Empire State College
Race, Class and Gender
According to The Free Legal Dictionary Comparable Worth is the idea that men and women should receive equal pay when they perform work that involves comparable skills and responsibility or that is of comparable worth to the employer; also known as pay equity. Many jobs are segregated by sex. For example, approximately 80 percent of all office secretaries are female, and approximately 99 percent of all construction workers are male. Both jobs demand valuable, if different, skills. However, the annual income of a secretary is only three-fifths that of a construction worker. Comparable worth seeks to remedy this and other sex-based wage inequities by identifying and eliminating sex as an element in wage setting. (The Free Legal dictionary by Farlex, 2002) The term comparable worth describes the notion that sex-segregated jobs should be reanalyzed to determine their worth to an employer. Comparable worth consists of raising wages for traditionally female-dominated jobs to the level of those for comparable male-dominated jobs. Comparable worth should not be confused with equal pay for equal work. Comparable worth policies promote equal pay for comparable work. Advocates of comparable worth believe that most of the gender gap in wages is caused by discrimination. People, who subscribe to this view, feel that employers, out of habit or prejudice, reduce the pay scale in traditionally female occupations to levels below the true worth of these jobs, even when these jobs are held by men. These types of practices are widely considered unfair and are illegal under the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Comparable worth supporters, however, believe that equal-pay legislation is inadequate or even irrelevant because women tend to work in different occupations than men. Comparable worth is intended to address discrimination against the occupations in which women...
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