The debate over this proposed legislation reveals serious flaws in reasoning about the impact of public efforts to promote fair pay. Recent academic research suggests that many women are underpaid for the same reason that many chief executives may be overpaid — because the labor market doesn’t work according to the standard textbook model based on impersonal forces of supply and demand.
The Paycheck Fairness Act would have required employers to give a “business” reason for paying men and women different wages for equal work. It would also have prohibited retaliation against employees who revealed wage information.
Criticisms of the proposed legislation took several forms. A common claim was that it would do more harm than good, because pay discrimination is not the most important cause of gender disparities. Conservatives are not the only ones who insist that women are paid less primarily because they choose to devote more time to family responsibilities than men do. The New York Times columnist Eduardo Porter recently articulated a similar argument.
But pay discrimination and choices to take time out of paid employment are complementary rather than competing explanations of gender differences in pay. Women who are paid less — or who anticipate fewer opportunities for promotion — than their male counterparts are more likely to drop out of paid employment. Their choices represent, in part, a response to discrimination.
If a woman does drop out for a while, an employer who pays her less is off the hook. Case law shows that a lower level of experience on the job is typically considered a bona fide “business” reason for paying someone less. In herdiscerning analysis of the impact of the Equal Pay Act passed in 1963, a University of Maryland law professor, Deborah Thompson Eisenberg, points out that the Paycheck Fairness Act would have simply codified majority interpretations of that law.
This Study of Rabbinic Compensation by Gender is undertaken by the Central Conference of American Rabbis (“CCAR”) as a service to CCAR rabbis and all the congregations, organizations and communities which they serve and in furtherance of the Reform Movement’s long-standing commitment to economic justice.
This study relies upon the data collected in the 2010-2011 Study of Rabbinic Compensation. That study was conducted by an independent actuarial firm, Buck Consulting, LLC, a Xerox Company (“Buck”), with the assistance of the Reform Pension Board (“RPB”), for the CCAR in partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism (“URJ”). Gender material for this study was computed and analyzed by Mayeri Research/The Internet Poll (New York).
Researchers find that, all other things equal, female physicians still make approximately $12,000 per year less than their male counterparts.
Context It is unclear whether male and female physician researchers who perform similar work are currently paid equally.
Objectives To determine whether salaries differ by gender in a relatively homogeneous cohort of physician researchers and, if so, to determine if these differences are explained by differences in specialization, productivity, or other factors.
Design and Setting A US nationwide postal survey was sent in 2009-2010 to assess the salary and other characteristics of a relatively homogeneous population of physicians. From all 1853 recipients of National Institutes of Health (NIH) K08 and K23 awards in 2000-2003, we contacted the 1729 who were alive and for whom we could identify a mailing address.
Participants The survey achieved a 71% response rate. Eligibility for the present analysis was limited to the 800 physicians who continued to practice at US academic institutions and reported their current annual salary.
Main Outcome Measures A linear regression model of self-reported current annual salary was constructed considering the following characteristics: gender, age, race, marital status, parental status, additional graduate degree, academic rank, leadership position, specialty, institution type, region, institution NIH funding rank, change of institution since K award, K award type, K award funding institute, years since K award, grant funding, publications, work hours, and time spent in research.
Results The mean salary within our cohort was $167 669 (95% CI, $158 417-$176 922) for women and $200 433 (95% CI, $194 249-$206 617) for men. Male gender was associated with higher salary (+$13 399; P = .001) even after adjustment in the final model for specialty, academic rank, leadership positions, publications, and research time. Peters-Belson analysis (use of coefficients derived from regression model for men applied to women) indicated that the expected mean salary for women, if they retained their other measured characteristics but their gender was male, would be $12 194 higher than observed.
Conclusion Gender differences in salary exist in this select, homogeneous cohort of mid-career academic physicians, even after adjustment for differences in specialty, institutional characteristics, academic productivity, academic rank, work hours, and other factors.
Unmarried women were among Barack Obama’s most loyal supporters in 2008, turning out in droves and delivering 70 percent of their votes to him. When many of them stayed home in the 2010 midterm election, Democrats lost the House and had their Senate majority trimmed.
Now, determined to get single women back, Senate leaders are reshaping their legislative agenda, advancing a bill to bolster workers’ ability to win pay discrimination lawsuits. A similar measure was blocked by Republicans two years ago, and proponents expect it to be rejected again, setting up a contrast between the parties over an issue that especially touches unmarried women.
It will be the third time this year that Senate Democrats will push for votes on policies affecting women, with the other measures focused on insurance coverage for contraceptives and programs for domestic violence victims.
They are aiming to fire up the 55 million single, divorced, separated or widowed U.S. women eligible to vote this year. While 60 percent of all unmarried women cast ballots in 2008, just 38 percent turned out in 2010, said Democratic pollster Celinda Lake. Democratic strategists see these voters as critical to helping return Obama to the White House and to retain Senate seats in Ohio, Virginia and other states.
“What is really at issue is their turnout rate,” Lake said in an interview. “Unmarried younger women plummeted in the turnout in 2010, and they came into this election cycle not very interested in the election.”
Senator Barbara Milkulski is holding a press conference later today to press the Senate to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act she recently introduced. But didn’t President Obama already kill the gender wage gap? Not quite. While Obama has long been touting the first bill he signed once in office, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, it only provides a woman more time to file a claim of discrimination. The Paycheck Fairness Act would go further by ensuring employees can discuss their salaries with each other—since it’s hard to root out pay discrimination if you don’t know how you stack up against everyone else.
Lilly Ledbetter certainly helps women who want to bring lawsuits against their employers by giving them more time to do so. In that way, Obama’s first act did recognize the problem of pay discrimination. But it’s a baby step forward in the march toward equal pay.
The numbers since its signing bear that out. According to Bloomberg, the number of pay discrimination complaints filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission actually fell from 2,268 when Obama signed the Act in 2009 to 2,191 last year. Meanwhile, the pay gap has widened from 77.8 in 2007 to 77.4 percent in 2010.
So what will it take to make the wage gap disappear? Why wouldn’t clearing the way for lawsuits get us there? Part of the answer is that Ledbetter only nibbled at the edges of an enormous, systemic problem. As I’vepreviously written, the causes of the gap range from a too-low minimum wage to decreased unionization levels. These kinds of issues won’t budge on a large scale even if women are emboldened to sue for equal pay.
Three essays in favor and three opposed from the U.S. News and World Report Debate Club
From U. S. News & World Report:
After battles over the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act and the mandate by President Obama’s healthcare law that religious institutions cover contraceptives for employees, another storm is brewing in Washington over women-oriented issues. The Senate is expected to call a vote in the coming weeks on the Paycheck Fairness Act, an update on 1963’s Equal Pay Act, which made wage discrimination based on one’s sex illegal. With a reported 77 cents to the dollar pay gap between women and men, respectively, persisting nearly five decades later, the Paycheck Fairness Act is designed to help those who believe they are victims of gender-based wage discrimination by making wages more transparent, by requiring that employers prove that wage discrepancies are tied to legitimate business qualifications and not gender, and by prohibiting companies from taking retaliatory action against employees who raise concerns about gender-based wage discrimination. The bill, supported by the Obama administration, was passed by the House in January 2009 only to be stalled in the Senate in November 2010, and was reintroduced in both chambers in April 2011. Democratic National Committee Chair and Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz recently urged presumed GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney to take a stand on the bill, bringing it back into the political limelight and putting the pressure on Senate Dems to prioritize a vote on the legislation.
Proponents say that more must be done to close the pay gap between men and women, particularly with much greater participation by women in the workforce since the Equal Pay Act became law. Opponents say that the proposed new law misdiagnoses the problem, questioning the data cited by its supporters, and would unfairly harm small businesses as the economic recovery struggles to pick up steam. Should the Senate pass the Paycheck Fairness Act? Here is the Debate Club’s take.
Are women really on track to become “the richer sex” and replace men as primary breadwinners in American families, as recent headlines suggest? Not quite. The notion that women are outpacing men on the job has become a popular media narrative over the past few years. But the data on which it’s based don’t hold up.
Last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that, in fact, we’re in the middle of a “mancovery”—while women are slipping backwards. Between June 2009 and June 2011, women lost close to 300,000 jobs, while men gained more than 800,000. “We've never seen a recovery like this,” the National Women's Law Center's Joan Entmacher told NPR, “where two years into the recovery women are doing so much worse than men and are actually losing ground.”
Still, the popular perception is that women are soaring. Much is made of the “fact” that more than 40 percent of American women are their family’s breadwinner. In her recentTime magazine cover piece (adapted fromher new book, The Richer Sex), for example, journalist Liza Mundy cites 2009 Bureau of Labor Statistics data saying that one in four women outearn their spouses. This claim was picked up by scores of media outlets.
But look a bit more closely at the numbers, and the picture doesn’t seem so rosy for women. Which women are advancing? Andwhich men are backsliding? The answers are important if you are going to talk about who’s getting “rich.”
Congrats, ladies! By today you’ve earned the same as men did in 2011. That gap means that the typical woman working full-time, year round, makes about seventy-seven cents for every dollar a typical man does, and those missing twenty-three cents can really add up. In a year a woman loses $10,784 to a man—enough to buy about 2,700 gallons of gas. It can add up to a loss of $431,000 in pay for the typical woman over a forty-year career. No small chunk of pocket change.
This issue hasn’t gone unnoticed. The first thing President Obama did after settling into the West Wing was to sign the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law, which expanded the statute of limitations on lawsuits over equal pay. Yet Ledbetter did little to actually change the gap: it stood at seventy-seven cents when the bill was passed at 2009, where it stands today.
But this high holiday of gender inequality is not the day to get dragged down in pessimism! After all, it can’t be totally out of reach to change this thing that’s barely budged in fifty years, amiright? In the spirit of moving forward and focusing on real solutions, here are some quick steps we can all take to make the gap disappear:
Although social and political efforts have been made to close the wage gap and in turn the wealth gap, recent Census data still indicates that women earn 77 cents on the dollar compared to men. For women of color the gap is even wider: Black women earn 69.5 percent, and Hispanic women 60.5 percent, compared to the earnings of their white male counterparts.
The wage story is just as unequal for single mothers: They make less than men, less than married women, and less than women without children. Adding race to the equation, single mothers of color are hit hardest by the wage gap. Studies show that single mothers of color are much more likely to live in poverty and face significant barriers to creating wealth. Lower wages can often prevent families from engaging in asset- and wealth-building mechanisms such as pension plans because of fewer job benefits and resources. Lower earnings can hinder families from investing and saving their money, a key strategy for building wealth. Additionally, wealth not only impacts economic security but long-term retirement security as well.
While it’s recognized that the racial wealth gap is widespread there is a critical need to understand the intersection of race and gender in accumulating wealth.