Sometimes men say or do something that makes me wonder if their wives now have them sleeping in the garage. I mean, how could you let the sexist pig sleep in the same room with you? According to Wisconsin Senator Glenn Grothman, it’s a woman’s fault that she doesn’t earn the same salary a man earns because her priorities just aren’t in the right place. And besides, money isn’t as important to women as it is to men.
Whatever gaps exist, he insists, stem from women’s decision to prioritize childrearing over their careers. “Take a hypothetical husband and wife who are both lawyers,” he says. “But the husband is working 50 or 60 hours a week, going all out, making 200 grand a year. The woman takes time off, raises kids, is not go go go. Now they’re 50 years old. The husband is making 200 grand a year, the woman is making 40 grand a year. It wasn’t discrimination. There was a different sense of urgency in each person.”
“The idea that pay discrimination is a myth is a myth in and of itself,” says Fatima Goss Graves, vice president for education and employment at the National Women’s Law Center. “Study after study has shown the exact opposite.”
Grothman doesn’t accept these studies. When I ran the numbers by him, he replied, “The American Association of University Women is a pretty liberal group.” Nor, he argued, does its conclusion take into account other factors, like “goals in life.” You could argue that money is more important for men. I think a guy in their first job, maybe because they expect to be a breadwinner someday, may be a little more money-conscious. To attribute everything to a so-called bias in the workplace is just not true.”
The 2007 AAUW study indicates that college educated women only earn 80% of their male counterparts earnings. Yes, it is a fact that women are in the minority in STEM related fields and these tend to be higher paying positions. And while women do tend to be the primary care givers for their children, that scene is shifting with the down economy and more women than ever before are the primary breadwinner with the man staying home with the children.
Wisconsin’s war on women grew this past week when Governor Scott Walker signed a bill that repealed the Equal Pay Enforcement Act. When that bill was signed in 2009, Wisconsin ranked 36th in the country in terms of workplace gender parity. In 2010, the state had moved up to 24th – obviously the threat of lawsuit for pay discrimination was spurring businesses to treat women more fairly. The Act also provided protection from pay discrimination based on age, race, disability, sexual orientation and religion.
Have legislators become so oblivious and out of touch with reality that they don’t understand there are companies and people out there who will intentionally take advantage of workers? If in the process of protecting the business environment from “baseless discrimination claims” you endanger the worker and the working class, what good does that do for the economy?
Illinois has a lot of issues to fix before we become a more business friendly state, like Workman’s Comp and unemployment insurance, but at least our employees are protected from pay discrimination. To say that money isn’t as important to the women heading up 21% of Winnebago County households as it is to men, is ridiculous.