WaPo: Wage gap is “A Bargain At 77 Cents To a Dollar”

“Paper money is just so…masculine. I prefer my pay in easy-to-count coins!”
Did you know that making less money than men is a good thing? Oh, you like paying the bills and feeding your kids? Well don’t fret, Carrie Lukas is here to set you straight!
Lukas, the vice president of the anti-feminist organization the Independent Women’s Forum, has a column in today’s Washington Post assuring women that the wage gap is “a bargain.” No seriously, she swears.

Yes, the Labor Department regularly issues new data comparing the median wage of women who work full time with the median wage of men who work full time, and women’s earnings bob at around three-quarters those of men. But this statistic says little about women’s compensation and the influence of discrimination on men’s and women’s earnings. All the relevant factors that affect pay — occupation, experience, seniority, education and hours worked — are ignored. This sound-bite statistic fails to take into account the different roles that work tends to play in men’s and women’s lives.

Lukas goes on to note how throughout her 10 year career she’s “made things other than money a priority.” You know, like babies and “good woman” stuff.

I sought out a specialty and employer that seemed best suited to balancing my work and family life. When I had my daughter, I took time off and then opted to stay home full time and telecommute. I’m not making as much money as I could, but I’m compensated by having the best working arrangement I could hope for.

Now, something tells me that Lukas–who has a BA from Princeton and a MA from Harvard, btw–probably isn’t struggling. (In fact, I’m on a mission to find out her salary if anyone wants to help a sister out.) But that’s not the point. What is the point is that Lukas is full of shit.
She argues that the wage gap exists because women “choose” to make less money by taking time off or working in jobs for “personal fulfillment” over pay. (Because there’s nothing fulfilling about making money, I guess.)
But in fact, last year on Equal Pay Day, The Washington Post ran an article debunking nonsense theories like Lukas':

So let’s just get this straight right now, says [economist Evelyn] Murphy: That 23-cent differential is not because some women take time off to give birth or raise children. The pay-gap figure measures only women and men who work full time, for a full year. It does not include women who took time off during the year or worked part time.

But don’t tell that to Lukas, her oh-so-unimportant paycheck depends on convincing people that sexism is actually good for women.
And if you have any lingering doubts about Lukas’ agenda, I’ll leave you with these gems from her recently published book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Women, Sex, and Feminism:

Careers can be baby-deniers.
Research shows that women still tend to prefer men who are breadwinners…who they can consider intellectually superior.

“Baby-deniers.” Nuff said.

Join the Conversation

  • the_becca

    Hey, I suppose I do “prefer” smart, “breadwinning” men. This is because I like to date people I consider my equal.

  • soupcann314

    Oh wow. Carrie Lukas is so full of inane soundbites herself, it’s hard to believe she’s managed to put an entire column together. Every once in awhile I catch this program on my local PBS station that centers around women talking about current events. They have two women from IWF (one of whom is Carrie Lukas) and they have Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton and Kim Gandy, President of NOW on their panel. Needless to say, the IWF cronies are always upstaged by the fierce and honest Holmes Norton and Gandy.

  • roymacIII

    Research shows that women still tend to prefer men who are breadwinners…who they can consider intellectually superior.
    Ah, see, I thought that it was actually “Research shows that assholes still tend to prefer women who make less money than them… who they can consider intellectually inferior.”
    I do like that conflation of high IQ and bread-winning. Clearly, if you make money, you’re smart.

  • http://norbizness.com norbizness

    I saw the phrase “baby-denier” and I thought of that one Dr. Katz sketch, where a comedian vacationing in Italy was thrown a baby by a lady… when he caught it, her children rummaged through his pockets.
    The lesson: next time somebody throws a baby at you, KNOCK IT TO THE GROUND and say “I DON’T THINK SO!”
    Don’t worry, one of these utopian days, everybody will stop reading once they get to the Orwellian phrase “Independent Women’s Forum.”

  • hautedonna

    Are there any stats on comparisons in pay between childless men and childless women? Because if there is a disparity there (and I suspect there is) then that would debunk the claim that women make less because of family choices. From personal experience and anecdotal evidence, I know that employers will favor men over women in hiring and pay because of beliefs about future family. There persists this belief that women will eventually find a breadwinner and that men will need more money and promotions to support their families, whether or not they currently have them. So you may not escape the glass ceiling by avoiding marriage and motherhood.

  • paperdaisy

    Carrie Lukas made $67,888 from Independent Women’s Forum in 2004, the most recent data available. Since IWF is a nonprofit org, they have to report salaries on their 990 tax form to the IRS. You can find that info at http://www.foundationcenter.org or http://www.guidestar.org. I’d say almost 70 grand isn’t too bad.

  • kryrinn

    Found her salary!
    On the 2004 IRS-990 Form (required of all 501(c)(3) organizations, and which they must give to whomever asks)from the Independent Women’s Forum Carrie Lukas’s salary is listed as $67,888. So, add in raises and all, and she probably makes around $70k a year, currently.
    (Tax forms for all orgs can be found at guidestar.org)

  • manda

    It certainly takes a special kind of person to be ignorant and insulting on so many levels at once.
    To assume that men and women get different things from work (i.e., women value family while men value the almighty dollar above is) insulting to both sexes.
    To assume that having a parent stay at home is the best situation for each child, shows how little she knows about children.
    To assume that every parent who stays at home will be good at it is nonsense.
    To assume that every mom that goes back to work or stays at home does so out of choice rather than necessity show how little she knows about the working class.
    And finally, to assume that all women have the same educational opportunities or that all career paths are equally open and accepting to both sexes is proof that she just doesn’t live in or understand the real world.

  • EllenJ

    Dag, i thought i was so slick, and 2 other people beat me on her salary. I would assume that Mrs. Lukas has a husband that works, probably for more than she does, so i would guess she’s not hurting.
    and, carrie? my office has a policy that every employee needs to be full-time. and, you are not allowed to work from home. (well, you can work at home if you need to be there for some reason, but you still have to take sick or vacation if you’re not in the office). so not only am i paid less than my male counterparts in this office (and i don’t have kids), but i don’t have that “extra benefit” of a flexible work schedule.

  • morgan

    While the ideas are nothing new, what’s up with the WaPo and NYT running all these backlash articles? Why are legitimate “liberal” media outlets give ink to these gals? Why PBS? Why? It didn’t used to be like this. . .

  • http://lawfairy.blogspot.com The Law Fairy

    Here’s the interesting thing that happens when people like Ms. Lukas — oh, excuse me, MRS. Lukas — go on about how it’s okay for men and women to have different expectations in their jobs, there’s nothing discriminatory about it, it’s all choice, etc. Like in so many iterations of sexism, these sexist notions even hurt Teh Menz too.
    There’s a guy at my firm who wanted to opt for a part-time track (the so-called “Mommy Track”) and earn a lower salary while having a lower billable hours expectation. Surprise, surprise, they wouldn’t let him do it. I guess “sex-neutral” part-time and flex options are REALLY only for women — Lord knows we wouldn’t want Teh Wimmins getting it into our pretty little heads that we’re just as much Partnership Material as the guys. Anything we can do to help women see what we’re REALLY meant for!

  • plenilune

    “to assume that all women have the same educational opportunities or that all career paths are equally open and accepting to both sexes is proof that she just doesn’t live in or understand the real world.”
    exactly. i used to work for a very, very large brokerage firm, in their largest US retail office. the ratio of brokers was at least 10-to-1, male to female. the ratio of sales assistants (support staff who’d handle anywhere from 1 to 5 brokers apiece, based on broker production)was at least 10 to 1, female to male. unfortunately, those are fairly common ratios at any big financial firm.
    yet, when they were looking for a sales assistant to be assistant manager of a new branch they were opening, they tapped a male sales assistant. when they created a new position, essentially a management-employee liaison, they tapped a male sales assistant. i can’t recall there being more than 3 male sales assistants at any one time, while there’d be at least 30-40 female sales assistants at the same time. it is either the biggest coincidence ever that the men were the most qualified candidates in both instances, or one of the qualifications was a penis.
    needless to say i no longer work there.

  • http://jnbruns.blogspot.com ikkin

    I have been itching to get my hands on a chance to bitch about the pay difference at Dell, my workplace.
    I work in call directing, which is sort of like a grand-scale secretarial department. The department only employs unattractive women, gay men, and racial minorities. We get paid $12.50 an hour, which is pretty decent for the work, but Basic Server techs, who work just across the hall, do a less work for $19.25 an hour. Basic Server is the only server group in which I have ever seen a woman employed. I sat across from her one morning while having my coffee in the break room and she told me how much she made, $17.75, after two years of full-time employment. The sick part was that she had no idea how much the male technicians made. Silver, Gold, and Platinum techs make unknown gobs of money and precious retirement plans, but I never seen/heard from a female working in the department.
    As for management, both in the departments and staff management, they are all men, unless they are an overnight manager. Then, they are a gorgeous, thin, well-dressed females (the men wear jeans and a polo).
    My only joy is that occasionally a technician will call in from NARAL and I get to listen in on a call in which she makes several remarks about Dell’s sexist staffing problems.

  • Nazrafel

    I too want to kvetch. I work for the international dept. of my company- nearly all women. We ALL, from the secretary to the director, make less than do those in the domestic side, while we do WAY more! My job requirements include: a 4 year degree, industry experience and 2nd language ability- reading, writing, typing, speaking (Mandarin Chinese). My counterpart in domestic makes $12,000 more than me a year (he told me) and his position does not require a degree or languages beyond English. I’m really at a loss, short of hiring consul, what do I do? All I want is my fair pay! Oh yeah, and he’s exempt (salary) and I’m hourly. Nice.

  • puckalish

    you beat me to the punch.
    anyone else who wants to see the 990 form, go here.
    anyways, that’s not counting any sorts of speakers fees, honorariums, etc. simply her salary from the million dollar business which is the iwf.
    on top of it all, regarding:

    But this statistic says little about women’s compensation and the influence of discrimination on men’s and women’s earnings. All the relevant factors that affect pay — occupation, experience, seniority, education and hours worked — are ignored.

    that’s simply not true. the bureau of labor statistics have charts which break down the wage gap by education, race, etc.
    further, the bls wage gap studies only refer to full-time workers, not part-time, so hours worked is somewhat irrelevant. oh, wait, jessica, you already nailed that one on the head.
    you know what’s interesting? i wonder what the comparison is between hard-working, educated women in full-time positions and talking head reactionary part-time baby-proclaimers who have no idea what they’re talking about…
    hmmmnn… carrie lukas has a masters and she made 67,888 in 1994. in 1994, a full-time woman with a masters degree earned, on average, 57,220. for a part-timer, she’s doing alright.

  • http://www.afadaproject.com puckalish

    oops… meant “2004” for each of those “1994”s… dang…
    oh, yeah, i got the average number from <a href="

  • legallyblondeez

    If any of you find out that you are making less than a man in the same position (same requirements, responsibilities, hours), call the EEOC or your state equal opportunity employment organization. The Equal Pay Act means that any wage discrimination within positions has to be based on things like seniority.
    Sadly, that doesn’t help the problems with women being shunted into dead-end job tracks or lower-paying positions, but it’s something.
    I’m sad because one of our few senior female associates is leaving today. Her new job is pretty cool, but it’s one less woman to look up to.

  • donna darko

    what happened to puckalish’s peace and blessings heights heights? he has downsized to peace.

  • Messy Jessi

    Hey, I suppose I do “prefer” smart, “breadwinning” men. This is because I like to date people I consider my equal.
    Amen to that.

  • http://feministstotherescue.blogspot.com FEMily!

    A man who is intellectually superior to a coconut is hard enough to find, let alone a man who’s intellectually superior to moi.

  • noname

    “A man who is intellectually superior to a coconut is hard enough to find, let alone a man who’s intellectually superior to moi.” – FEMily
    Now will you argue that this comment is not sexist?

  • Anonymous

    i don’t think that it’s sexist, noname. just over-confident in a goofy sort of way.

  • http://www.afadaproject.com puckalish

    you are soooooo right…
    been feeling a little down and i needed you to snap me back into place…
    goodness gracious… gracious is the goodness… peace, height, blessings… all glorious, beautiful and illuminated things to all beings… BLESS UP!

  • alison052579

    I too would like to talk about this subject as it relates to my job. I work in casino gamming. In my industry there are male departments (table games, solt tech, solt host, casino shift managers, security, valet, and facilities) and female jobs (cage, audit, marketing hosts, players club reps, cocktails, and housekeeping). The first group is almost 100% high earners, either through wage or through tip potential. The second group is low end, save for the cocktail which is walking around in no clothes and objectifing herself for money. Now I will say that my proffesion is table games dealer and I am on the high end of the wage scale, but I will also say that I worked 10 years in this industry to get into a department which for many men is entry level. If you want to talk about a sexist workplace, you have to talk about casino’s which is a growing industry. I work as a dealer and often make less money than my male counterparts in tips, granted we all split the money in the end but I have many a time watched a high roller drop his tip bet when I take over a game for a male dealer. I know the reason for this… it is expected that he has a family to support but I must have someone supporting me. I could cocktail and make more, I have in the past, but another little sexist fact in casino’s is that most of the upper managment and hosting staff started out in casino’s on the tables. Regardless of my degree I have to work as a dealer to have any chance of climbing the casino ladder. AND it is hard to get on as a dealer if you are a woman. Next time you go to Vegas look at the dealers in the top houses… men… except the Pussy Cat Dolls pit at Ceasers which is all women in Hooker costumes dealing to horny guys or Hooters Girl Dealers. You think those girls are on managment track…uh no!

  • oenophile

    Women make up something like 59% of college students. They are more likely to graduate from high school, more likely to go to college, and more likely to graduate if they go.
    High-paying fields like medicine and law are nearly equal in gender parity at the bottom rungs. Sadly, engineering and MBA programmes are still very male-dominated.
    There is a chicken-egg situation with women and childrearing: when some women work until they can stay at home, employers assume that all women will do this. That lowers the benefit of working as a woman, which, in a cost-benefit analysis, increases the push towards staying home. More women follow their girl friends in the stay-at-home route, and the cycle continues.
    I do see some of an issue with engineering, accounting construction, and the like: they are well-paying jobs that are full of men. I do see the problem where housekeepers, for example, are paid much less than construction workers, even though housekeepers in hotels have higher on-the-job injury rates. I have no problem with people being paid more for higher-risk professions – same way that I don’t have an issue with people being paid more for higher-stress or higher-education jobs.
    Fact is, though, we underpay teachers, nurses, and some other “female” jobs. Objectively, they are underpaid, as there are shortages in those fields. The free market does not support Ms. Lukas’s claims.

  • donna darko

    goodness gracious… gracious is the goodness… peace, height, blessings… all glorious, beautiful and illuminated things to all beings… BLESS UP!
    your peace by itself sounded mopey. sorry to hear you’ve been down. sign o the times.
    peace and blessings
    heights heights

  • http://www.feministsdontbakebread.com Anna

    I’ve always felt that I would do myself a huge favour in job interviews by mentioning that I don’t plan on having children. Which strikes me as incredibly wrong. None of the childfree men I know feel they need to say this at any point. I feel it’s gotten me at least two jobs since I got married.

  • sweetwickedgrl

    An interesting fact about teachers’ pay: The good benefits teachers have been earning along with their low pay were given to them only to recruit men into teaching, so that they could support a family. Of course, now they’re trying to take those things away in budget cuts instead of say, the superintendent’s way too high salary… But really, I’m looking forward to trying to pay off my student loans from a teacher’s salary AND finding away to pay for a doctor when I need one.

  • manda

    I know how you feel, sweetwickedgrl. I’m halfway through a teacher prep while I look forward to being a teacher, I’m not looking forward to the paychek. With a master’s degree, I’ll rake in a whopping $35,000 per year with a maximum of around $50,000 (with 25 years experience), but I’ll have to pay back almost $30,000 in loans.
    In my area, they haven’t started slashing benefits yet, but the salary situation is looking pretty scary. The state legislature is getting pissed when school boards ask for more money for teachers’ pay then turn around and use the extra funds for administrative expenses and pay increases. At this point it’s unclear whether or not the miniscule raise teachers got last year will be available this year.

  • http://feministstotherescue.blogspot.com FEMily!

    “A man who is intellectually superior to a coconut is hard enough to find, let alone a man who’s intellectually superior to moi.” – FEMily
    “Now will you argue that this comment is not sexist?”-noname
    When did I say that they’re not smarter than I am because they’re men? Never. You assumed that’s what I meant, most likely because you hold that belief yourself. I, on the other hand, do not.

  • Megan

    Has anyone ever done a study comparing the median salaries of childless men and childless women? That would be one way to remove the “baby factor.” Or maybe even better, compare the median salaries of men and women who have NEVER taken a career break. I think these two studies together would provide a much less assailable picture of wage discrimination.

  • http://wealhtheow.typepad.com wealhtheow

    Wow. Long-time reader, first-time commenter. I want my husband to be the “breadwinner” while I take some time off to raise the kid, but in no way to I consider him to be my “intellectual superior.” In fact, if anything, it’s the reverse–which is why I’m taking time off to raise the kid.

  • roymacIII

    FEMily: When did I say that they’re not smarter than I am because they’re men? Never.
    You did say men were dumber than coconuts, though:
    “A man who is intellectually superior to a coconut is hard enough to find, let alone a man who’s intellectually superior to moi.” – FEMily
    The order of intelligence presented there:
    Most men is sexist as you presented it, and I don’t think that it’s unreasonable for someone to think that it is.
    Unless you’re going to follow up with “A woman who is intellectually superior to a coconut is hard enough to find, let alone a woman who’s intellectually superior to moi,” it’s absolutely as sexist as when someone says things about bad women drivers, or overly emotional women, etc.
    I’m still going to chuckle at the mental image of a bunch of people with coconuts for heads, though. =)

  • Scarbo

    Two comments:
    1. I went to the WaPo article linked in the post to find the “proof” which “debunks” Mrs. Lukas’ claims. None could be found. They asserted it was all bogus, but no proof.
    2. For all of you who are certain you are victims of wage discrimination based on gender: how are you coming along on your lawsuits? That sort of thing is illegal, you know.

  • subgrrl8

    Scarbo- Actually, it’s not illegal. We still haven’t passed that ole ERA on the federal level, have we? Until that’s in there, we only have state-level Equal Pay laws, and that’s not even in every state.
    You also might want to take a look at the links the other commentators threw in with the Labor statistics from the Feds. It actually kind of *pays* to read all the comments, read their links, before claiming that we are victimizing ourselves.
    Then again, I bet you are a man. Your entitlement is showing, dear. Better tuck that back in your pants, I bet your little guy is getting cold.
    Re the post: Crickey, it’s hard to escape this backlash, isn’t? It’s pretty scary when I realize that even the tame feminism in the movie “9 to 5″ would never be allowed to be done here, now, 20 years later. WTF?
    I’ve been a clerical worker for a long while now. If you want to see pay inequity, there it is. Managers are usually male, women are usually stuck in unmoveable jobs. And when my union went on strike, we were admonished for being “greedy”. Yeah, the lowest paid workers, 93% of them female and probably about 75% of them single mothers, asking simply for a livign wage an affordable health care, *we’re* the greedy ones. Meanwhile, on the other side of campus, they seem to keep adding more and more top-level positions making $100K or more… And they aren’t called greedy at all.
    The President of the University wanted us all to “share the pain” of budget crises. Did he “share the pain”? Did he take a 10% wage cut or a wage freeze? Did the other managers? No. They balanced the “budget crisis” on the backs of us clerical workers, freezing our wages while increasing our health insurance premiums to 8-10% of our yearly wage. Making our already below-market wges of $12-14/hr worth even less….
    Fuckin a, it’s makes me so angry! That’s of course how I found myself a Local Union Celebrity. Wasn’t a photo during that strike that didn’t have me shouting about it with my fist in the air. Power to the fuckin’ people!

  • Scarbo

    Dear subgrrl8,
    Gee, I was all set to have respond politely to your comment with some follow-up questions. Then you decided to hurl insults.
    So, no thanks. Not worth my time. Next time you are trying to make a point, and win people over to your side, try sticking to persuasive arguments. Ad hominems are usually a sign that you feel your arguments are weak.
    Just a suggestion, hon. You’re only 18 — it’s understandable for a punk your age. Consider your cute little head patted.

  • http://jamilaakil.blogspot.com/ Jamila Akil

    Carrie Lukas is correct and the WAPO article that Jessica links to not only doesn’t disprove Lukas, but gives additional facts that prove her to be correct.
    The articles states: The Bureau of Labor Statistics just reported that in 2005, women made up only 31 percent of workers in the highest earnings category, yet they made up 43.6 percent of all full-time workers.
    Translation: 69% of workers in the highest wage earning categories are men and there are more men than women working full-time.
    The pay gap statistic that gets quoted ad nauseum doesn’t take occupational choices into account, doesn’t take previous time off from work into account, doesn’t take single-parenthood into account, doesn’t take state location into account etc.,
    If you want the pay gap to dissappear you need more women working full-time and in more hazardous occupations.

  • Bailey The Pirate

    First off, you make the assumption that the 18 in subgrrl18’s handle is a reference to her age, which is ridiculous – it could just as easily refer to the number of toes she has.
    Secondly, there wasn’t a single ad hominem attack in what she said, she was merely commenting (albeit with hints of disdain) that your comment contained distinct notes of contempt. In my humble opinion, if you want to contemptuously make a point that is misinformed and just plain absurd, then she’s allowed to return the sentiment.
    Thirdly, you denounce something as an ad hominem attack, decrying it as “a sign that you feel your arguments are weak” and then you turn around and call her a “punk”. This is not an appropriate response in what is supposed to be a forum for intelligent debate.
    You were wrong and rude, she was right and rude, and then you just crossed the line. Next time, when someone stomps on your ego, try to view it as an educational experience.

  • donna darko

    subgrrl 8 is neither eight nor has eight toes.

  • GamesOnline

    While the ideas are nothing new, what’s up with the WaPo and NYT running all these backlash articles? games