April 18, 2008

Fair Pay

Posted in economics, gender, sexism, U.S. politics at 10:37 pm by LB

Today, April 18th, is “Blog for Fair Pay” day, in honor of the fact that today, women will have finally caught up to what men earned income-wise in 2007. Yes, the gendered pay gap means women have to work almost 4 months more to earn what men do. And Angry Black Bitch reminds us it’s even worse for women of color. Designating a day for recognition and advocacy of this is an important tangible reminder of the effects of inequality and sanctioned discrimination.

It kind of reminds me of Tax Freedom Day, the day that the nations has earned enough income to pay our tax bill. Funny, though–(federal) Tax Freedom Day is April 23rd (although this varies by state, mine in New York isn’t until May). That tends to make people pissed–realizing they work 4 months just to pay their government taxes.

But women have to work an extra 4 months to equal what men are paid yearly, which is about the same amount of time “Americans” have to work to pay their tax bill. Thus, , from a conceptual point, the difference in men’s and women’s pay is about the same as the amount of taxes paid by the “average” American. Think about that for a second. Or several.

Then write in your support for the fair pay act, and encourage others to do the same.

cross-posted to The Reaction

5 Comments »

  1. ballgame said,

    But women have to work an extra 4 months to equal what men are paid yearly for the same job…

    Can you cite your source for this? I know that women as a group earn somewhere between 70% and 80% of what men as a group earn, but that’s quite different from saying women earn less “for the same job”.

    As I’ve pointed out elsewhere, Karen Kornbluh (economic advisor to Barack Obama) asserts that “women without children make 90 percent of what their male counterparts earn, but working mothers earn less than three quarters of what men make.” (Quote is from an Alternet article referencing Kornbluh from an article entitled “Womenomics 101”.)

    In Why Men Earn More, Warren Farrell points out that:
    1. There are a considerable number of male-dominated professions where the average woman earns more than the average man;
    2. Never-married women make the same money as never-married men;
    3. Men are wildly over-represented in the ‘death and exposure’ professions;
    4. When all relevant variables are taken into account (mainly hours worked and profession), women doctors earn exactly the same per hour as their male counterparts.

    In short, it is far from clear to what extent women (or men, for that matter) experience wage discrimination due to their gender, and to what extent the overall disparity is due to life choices, material differences in working conditions, or the actual job being performed.

  2. lindabeth said,

    The “75 cents to the dollar” is a US Census statistic from looking at the pay of full-time workers only. Thus, women have to work about 25% more since they make 25% less, which is why equal pay day falls in the 4th month of the year. I mean, there’s a little more math to it than that, but that’s basically it.

    Yes, you are right, I shouldn’t have written “for the same job.” I edited it. But are are LOTS of stats on the pay disparity within occupations too, so the spirit of what I was saying isn’t untrue.

    As far as Kornbluh’s statement, that may not be untrue, but I would hypothesize that it’s because of the incommensurability between the American male-centric model of work and family and the persistance of cultural essentializing of gender roles that limits working mothers. And that’s just as important of an issue, because advocating equal pay also can involve some serious reevaluations of the American workplace model. That’s great that for single women that gap may be less, but there’s still a gap, and I think equal pay for married and/or mothers is no less i important.

    And a less male-centric model of work will benefit all, it will help in better co-parenting, and as such could help “nurturing” be more culturally open to fathers. Equal pay is important as a right of citizenship, but the effects are widespread.

    I am unfamiliar with that text, and I’ll have to check it out, but one thing I can say is the anomaly of point one and four is great, but that isn’t enough to discount social trends.

    But I do want to keep bringing you back to the underlying thread of what you’re saying–exemplified by point three under the book: never-married women and men earn the same therefore the pay gap is a myth and is brought on by “choice”. It could very well be the case that never married men and women earn the same. Marriage and family should not be a handicap for women in employment. And perhaps this is a point of disagreement–but it shouldn’t be. The bottom line is that tons of our social, work, and economic policies and values discourage especially mothers from working even while mothers are “legally” free and equal to work. Work is hostile for families, period: it takes a toll on women in the workplace and on men in the family. They are 2 sides of the same coin. I know you agree with me on that latter, but it’s important to realize that the former and the latter are part of the same problem.

    Thanks for jumping in ballgame!

  3. lindabeth said,

    Sorry, I forgot to also include these 2 resources for pay data.

  4. Arkhilokhus said,

    LindaBeth,

    Has there been any research into the number of single (never married and divorced individuals) working multiple jobs? I’ve noticed that at my workplace, almost all the singles have a second, and sometimes a third, job. If that’s a trend, maybe that points to an assumption of two working spouses as a basic social unit.

  5. lindabeth said,

    I’m not familiar with any, but a quick google led me to these stats which were fascinating, about the reasons people take a second job, broken down by age, race, gender, marital status, and family status. The % of women taking on a second job when divorced or raising a family in order to simply pay bills (as opposed to pay off debt, start a business, save for something special, etc.) was about 15% more than men. Meaning 15% more of the women do so for that reason than do the men.


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