It’s not like the Good Ol’ Boys in Texas have surprised me with the latest declaration; “Texas women are too busy to worry about equal pay”, but I’m going to put down the 5 things I’m multitasking and take a deep breath and say . . .WHAT the $$$$?
Oh yes, we big haired, high healed, bling loving Texas women are just too busy to get upset about equal pay. It seems that Cari Christman, the executive director of a group called Red State Women PAC, (a group supporting the current state Attorney General and Republican candidate for governor, Greg Abbott) says that Texas women are too busy to focus on equal pay. This was said in an attempt to subdue the rally cry of Wendy Davis, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate who has been using the issue recently in her campaign.
Now, the fact that Cari Christman is female does not negate the role of the Good Ol’ Boys – it merely illustrates what I’ve been pondering for years: How do politicians get women to vote against their own interest? The attempt here is clearly to get Texas women to not blame Greg Abbott for his comments about the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and some controversial cases he defended involving equal pay issues in Texas. The Huffington Post reported this week that Abbott’s campaign told the Associated Press that the attorney general opposes bills like the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which expands the amount of time women have to challenge their bosses in court when they realize they’re being paid less than their male colleagues for the same work.
Abbott may have something to be concerned about. According to The San Antonio Express-News, “overall, male employees earn an average of $60,200 a year in Abbott’s office, while women make $44,708. Those averages don’t take into account different job classifications”. The Huffington Post notes that “The average salary for the 343 male assistant attorneys general in Abbott’s office is $79,464, while the average salary for the 379 women is $73,649, according to salary information Abbott’s office provided to the San Antonio Express-News.”
I’ve worked in Texas for 20 years as a compensation consultant and I can tell you, MANY companies pay their female employees less than their male employees and the code of “you are not to talk about your pay with your peers” can keep women in the dark about pay equity for years. Violation of that “code” can lead to disciplinary actions, including termination. The whole point of Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act type legislation is to give women time to discover they have been paid unfairly and that they have more legal resources than currently available.
So, just what was Ms. Christman saying when she said that Texas women are too busy to worry about equal pay? She says women just want good jobs and good educations – they don’t care about legislation that will help them hold companies who have discriminatory pay practices accountable. To do that would only hurt women by slowing down job creation. Her conclusion (or Mr. Abbott’s) not mine.
I don’t believe that is true – do you? I want companies to believe equal pay is a value their organization should be holding because it’s the right thing to do and is a good business practice. Will holding companies accountable for how they pay their women employees really keep them from creating jobs? Will some giant oil company CEO say “Wow – I was going to create a 100 new jobs today, but because the state of Texas is allowing a woman we paid unfairly 3 years ago to hold us accountable, I’m going to have to hold off.”
If Texas women are too busy to care about equal pay it’s because we are taking care of families, working 60 hours a week to make ends meet, and fighting to ensure we get the projects and the promotions that will help us be paid equitably with men. Mr. Abbott, it’s time Texas men start listening to Texas women and taking their issues seriously. And Ms Christman, it’s time to start understanding that Texas women may be busy, but they are not stupid. This may very well be an election where Texas women start voting for their own self interest.
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