The Pay Gap

In her show Monday night, Rachel Maddow expressed her complete surprise when learning that leading Republicans really don’t believe a pay gap between men and women exists. She says she had thought the disagreement was on how to solve the pay gap, not on whether it existed.

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I have to say, I wasn’t surprised, because this is what I grew up being taught. Of course, I also grew up being taught that white males are the most discriminated against group in the country, but that’s another story.

I would say two things on the whole pay gap thing. First, it is true that part of the pay gap stems from the fact that women are more likely to work fewer hours, to take time off in the middle of their careers to have kids, etc. But not all of it stems from that. Not all of it can be explained away by structural factors like this. Second, even if a significant part of the pay gap stems from women making different economic and career choices, we need to ask why women are making those choices. When the pay gap is not based on pure discrimination (and some of it is), it is usually based on structural factors. We need to address those factors as well as blatant discrimination.

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