Of course Americans support equal pay for women and well they should. Discriminatory pay practices are not tolerable.
However, the overall pay gap of 79-80% is mostly the result of factors unrelated to discrimination and activists for equal pay know that. They also know there are scores of laws against pay discrimination that have been on the books for decades.
If you are an employer looking to hire and a good female candidate came to you, but her current pay is significantly below your normal hiring point, should you be responsible for that entire difference immediately? Or, are you more likely to make an offer to another candidate perfectly happy with a raise, but for less money? Then what do you do five years later when you are asked to explain pay gaps?
Generally, one can expect an increase of about 10% when changing jobs although one survey showed a median of about 14%. Should any employer be required to significantly exceed that to make up for a women’s lower pay regardless of the reason? What if that lower pay is a reflection of a poor work record? What if the job candidate is a man, does the same increase in pay apply?
This equal pay thing isn’t as simple as it appears. Ask a group of people what it means and I bet you will get different answers. There is really only one point where equal pay can be quantified and that’s an entry level job requiring little or no work experience. Beyond that there are many variable; on the job performance and productivity being the most important and the most difficult to measure and justify.
Do we want the top performing employee (man or woman) in a job with ten others to be paid the same as less performing colleagues? Maybe we do.
Maybe we have reached the point where our goal is the famous participation trophy. There are no winners or losers, nobody is exceptional, richer or poorer; everyone is simply equal … and likely mediocre; a new average.