Proponents of the Paycheck Fairness Act assert that the 1963 Equal Pay Act failed because women still earn approximately 70 cents for every dollar a man earns. However, the wage gap is not necessarily the result of discrimination. There are factors that skew the wage gap between men and women that are based on a variety of aspects, including education, experience, or tenure.
There are employers who discriminate in hiring and salary based on superficial traits, including race, gender, and religion. I understand that. But women have been protected against discrimination since 1963 under by the Equal Pay Act as well as the Civil Rights Act. In reality, the person who gets the job in today's corporate America is the one best qualified. American women are certainly well qualified, as they currently earn roughly 60 percent of higher education degrees and account for 51 percent of all workers in high-paying professional occupations.
The gap in pay arises because of individual choice and not usually because of discrimination, according to a 2009 study commissioned by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on the issues of the wage gap. Women were more likely than men to leave the workforce with intentions to sacrifice their paychecks for the sake of caring for their families.
Many mothers, including myself, have sacrificed several years of their careers to raise their children. Women's prerogative in the workforce goes far beyond matching men's wages. Gallup notes that 50 percent of women prefer homemaking to working. Yet, working women often seek jobs that offer non-monetary benefits, such as health insurance, flexible hours, and childcare provisions. I know women who rejected promotions because it meant more travel and less time at home.
Rather than helping women, the Paycheck Fairness Act would actually hurt them by abolishing jobs. It eliminates the flexibility between a woman and her employer. If passed, liability will be based not only on intentional discrimination but on "lingering effects of past discrimination." This will encourage frivolous lawsuits against companies, which will hurt business. Any time you hurt business, you hurt women.
It is foolish in an economy with unemployment at 8.2 percent and 12.7 million Americans out of work to heap more government regulation on the backs of companies. If you really want the economy to soar, then nix excessive government regulations and taxation for the sake of both working women and men.
About Penny Nance President and CEO of Concerned Women for America
Diana Furchtgott-Roth Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research
Debbie Wasserman Schultz Chair of the Democratic National Committee