the country breathless news reports and glaring headlines recently
trumpeted a “growing” male-female salary gap.
A General Accounting
Office (GAO) study commissioned by two liberal Democratic members
of Congress, Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York and John Dingell of
Michigan, purported to show that in a survey of ten major industries
the wages of women managers have on average fallen dramatically
in relation to those of men in the last five years.
a wake-up call, not only for corporate America but all of America,”
Maloney told the Washington Post.
and Dingell tread somewhat carefully, saying “more study is needed”
to determine the exact cause of the discrepancy. As Dingell told
the Post, “there are more questions raised by the study”
than answers. Though already no surprise Maloney and
Dingell suggest that the solution to whatever the problem is just
might include more federal regulation of the workplace, i.e. mandating
paid maternity leave and similar measures.
But on closer
inspection it turns out the taxpayer-funded analyses, peppered with
words like “startling,” “imperative,” “concerning,” and, of course,
“glass ceiling,” was actually an emotionalized reinterpretation
of the original GAO data, done by. . .staff members of Maloney and
Dingell. So, for instance, the title of the GAO report “Women in
Management: Analysis of Selected Data from the Current Population
Survey,” becomes, in the hands of the Maloney/Dingell staff, “A
New Look Through the Glass Ceiling: Where are the Women?”
this was never intended to be the legitimate fact-finding mission
Maloney and Dingell so clearly and carefully suggest. Instead, the
government “study” did just what its backers determined it would
do from the outset: It “demonstrated” discrimination against women
in the workplace, a finding which further “studies” will just as
Now it hardly
takes rocket science to figure out this strategy, but it’s nice
to have it made plain. In this case Maloney made the mistake of
outlining the plan to me herself.
I called Rep.
Maloney’s office, identified myself to the press secretary, and
was put on the phone with the congresswoman. If there was ever any
doubt that the Left considers the press in its pocket, this should
dispel it. Knowing only that I was a woman and a columnist interested
in the wage-gap study, I apparently became to Maloney a leading
member of the sisterhood, worthy of being shown the minutes from
all the latest sorority meetings.
I asked Maloney
to what she attributed the disparity in wages could it be
something to do with the choices women themselves make? She shrugged
off that idea. Then in a comment that went from “off” to “on” the
record (she gave me, the sister, permission to tone down anything
I thought was “too radical” ) she told me that “Women have always
been discriminated against. . .this [the findings of the report]
is another example of that.” “But,” she expounded to me, “we have
to prove it. That’s what we’re trying to do.”
there are not more questions than answers after all.
shared with me her intention to keep the Right from finding out
what she and Dingell are up to. As she explained it to me, they
“don’t want to scare the right wing so that they stop collecting
data” on women in the workforce.
But of course
conservatives aren’t the ones scared by hard data. The GAO study
had several limitations. For instance, it did not control for experience,
level of managerial responsibility, or most important, continuous
years spent in the workforce. (The Maloney/Dingell analyses in effect
dismissed these shortcomings.) Yet, studies which do control for
these relevant factors continually show that the wage gap between
men and women virtually or totally disappears. In some industries,
including once male-dominated ones like architecture, studies show
that women earn slightly more than men.
for liberals like Maloney and Dingell is that they cannot conceive
of women preferring to forgo or cutback careers for a time (or altogether)
to care for children, or choosing slower-paced careers at the outset,
like pediatrics as opposed to neurosurgery, even when they know
this might affect their long-term earnings potential. At best feminists
frame the debate as featuring a “choice” women shouldn’t have to
make because it’s a choice feminists don’t want them to make.
As Dr. Martha
Riche, former director of the Census Bureau and a demographer who
helped in the “analyses” of the GAO report candidly told me in response
to the “choice” question, “I’m wary of ’choice’ it’s another
way of saying we haven’t made an effort” to change the choices women
Maloney, encouraged by my interest in her study, told me how pleased
she was that I was working on the issue because it was important
to get the story out about women and the ongoing “wage disparity”
they suffer. I’m glad to help out. Anything for the sisterhood.