To Close the Gender Pay Gap, How About an "Equal Workweek Act" or a "Workweek Fairness Act"
Two recent academic research studies have found evidence of significant "gender-hours gaps" in both the legal profession and the medical profession.
1. In the article "Are Women Overinvesting in Education? Evidence from the Medical Profession" two professors in the Yale School of Management find that:
"In our data, the median male physician with 10 years of experience works 11 hours per week more than the median female physician in our sample with 10 years of experience. Simply put, the majority of women physicians do not appear to work enough hours earning the physician-wage premium to amortize that profession’s higher upfront investments."
2. In another research paper, "Gender Gaps in Performance: Evidence from Young Lawyers," the authors find that some of the gender wage gap for young lawyers is explained by the fact that male lawyers in the group studied worked an average of more than 54 hours per week compared to their female counterparts, who worked less than 49 hours per week on average.
MP: Despite many empirical studies showing that the large majority of gender differences in pay can be explained by hours worked and individual career and family choices made by men and women, the myth of a gender wage gap due to systematic workplace discrimination persists. Even though the Equal Pay Act of 1963 prohibits sex-based wage discrimination, new legislation in the form of the Democratic-sponsored Paycheck Fairness Act was passed in the House of Representatives in 2008 was considered in the Senate this week. The legislation failed to generate enough votes in the Senate on Tuesday, and so its future is now uncertain.
Maybe another approach should be considered. Since some of the gender wage gap results from differences in hours worked, perhaps federal legislation could be introduced to eliminate the unfair "gender-hours gap," e.g. what about the "Equal Workweek Act" or the "Workweek Fairness Act"? Closing the "gender-hours gap" by forcing women to work longer hours (or men to work fewer hours) would go a long way towards closing the "gender pay gap."