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Income for most people is determined by the market value of the productive resources they sell. What workers earn depends, primarily, on the market value of what they produce and how productive they are.

KEY CONCEPTS

Accounting Loss, Accounting Profit, Human Capital, Human Resources, Investment, Labor, Labor Market, Prices of Inputs, Wage

STUDENTS WILL

  • Recognize that wages and salaries, determined by the supply of and demand for labor, are impacted by discrimination.
  • Collect and review data to determine if there is substantial evidence that women earn significantly lower pay than men for work on jobs that require equal skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions.
  • Evaluate proposed solutions for gender discrimination in the workplace.
  • Form an opinion on the issue of fair pay and defend it with empirical evidence.

INTRODUCTION

Woman PowerIncome for most people is determined by the market value of the productive resources they sell. What workers earn depends, primarily, on the market value of what they produce and how productive they are.

Upon completion of this lesson the student will:

  • Recognize that wages and salaries, determined by the supply of and demand for labor, are impacted by discrimination.
  • Collect and review data to determine if there is substantial evidence that women earn significantly lower pay than men for work on jobs that require equal skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions.
  • Evaluate proposed solutions for gender discrimination in the workplace.
  • Form an opinion on the issue of fair pay and defend it with empirical evidence.

[NOTE: Students will be introduced to gender discrimination in the workplace, they will collect and review data to substantiate or refute the existence of gender discrimination, and they will evaluate proposed solutions to this type of discrimination. Think About It: questions follow each section. These questions can be used to lead class discussion, as a guide for group work, or as an evaluative tool if this is an individually assigned lesson. A culminating activity requires students to formulate and express their opinion on this issue and consider the relevance of other arguments.]

Did you know that:

  • In 1963, President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act prohibiting employers from paying women less than men for the same job? [NOTE: Students can read the Equal Pay Act of 1963 ] But the reality is that while the Equal Pay Act prohibited discrimination against women in terms of wages, substantial pay disparities continue to exist.

In this lesson students will examine several resources that address gender equity to determine if these disparities in pay for men and women are indeed discrimination or if they are justified. At the end of this lesson students will be asked to form and justify opinions.

MATERIALS


PROCESS

The issue: Are wages in the modern workplace "fair"?

Listen to the following Morning Edition audio clip on Income Discrepancy and answer the Think About It questions that follow. [NOTE: The following program can be listened to using RealAudio.]

Think About It

1. On average a woman makes $.75 on a man's $1.00. Diana Furchgott Roth doesn't think this is unfair. Why?
[Diana Furchtgott Roth of the American Enterprise Institute says the difference in income reflects different employment histories and career choices, not unfair pay practices.]

2. Why do women traditionally have different work histories than men?
[Through discussion or written answers the student should recognize cultural customs and social constraints as influencing a woman's work history. Primarily, the traditional view during the last two centuries in the United States that the woman serves as the primarily care giver for children and elderly relatives, as well as having the majority of responsibilities within the household. These responsibilities have historically limited a woman's time in the work force and restricted the years of service available to a woman in the workforce.]

3. Why do women traditionally choose different careers than men?
[Through discussion or written answers students should reveal their knowledge of the role cultural customs and social constraints have played in the types of careers woman have chosen.]

Is there evidence that women and men are paid differently?

Here's some data to review:

Median Weekly Earnings (1997) of Women and Men in the 10 Leading Occupations for Women

Occupations

Women

Men

1. Secretaries

$409.00

$*

2. Cashiers

$248.00

$269.00

3. Managers and administrators

$658.00

$934.00

4. Registered nurses

$705.00

$778.00

5. Sales supervisors and proprietors

$438.00

$619.00

6. Bookkeepers, accounting/auditing clerks

$418.00

$446.00

7. Nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants

$296.00

$341.00

8. Elementary school teachers

$655.00

$719.00

9. Waiters and waitresses

$268.00

$328.00

10. Sales workers

$280.00

$381.00

Median of All Occupations

$431.00

$579.00

*Median not given because base is less than 50,000

[NOTE: This table is taken from a document titled: Equal Pay: A Thirty-Five Year Perspective prepared by the U.S. Department of Labor - Women's Bureau, dated June 10 ,1998. It can be used to lead class discussion or individual analysis on this perspective of the issue. This document can be found in its entirety at Highlights of Women's Earnings in 1998 ]

Read this excerpt from a speech given by District of Columbia Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton at the U.S. House of Representatives on March 05, 1997:

To illustrate the currency of the issue of equal pay and comparable pay, let me finally cite the case of Marianne Stanley. Marianne Stanley is now coaching at Stanford. The sports aficionados will, of course, recognize who Marianne Stanley is. She was known especially for her work as head coach at Old Dominion, where she had a winning percentage of 351 to 146 during her stay there. The school won the AIAW titles in 1979 and 1990 and added an NCAA title in 1985 to her
credits.

Until this season, by the way, when Tennessee's Pat Summit won her fourth national title, Stanley and Summit were tied for the most national women's basketball titles. Marianne Stanley has now brought an Equal Pay Act suit.

She brought that suit when she left Old Dominion, and she became head coach at USC, and she was there from 1990 to 1993. She was considered a national treasure, and led USC to the final eight of the NCAA tournament in 1992. Her teams, her Trojan teams, reached the NCAA tournament in each of her final 3 years there. This woman is a winner.

But she was fired following the 1992 season, reportedly because of a dispute with her athletic director over not receiving a salary equal to the salary that men's coaches were paid. She brought a lawsuit. That lawsuit is now on appeal.

Here is a woman who has broken through as coach in a sport where women got scant attention until recently, but as everyone knows, women's basketball is the coming sport, and here we have a champion in her own right who goes on to be a champion coach.

All I can say, without knowing the outcome of the suit that is on appeal, is that she was not paid the same as men's coaches. I do not think that one who won games the way she did should be subject to less pay than men's coaches who, by the way, had not, so far as I understand, won or had the championships as she had.

Now, collect some information of your own. Use the following link to take you to a worksheet that you will be able to use to record your information and then print it to report your findings. A Fair Wage? worksheet [NOTE: Have copies of the worksheet for each class participant]

Use this .pdf on the Gender Wage Gap (Presented by the National Committe on Pay Equity, statistics from Department of Labor) to collect information on mean weekly and annual earnings for men and women. Complete the tables in your worksheet by gathering information on three occupations. Choose one occupation that you think of as a "man's job," a second occupation that you think of as a "woman's job," and a third occupation that is not one that is traditionally male or female, a job you consider "gender neutral."

Note: Students will have to calculate the annual earning figures from the weekly figures given. Simply have them multiply the weekly amount by 52 (52 weeks in a year) to get a rough estimate in order to complete the worksheet.

[NOTE: Students should be encouraged and given the opportunity to develop thoughtful answers to the following THINK ABOUT IT questions. This may be in the form of small group or class discussion or through an out-of-class written assignment.]

Think About It:

1. Do the data in the "10 Leading Occupations for Women" table support or refute the existence of gender discrimination in the workplace?
[The data in the table does illustrate less pay for each occupation for women as compared to men. This however, does not clearly indicate discrimination. These median calculations may reflect different numbers of men and woman in each occupation, different education levels, or different pay schedules due to differences in standards of living in different regions of the United States.]

2. Does the story about Marianne Stanley support or refute the existence of gender discrimination in the workplace?
[The story told by the congresswoman is an interesting anecdote. It would appear that this coach got paid less because she was not a man. However, appearances do not always tell the whole story. Does it matter that the men's sports program brings in more revenue for the school than the women's? This is a great question to debate!]

3. Does your research on the three occupations support or refute the existence of gender discrimination in the workplace?
[Students should be encouraged to critically analyze the data they collected.
Enforce the importance of controlling all variables other than gender. If students didn't use the same age and education levels for comparison share with them the additional explanations for the pay differentials they found.]

[NOTE: At this point students should have formed some strong opinions about the existence, or nonexistence, of gender discrimination in the workplace. Encourage open discussion from both viewpoints.]

ASSESSMENT ACTIVITY

It's not fair, or, is it?
Should anything be done about gender discrimination?

In the audio clip you listened to Diana Furchogott-Roth claim that there really isn't much of a pay differential between men and woman if you look at equal skill, etc.

 

     If yes, click here.
Do you agree with her?    
     If no, click here.

[NOTE: If the student chooses yes, she is directed to a site that clearly illustrates the discrepancy of pay by sex and or race and asked questions that challenge her comfort level.

If the student chooses no, she is directed to examine the Pay Check Fairness Act and consider its implications by viewing a State Department Report of the condition of women in France and Australia - two countries with "Pay Check Fairness" laws.]

Think About It:

1. In your opinion, does gender discrimination exist in the workplace? Why do you believe this?
[There is no right or wrong answer for this question . Encourage students to demonstrate use of the material covered during the lesson.]

2. In your opinion, should the government become more involved in pay check equality issues in the workplace? Why or why not?
[There is no right or wrong answer for this question . Encourage students to demonstrate use of the material covered during the lesson.]

EXTENSION ACTIVITY

1. Evaluate some programs that have worked in creating Fair Pay .

[NOTE: A challenging assignment is to have students review the article Earnings Differences Between Men and Women prepared by the Women's Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor.]

EDUCATOR REVIEWS

  • “This is a very thought-provoking lesson plan. It is full of great information, which will cause the students to think about the information presented. It would be valuable to have the students discuss the difference between fact and opinion. A good follow up would be for the children to become aware of the criteria that were used to collect this information and to determine if this slanted the facts.”

    Kathleen R., Dayton, OH   POSTED ON April 20, 2003

  • “Presently there is gender discrimination within the workplace, some people are still caught up in the golden ages when there were a particular jobs for men and for women. Some men are being paid more than women when they are doing the same jobs. Looking back to the World Wars, while the men were out in the battle fields the women had to take over the jobs of men and yet still our rights are being taken for granted. The government should be involved in pay check equality because we are created equal according to the constitution.”

    Krista Cowan   POSTED ON October 11, 2005

  • “Republicans in the House have outright opposed the economic stimulus package from the President, opposing the payday loan being made to help with economic recovery. Even after he extended an olive branch to them to work with them, talking with the entire Republican convention, they still opposed it outright, contending that they wanted stimulus package amendments to include more tax cuts. Like a payday loan overriding a sudden expense, the package is expected to pass despite unanimous Republican opposition. The Senate will vote on the bill next, and hopefully the economy will get the payday loans that it needs. To read more, check out this article at http://personalmoneystore.com/moneyblog/2009/01/28/report-by-payday-loan-lender-gop-wont-budge-on-stimulus-package/.”

    Brent I., Los Angeles, CA   POSTED ON February 5, 2009

  • “To assist middle-class families get coming back on their feet and restore one or two fairness to the tax code, President Obama in February signed one of his signature issues to law – the Making Work Pay tax credit. As a result, consumers across the country are seeing a greater amount of traffic in their paychecks.”

    Melissa L., Vancouver, AK   POSTED ON April 21, 2009

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