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Comparable Worth
By Rod Van Mechelen
We are poorer than men in money and so we have to barter sex or sell it outright (which is why they keep us poorer in money). - Andrea Dworkin, Intercourse
Actual Statistics Expose Little Sexism
1992 Bellevue, Wash. - One of the most common pop feminist objections is that working women make only seventy-three cents for every dollar men make. Were this strictly true, their charge of sexist oppression would be understandable. But, while the averages do work out that way (Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1991, 111th edition, p 417. table 680), sexism has almost nothing to do with it. Marital status, personal priorities, hours worked per week, term of employment, number of jobs held, years of education, and many other factors are involved.

Generally, full-time workers are paid a higher wage than part-time employees regardless of sex, and more women than men opt for part-time jobs. In 1989, for example, almost 44 million men age 25 to 54, or roughly 68 percent of the male work force, were working full-time as opposed to less than 30 million women, or about 56 percent of the female work force in the same age group. (Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1991, 111th edition, p 393, table 649)

Additionally, more men than women work more than one job, and of them, men usually work more hours. Among multiple job-holders working fifty-plus hours per week, men outnumber women in every age group. (Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1991, 111th edition, p 394, table 651) Men also average significantly more overtime than women - from a low of 2.1 hours more overtime in the age 20 to 24 group, to a high of 4 hours more overtime in the age 25 to 44 group. (Employment and Earnings, U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Volume 38 No. 12, December 1991, Table A-30, p 40)

Such disparities could easily account for most of the gender wage gap. But there are many more contributing factors.

As members of the labor force, women have less seniority than men. Fifty-two percent of women, compared with 33 percent of men, "have worked less than 5 years at the jobs they held longest." And women choose to devote less of their time to their careers than men do: "(B)y the age of 64, women are away from their work an average of 14.7 years. Men are away an average of 1.6 years." (The Great Divide, Daniel E. Van Weiss, p 92) Another study found that "the typical woman drops out of the labor force for nine years." (A Lesser Life: The Myth of Women's Liberation in America, Sylvia Ann Hewlett, p 81) There can be no doubt this time away from the paid labor force reduces their earning power.

Most women choose to sub-maximize their earnings potential in the compensated labor force. This, more than anything else, explains why women earn only 73 cents on the male dollar. They earn less by choice.

Female Choices
To study the kinds of choices college-educated women make, Dorothy C. Holland and Margaret A. Eisenhart followed the academic and career progress of 23 women from 1979 through 1987. Despite that a study of just 23 women does not provide a sufficient basis for making grand generalizations (a practice pop feminists readily indulge whenever it suits their purposes), what they observed is telling:

Although these women students, both black and white, talked about the importance of a career to them, they also gradually redefined what a career was. For most of them, it became a secondary pursuit, a way of supporting oneself that would not interfere with the more significant pursuit of a suitable marriage partner. ... And years later most were in marginal jobs, replicating the gender division of labor in their career "choices." -- Science, Vol. 252, 17 May 1991, Myra Marx Ferree, p 989 - 990, review of Educated in Romance: Women, Achievement, and College Culture, by Dorothy C. Holland & Margaret A. Eisenhart
They stalled their careers by choice.

Complaints Ring False
But what about women who are really intent on latching onto the "brass ring"? At what point do they feel victimized? "The trouble begins at about the $75,000 to $100,000 salary level and seems to get worse the higher one looks." (Women Vs. Women: The Uncivil Business War, Tara Roth Madden, p 53) Millions of hard working men and women would dearly love to have "trouble" like that! Most college-educated men will never know what it's like to have this kind of problem because most will never make that kind of money.

Pop feminist complaints have little to do with the real world, but that doesn't lessen the impact of their angry rhetoric. A man making $10 an hour or a salary of $35,000 a year may not know it's the few vastly successful men who skew the income averages, but he knows that when his female co-workers, who make as much as or more than he does, complain, their complaints ring false:

The constant movement of hordes of working women pretending to act in unison goes no deeper than any other facade. And has no more substance. It's all show. -- Women Vs. Women: The Uncivil Business War, Tara Roth Madden, p 85
To gain parity, women need to work as productively for as many hours and years as men do. Slogans about women being able to do twice the work in half the time do not replace results. Pop feminists know this, but rather than ask women to measure up to the same high standard to which many men aspire, their solution to inequality is to lower the standards to women's level: "The answer is not to move women out of star jobs but to redefine our expectations for everyone." (Savvy Magazine, June 1989, p 40, by Ellie McGarth)

Is this what women really want? Do they really want to get the "brass ring" by lowering the standards? Or do they want to earn their own way, and take pride in their accomplishments? These are the questions men must pose, and women must answer.

Since writing this essay, many other arguments and factors have emerged. For example, in Canada Stats Can (Statistics Canada) recently reported that women in Canada average higher earnings than men. Do we hear the so-called pro-equality feminists there protesting that this discriminates against men? No. Why not? Revenge? "Tit for tat"? Sexism? Or is it just that, because "men have all the power," it's okay for them to make less? Yea, right. - 1998


Rod Van Mechelen

Rod Van Mechelen is the author of What Everyone Should Know about Feminist Issues: The Male-Positive Perspective (the page now includes several articles by other authors), and the publisher of The Backlash! @ He is a member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and served for 9-1/2 years on the Cowlitz Indian Tribal Council.


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