Focus Point - What Women Can Do To Close The Wage GapCommentary by Pete du Pont
November 16, 2001
I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis. If women behaved in the work place like men, there would be little if any wage gap. And that's not a macho statement. According to latest reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women's earnings are about 76 percent of men's. But according to the N-C-P-A's Women in the Economy project, the issue of why is complex.
One reason is that many working women still perform most household chores. So they want more flexibility in work patterns to maintain this dual role. Women are more likely to work part-time. Those choices need to be considered in determining if there's a wage gap because time off typically results in lower wages.
Women are more likely, for example, to leave the work force to raise children or care for sick or aging parents. And, alas, they are more likely to work for minimum wage.
When these different working patterns are recognized, the differences in men's and women's wages narrows significantly. One study shows that among 27 to 33 year olds...women earn 98 percent of what men do. And surveys find that some women choose lower-wage, low-prestige and part-time positions for the flexibility they offer.
So when someone says women earn 76 cents for every dollar that men earn. Tell them it has little to do with sexism and everything to do with flexibility.
Those are my ideas, and at the N-C-P-A we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont. And I'll see you next time.