Thursday, July 17, 2008

Burn This City Down!

I went to my first rally today, on pay equity. Lilly Ledbetter was there, as were Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD). Unfortunately, we arrived late thanks to some ill-placed road closures (our taxi actually made negative progress -- we were dropped off further away from the event from where we started), so we missed most of the speakers. But I can tell that Barbara Mikulski, who closed the show, is first-class, grade A BAMF. She was in full war-path mode, telling everybody to put on their armor "and your lipstick" and win this fight. She is so hard-core, I half-expected her to start passing out Molotov cocktails and march on the NAM.

Also, I got to shake Sen. Clinton's hand. So exciting!


Mark said...

BAMF? Does it mean this?

David Schraub said...


Mark said...

Ah. I prefer mine. :)

schiller1979 said...

When this august group of BAMFs looks at pay equity statistics, are they looking at a simple calculation of the average income of males vs. the average income of females? Or do they adjust the figures to reflect differences in average years of work experience between the genders?

There are two affects at work here.

The first may only be transitional, and we may be pretty well past it by now. When greater numbers of women began taking professional-level jobs, there were higher percentages of women in such jobs in the younger age cohorts than in the older age cohorts. Income level doesn't correlate exactly with age in each individual case, but on average it does. So, at a time when the average female employee was younger than the average male employee, it made sense that average female commpensation was below average male compensation. That differential must be smaller now than it was, say, 40 years ago, but I don't know if that gap has fully closed.

The other affect is that (again, on average) women are more likely to take extended periods of time off during their careers than men are. So, even at the same age level, the average years of work experience for females will be less than for males. In other words, the average 50-year-old female lawyer, accountant, or whatever, will have fewer years of experience in that field than the average 50-year old male.

Studies that have adjusted for those differences show no pay equity gap.

PG said...

If Ledbetter was there, I'm guessing a substantial portion of the rally was not about Ye Olde 78 Cents to the Dollar Pay Inequity, but the actual shortage in Ledbetter's paycheck compared to the paychecks of those who were her peers and even inferiors in her workplace's hierarchy.

Her workplace succeeded in keeping her from finding out about this inequity for decades by having a policy that prohibited coworkers' discussing pay. She didn't find out until some kindly fellow dropped her a note. At this point, the vast majority of the money she was owed was no longer accessible because of the 180 day filing requirement for gender discrimination -- she couldn't be compensated for the decades of pay inequity, only for the insufficient paychecks she'd received in the 6 months prior to her filing.

McCain thinks Ledbetter would have been OK if she'd just had more "education and training." (Beyond education and training in how to detect when your boss is screwing you over, I'm not clear on how this works.) The folks at David's rally think that future Ledbetters should be able to be compensated for past discrimination going back much further than 6 months, and thankfully I think they're the majority.