April 2015 Newsletter
A Letter From International Women's Initiative CEO
It is official: Hillary Clinton is running for the US presidency. She'll need the enthusiastic support of female voters if she is to shatter the ultimate glass ceiling and become America's first female president. She is to speak on Tuesday April 14th, the day feminists have dubbed "Equal Pay Day" to mark when American women finally earn enough to make up for last year's pay gap. Typically, Equal Pay Day is used to call for more government action to protect women from what is characterized as widespread discrimination. But if Clinton wants to reach beyond her base, she should take a different tact.
Rather than parroting the tired trope that women receive 77 cents for every dollar a man earns for the same work, she should talk honestly about the trade-offs women face, the value of their sacrifices to support family and communities and the need for a culture that truly respects both women and men.
First, it's time to acknowledge once and for all that Equal Pay Day rests on a false premise. The Bureau of Labor Statistic calculation that underlies the feminist holiday simply compares the earnings of full-time working women and men. It doesn't take into account the many factors — numbers of hours worked, industry, education, years of experience — that impact compensation.
Wage gaps exist in every developed country and in the most committed, liberal workplaces, including Barack Obama's White House and in Hillary Clinton's own former Senate office. That's not because Clinton and Obama are secretly virulent sexists, but because women and men tend to make different choices when it comes to work life, which led to women taken on position with lower pay.
Discrimination does occur, of course, and women certainly face unfair obstacles in some workplaces. Old-boy networks, such as those in banking and tech industries, can unfairly discount women's contributions; biases against women, particularly working mothers, may contribute to the stubborn dearth of women at the top of corporate America. Women and men alike should reject discrimination, expose lingering sexist attitudes and strive to create work environments that respect women and fully value their contributions.
Female leaders like Hillary Clinton, however, do women no favours by implying that American women are doomed to be consistently and significantly short-changed throughout their careers. Far better for women to understand that the choices they make — about what to study, what fields to enter, how much time to take off from their careers — will primarily determine their earning potential. After all, our goal shouldn't be for everyone to all work and earn exactly the same, but for men and women to make informed choices about how to use their time and talents.
Women's contributions to society, not just their earnings, deserve our respect. American women have made tremendous progress. More needs to be done. Mrs. Clinton can help us down that path by moving beyond '60s-style, women-as-victim feminism and becoming a strong voice for true equality.
With all of that being said.....GO HILLARY!!!
CEO & Executive Director, IWI