Opinion: Do women need wage equality or more support for the choices they make?

President Obama earned two Pinocchios from the Washington Post this week for using the oft-cited but misleading statistic that women earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. The issue is a favorite for U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, who gave the high-five heard ‘round the country at this year’s State of the Union address when President Obama brought up the wage gap.

President Obama and Gov. Malloy both spent “Equal Pay Day” — marking the end of the extra 98 days a woman would have to work to make the same amount a man makes in a single year — by talking up women’s issues to their supporters.

But the premise of Equal Pay Day is false. A woman does not have to work an extra 98 days to earn the same amount as a man, all other things being equal. The 23 percent gap comes from a straight reading of census data, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Women are more likely to work fewer hours, to work in industries that pay less, to work part-time and to take time away from their careers for family.

Equal Pay Day is more about politics than economics. The bogus statistics cited by the biggest boosters of this issue have more to do with pandering than equality. It’s a talking point, a simplification of larger societal issues that we avoid talking about because they are complicated, rendering them politically useless.

Suzanne Bates is a writer living in South Windsor with her family. While traveling across the country as an Air Force spouse, she worked for news organizations including the Associated Press, New Hampshire Union Leader and Good Morning America Weekend. She recently completed a research fellowship at the Yankee Institute. Follow her on Twitter @suzebates.

See the complete story at CT News Junkie.


3 responses to “Opinion: Do women need wage equality or more support for the choices they make?”

  1. EveT

    Hmm, Suzanne Bates is female. Does she really believe the gender wage gap is imaginary? Why do you think it is that “women are likely to work in industries that pay less”? It couldn’t be that female-dominated jobs are less well compensated because employers have traditionally known they can get away with paying women less, could it?

  2. Oldtimer

    Norwalk has history with this issue. Norwalk female teachers were paid less than their equally qualified male counterparts for years, based on the theory that males were supporting a family and females were not.
    Finally,(1946) there was a short lived strike over this issue, probably the first public school teacher strike in the country, and it was quickly resolved when the public refused to support the BOE policy and demanded the schools be re-opened.

  3. Suzanne

    I am incredulous that this very feminist issue is still being talked about and has yet to be remedied – by law. What ever happened to ERA? What were all of those bra-burnings for? Why was Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan ever lionized for their views in the first place or have they and others like them been cordoned off to history? It is sad to me that a female journalist would not look at the complicated data she claims is not included in the “old saw” of Obama’s representations and actually talk about it to support her point instead of just blaming them for their supposed misrepresentations. Whatever the causes, women are STILL not paid equally for equal work, I am sure there are some but certainly the exception unless Ms. Bates has some data to disprove this, and that should just be criminal. For goodness sake!

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