Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) quietly repealed his state’s equal pay law last week, a decision that will make it harder for victims of wage discrimination to sue for lost earnings and back wages. The law was enacted primarily to address the massive pay gap that exists between male and female workers, which is even bigger in Wisconsin than in other states.
Repealing the law was a no-brainer for state Sen. Glenn Grothman (R), who led the effort because of his belief that pay discrimination is a myth driven by liberal women’s groups. Ignoring multiple studies showing that the pay gap exists, Grothman blamed females for prioritizing childrearing and homemaking instead of money, saying, “Money is more important for men,” The Daily Beast reports:
Whatever gaps exist, he insists, stem from women’s decision to prioritize childrearing over their careers. “Take a hypothetical husband and wife who are both lawyers,” he says. “But the husband is working 50 or 60 hours a week, going all out, making 200 grand a year. The woman takes time off, raises kids, is not go go go. Now they’re 50 years old. The husband is making 200 grand a year, the woman is making 40 grand a year. It wasn’t discrimination. There was a different sense of urgency in each person.” [...]
Grothman doesn’t accept these studies. When I ran the numbers by him, he replied, “The American Association of University Women is a pretty liberal group.” Nor, he argued, does its conclusion take into account other factors, like “goals in life. You could argue that money is more important for men. I think a guy in their first job, maybe because they expect to be a breadwinner someday, may be a little more money-conscious. To attribute everything to a so-called bias in the workplace is just not true.”
Among Grothman’s inaccuracies is the idea that only males “expect to be a breadwinner someday.” In two-thirds of American families, women are either primary or co-breadwinners, and yet they still earn less than their male counterparts in all 50 states.
In 2011, the Wisconsin GOP carried out an extensive war on workers that led to recall efforts for state representatives, senators, and Walker himself. In 2012, Grothman and his colleagues have expanded that war to one on women, meaning a group of workers that was already struggling to keep pace with their male counterparts is only going to fall further behind.