Wage discrimination, based on prejudice, is a real problem.
I need to sound off about arguments like the following that there is very little wage discrimination against women: “An analysis of more than 50 peer-reviewed papers, commissioned by the Labor Department, found that the so-called wage gap is mostly, and perhaps entirely, an artifact of the different choices men and women make—different fields of study, different professions, different balances between home and work” (http://www.usnews.com/debate-club/should-the-senate-pass-the-paycheck-fairness-act/the-case-against-the-paycheck-fairness-act). All these arguments are concerned only with wage earning that is “market driven,” and they reflect values of a culture saturated with wage discrimination based on pure prejudice about money being the most important cultural value.
One example: Why is the school superintendent worth more than 3 times as much as the classroom teacher who has at least as much experience and training (quite often she has more)? Is his work worth more to the students, their families, and the community? Administration with its power status has been traditionally men’s work, men have had the political power, and men have decided superintendents are worth more money than classroom teachers, traditionally women’s work. Such judgments about the relative value of superintendent and classroom teacher is a cultural prejudice that still dominates “market” values everywhere, prejudices that pervade nearly any service or industry you could mention. From department stores to the makers of toilet paper, the people who get the major work of the organization done are among the lowest paid by huge multiples, and those positions are filled more by women than by men. That is wage discrimination.
Wage discrimination is not only against women. It is also against certain races, ethnicities, and labor. But women make up a disproportionate % of the discrimination in all categories, and it is worse for women who also face these other categories of discrimination. The argument about women being worth less because they have taken time off from paid employment for family is another example of a market driven cultural prejudice. Because motherhood is not paid employment, the experience gained is valued as worthless, though it could be worth many hours of gainful employment in terms of what mothers who spend time with their children can learn about human relationships and mediating conflict; that should enhance their value to employers.
The arguments suggest that the solution to the problem is for women to become more like men in their values, to make the same kinds of choices men make, rather than try to change the culture Choices such as sacrificing ethical values for career advancement (http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/12/27/men-more-likely-than-women-to-compromise-values-for-career-success/; http://edition.cnn.com/2013/05/15/business/women-work-ethics/). The sacrifice of good education, health care, happiness, and the common good for the love of money and power is destructive for men as well as women and the common good. And it results in the kind of wage discrimination we see in the obscene income inequality that is ruining our economy.