to do with die basic premise of equal pay for equal work. IWF's point, however, is that differences in working conditions and hours on the job can skew the same statistics dial proponents of new legislation use to make their argument.

CAP also points to the fact that women are now earning the majority of college degrees, but that has done nothing to midgate die pay gap between the sexes. The American Association ol University Women found that college-educated women begin their careers earning 5 percent less than llieir male peers - even when they went to the same schools, had the same GPA, were hired for the same jobs and had the same marital status and family makeup in terms of the parenting of children. After 10 years on the job, the wage gap expands to 12 percent, even when women don'i miss a beat compcUng with Üicir male counterparts at the same job.

The TWF points ont that college women tend to major in less lucrative professions and fields of study because, according to survey research conducted by Basit Zafar in 2009 for the Federal Reserve Bank of X'ew York, women often consider issues like parental approval and enjoyment of future work when choosing a major, while their male colleagues are more concerned with salaries and status. …

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