A Republican Party official in Texas, perplexed by the growing movement for equal pay for women in the workforce, opined that rather than resorting to the law, women should merely learn to be better negotiators. The only reason for the pay differential between males and females doing the same work is the lack of negotiating ability among women.
I recall in another era serious editorialists with a slight Southern drawl countering the Civil Rights movement with a patronizing dismissal, “our Black folks are happier when unburdened by the cares and worry that accompany voting rights”.
Discrimination against women, like discrimination against other victims of bias, has no basis in the absurdities propounded by those who defend the indefensible. People who do the same work, and apply the same experience, should be paid the same PERIOD.
My mother entered the business world as a file clerk, progressed to secretary, and then assumed the role and responsibility of a buyer for the purchasing department of a cutting-edge electronics firm that was later acquired by the once-mighty Control Data Corporation. After a number of years performing the function of a mid-level executive buyer, she sought the title and something approximating the salary. Her boss, who frequently turned over the department to her care when he left the office for his 4 hour liquid lunch breaks tut-tutted patiently, “But, Annie, you’re a woman. You can’t have a man’s job even if you are already doing it. It’s just not done”.
Mom already negotiated most contracts for the department, and then typed them up and signed them to boot. But prejudice being what it is precluded her from being paid for the negotiating ability she exercised on behalf of the company. The Law then had not caught up with where we are today, and today is still far away from where we should be.
My wife in high school sought to play basketball but was denied the court unless no boys wanted it. Girls could play only when the boys were done playing and then they were not allowed to form teams for interscholastic competition. Why, she asked. The answer? “But you’re a girl and it’s just not done”. Our girls were free to compete, and our grand-daughter is an outstanding athlete able to out-bat, out-pitch and out-field many of her male friends.
Women are not kept out of the executive suite or off of the athletic field because they lack skills, they are paid piddling less and denied participation due to sheer stupidity. It would be nice if people would overcome their prejudices but it is well past time for waiting. It is the 21st century, equal pay and equal justice is overdue. Now is the time and no later.