Believe it or not, when you Google "equal pay," you find a lot of misinformation. Fake news, as President Trump would say. Popping up right away are articles named "Reasons Why The 'Gender Pay Gap' Is A Total Sham" (which I'm not going to link out to). I'm not making this up. What can you do then to combat this? Well, here are nine wage gap myths that need to be busted once and for all — and how to make the counterargument.
And you better start making it. As of the latest data from the Census Bureau, women are currently making just 80 cents to a man's dollar. But plenty of people don't know that. As of just two years ago, the public was pretty confused about the issue. Even though 46 percent think that men have more opportunities than women, only 32 percent thought that new legislation was needed to combat this discrimination.
And the ironic thing is that legislation really does make a difference. Just take a look at the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Imagine if you only had 180 days to sue for unequal pay? Now there's not that limit, thanks to a law. Other changes need to happen too. Wage transparency for one would make a big difference. So spread these nine counterarguments, because if not, equal pay will remain a problem.
1) It's All Market Forces
The idea here is that the all-powerful market sets wages, and therefore we shouldn't worry about this. Well if we've seen anything since the Great Recession that began in 2008, the market isn't always perfect. And on top of that, as AFSCME argues, employers will still check market prices when they hire — they'll just make sure that men and women are offered the same pay.
2) Women Choose Low-Paying Jobs
Yes, many women work in low-paying fields. But that is not completely their choice. Society makes certain choices easier for women and others easier for men. Many STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math) are dominated by men, that's true. But as the AAUW explains, there needs to be a change every step of the way, from university to recruitment and beyond to change this. It's not personal choice.
3) Family Means Women Prioritize Other Things
We want equal pay. We want paid family leave. We want managers to promote us. We want a female president. We want more. #EqualPayDay— Angela Belcamino (@AngelaBelcamino) April 4, 2017
Why do we have paid maternity leave in many companies and no paternity leave? Because society expects that women will do it. Women are expected to do this, and our laws reflect that.
If we mandate family leave for all, these responsibilities will be split between both sexes and thus women won't be penalized. Mothers make just a fraction of what fathers do, and that doesn't needs to be the case. It's just a question of policy.
4) Men Need More Money To Pay For Their Families
Men are no longer always the sole breadwinner. Some 42 percent of families — as of 2015 — had women who were the main or sole breadwinner.
5) Pay Equity Is Unfair To Men
One, no one is arguing that men make less money. The idea is that women should be paid more. On top of that, most households have two breadwinners, and as we just went over, many have women as the main one. So men who are a part of a family will actually see their household income increase. And on top of that, when companies review their pay policies, sometimes men get raises too, as in the case of SAP.
6) Women Should Quit And Get New Jobs
Check out the pay gap in each U.S. state for Equal Pay Day https://t.co/8uIHcG1GGQ— TIME (@TIME) April 4, 2017
This inequality goes across entire fields. Take a study of nurses for example. It shows that male nurses make more than $5,000 more per year than women. So if you're a woman and you quit in one hospital, the same culture likely persists at others. The changes need to be structural, not case by case.
7) It Opens Up The Possibility Of More Lawsuits
There will only be lawsuits if companies continue to break the law. If companies choose to take on that risk, that's their problem. Look at California, where one of the strongest equal pay laws exists. Companies there are fixing their payrolls so that they're not liable. If businesses comply, there's no more lawsuits.
8) It Would Destroy Merit-Based Pay
94 days. That’s how far into 2017 the average woman must work to close the gap with what men earned the year before. We need #EqualPay!— Brenda Lawrence (@RepLawrence) April 4, 2017
No one is suggesting a rule that two people can't be paid differently — only that it can't be based on the worker's gender. So merit pay will need to actually be based on merit, and recorded as such. Simple.
9) There Are Already Laws On the Books
Iceland became the first country to ask that employers prove they are paying men and women equally https://t.co/zyGv96LIQT— The New York Times (@nytimes) March 29, 2017
Sure, there are laws on the books, but they're not good enough. Look at Iceland for an example of what could pass in the United States but still hasn't. Businesses there have to prove to the government that they pay their men and women the same. That would solve the problem. While we have some laws that help to mitigate pay discrimination, many more, better laws could still be passed.
Explain this to your friends, to your family. And then maybe a solid majority will support more laws for equal pay, and this can finally be a problem of the past.