If there has been any social issue given more time, money, and legislative attention than the plight of women in the workforce, I’m not sure what it could be. Go down the history of American law, and you’ll come across initiative after bill after act meant to shore up equality in the workplace. It’s hard to determine how much tax money has been spent chasing these social ideals, but one can imagine.
First there was the Equal Pay Act of 1963, a federal law signed by President Kennedy meant to abolish wage disparity. Then there was Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which, in part, made it a federal crime to discriminate against applicants on the basis of sex. It also, courts have since decided, outlawed sexual harassment in the workplace. Then there was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, which gave women more time to file a lawsuit against their employers for wage discrimination. And in 2010, we were treated to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which requires employers to provide nursing mothers with both a special place and special time to express breast milk.
Okay, all of that federal law must have had an effect right? Well, mainstream opinion still has it that women only make 77 cents to a man’s dollar. Democrats have thrice failed to push the Paycheck Fairness Act through Congress, a law that would require a host of new regulations aimed at once again shoring up that gap. The reason it hasn’t passed? I don’t know. Perhaps because the commonly-cited statistic is BS?
Well, the gap does exist, but there are reasons for it that won’t be solved by federal law. It can be almost wholly explained by differences in job position, differences in female employment in certain high-paying sectors, length of time worked, and education. A recent study concluded that men “were almost twice as likely as women to work more than 40 hours a week, and women almost twice as likely to work only 35 to 39 hours per week.” The study concluded that at least 10% of the wage gap disappeared once this factor alone was accounted for.
Not Good Enough: It’s Up To Men Now
Of course, this is not enough to satisfy feminists. One such wonk, writing for the Wall Street Journal this weekend, decided that the problem is not women (of course) but men. Joanne Lipman decided it was therefore time to teach men how to work with women. Here’s what she thinks men should do to improve the workplace environment for the fairer sex:
Quiet but Important – Women are trained (presumably by the oppressive patriarchy) to be quiet, timid, and apologetic, which means they aren’t as assertive and forceful in meetings. Men should specifically ask, “What do you think?” and use other tactics to coax their female employees into speaking up. Perhaps stop the meeting entirely so each woman can be polled one by one?
Promotion Shy – Women, according to Lipman, may not ask for a promotion and may even turn one down when offered the job. Don’t just go on to the next MAN in line, guys, c’mon! Instead, “be prepared to twist some arms.” Badger your female employees until they accept more money and responsibility!
Keep the Position Open Indefinitely – Women with small children at home might want to take a year or ten off to be home with their families. Employers should keep their seat warm by maintaining a list of “talented women with little children” just in case they decide they want their old job back. What, you’re going to let women fall behind simply because they…aren’t working?
Maybe – just maybe – if women need to be coddled this much in the workplace, the wage gap is justified. But, y’know, that’s just me.