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Author: Post, Katherine
Resulting in 1 citation.
1. Post, Katherine
Lynch, Michael
Free Markets, Free Choices: Women in the Workforce
Working Paper, Pacific Research Institute, December 1995.
Cohort(s): NLSY79
Publisher: Pacific Research Institute
Keyword(s): Earnings; Economics of Gender; Employment; Gender; Gender Differences; Job Promotion; Wage Gap; Wage Levels; Wages; Wages, Men; Wages, Women

Permission to reprint the abstract has not been received from the publisher.

American women now find themselves at the center of the debate over race- and gender-based preference policies.

Advocates of preferences rely on two tactics to align women with their cause. The first is the tactic of fear-mongering -- its machinations are the wage gap and the glass ceiling. In 1959, activists asserted that for every dollar a man earned, a woman earned a mere 59 cents. They maintained this was eo ipso proof of gender discrimination. By 1995, that gap has narrowed, but the average American woman still only takes home about 72 cents for every dollar the average man puts in his wallet. The pay gap's legacy is the "glass ceiling," a conveniently less concrete complaint about the barriers to success facing women at the highest echelons of corporate America.

This briefing exposes the first proposition -- that wage and attainment differentials between the sexes are due to discrimination -- for the red herring it is. Analyzing census data and summarizing economic labor studies, this briefing shows that the gaps reflect not discrimination but different levels and fields of education, different career choices and marriage. When women and men with the same levels of education, field of education, and workforce experience are compared, the gap virtually disappears.

The second contention, that women owe their professional success over the last thirty years to preference programs stewarded by feminist advocates, can't be proven one way or the other. Two facts are beyond dispute. First, over the last 30 years, women increased their representation both at the upper levels of corporate America and in this country's professional schools. Second, to varying degrees over the same period, programs that accord preference to women have been in place in America's institutions. But a correlation does not prove cause.

Chronicling the proliferation of women-owned businesses and the marked increase of women enrolled in professional schools, this briefing argues that the necessary condition for much of women's success is affirmative action in its original sense -- equality of opportunity. Furthermore, there is scant reason to believe that women will not continue to succeed in an environment in which they are simply accorded the same rights and opportunities as men, without special preferences.

Bibliography Citation
Post, Katherine and Michael Lynch. "Free Markets, Free Choices: Women in the Workforce." Working Paper, Pacific Research Institute, December 1995.