Re: The Price of Justice

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Pay equity is one of the last battles in a gender war that started with women’s suffrage and eventually raged through the 60’s and 70’s. Unfortunately, it is a battle that continues for naught.

All the fighting is predicated on the notion that women earn less than men for the same work. Depending on who you listen to the actual numbers change. Back in the 70’s, feminists wore .59 cent pins to protest the fact that women earned .59 cents for every dollar earned by a man. They also protested the glass ceiling, claiming that women could only rise to a “certain level” and were shut out of the highest rungs on the professional ladder.

Warren Farrell, Ph.D., the only man ever elected to the National Organization for Women’s national board of directors three times was one of those feminists. Dr. Farrell dedicated a great deal of his life challenging the culture to address this injustice.

Then, one fateful day, he asked a question that would change the course of his life and eventually have him out of that organization.

He thought, “Wait a minute, if women actually earn only .59 cents to every dollar earned by a man for the same work, why wouldn’t companies only hire women? Wouldn’t they be able to produce products much cheaper than companies that employ men and put the competition out of business?”

He spent the next several years in painstaking research of the subject and came to a conclusion that has been verified as many times as it has been ignored.

Women make less money because of their choices, not because of discrimination.

When given the choice between more money or a better quality of life, women are much more likely than men to choose quality of life. Women work less hours per week than men on average, take more time off and frequently choose to put family and personal life ahead of their jobs. This speaks to their intelligence much more that it does to their status as victim.

Men not only work longer and harder, they are much more likely to choose work that puts them in physical danger, exposes them to the elements, shortens their lifespan and increases the level of job related stress.

These jobs as a rule pay better, and the fact that more men than women choose to do them is not a matter of discrimination, except to the extent that we still socialize men more than women to put themselves at risk for a paycheck.

And this illustrates a concept seldom mentioned when discussing matters of pay inequity and glass ceilings.

It is called a glass floor.

At the very bottom of the employment ladder are the death jobs. Police work, fire fighting, construction, truck driving, commercial fishing, manual labor and others that are the backbone of our civilization. They are also the most dangerous and life diminishing professions imaginable. All of them are as male dominated as the halls of power.

And it makes a point that many may not want to hear. Pay equity for women can be found behind the wheel of a semi, driving forty tons of steel through an icy mountain pass in January. Inclusion is in the blistered hands that hold shovels and fire hoses; in the Bering Sea laboring like a dog in unthinkable cold and fifty foot swells; in facing down sociopaths with knives in the darkened back alleys of urban America.

Sometimes, real justice is a real surprise, and equality, though noble and just, a step down.