Equal Pay For Unequal Work

The past few months I haven’t been releasing any new content. This is due to me working on a big project, and a few other reasons. So I didn’t expect to see the following when I read “Equal Pay Should Be For Equal Work, Not Unequal Work” by Hans Bader on the Competitive Enterprise Institute blog:

Yesterday, I criticized the assumption that people should receive equal pay for unequal work, such as requiring the average woman to be paid exactly the same amount as the average man even though the average male employee works more hours than the average female employee. (I am talking here about averages, not generalizing about every individual case; there are obviously male part-time employees, just as there are women who work 80 hours a week.)

But apparently this point was too subtle for some people. Collin Maessen of Real Sceptic tweeted my blog post, with the preface, “apparently CEI is against regulations that allow women to earn the same wages for the same work as men do.” I didn’t write about such regulations at all. To me, it’s not “the same work” if it’s not the same number of hours. Why should a full-time employee be paid as little as a part-time employee? Why should an employee who works 60 hours per week be paid the same as an employee who works 40 hours per week?

Being mentioned on the CEI blog really surprised me. As I just tweeted my impression on the argument being presented without any context as to why I got that impression. Not strange considering a tweet can be a maximum of 140 characters long.

I’m also quite bemused that a tweet lacking any context is the reason for me being mentioned on the CEI blog. And not for example my video about Chris Horner and his claims about a new little ice age. As there I do explain myself properly for why I draw certain conclusions.

But I digress. Let me start by actually providing some context to this tweet and why I said what I said.

For one I didn’t have any issues at all with Hans Bader saying that women shouldn’t, in his words, “receive equal pay for unequal work”. A woman with the same job, same responsibilities, working the same hours, should be paid the same as her male co-workers. No less, no more.

What my tweet was in reference of was with the ending paragraph of his blog post:

Misconceptions about the wage gap between men and women are driving support for the perverse Paycheck Fairness Act, which would require equal pay for unequal work. In 2009, an unnecessary law called the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was enacted based on false claims about the facts and ruling contained in a Supreme Court decision dealing with pay discrimination.

More specific his point about the “perverse” Paycheck Fairness Act and how this would require “equal pay for unequal work”. The reasoning behind why Hans Bader thinks this can be found in the post “The Paycheck Fairness Act: Equal Pay Baloney From the Press“.

To quote Wikipedia on what this bill is intended for (my apologies for being lazy, I’m recovering from heat exhaustion):

The bill being considered would make it easier for those who are the targets of wage discrimination to address the issue, allowing employees to disclose salary information with co-workers despite workplace rules prohibiting disclosure. Employers would be required to show that any wage discrepancies are based on genuine business requirements and are related to specific characteristics of the position that are not based on gender. The bill would also prohibit retaliation by companies against individuals who raise wage-parity issues, provide resources to help women develop their negotiating skills and would include further research to understand the lingering causes of wage discrepancies between men and women.

I simply disagree with him on what he thinks the effects of this bill will be. I see it as a bill that can achieve what is intended for and wouldn’t unnecessary burden the judicial system nor companies. Unfortunately I don’t have the time to go in depth as to why I hold this position, but this is the context of the tweet.

As such the article he mentioned me in is based on a simple misunderstanding of what I meant by what I said. Twitter is great for direct interaction but for fully understanding why someone said something it’s severely limited. It’s the very reason I often reply to tweets asking for more context or sources.

Just doing that would have been sufficient to understand what I was talking about and prevent this misunderstanding.

Collin Maessen is the founder and editor of Real Skeptic and a proponent of scientific skepticism. For his content he uses the most up to date and best research as possible. Where necessary consulting or collaborating with scientists.