On the heels of yet another Paycheck Fairness Act defeat, you may be scratching your head and wondering why, in 2014, equal pay is still just a fantasy. Well, ladies and gentlemen, GOP activist Phyllis Schlafly has the answer.
According to Schlafly, not only is equal pay for equal work a "notorious falsehood," but there's actually a very simple, very obvious reason why women don't — and shouldn't — earn as much as men: hypergamy. In other words, women prefer to have a higher-earning husband. If the pay gap were eliminated, "half of women would be unable to find what they regard as a suitable mate." Better yet, "the pay gap between men and women is not all bad because it helps to promote and sustain marriages."
The thinking here is that not only is every woman straight, but every woman's biggest concern is finding and keeping a husband.
But that thinking is as inaccurate as it is damaging. Women everywhere, you are being lied to, at PolicyMic we aren't going to stand for it any longer. Schafly has made many outrageous claims over the years, but her latest are riddled with errors and inaccuracies. Here's why pretty much everything she's had to say on the topic of equal pay recently has been wrong.
Schafly claims women don't work as hard as men and avoid overtime.
According to a 2012 survey of U.S. employees, 54% of women report working nine or more hours a day, compared to 41% of men. Plus, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2011, 5.3% of employed women had more than one job, compared to 4.6% of men. So there's that.
The pay gap has ceased to exist among African-American and Millennial populations.
Image credit: AAUW
The gender gap exists for all women, and even more so for African-American women who earn 89% of what African-American men make and 64% of what white men earn. For millennial women, the picture is brighter. Their hourly earnings were 93% of men's. But there's still a 7% discrepancy in pay, which, after 10 years in the workforce will increase to 12%.
Women choose college courses that pay less in the labor market, contributing to the pay gap.
Image Credit: Getty
That may be partly true — but only if you don't look at the full picture. According to the American Association of University Women (AAUW), women tend to concentrate in fields associated with lower earnings, like education, health and psychology. But college majors aren't the whole story. AAUW also found that the pay gap exists among women and men who had the same exact college major. Bottom line: You can't choose a major that will allow you to avoid the gender pay gap.
Schafly claims the best way to improve economic prospects for women is to improve job prospects for the men in their lives.
In fact, the majority of women (58.1%) in the workforce are counted on to make ends meet in their families. Roughly 2.4 million women were paid at or below the federal minimum wage in 2010, resulting in a higher working-poor rate for women versus men. But, yes, let's focus exclusively on fattening men's paychecks. That's not at all counter-intuitive.
Ultimately, Schlafly's view of gender pay disparity is myopic at best and harmful at worst. To suggest that women actually want to earn less so that they can find a mate is both laughable and offensive. Millions of women and their families struggle because of systematic and institutional pay discrimination; equal pay is not just a "women's" issue. It is a family and community issue.
Rather than focus on cementing inequities in the workforce for the sake of marriage (How outdated and Draconian is that!?), we ought to focus on improving individuals' lives — and by extension, their families' — by eliminating pay inequity.