No More Discrimination

As I read last week’s article on gender inequality by Jane Herzeca ’05, I couldn’t help but cringe at the idea of “honor killing” — the Middle-Eastern practice of killing a woman for simply walking in public with a man. I applaud Herzeca’s efforts of bringing such atrocities to our community’s attention, and agree that it is imperative for countries such as Jordan and Iraq to generate changes in women’s rights. With that said, Herzeca claims that in America and here at Andover, gender inequality still exists. Though she makes it clear that she is not criticizing America or PA, many feminists across the country and even on campus do complain about being the “oppressed” gender, an idea I, as a woman, find embarrassing. The most common place of “oppression” for American women is in the workplace. Herzeca points out the “fact that in many professions females are paid less than men for performing the same job.” Many feminists claim that for every dollar a man makes, a woman makes 75 cents for the same job. Herzeca and feminists who use this “fact” and “statistic” fail to take into account the factors that cause this so-called inequity of wages. These factors are due not to sexual discrimination or oppression, but to women’s lifestyle choices. At one point in her career, a woman usually leaves the workforce to have and raise a child. Later, if she chooses to return, she may find that indeed she is making less than her male counterpart, who continued working throughout her absence. Her lower wage is a result of fewer years of experiences, not her gender. Further proving childbearing to be a major cause of the wage gap among men and women, surveys from the Independent Women’s Forum and from the Cato Institute conclude that in childless women aged 27 to 33, women earn 98 (not 75) percent of what men make. In addition, women generally prefer safer, more flexible jobs over dangerous, more time consuming ones that would earn them more money. And, on average, men work eight hours more a week than women. Taking into account these factors, the wage gap becomes virtually invisible and it is revealed that American women today are, in actuality, not oppressed in the workforce. Herzeca poses questions concerning gender inequality here at PA that I would like to take the initiative to answer.