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This Article is Shallow in its Analysis.

She offers few of her own statistics to explain her view of reality," says Robyn Bramhall, SPHR, Senior Human Resources Representative, SOLA Optical USA in Petaluma, CA.

March 17, 2000
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I generally enjoy reading the articles on the Workforce site, even if I disagree with the conclusions or philosophy of the writer. I have even gotten used to the general anti-legislation, anti-union, pro-status quo tone of most articles. But Anita U. Hattiangadi's current article on comparable worth is such an obvious step over the line, I must write to you in protest.

This article is not only shallow in its analysis (more on this in a moment), but is questionable in its purpose, giving rise to my conclusion that it was intended to both silence "uppity women" and to fuel the fires of the backlash made infamous by Susan Faludi. But why? Was Ms. Hattiangadi asked to write on this topic? Is this an area of special interest to her? Again, why? It doesn't appear to me that comparable worth has made any great strides in recent years, so I see no real need to present "the other point of view" in this public forum.

As a feminist and a human resources professional, I am compelled to question statements and "myth de-bunkings" that are presented in such a cloud of mystery. Before I began this letter, I took a side trip to the web site of Ms. Hattiangadi's employer, the Employment Policy Foundation, looking for a connection to ultra-conservative funding or some other explanation for the narrowness of the article. Although I did not find any specific information about which "130 major companies" sponsored the group, or background on the staff, I did find many more studies by economists on the staff, none of which had the same negative, severely-slanted tone as Ms. Hattiangadi's.

Sure, they're anti-legislation, anti-union and pro-status quo, but they don't resort to the same types of freshman debate-like tactics embraced by Ms. Hattiangadi. So the mystery remains.

Now for a few words on the shallow analysis. While Ms. Hattiangadi uses the term "voodoo statistics" to describe claims of a gender pay gap, she offers few of her own statistics to explain her view of reality. The one citation of data she does share leads her to shrink the gap from 26 to 19 percent, and then directly to a quick conclusion of zero gap with a simple quip: "When all such differences are accounted for, the gap shrinks considerably, by some estimates to zero." Where is the science in that statement?

Ms. Hattiangadi mentions other gaps that the reader will surely agree are acceptable, implying that age and talent are two of those other "such differences" leading to zero gap. This logic is not even logic; it is diversionary and misleading, and I'm again wondering why an economist would want to take the low road on this issue.

Ms. Hattiangadi does profess to believe that discrimination is wrong. However, by citing current law forbidding discrimination as proof that no other action or protection is necessary, she shows a notable lack of historical perspective in the realm of US employment law. It is no secret that the reason we have so many non-discrimination laws is that employers have found ways to get around the previously-passed laws, and that, despite a mind-boggling number of laws against it, discrimination remains.

We may disagree about how to eradicate it, and comparable worth programs may be misguided, but we must avoid discounting all claims of discrimination by way of such shoddy journalism as the article you feature this week. It is a disservice to women, certainly, and to all of us who are committed to promoting equal opportunity in the workplace.

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