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Women’s Choices, Not Bias, Blamed for Lower Earnings : Workplace: Family and career choices are the key factors in the pay disparity between sexes, conservative think tank’s study says.

<i> From Associated Press</i>

Choices women make about work and family--not discrimination--are responsible for the earnings gap between the sexes, according to a study by a conservative think tank.

Women lag behind men because they move in and out of the work force to care for children, and tend to choose lower-paying careers than men, according to the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy.

Federal statistics show women earn about 72 cents for every dollar than men make. The institute’s study, released Thursday, runs counter to other interpretations of the data, which blame bias.

“While others perpetuate the albatross of victimhood . . . our work shows women are doing quite well, given the choices they have made,” said Katherine Post, one of the study’s authors.

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She said the wage disparity narrows as factors distinguishing the sexes are removed. The gap falls to 2% between childless men and women ages 27 through 33.

But Myra Stober, a feminist economist at Stanford University, disputed Post’s analysis. Women don’t earn less because they stay home more, she said, they stay home more because they make less money.

Stober also disagreed with the study’s disputing the existence of a “glass ceiling” that keeps women out of high-level positions. Post said figures showing few women in such positions do not take into account that few women are eligible for such jobs.

Stober said, “She should come and sit in my office and listen to the stories of the women in the corporations I work with, all of whom are in their late 40s and 50s and are available for those jobs and qualified and are not being chosen.”

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Tom Nardone, an economist with the U.S. Labor Department, agreed that the wage gap appears to shrink when differences in age, education, marriage, tenure and field of work are excluded. Economists, however, disagree over which factors should be used in calculating pay disparity.

Post said the Pacific Research Institute conducted the study because of the current debate about affirmative action.

“All we are trying to do is bring attention to the fact that these numbers, which have become sort of the battle cry of preferences for women, don’t tell you what is really going on in the market,” she said.


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