Though there is a widespread perception that women are paid less than men on average, the perception goes wrong in thinking that such pay disparity is about cases when a woman doing the exact same job as a man for the same hours, in the same company or industry is paid less than her male co-worker. That is not, however, where the disparity lies. The "pay gap" simply looks at the median earnings of all men and women who are full-time workers, and because the average of men's earnings skew higher, feminists cry discrimination. But were they to take a closer look at the facts, they'd have to recant their accusation.
The fact is, men and women make different career choices for different reasons. A U.S. Department of Labor study found the average full-time working man works 8.14 hours a day, compared to 7.75 hours for the full-time working woman. Naturally, this would result in the man making more money.
Even more to the point, the natural differences between men and women result in different priorities, and therefore, different job ambitions. Women in general tend to seek jobs that offer comfortable and safe working conditions. In particular, women with children tend to choose lower paying jobs in return for companies that offer work-life balance packages that allow them to be more available for their children. Fathers, on the other hand, tend to seek work that can best support their families, which often means longer hours.
Men also are much more likely to take on dangerous or physically demanding jobs that most women simply don't want to do. You don't see many women working on oil rigs, construction sites, coal mines or the like. These jobs pay more because it's difficult to find people who are able and willing to do them. People crying discrimination need to understand that the oft-repeated statistic that women make on average "70 cents on the dollar compared to men" simply reflects an overall average of all pay for all jobs across the board.
But rather than speak truthfully about the real reason behind the "pay gap", the president is playing politics with the issue with no regard for the damage the Paycheck Fairness Act could inflict. For one, the Act would give women enhanced legal ability to sue employers over pay disparities. What's dangerous about that is the legislation does not cap punitive damages, and puts the onus on the employer to prove they're innocent of discrimination.
As Joe Brenckle, a Republican spokesman for the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee said, federal law already prohibits discriminatory practices, and this proposal is "a gift to trial lawyers with dramatically increased litigation and uncapped damages liability."
Republicans are now in the position of having to vote down a bad piece of legislation knowing doing so will be used against them by Obama in his "war on women" campaign strategy. This is one more attempt by our president to distract voters from the real issues by creating false ones. Let's hope the electorate is more educated than Obama gives us credit for, and that his cheap and divisive tactics will backfire, as they well deserve to do.
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