June 30, 2008

Obama Says He'd Pay Women The Same...but doesn't

Marc Comtois

Another example of the Change we are waiting for from ourselves if we vote for him:

While Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has vowed to make pay equity for women a top priority if elected president, an analysis of his Senate staff shows that women are outnumbered and out-paid by men.

That is in contrast to Republican presidential candidate John McCain's Senate office, where women, for the most part, out-rank and are paid more than men.

Details after the jump.

On average, women working in Obama's Senate office were paid at least $6,000 below the average man working for the Illinois senator. That's according to data calculated from the Report of the Secretary of the Senate, which covered the six-month period ending Sept. 30, 2007. Of the five people in Obama's Senate office who were paid $100,000 or more on an annual basis, only one -- Obama's administrative manager -- was a woman.

The average pay for the 33 men on Obama's staff (who earned more than $23,000, the lowest annual salary paid for non-intern employees) was $59,207. The average pay for the 31 women on Obama's staff who earned more than $23,000 per year was $48,729.91. (The average pay for all 36 male employees on Obama's staff was $55,962; and the average pay for all 31 female employees was $48,729. The report indicated that Obama had only one paid intern during the period, who was a male.)

McCain, an Arizona senator, employed a total of 69 people during the reporting period ending in the fall of 2007, but 23 of them were interns. Of his non-intern employees, 30 were women and 16 were men. After excluding interns, the average pay for the 30 women on McCain's staff was $59,104.51. The 16 non-intern males in McCain's office, by comparison, were paid an average of $56,628.83.

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I have always found this whole pay equity argument intellectually dishonest and vapid. See Kate O'Beirne's book for one example of the many writings which debunk it by showing that pay is largely similar between genders, once adjusted for the time and experience lost due to raising children.

The world is full of people who serve as individual examples of bias. Citing one-off examples of men who discriminate against women is unpersuasive, even while the action itself is wrong. Things like that happen in all elements of human life.

I refute the pay equity argument this way: Business executives get paid to deliver profitable operations. That demands a strong position in the marketplace, which requires some form of sustainable competitive advantage. Any rational human being knows women and men are capable of doing many of the same knowledge-economy jobs equally well. If, as a CEO, I could hire only women for 76 cents on the salary dollars paid by my competitors who largely favor men, I would then have a huge cost advantage over my competitors and that would liberate my company to do other aggressive moves in the marketplace to increase market share and profitability.

But no CEO is doing that...because the discrepancies don't exist.

Suppose they did exist, though. Don't you think that some enterprising, competitive CEO would jump on the idea? Of course they would; who wouldn't want 24% lower labor costs?! Any decent CEO would rather win in the market place than be bound to some ideological position about gender. And then the word would leak out and some other CEO's would begin to do the same. But, oops, that would mean there was more demand for women than men in the marketplace, which would drive up the women's pay. Wanna guess to what level over time?

On a more practical level, many companies have job descriptions and job grades based on employees' level of experience and education. No executive in their right mind would want to show major biases against women in this era. For competitive reasons and for lawsuit risk reasons. Over the years, I have heard many executives talk about the importance of bringing women and minorities into jobs, not in a quota mentality, but in the spirit of making sure that a wide enough net was cast to ensure the most competitive hiring processes. In over 29 years of business, I have never once heard executives talk or even hint at paying women less. I have never seen any evidence of it either in 29 years in business.

Now, as to Obama, well shucks. Could this mean he is throwing his female staffers under the bus. Golly, that bus has been running over a lot of people lately. Some form of Change You Can Believe In, isn't it?

Posted by: Donald B. Hawthorne at July 1, 2008 12:29 AM


What about an original thought. The reliance here on Anger Rising on these right wing sources such as CNS news ( owned by Brent Bozell ) means you wish to remain simply an amen chorus with no independent thinking or discussion.

Posted by: Phil at July 1, 2008 5:53 AM

Anger Rising? I like it. If you think there's something wrong with being angry at how this state is run then YOU are part of the problem, Phil.

Posted by: Greg at July 1, 2008 8:09 AM
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