States Tackle Pay Gap

PUBLISHED: 5:54 PM 14 Feb 2018
UPDATED: 5:57 PM 14 Feb 2018

Liberal States Look To Close “Gender Pay Gap” With New Laws

4 states have laws and 20 others are considering them.

Do gener gaps actually exist?

New state laws that aim at preventing the gender pay gap could ban employers from asking applicants what their current salary is. In theory, this would prevent employers from making new offers that are based on previous income.

Laws like this are already in place in states such as California, Massachusetts and in New York City and Puerto Rico. The question remains if it actually helps close the gender gap.

The state policy manager for the American Association for University Women, Kate Nielson states, “What these bans are doing is ensuring that employers pay employees for the job they have to do.”

Although this may hinder deliberate attempts to sustain a gender-based salary deficit, it could also prevent employees from being paid what the job is really worth. Not knowing what someone was paid in the past does not automatically ensure that there will be a pay increase.

Although there is no consensus on the amount women are supposedly paid less just for being women, it is generally reported to be somewhere between 77 and 79 percent of what men are paid. This is based on the claim that it is for doing the exact same work.

Unfortunately, this claim would have to be further qualified by stating that it must be for salaried or hourly work. If it were based on contractual agreements with independent businesses or contractors, then it would be simply capitalism at work.

This would show that women are not as good at negotiating the terms of their contracts, rather than the institutionalized discrimination against gender. It could also be the case that underbidding projects can show the resourcefulness of women to close deals and procure future business opportunities.

It is better to understand that there is more involved in determining an individual’s pay than previous income or by comparing a woman directly to a male counterpart.

The central argument against the gender pay gap is that the statistics are manipulated in such a way as to ignore the other important factors that determine pay. Women and men make different choices in their lives that influence their earnings.

The education and years of experience that an employee has, along with the hours that someone works both play a vital role in earnings potential.

The feminist narratives which skew the role of gender in income inequality are not very widely accepted. Many women realize that their decisions affect their income, such as choosing jobs that do not require extended hours of overtime or higher levels of stress.

There will certainly be cases where females are paid less for the exact same position, and level of experience. However, this is not a systemic problem within society itself.

The public records of the female staff of some Washington leadership have revealed a pay gap existed in the past. The analysis of Democrat Senator Elizabeth Warren’s employees revealed that women were paid less than the national average pay gap. Warren has been an adamant defender of equal pay.

Other Democrats have been found to consistently pay less to women than men, including Hillary Clinton. This may be the model case for when the gender pay gap is deliberate, rather than the result of circumstances outside of the control of either the employee or employer.

In recent years, approximately 200 women journalists claimed to have been paid less by the British public broadcaster, where under a third of the top executives and stars are women. The BBC responded by citing previous audits that showed no systemic discrimination.

Economists have found that the gender pay gap narrows considerably when the relevant facts, such as tenure and hours per week, are figured into the average earnings of all men and women working full-time.

Feminists argue that “powerful sexist stereotypes” drive the education and career choices of women. The response to this usually being that women are liberated and particularly the American woman is not manipulated into her life choices.

The sexist stereotypes that prevent women from making certain career choices are irrelevant. The issue is for those who do choose to pursue engineering or top executive positions –  if they are actually paid less because they are female.

The answer is most likely no. Many positions are advertised with their compensation listed. Institutions will often have elaborate lists that indicate how experience plays a role in starting salary and promotion schedules.

It may still be that there are only be a couple dozen females that are CEOs of the Fortune 500. Generally, those positions are negotiated and declared by a board. It may even require a vote during a yearly budget proposal, where bonuses are based on company productivity.

It would be extraordinarily difficult to hide paying a high-powered CEO position less, simply because she is a woman. No matter what the case may be, there is no way to know for sure if it is or is not ultimately a merit-based and fair decision of the company.