The Free Press, Mankato, MN

April 1, 2013

Your View: ‘77 cents’ statistic is misleading

Charlie Hurd, Mankato

— In an otherwise excellent article on fair-pay activist Lilly Ledbetter, The Free Press makes the mistake of stating “(Research now shows that women make 77 cents on the dollar compared to men),” without explanation or context.

Given the general tone of the story, which is about how Ledbetter was paid less money for the same job that men were doing for more money nearly two decades ago, readers might assume that the current difference between women’s and men’s average pay is because of continuing discrimination against women.

The problem with using the 77 cent figure is that it is an average of all full-time workers, without taking into account numerous factors, including experience, education level, overtime or job demand. When studies are done on males and females doing the same work, with the same level of education and experience the difference drops to nearly zero.

This is certainly a topic worthy of discussion, but giving women the idea that earnings are being determined by discrimination is counterproductive. An excellent book has been written on this topic by Warren Farrell, “Why Men Earn More.”