There’s a Belief Gap about the Wage Gap. In Part 1, we took a look at common misconceptions like different fields of study, motherhood as a cause and educational differences. In Part 2, we examined cultural confusions like negotiation tactics and the so-called “danger premium”. We also referenced studies that controlled for all of the above factors to bring the a little wage gap closer to reality than the “77 cents to a dollar” argument that causes so much dissension.
Now, here in Part 3, it’s time to take a look at what’s going RIGHT in the journey to wage equality.
For starters, more recent studies like the GOA have begun controlling for various issues so that data stands up to vigorous scrutiny. This is important in not only how the issue is dealt with at the governmental level, but also in how the media handles this issue. And while many senators voted down basic revisions to the 1964 Equal Pay Act because they felt the 2009 Lily Ledbetter Act offered sufficient protection, educated journalists and analysts are highly focused on ensuring that erroneous claims like that are proven false. In fact, Forbes Writer Bryce Covert states that lawsuits have decreased since the Act was passed and courts have become increasingly hostile toward pay discrimination cases:
the number of pay discrimination complaints filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission actually fell after the Lilly Ledbetter Act was signed, dropping from 2,268 to 2,191 last year. Even under current laws, women have found themselves with decreasing legal support when they file a complaint. As Irin Carmon reported, recent analysis found that courts have become more hostile over the past decade – not more accommodating or sympathetic, as the Republicans seem to fear – to equal pay claims. The authors found that from 2000 to 2009, those who filed claims were only successful 35 percent of the time, compared to a 55 percent success rate from 1990 to 1999. They also found that, as Carmon explains, “courts have generally been reluctant to intervene in a company’s decision to pay someone less, operating on the assumption that the market is working.”
A keen eye on the actual facts surrounding gender discrimination and current studies, only serve to bolster the case for equal pay and run parallel to the “whining feminist” dismissals of late.
We can look to other countries to gauge our own progress. While the UK still struggles with pay disparity between men and women (current research set the average gap between 14.9-17%), they are making strides forward.