Women In Combat And Equal Pay In The Workplace [Op-Ed]

Women In Combat And Equal Pay In The Workplace

COMMENTARY | When I first noticed the announcement that the women in military combat ban had been lifted I was on MSN. What struck me as very odd was how this news was presented, with MSN editors choosing to display it like this: “Ban on women in combat removed, but fight for equal pay goes on.” Besides rushing to report the new on The Inquisitr, the other thought that entered my mind was “why choose to politicize this news any further with a mostly unrelated topic?”

MSN reported the news in this way, equating the debate over workplace pay inequality to women in combat:

“Reaction to the news on social media was mixed; some folks noted that although women can now have the privilege of getting shot on the front lines, they still have to fight for necessities like equal pay in the workplace.”

The military and unequal pay for women really do not have much to do with each other. Some of the arguments for not allowing women in combat are practical and have nothing to do with inherent sexism. Although, personally, I have no problem with women in combat roles as long as they can meet the same stringent standards. After all, during World War II Russia allowed women in combat and many served with distinction as pilots, snipers, machine gunners, tank crew members, and in auxiliary roles like in today’s US Military.

A Tweet by LaVieDeCourtney reportedly said:

“Now we can die equally but still not get paid equally: Military lifts ban on women serving in combat.”

Apparently this Tweet was deleted since I cannot find it on Twitter anymore. Still, I find this cynical sarcasm ill-served. If you look at the US military pay charts for 2013 you can see that whether you are male or female has nothing to do with the various pay grades for enlisted, warrant officers, and officers. Perhaps I’m more sensitive to this as a former military brat, but these attempts to tie the two issues together seem almost like an attempt to besmirch the US military.

As previously reported by The Inquisitr, studies show that much of the gender salary gap is caused by women being much more likely to enter lower-paying career fields. But, when they compared men and women making the same career choices, they still find that a seven percent pay gap persists. Researchers claim that evidence suggests women approach salary negotiations differently from men. Labor survey data suggests that women are eight times less likely to engage in salary negotiations and in lab experiments were nine times less likely to ask for higher compensation compared to men. They believe that this willingness to initiate salary negotiations, or lack thereof, potentially explains a significant fraction of the observed gender differences in wages. Combined together, these two studies might explain the majority of the unequal pay that women have noticed.

Do you think that we should conflate the two issues of women in combat and equal pay in the workplace?