February 15 2012

App-alling feminist technology

The Hill

Sabrina Schaeffer

Anyone who thinks the feminist lobby is obsolete hasn't heard about the Equal Pay App Challenge. 

The White House recently launched a new competition to create “innovative tools” to help propagate the myth of the wage gap — the notion that women earn only 75 cents for every dollar a man earns. 

The challenge is not only to “educate users about the pay gap,” but also to “build tools to promote equal pay.” I have to admit, not all the goals of the competition are bad. In addition to advancing false numbers, the tool should help users through the process of negotiating — a skill, I agree, men do tend to be more naturally inclined toward. But the larger purpose of the challenge is to further the notion that women are a victim class in need of special government protections. 

Clearly this is not solely the work of the White House. Feminist groups are unmistakably behind this effort — in the background feeding the White House this tired statistical line — and more noticeably by providing a variety of awards to the winners of the competition. 

Catalyst, for instance, a group geared toward creating gender parity in corporate America, is offering a $5,000 award to purchase the winning application. Women Innovate Mobile Accelerator, a technology business geared toward helping female entrepreneurs, will provide the winning individual or team with a “startup entrepreneur boot-camp.” 

Ultimately, however, feminist groups standing behind this effort are doing women a grave disservice. The reality about the wage gap is that discrimination is not a significant reason why, on average, women still earn (slightly) less than men. While there may be individual bad employers out there who favor men over women, on average the workplace is not disproportionately hostile toward women. 

The fact is, if you control for any number of variables — differences in education, work experience, time spent out of the workforce — the wage gap largely disappears. (See what Diana Furchgott-Roth found out when she crunched the real numbers here.) But the White House — and its feminist counterparts — do not account for any of these differences in choices and instead continue to broadcast the notion that women are unfairly rewarded. 

While the pay gap may have largely disappeared, it’s clear radical feminism has not. 

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