A Critique of “Facts and Fallacies about Paycheck Fairness”
The fact that the US society is not an egalitarian one has been present in the public discourse for years. However, as the social innovation require to shift the comfortable status quo, many authors try to rationalize the inequality denying scientific agenda. One of such examples is an article “Facts and Fallacies about Paycheck Fairness” by Phyllis Schlafly. In the text, the author attempts to undermine the existence of the wage gap between women and man by the manipulation of the facts, inconsistent argumentation, and logical fallacies, which, ironically, she attacks.
Firstly, Phyllis Schlafly structures the argument weakly. The author justifies the difference in the annual income stating that men simply work more, while she does not take into account the factors that lead to such distribution of working hours nor the situation, in which women are paid less for the same job. Schlafly writes that “Women work fewer hours per day, per week, per year. They spend fewer years as full-time workers outside the home, avoid jobs that require overtime, and choose jobs with flexibility to take time off for personal reasons” (Schlafly 195). Thus, the article creates the impression that women do not want to work more due to the laziness and the desire for the comfort. Women just like “pleasant” working conditions, the author argues (Schlafly 195). Unfortunately, women spend less time working outside of the home as they had to dedicate time to house chores and unpaid labor, which also frees time for men to stay long hours. Additionally, even when women are hired to do the same job, there are high chances that the employer will value less the labor of a woman. Due to the prejudices of the society, the women are often perceived less competent and qualified, and, thus, are ascribed lower salaries.
Further, stating that women consciously choose to earn less, the author manipulates the facts, generalizing information and using stereotypes. Traditionally, the women are excluded from many high paying industries because of the bias. For instance, men work under worse conditions due to the societal restrictions that keep women from entering more dangerous but also more profitable positions. Additionally, the glass ceiling stops women on their way to the success. The number of women sharply drops at the senior management level, even when the industry is gender balanced. Moreover, Schlafly points that “There are no male or female math classes. But women generally choose college courses that pay less in the labor market” (Schlafly 196). However, it turns out that women rarely prefer a technical occupation as a result of biased socialization. Since the childhood, the parents treats boys and girls differently buying constructors for boys and dolls for girls, making compliments to boys for being “smart” and to girls for being “pretty.” At the time of the college, women became sure that engineering is not a female occupation. Thus, Schlafly forgets that the society shapes the choices.
Next, Schlafly does not make a comprehensive stance as she makes one of the biggest logical mistakes claiming the depending relations between the fall of the rate of marriages and the increase of the wage for women. The author indicates that “Fifty years ago, about 80 percent of Americans were married by age 30; today, less than 50 percent are”, believing that the both facts are related (Schlafly 197). However, as the society has been changing drastically during last fifty years, there are hundred of the possible third variables that can influence the marriage rate, except the rise of the wage. Schlafly ignores the simple rule that correlation is not causation. Thus, the coincidence of the facts is not evidence for the argument. Moreover, the marriage argument fails as it is based on the wrong assumption since the beginning. Arguing that “If a higher earning man is not available, many women are more likely not to marry at all” (Schlafly 197). Thus, it seems that the author considers the income distribution as the main reason for the marriage. While it could be true in the nineteenth century, such view does not correspond to the today reality. Moreover, even if under some circumstances, women are likely to marry up in order to sustain their lives, the rise of the equality only helps to marry freely.
Finally, failing the logical part, the author appeals mainly to the emotion of the readers. The tone of the article is aggressive. Schlafly employs emotionally colored language to neutralize the facts and distracts from the logical inconsistencies and unreliable information. For instance, in the whole article, the Bureau of Labor Statistics is mentioned only once as a source for the data, without any further clarifications about the study. At the same time, Schlafly describes the gender wage gap as “so-called gap” and “a notorious falsehood, that anyone should be embarrassed to use” (Schlafly 195-197). Therefore, the rhetorics of the articles expresses the denial before the examination.
To sum up, Schlafly’s critique of the wage gap in “Facts and Fallacies about Paycheck Fairness” does not help the reader to achieve the better understanding of the social organization and the labor market. The author does not only express biased and manipulation through the emotionally colored phrases but also fails to recognize basic scientific principles.
Schlafly, Phyllis. Facts and Fallacies about Paycheck Fairness. p. 195-197