Often as American women we hear about legislative attempts to close the "wage gap," the statistical difference in men's and women's earnings. But according to the letter of the law, sex-based wage discrimination is already illegal.
Both the Civil Rights Act and the Equal Pay Act (passed 50 years ago today!) protect women from being baselessly shortchanged and paid less than their male counterparts. We should celebrate the freedom to live in a country where women have equal protection under law. Clearly, over the past 50 years, American women have had exceptional success in every career field, expanded our educational horizons, found a better work/life balance using telecommunications and fast-paced technological advancements, amplified our political influence, and continued to rock the cradle.
On this special anniversary, IWF has a team of women on Capitol Hill, celebrating and giving out informational materials about women's wide array of choices in 21st century America. We also have donuts!
Women have so much to celebrate. Yet traditional, left-leaning Feminist groups seem stuck in the 1970's. They continue to talk about women as if we are victims. They continue to lobby for more laws and more regulations that they believe are needed to advance women. They continue to mislead the public, citing an aggregate statistic as evidence of sexism (which it is not).
What does it mean that women make 77 cents on the dollar compared to men? This statistic takes into account the earnings of the average "full-time" woman versus the average "full-time" man. "Full-time" refers to any worker who completes more than 35 hours of work per week. But the statistic doesn't take into account the exact number of hours worked… or the educational attainment of different workers, their career field, their vacation time, their other forms of compensation (including benefits), or their number of years of experience.
Using the wage gap statistic as evidence of sexism is downright dishonest. The American Association of University Women went to Capitol Hill last week and touted the trite "77 cents on the dollar" number in an effort to push the Paycheck Fairness Act. Sadly, AAUW knows that the wage gap is much smaller when correcting variables are taken into account. And yet, they disregard the facts and continue to cherry-pick their data to misrepresent women as worse off than we are.
We should be aware of the difference in women's and men's earnings, but only to better understand that life is full of tradeoffs. As women, we should encourage our daughters to take advantage of all that life has to offer and also to take personal responsibility for and celebrate the choices that we are free to make.