In a controversial letter to the editor last week, former Wasatch County, Utah Republican Party vice chair James Green argued that equal pay is not worth fighting for because the wage gap exists for a good reason. And that reason, in his view, is that women prioritize family over work. This is a common argument people use to explain away the wage gap, and like many other such arguments, it actually doesn't.
In the letter, which appeared in the Park Record and the Wasatch Wave, Green argued that if women start to earn more, "men will have an even more difficult time earning enough to support their families, which will mean more Mothers will be forced to leave the home (where they may prefer to be) to join the workforce to make up the difference. And as even more women thus enter the workforce that creates more competition for jobs (even men’s jobs) and puts further downward pressure on the pay for all jobs, meaning more and more Mothers will be forced into the workforce. And that is bad for families and thus for all of society."
If this outrages you, you're not alone. The letter sparked a lot of backlash, leading Green to apologize and resign. But his belief system is one that many people still hold despite evidence to the contrary. So let's go through this argument and similar ones and unpack why they're misguided.
Here are some factors people cite to explain away the wage gap that actually don't.