Gender Pay Gap | Media Matters for America

Gender Pay Gap

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  • Tucker Carlson is trying to lie his way out of an advertiser exodus

    Blog ››› ››› MADELINE PELTZ

    Tucker Carlson has resorted to lying about his own words after drawing backlash for a sexist rant in which he said women earning more money leads to “more drug and alcohol abuse, [and] higher incarceration rates.”

    As more advertisers decide to distance themselves from Carlson’s often extreme rhetoric, the Fox host has resorted to lying about his comments. In response to the controversy, and on the same day Red Lobster announced it would no longer associate its brand with his show, Carlson has attempted to defuse the situation by lying about what he originally said.

    On January 2, Carlson said, “In many areas, women suddenly made more than men. Now, before you applaud that as a victory for feminism, consider some of the effects,” which he claimed included higher incarceration rates and drug and alcohol abuse. The next day, after his comments were widely condemned, Carlson made the dishonest assertion that his rant was about falling male wages, making no mention of rising wages for women.

    On Monday, January 7, Carlson once again claimed that his critics were outraged that he said wages for men were falling, falsely stating that he was being criticized after he “dared to talk about the role of falling male wages.” But his false assertion does not change his original claim that increased earnings for women are a societal ill.

  • Professional sexist Tucker Carlson misses the point, declares victory on gender pay gap

    Carlson’s misleading portrayal of wage gap research blames pay inequity on women’s career choices

    Blog ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    Fox News host Tucker Carlson spun new research on the gender pay gap that finds the gap widens for women with children to claim it’s acceptable to pay women less than men because that’s the price of biology. Carlson is a professional sexist who has repeatedly dismissed the gender pay gap, which puts over 70 million women working in the United States at a disadvantage in the workforce.

    On May 13, New York Times correspondent Claire Cain Miller published an article, titled “The Gender Pay Gap Is Largely Because of Motherhood,” outlining the findings of two upcoming studies on the gender wage gap, which conclude that the earnings potential of American women falls in comparison to men as a result of both marriage and motherhood. According to the Times, research from economists Sari Kerr of Wellesley College, Claudia Goldin of Harvard University, Claudia Olivetti of Boston College, and Erling Barth of the Institute for Social Research in Oslo, finds the pay gap between men and women expands as a result of an unequal division of labor outside the workplace that results in women being more likely to pick up “more of the household chores and child care” than their husbands, as well as women being more likely to sacrifice their careers for the sake of their partners. From the Times:

    The big reason that having children, and even marrying in the first place, hurts women’s pay relative to men’s is that the division of labor at home is still unequal, even when both spouses work full time. That’s especially true for college-educated women in high-earning occupations: Children are particularly damaging to their careers.

    But even married women without children earn less, research shows, because women are more likely to give up job opportunities to either move or stay put for their husband’s job. Married women might also take less intensive jobs in preparation for children, or employers might not give them more responsibility because they assume they’ll have babies and take time off.

    [...]

    It is logical for couples to decide that the person who earns less, usually a woman, does more of the household chores and child care, Ms. Kerr said. But it’s also a reason women earn less in the first place. “That reinforces the pay gap in the labor market, and we’re trapped in this self-reinforcing cycle,” she said.

    These new findings add to volumes of existing evidence on the gender pay gap, including research previously highlighted by Miller, who wrote in March 2016 about data showing the professional contribution of women “simply isn’t valued as highly” as work done by men. Indeed, Miller noted that average pay in a particular industry or job sector tends to stagnate or drop when women enter that field -- “for the very same jobs that more men were doing before.”

    The nuances and caveats that determine the complex social interactions affecting men’s and women’s salaries were lost on Fox News, which instead used the Times report to dismiss the gender wage gap. Fox’s Tucker Carlson used the news -- in a classic example of not reading past the headline -- to absurdly claim that the Times “has finally admitted that the gender pay gap has nothing to do with sexism,” and bemoaned a supposed lack of “honesty” from the Times “during the eight years of Obama’s terms when demands to eliminate the sexism-based pay gap were never-ending.” From the May 18 edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight:

    Carlson’s declaration of victory ignores a mountain of academic evidence that has concluded women face steep pay inequities compared to men in the U.S. In 2015, the Economic Policy Institute published an analysis showing that women earn less than men across the income spectrum. Similarly, according to data compiled by Glassdoor, the gender gap persists even after accounting for all other professional characteristics. The spring 2017 edition of the American Association of University Women’s (AAUW) gender pay gap report found that “women working full time in the United States typically were paid just 80 percent of what men were paid” in 2015. While the gap “has narrowed since 1960,” women are not expected to “reach pay parity with men” until 2059. The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) found that the persistent wage gap as it stood in 2015 would result in an average American woman earning over $400,000 less than an average man “over the course of a 40-year career.” According to a November 2016 report from NWLC, the pay gap for American mothers is even more stark: “Mothers who work outside the home full time, year round typically make just 71 cents for every dollar paid to fathers.”

    Despite the facts, Fox News has long promoted the myth that the gender pay gap doesn’t exist or is the result of women’s choices in the workplace. Carlson in particular has a history of using his Fox program as a vehicle for misleading characterizations of the movement for pay equity. Even before the notoriously sexist Carlson was promoted to his new prime-time perch, he used his appearances on other Fox programs to proclaim that “women get paid exactly what they’re worth” and bemoan the supposed persecution of working men.

  • Right-Wing Media Commemorate Equal Pay Day By Recycling Misleading Attacks On Progressives

    Fox News Joins Chorus Accusing Elizabeth Warren Of Hypocrisy On Pay Equity

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Equal Pay Day, which fell on April 4, “symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year,” according to the National Committee on Pay Equity. Right-wing media outlets, which have long denied the very existence of a gender pay gap, used the annual commemoration as an excuse to attack progressives as hypocrites on the need for pay equity, airing recycled and debunked talking points previously used against President Barack Obama and former presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

    On April 4, the right-wing Washington Free Beacon commemorated Equal Pay Day by misleadingly claiming that the “gender pay gap” experienced by female staffers working for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is “nearly 10 percent wider than the national average,” according to its own review of Senate salary data. The article claimed that “median annual earnings” for women working in Warren’s office for the entirety of 2016 were “more than $20,000 less than the median annual earnings for men” while “average salaries rather than median” showed a roughly “31 percent” pay gap. The article slammed Warren for paying five men larger salaries than that of her highest-paid woman staffer and concluded by noting several prominent Democratic politicians who supposedly “pay women less than men,” including Clinton and Obama:

    Warren is far from the only politician who pays women less than men.

    Most notable on the list is failed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who paid women less than men first as a senator, then as secretary of state, and as a presidential candidate. Her campaign viewed her tendency to pay women less than men as a campaign vulnerability.

    Former President Barack Obama regularly spoke out about the gender pay gap, but women working at the White House were paid less than men.

    The Free Beacon’s misleading analysis of Warren was picked up by other right-wing outlets, including The Daily Caller and The Washington Times. The April 4 edition of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight also featured the report during a segment wherein the host mocked Warren as “a fake Native American” and Townhall editor Katie Pavlich claimed the news proved Warren “is not a champion for women”:

    The attacks right-wing media used against Warren rely on the exact same debunked “analysis” they have used to smear progressive elected officials on equal pay before: On February 23, 2015, the Free Beacon claimed that Hillary Clinton, as senator, paid female staffers “72 cents for each dollar paid to men” in a piece titled “Hillary Clinton’s War On Women.” Fox host Sean Hannity echoed the claim, saying the article proved Clinton “paid female staffers a lot less than men.” Fox host Greg Gutfeld hyped a similarly deceptive claim in 2012, saying that women who work in the Obama White House generally earn less than men. In reality, PolitiFact debunked the Free Beacon/Hannity claim, rating it as “Mostly False” and noting that Hannity’s analysis “ignores critical facts.” Gutfeld was proven wrong as well: American Prospect columnist Paul Waldman reported that the data on Obama staff pay indicated that “men, on average, are occupying higher-paying jobs in the White House ... not that women are being paid less for doing the same job.” (At no point in this years-long charade have right-wing media acknowledged the systemic problem of men being overrepresented in leadership roles.)

    As has always been the case, Fox News and other right-wing outlets seem to care about the pay gap women face in the workplace only when it’s politically advantageous to do so. When they aren’t cherry-picking statistics to malign progressives, Fox personalities frequently dismiss pay inequality as “an absolute myth” and attribute it “to women’s choices” rather than discrimination. Yet, the real myth is that the pay gap is caused by women choosing lower-paying jobs. As CNN analyst Christine Romans explained on the April 4 edition of New Day, women face a pay gap because “even in the same job categories, men make more”:

    Despite continued efforts to make pay in the United States more equitable, the gender pay gap persists. According to the Center for American Progress, women still earn only 79 cents for every dollar a man makes and the pay gap is even wider for women of color. April 4 marked the day when working women finally caught up to the earnings men accrued in 2016, but all Fox and the right-wing chorus wanted to do to commemorate the occasion was push tired and recycled myths.

  • How Cable TV Inadvertently Shined A Light On The Obstacles Women Of Color Face In The Workplace

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    The intersectional discrimination women of color often face while doing their jobs was put on full display this past week when Fox host Bill O’Reilly and White House press secretary Sean Spicer attacked Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) and veteran journalist April Ryan on their appearance and body language, respectively. The incidences, which both occurred in unusually public settings, inadvertently shined a light on the discrimination women of color too often face in their workplaces, while the subsequent reactions from right-wing media underscored the problems that hold women of color back.

    This week, cable TV viewers watched as O’Reilly mocked Waters’ hair, saying, “I didn’t hear a word she said. I was looking at the James Brown wig.” That same day, Spicer lashed out at Ryan -- who had previously been at the receiving end of President Donald Trump’s overtly racist remarks -- interrupting their back-and-forth to comment, “Please stop shaking your head again.” The same week, The New York Times reported that two female African-American Fox News employees were suing the network over “top-down racial harassment” that was “reminiscent of the Jim Crow era.”

    The pile-on of attacks revealed a unique obstacle women of color confront in their daily lives: the compounding effects of gender and racial discrimination. Researchers acknowledge that there is a dearth of research examining the intersection between sexist and racist attacks in the workplace. A number of studies, however, have revealed concerning statistics about barriers to success that women of color face. CNN reported on a University of California Hastings College of the Law study, writing, “While 66% of the women scientists [professor Joan] Williams studied (including white women) reported having to provide more evidence of competence than men, 77% of black women said they experienced that.” There have been multiple studies that highlight “unconscious bias” against women, and others that reveal more overt discrimination -- both of which have serious consequences in the long run.

    Additionally, research shows that sexual harassment is more prevalent for women of color than it is for white women. Researchers at Fordham University School of Law attributed this phenomenon to “racialized sex stereotypes that pervade sexual harassment.”

    Studies and anecdotes continue to reaffirm the double hurdle women of color must clear in order to get hired, get promoted, and earn equal pay.

    The problems surrounding equal pay exemplify the issues unique to women of color. Recent research on the gender pay gap by the American Association of University Women found that “progress” to close income disparities between genders “has stalled in recent years” and that the pay gaps between genders and between racial/ethnic groups “cannot be explained by factors known to affect earnings and is likely due, at least in part, to discrimination.” The Center for American Progress recently found that while women overall earn 79 cents for every dollar a man earns, that gap widens by 19 cents for black women compared to white men. This “translates into an average lifetime earnings gap of $877,480 for each African-American woman versus her white male counterparts.” Latina women appear to fare even worse than other minorities; Pew Research Center estimated that in 2015, Latinas earned 58 cents for every dollar a man earned compared to the 82 cents per dollar that white women earn.

    Furthermore, conservative media outlets often obfuscate the issue of gender and racial discrimination in the workplace, which creates an obstacle in addressing the root of the problem. Right-wing media have repeatedly justified -- or denied the existence of -- the gender pay gap and have attempted to undermine progress in closing the gap.

    And while many people rallied in support of Waters and Ryan, many conservative figures ignored, defended, or even cheered on the assailants. USA Today pointed out that “Breitbart, the news site with ties to Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon, didn't appear to mention O'Reilly's comment, but published a post called ‘Maxine Waters: Something is “wrong” with Trump “He doesn't deserve to be president.”'” One conservative pundit covered up for O’Reilly’s sexist and racist commentary, falsely equating his attack on Waters to liberals calling Trump “orange.” Spicer received a similar wave of support from conservative outlets for his attacks on Ryan.

    Experts say that the discrimination that women of color face while doing their jobs is difficult to prove. But this past week, cable TV viewers witnessed them firsthand. Impunity for O'Reilly and Spicer after their attacks on Waters and Ryan could make it even more difficult for women of color to eliminate barriers to their success.

    Illustration by Dayanita Ramesh.

  • On Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, Media Highlight Plight Of Women Of Color In The Workplace

    ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    According to the most recently available data, African-American women on average are paid only 60 percent of what white men are paid in a year, meaning they would have to work almost nine additional months to catch up. August 23 is an annual day of action, Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, focused on that issue, and numerous media outlets have noted the event by highlighting the plight of African-American women in the workforce.

  • NY Times Contributor Highlights How Unionization Helps Fight Economic Inequality, Gender Pay Gap

    Unions Benefit All Workers With Better Pay And Stable Shifts, Collective Bargaining Reduces The Gender Pay Gap

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    A New York Times contributor shared her experience working as a cocktail server in Las Vegas, where she saw how unions helped workers -- especially women and immigrants -- receive better pay, benefits, and job security.

    Brittany Bronson, a Times contributor and an instructor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) highlighted the importance of unions in an August 17 op-ed, discussing how unions provide many benefits that specifically help women in the workplace. Bronson reported from her own experience that “unions are strong in Las Vegas,” providing workers in the casino and hospitality industry “benefits that cocktail servers and hotel workers in other states can only dream of.” These benefits and protections -- including good wages, health care packages, and stable scheduling -- are why Bronson saw “so many lifers in [the] industry.” The op-ed also discussed how union seniority helped women maintain their rights at work -- something that “runs counter to most American workplaces, where women tend to lose power as they age” and the gender pay gap widens for women as they get older.

    The role unions can play in tackling pay disparities and overall economic inequality is frequently dismissed by right-wing media, which deny the existence of a gender pay gap and misleadingly blame unions for contributing to economic deterioration. Working women in the United States earned “just 79 percent of what men were paid” in 2014, according to a Spring 2016 report by the American Association of University Women (AAUW). Pay disparities follow women throughout their careers, depressing their earnings potential and contributing to elevated rates of poverty in retirement. Union seniority rights and collective bargaining opportunities could be an important part of ending the gender pay gap by preventing pay discrimination against women -- as the op-ed pointed out, the Pew Charitable Trust found that the gender pay gap narrows in union shops, where women are paid roughly 88 percent as much as their male counterparts. From the August 17 edition of The New York Times:

    Unions are strong in Las Vegas, and they bring benefits that cocktail servers and hotel workers in other states can only dream of: Beyond better wages and health care packages, union members are ensured set schedules and their first choice of coveted shifts, based on seniority. It’s why there are so many lifers in my industry: At the top of our cocktailing matriarchy was a woman who had joined the union in 1973.

    [...]

    The Las Vegas casino scene runs counter to most American workplaces, where women tend to lose power as they age. According to research by the recruiting site Glassdoor, the pay gap, even after it’s adjusted for things like occupation, increases with age — from 2.2 percent for women ages 18 to 24 to 10.5 percent for women between 55 and 64. Family obligations and gender discrimination take women out of the American work force, meaning fewer promotions, fewer women in management and ultimately fewer raises.

    [...]

    The benefits ripple outward, in the form of family wealth building and educational opportunities. According to a March 2015 New York Times report, a girl in a poor family who grows up in Las Vegas will make 7 percent more than she would elsewhere by age 26. Income mobility for women is better in Clark County, where Las Vegas is, than it is in 71 percent of counties nationwide.

  • How Fox News Dismisses The Gender Pay Gap

    ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    To celebrate Equal Pay Day, Media Matters looks back at how Fox News has denied, downplayed, and justified the gender pay gap. From blaming women’s emotions to calling women “less ambitious” and suggesting they should be “better negotiators,” Fox personalities have blamed women and ignored facts in reporting on pay inequality.