In last night’s Missouri senatorial debate in St. Louis (seen by almost no one in St. Louis due to conflict with the Cardinals’ game in the National League Championship Series), incumbent Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill charged that women on the staff of her Republican challanger, Rep. Todd Akin, were paid less than the men on his staff by a significant double digit margin.
Not mentioned was the fact that women on the staff of McCaskill’s running mate, President Barack Obama, also are paid less than the men on his staff by a similar and significant double digit margin.
Is this a bipartisan war against women? Of course not. The simple, accurate defense of both Akin and Obama is that women on both staffs tended to perform duties whose reasonable compensation was lower. For example, receptionists perform important, demanding tasks that are nevertheless less important and less demanding than the tasks performed by other staffers. Women tend to be hired as receptionists because they are perceived to be better than men at that particular job. And the women hired for that job applied for it and are happy to have it.
Ironically, both Obama and Akin could easily improve their pay equity numbers by firing their women receptionists and other women holding lower paying jobs and replacing them with men earning the same pay as the women they replace. But that would be worse than the present situations for both officeholders and, in an absolute sense, wrong.
A better idea: end the demagoguery over inconsequential discrepancies in pay equity.