A Letter to Washington Post Work Advice Columnist Karla L. Miller
About Recent Columns About “Underpaid Female Lifeguard”
I sent the following open letter to Ms. Miller to allow for her to respond before I submitted this to A Voice for Men. Not totally surprising, she didn’t reply.
Dear Ms. Miller,
I often read your Work Advice column in the Washington Post, and I respect and normally agree with the excellent advice you give your readers.
However, I take exception to the two recent columns about a female lifeguard who claims that she was being paid less than male lifeguards (“Female teen lifeguard questions why male teen guards are being paid more for the same job”, July 29, and “Female teen lifeguard protesting unequal pay finds support”, August 5).
As many readers submitted comments about their own “wage gap” experiences, please allow me to share one of mine.
I was also a lifeguard, and in the mid-1970’s was promoted to manage a pool in Northern Virginia, along with a female, who was hired as my assistant manager. As a manager, I was to be paid more, although our hours and responsibilities were to be “essentially the same”.
I felt that the pay difference was unfair and asked the pool company to split the difference between my co-manager and myself. I was told that I was “being naïve” and that their system couldn’t handle this change. I reluctantly accepted this answer and received the higher pay.
But it soon dawned upon me that I had indeed been naïve, that the difference in pay was justified. That difference was based on a higher level of responsibility. I was ultimately responsible for daily operations at the pool; my co-manager was only responsible on my day off. I was responsible for maintaining the pool’s filtering and chlorination systems. My co-manager never worked on these systems – she admitted that she “didn’t understand them” and was more than happy to let me handle them.
Perhaps the male lifeguards in your article had more responsibility, like my experience? Could other factors be involved? The EEOC attorney from the first article said that the legal case couldn’t be determined without knowing all the details. To your credit, you even wrote that “…maybe it had nothing to do with bias” and pointed out that perhaps the boys, who were hired later, got the higher wage as a bid by the company to attract more candidates.
But despite your acknowledgement that other factors could be at play, the underlying theme of these two articles is that a gender wage gap exists and is often – or even usually – responsible for differences in pay between men and women.
I would appreciate your taking time to reexamine your belief in – and continued propagation of – the existence of the gender wage gap. At best, this wage gap is provably a calculated misrepresentation of basic facts; at worst, it is a bald-faced lie, a gender-partisan generated fiction that proves the old adage that “figures don’t lie, but liars figure”. Please consider the following:
- In 2009 the U.S. Department of Labor produced a report, An Analysis of the Reasons for the Disparity in Wages Between Men and Women – Final Report which said,
“… the raw wage gap [between men and women] continues to be used in misleading ways [emphasis added] to advance public policy agendas without fully explaining the reasons behind the gap.”
Isn’t the phrase “used in misleading ways” just a polite way of saying “they’re lying”?
- A head-turning example of the wage gap misrepresentation can be found on State of the Gender Pay Gap in 2021 web page of the online salary, benefits, and compensation company, PayScale. This page presents information about two wage gaps!
- An “uncontrolled gender pay gap that takes the ratio of the median earnings of women to men without controlling for various compensable factors (emphasis added) … In 2021, women make only $0.82 for every dollar a man makes…”.
This is the misleading wage gap that we’ve all been led to believe is true.
- A “controlled gender pay gap that controls for job title, years of experience, education, industry, location, and other compensable factors (emphasis added), measures equal pay for equal work. … Women in the controlled group make $0.98 for every $1.00 a man makes (emphasis added).”
This is the wage gap that gender partisans want to pretend doesn’t exist.
- Please review – or better yet, take the time to read! – a well-researched book by Warren Farrell, a former board member of the New York City chapter of the National Organization for Women. His book, “Why Men Earn More: The Startling Truth Behind the Pay Gap—and What Women Can Do About It” provides a detailed analysis and thorough explanation about the real reasons for the wage gap. A huge part of it is the choices that women make! Farrell argues that:
“…bias-based unequal pay for women is largely a myth, and that women are most often paid less than men not because they are discriminated against, but because they have made lifestyle choices that affect their ability to earn. … [and] while discrimination sometimes plays a part, both men and women unconsciously make trade-offs that affect how much they earn. [He] defines 25 different workplace choices that affect women’s and men’s incomes – including putting in more hours at work, taking riskier jobs or more hazardous assignments, being willing to change location, and training for technical jobs that involve less people contact.”
- Megan Rapinoe and U.S. women’s soccer team’s claim of “wage discrimination” is a case that proves Farrell’s argument that the choices that women make impacts their income.
Although they wish to ignore it, the women’s soccer team is potentially paid less because the team deliberately chose a different pay structure, one that forgoes bonuses for benefits! U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner dismissed the women players’ pay discrimination lawsuit because they had rejected being paid using the same structure as the men’s team:
“The WNT [Women’s National Team] was willing to forgo higher bonuses for benefits, such as greater base compensation and the guarantee of a higher number of contracted players,” Klausner wrote in his ruling. “Accordingly, plaintiffs cannot now retroactively deem their CBA (collective bargaining agreement) worse than the MNT (men’s national team) CBA by reference to what they would have made had they been paid under the MNT’s pay-to-play terms structure when they themselves rejected such a structure.”
If the WNT truly wants full pay equity, why don’t they instead sue for the end all sex discrimination in the sport by establishing a single national team comprised of the best male and female players? Although they’d be loath to admit it, they know it’s because the mixed-sex team would most assuredly be almost 100% male.
And this recognition is ultimately why the men are usually paid more: they’re bigger, stronger, and faster than the women players. They’re far better at the sport, and this in turn is why many more people watch men’s soccer than women’s. Also, many more men than women like to watch sports of all types.
But even more galling about the WNT suing over wage discrimination is the fact that the women’s team actually earns more than the men’s team! According to this article,
“…the Women’s National Team earned approximately $24 million overall; the Men’s National Team earned only $18 million. The average take per game was $220,747 for the women’s team, compared to $212,639 for the men’s team. And while the individual female plaintiffs made an average of $11,356 to $17,416 per game, the four highest-paid male players made an average of $10,360 to $13,964 per game.”
This, then, is the power of the wage gap myth: even when women actually earn more than men, they are so completely convinced that they’re victims of wage discrimination, they completely blind themselves to the inconvenient facts that prove otherwise. As the article says in conclusion: “But don’t let Megan Rapinoe fool you: A victim of sex discrimination, she is not.”
- Finally, these women are being gender-biased hypocrites when they complain about women being paid less but are completely blind to situations where men are paid less – sometimes FAR less!
The most egregious example is the huge pay disparity between male and female models in the fashion industry. According to this article on the Time website,
“The [modeling] industry’s pay gap has been documented before, with Fortune reporting that the top female models bring home millions more dollars than men. For instance, Gisele Bündchen, the highest earning female model, brought home $42 million in 2013, per Forbes, while the top earning male model, Sean O’Pry, only took home $1.5 million that year.”
So, the top female model takes home a whopping $40.5 MILLION more than the top male model. This is 28 times as much! Why aren’t women complaining about this wage gap?
Kind of makes Megan Rapinoe and her teammates’ “wage discrimination” pale in comparison, doesn’t it?
If the wage gap had been an issue back in the 1970s when I asked for “equal pay”, I don’t believe that I had heard of it, so my request to share the differences in pay was only for “basic fairness” and had nothing to do with the fact that my co-manager was female.
In the same spirit of “basic fairness”, Ms. Miller, I ask that you accept this letter with an open mind, review the facts, and help to set the record straight. You could start with a column that admits the truth about the myth of the wage gap.
Do you have the courage to write such a column?