Wednesday, April 4

:: Yes Please, Pay Me Less

Interest in the gender wage gap seems to have waned among younger feminists. That is until someone in the media (or someone running for President) tosses out the well worn factoid that on average women still make less then men – 71 cents on the dollar according to current Labor Dept statistics. Inevitably some talking head disputes the figure, argues that women’s wages are equal to men’s in many occupations and that women earn less because they choose to. That is when steam starts to come out of my ears. In a oped piece in the WaPo Carrie Lukas argues that, ”The numbers indicate the wage gap mostly reflects individual differences in priorities.” In other words, more women pick time with their families and the accompanying lower wages than men, therefore the difference in wages is a natural product of individual choice. Lets be clear here – women (and men) who choose to spend time with their families are NOT choosing to be paid less. Rather workers are punished for having families. By a society that claims to love “family values.” The underlying assumption in our economy is that a serious committed member of the workforce does not have primary responsibility for child rearing and other familial duties. No kids, no sick parents, no dentist appointments. Now if we truly valued families in this country then financial success would not be predicated on sacrificing your family responsibilities. Rather than punishing women (and men) for having lives outside of work, we should elevate this necessary societal function to one that receives the respect that it is due. The workplace needs to be adapted to recognize and value the family responsibilities we all have.

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