Friday, April 18, 2014

"Why We Can't Strip Race Out of the Gender Wage Gap Conversation"

This week, Bryce Covert of The Nation wrote an op-ed entitled “Why We Can’t Strip Race Out of the Gender Wage Gap Conversation.” Here, Covert explains why race is often left out of the discussion surrounding the male-female wage gap that undeniably exists in this country. She writes, “In trying to figure out how much of the wage gap is discrimination and how much can be explained by other factors, nearly every statistician conducts regression studies that take measurable factors into consideration by holding them constant and seeing what’s left over...One of those constant factors is race.”

Covert argues that race is often left out because it ends up in the pile of “explained” factors; this is due to the nature of the studies often conducted to determine where the wage gap comes from. These studies attempt to compare the most similar men and women. Men and women who have homogeneous backgrounds, education, titles, positions, marital status, etc. Because the studies attempt to compare men and women on similar levels, they are also often comparing men and women of similar race. Thus, race becomes an “explained” and “controlled for” factor, when it is in reality a hugely discriminatory factor in the wage gap.

What concerns us is the discriminated status of women within this wage gap. This op-ed highlights our society’s ineffective response to women of color in the workplace: “There’s no objective explanation for why black women make less than white women. And when we divorce that fact from the larger conversation about the wage gap, we fail to challenge the fact that women of color are experiencing multiple forms of bias.”

With a new approach to wage gap studies and analysis, one that takes into account racial discrimination as well as gender inequality, effective reform can begin to take place, attitudes can change, and women of every race can feel the impact of parity in their workplace. The MWPC seeks to bring attention to discrimination of all forms while allowing women of all races to succeed in denying the status-quo wage gap.

Brittany Straughn
MWPC Intern