Sunday, August 31, 2008

Require Women to be Paid As Much As Men?

John McCain opposed a law legislating equal pay for women as their male counterparts. Ditto Sarah Palin. What is with American conservatism? Is this an instance of GOP bigotry liberals love to complain about.

Women get paid less than men for a variety of reasons, and discrimination is an important, although not only, factor. Studies have routinely showed that women who demand raises, for example, are perceived in a less favorable light than male counterparts. And no unbiased observer can deny the existence of old-boy networks.

The challenge with legislating equal pay for equal work comes down to what constitutes equal work. The whole idea comes from a manufacturing age, when equal work simply could be construed to be equal number of hours, and job functions. However, the age we live in does not lend itself to such analysis.

As an environmental consultant, I make a lot more than some of my peers. And a lot less than some others. Is it because I'm brown? A foreigner? Good looking? Ugly? Or just plain because I'm smarter/dumber or more/less hard-working than my peers? How is a law going to distinguish discrimination from true performance-based pay?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Welcome back! I have some thoughts on the Palin pick (interesting, but I dont know how this will pan out), but more on that later.
As for pay, imagine how it would be if all our salaries were public knowledge, atleast within your organization. While this thought sounds weird (and makes me a little uncomfortable), the only folks who benefit from not sharing pay info are the companies. If all pay was public, we will know exactly where we stand and there has to be a reasonable justification, by the management, on why you are getting paid more/less than the other guy. It also evens out the playing field. As for pay for performance, ithat truly is a tough one as each person might have different priorities when it comes to performance. Somethings are more important, others less so. It might depend on the individual's manager (which then means it might be difficult to objectively quantify it).

Anyway, check out Lisa Cullen's blog on workplace issues at Pretty interesting read.