Sisterhood Blog

Paycheck Fairness Doesn't Mean Doom for Gender Relations

By Sarah Seltzer

  • Print
  • Share Share

Christina Hoff Sommers, noted (Jewish) anti-feminist gadfly and provocateur, is back, this time arguing on the New York Times’ Op-Ed page against one of the most common-sense pieces of legislation before Congress: the Paycheck Fairness Act.

The bill, a sort of companion to the Lilly Ledbetter Act, would shore up previous equal pay measures and ensure transparency for employees concerned about gender discrimination. The Times editorial board itself supports its passage.. But Sommers does not.

Her contention is that differing life paths explain the persistent pay gap between men and women —which is certainly something feminists agree on, at least partially. She pays lip service to feminist contentions that social pressure and gendered expectations often lead to a disparity in workplace attitudes, ambitions, and choices. But she then uses that acknowledgement to dismiss the possibility of any lingering gender discrimination and claims that the act’s passage will lead to a bonanza of lawsuits. In her words it “would set women against men, empower trial lawyers and activists, perpetuate falsehoods about the status of women in the workplace and create havoc in a precarious job market.”

Ever suspicious of Sommers — a resident scholar at the conservative think tank The American Enterprise Institute, she has written books with titles like “The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men,” and “Who Stole Feminism? How Women Have Betrayed Women” — I decided to do some research of my own.

I spoke with Lisa Maatz of the American Association of University Women from the Hill, where she is lobbying at this very moment in favor of the Paycheck Fairness Act. She said that Sommers is selectively quoting data — in particular, a study commissioned by the Bush administration that attempted to disprove the pay gap, but couldn’t. Matz adds that even with regression analysis controlling for things like families, time off and education, her organization has found that a gap persists.

In fact 2007, AAUW’s own study found that the pay gap begins just one year after college for equally qualified men and women. “One thing Christina Hoff Sommers does on a regular basis, is take snippets of research, contort them to fit her argument, and then cries like chicken little that the sky is falling,” Matz says. “She says we’re going to be swimming in lawsuits. Well they said that about Ledbetter and it didn’t happen. They say that about every other civil rights legislation, and it doesn’t happen.”

Matz adds that the most egregious aspect of the op-ed is that it claims the legislation pits women against men. “If there ever was a family issue it’s pay equity,” she says. “Women are more and more one of chief breadwinners because men are losing their jobs. This act is providing support for families.”


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Christina Hoff Sommers, Lilly Ledbetter Act, Paycheck Fairness Act

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.