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Nearly 60 percent of respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll say a national gender wage gap exists. A similar majority supports the Paycheck Fairness Act.
For the third time in the last several years, the Paycheck Fairness Act failed last week to move forward in Congress. As before, the bill was blocked in the Senate by Republican opposition.
The measure would update the Equal Pay Act, enacted in 1963, in several ways. For example, it would bar employers from penalizing workers who discuss their pay and would require the federal government to collect salary information from employers.
President Barack Obama, who signed executive orders last week to impose such requirements on federal contractors, argues these steps are necessary to eliminate pay disparity based on gender. He cites studies showing women on average make 77 cents for every dollar earned by men.
Other studies, however, show a smaller gap, and some conservative economists contend that factors such as education, hours worked and time off for family roles like child care explain most or all of the difference in average pay.
Nearly 675 readers participated in this week’s poll, conducted April 14 and 15.
In your view, how often are women unfairly paid less than men for performing the same or comparable jobs?
Very often: 38%
Somewhat often: 21%
Not very often: 24%
Rarely or never: 17%
Do you support or oppose the Paycheck Fairness Act?
Women are paid less for the same work. This is a matter of fact, not opinion, and something we as organizations and as a society need to continue to work on.
—Christopher C. Dahl, SUNY Geneseo
You are missing other major reasons why women are paid less. I, like many women, value flexible schedules more than pay, so I left my corporate job to start my own business. Also, women tend to be less confident than men, so we are less likely to apply for a job unless we meet 100 percent of the qualifications, and are much less likely to negotiate starting salaries (see “Lean In”). President Obama should fix the inequities in pay for his White House staff before imposing new requirements on others.
—Karen Zilora, president, Creative Scanning Solutions Inc.
The pay gap lingers because of the old days when women were in the home and men earned enough to raise a family. It has not been that way for decades; women have to work in order for their families to earn enough to live. Somehow this lower pay is justified by an unconscious ration-alization that women are not as valuable in the workplace.
—Jim DeLuca, Abundance Cooperative Market
If you believe this to be true, then it’s easy to fix: Hire more women at your company. If you are right, then the market is inefficient and you should be able to get a better employee at an equivalent or lesser rate. Good for you, and good for women. Why do we need legislation?
—Tyshawn Maxwell, Rochester
What a bill is called and what laws it actually contains have become increasingly different. The Republican side voted it down because of all the disclosure requirements that would hurt small and midsized businesses. Because of the bill title, they get painted the bad guy. In fact, the president and the White House are paying their female staffers less than male staffers.
—Joel Stauring, Hornell
Do you believe the Earth revolves around the sun? There may be a number of different reasons that women are paid less than men, some tied to “historic” gender roles in society and some more intentionally discriminatory. Regardless, women being paid less than men is a fact, not an opinion question.
—Jim Bertolone, Rochester AFL-CIO
All things equal in regard to experience (full job resume), education, hours to be worked and certifications, if a man and a woman apply for the same job, they should receive the same pay. If all these considerations are taken into account and a woman is making 23 percent less on average, (it) is a sizable concern.
Are women paid less? Hell, yes. I know. I am a woman. This survey may well be skewed by a larger number of men than women who respond.
—Eve Elzenga, Eve Elzenga Design
There are a couple of ways in which women see less compensation than men. First, in child-bearing years, women miss out on promotion during maternity leave, and more often must leave work for a sick child. Second is the “old boys network”; women are less likely to be a part of this network, missing out on tips for job opportunities, as well as on the male-male camaraderie. Likely there are cases of outright discrimination based on gender, but I would put the “mommy track” and “the good old boys network” near the top of the list. Even though I support the Paycheck Fairness Act, I doubt that it addresses these two issues.
—Wayne Donner, Rush
I have seen several studies on this issue. When you correct for educational background, specific job type and years of experience, the differences in pay go away. Over 50 years ago, I learned that if you want to get paid like an engineer, then go to engineering school, graduate, find a job in the field and stick with it. Not too complicated.
—Bob Worden, Penn Yan
In my first 31 years, working for a Fortune 50 firm, I never saw women paid less than men for the same or comparable job. In my next 10 years, teaching in public education, I learned of isolated cases of starting salaries, set by a single individual, higher for men.
—Jerry McCabe, Irondequoit
This is a capitalistic system. Also freedom to choose. If an employer chooses to pay men more than women, it should be their prerogative. If the woman does not like working for less, she does not have to. When the employer can no longer find employees because of this disjointed effort, the market will change the dynamics! That is as it should be. As more women enter the market full time, the dynamics will change. I get tired of the phony politicians trying to win favor with these issues!
—J.A. DePaolis, Penfield
There are too many boys clubs in the business world.
I have concrete evidence that women are paid less than men for doing the same job—in my own life and in my children’s lives.
This is a blatantly political issue being raised to create an issue that has little real merit.
—Dave Coriale, Webster
Equal pay for equal work is reasonable and fair, not to mention an economic boost to women, their families and their charities of choice. But long-held business norms don’t easily change even after decades of the Equal Pay Act of 1963. Discussions over the potential passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act have proven useful as a reminder of this reasonable and fair premise.
—Carolyn Phinney Rankin, president, Phinney Rankin Inc.
The claim that women are underpaid is a statistical statement including the male top managers. A lot of men are also underpaid. I found out that after 30 years at Kodak with many contributions, I was paid less than everyone hired after me, some only a few years on the job. I did not know, since this was kept secret. Every woman was paid more (than me). Fair payment should apply to all, not just for women using questionable information.
—Ingo Leubner, Crystallization Consulting
I don't understand why you are conducting an opinion poll about a proven fact.
—C. Lewis, Perinton
In a true market-based capitalist society, you should be compensated for the value of your labor or service; not for what some outside entity should determine what is fair or equitable. Thus the notions of minimum wage, wage equality or fairness should be scrapped. A person should be paid strictly in regards to the value of their labor or service. It would be a good thing if people, producers and employers read and understood and employers were to read and understand the Ayn Rand Institute's “Point Of View On Capitalism.”
—Michael F. Kloppel, Canandaigua
This could just as well be called the "Politicians Looking for Publicity Act."
I beg you to stop.
—T. Baker, Henrietta
Really your poll question is, "Do you think the stats are wrong."
I believe the findings of the independent news and other sources including the Congressional Budget Office, where the differences are from the types of work and hours worked differ.
Where does any government get the authority to regulate pay rates for anyone? How does a government determine what is equal work? This is nothing more than another attempt by Obama to buy the votes of a specific group of people by proposing laws to "supposedly protect" from the means nasty people that provide the jobs.
—Jim Weisbeck, Bloomfield
When the right applicant (or current employee) shows up, it's things like attitude, appearance, education and loyalty that motivate employers to pay well. These traits can be found without any regard to sexual orientation.
—Tom Shea, Thomas P. Shea Agency Inc.
I believe women do receive or should receive the same pay for performing the same job—NOT a "comparable" job. How do you decide what is comparable, and who does the deciding? If one wants the pay rate of a particular job, then do that job! An employer should be allowed to set a pay scale for every job offered and then pay each man and woman the same rate according to that scale. The argument about comparable pay is merely an attempt by people to get the same pay as a person performing a job that they would rather not do.
—Harry Caruso, Caruso Asset Management
This is a hot topic right now purely because of the deadly politics of Washington. I haven't reviewed any data but have read numerous reports of how the figures that Democrats quote make the problem appear to be worse than it is. Women who are competing for jobs and compensation with men are at a disadvantage if they also have and raise children. Yet, the future may bring forth a different era. Girls have been out achieving boys academically for years and occupy a larger percentage of the space in grad schools, law schools and medical schools. In another generation, they will be in charge! So, the question might be: "How can we create a more family-friendly business environment so that no one is penalized for aspiring to great professional heights while having a family?" Marisa Meyers is right when she tells women they should "lean in.”
—John Calia, Vistage International
We already have laws on the books to prevent sexual discrimination in pay in the workplace. Women tend to take jobs that pay less, and ones they can move more easily in and out of for the purposes of family and child care. It is no surprise that President Obama is playing to his base to try to win some more female votes for the Democrats in 2014.
—Clifford Jacobson M.D., Vanguard Psychiatric Services
Typical of the president. Let's misstate the issue and then solve the problem by creating new ones. Do women make less than men? Absolutely. Would this act require a female office worker to make the same as a coal miner who has a much higher risk factor; most likely. By using the practice of disparate results, one could argue that medical schools are discriminating against men in the Ob/Gyn field. Shall we require a maximum number of women Ob/Gyn's and require men to make up the balance in order to be fair? If the neurosurgeon should get paid the same as an Ob/Gyn, will many qualified docs switch fields as the money is the same and the stress is different? I like how you say “some conservative economists'. If the issue was global warming, you'd say “all scientists.” You say “other studies,” but no one cites a study of any sort saying there exists a disparity. What “they” are reporting is numerical facts taken out of context. But now I'm sliding into a discussion of the dumbing down of America and that would
cause your head to explode if you are part of those anointed with the vision Thomas Sowell talks about.
I cannot believe that this is having to be considered for implementation via legislation. Do women only receive three-fifths of a vote, as well? Having said that, there are certainly going to be pay discrepancies within a workplace, but this basic premise should already be in place everywhere.
The whole premise for this law is false. Women in the same profession with the same experience as men are paid the same. The problem is that girls in high school choose to major in low paying professions like nursing and teaching, when they get to college. High-paying professions like engineering and science get very few female applicants. So, women are self-selecting low pay. Why is it unfair that they get what they select? Why does the government want to pass another law to solve a non-existent problem? Passage of laws like this are eroding our freedoms. However, politicians and lawyers love this kind of law. The former get more power while the latter earn a lot of money from class action lawsuits.
4/18/14 (c) 2014 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.