October 14, 2004

“Equal Pay for Equal Work”

Listening to the debates tonight, I heard Kerry say, “women are earning 76 cents on the dollar compared to men.” This is shocking! I wasn’t sure it was true.

Wireless to the rescue. I looked it up. I don’t see women so much in that role. Unless the guys were making way more money than I thought, I figured it was not quite the story.

But I looked it up. It seems to have some figures behind it. Man, I was hoping that we’d gotten a little further than that.

But this story puts a little thought into the figures. According to her, when you take some important factors into consideration, the wage gap is more like 98%.

Whoo hoo! and Ms. McElroy makes some very good points. I’ve thought about this, in these terms, for quite some time. Leaving aside the prejudicial and sexism stereotypes, what is the major difference between a man and a woman? A woman is the one who bears the children. It takes nine months for gestation. And it takes some time to get over the process of shoving this little person out of your body.

After that, mothers may want to take time out of their career to spend time with the child. A choice that she can make. That is, the lucky ones who have the economic room to not work, or work less for a while. Many women make the choice to have less responsibilities in their career, so that they can be available to pay attention to their child.

This does not diminish a woman’s capacity to perform any of the duties her career may have demanded. The fact is, a choice like that, one that takes a woman out of the running, off the rat race and into the baby track, has wage consequences.

If a man took several months or years out of the prime career growth time of his life to do another project, it is fully expected that he would not be able to walk away with no ground lost. It doesn’t work like that.

And a women should not expect that she can hit pause and step right back in where she left off. That wouldn’t be fair.

If we were to embrace the capacity that women bring to the table, it would be wise to find ways to change the culture of the workplace. Why do we have to work 24-7? Geez.

It would be good to have a jobs that allow for a balance and a challenge. We need that, so that the children don’t get left behind.

But it seems like women are not being left behind so much anymore, and for that I rejoice.

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