Claiming "simple economics," the Utah Republican argued women earning as much as men was bad "for all of society"
Citing centuries of tradition and “simple economics,” a Republican politician in the American state of Utah has made headlines for coming out in favour of maintaining the gender pay gap, arguing that things should stay that way.
James Green, vice chairperson of the Wasatch County GOP, wrote an open letter to constituents published in two local Utah newspapers, under the headline “Equal pay has a serious downside.” His piece caused such furore among the state’s feminist that within two days, Green had published an apology and resigned from his position.
Green argued in his letter that men make more than women because men are “the primary breadwinners” of the family, therefore paying women equal salaries would ruin the traditional family model where “the Mother” is the primary caregiver, spending her time at home raising her husband’s children.
“If businesses are forced to pay women the same as male earnings, that means they will have to reduce the pay for the men they employ, simple economics,” Green explained.
“If that happens, then men will have an even more difficult time earning enough to support their families, which will mean more Mothers will be forced to leave the home (where they may prefer to be to join the workforce to make up the difference.”
Green also claims that having more women out of the home and in the labour force would create too much competition for jobs, “even men’s job.” The ensuing increase in the number of “Mothers” looking for work would be “bad for families and thus for all of society.”
“It’s a vicious cycle that only gets worse the more equality of pay is forced upon us. It’s a situation of well-meaning intentions, but negative unintended consequences.”
Green’s letter was written in reaction to a proposed bill in the Utah senate that would seek to investigate the state’s gender pay gap, as well as introducing a number of methods to offer greater transparency when it comes to starting salaries and pay rises.
After his comments were met with strong criticism on social media, as well as among his political colleagues, Green issued an apology, saying: “To those who were offended, I profusely apologise. I sincerely did not mean to do that. Of course, women’s contributions in the workplace are just as valuable as anyone else’s.
“I was merely pointing out the historical reasons for pay disparity and the challenges for overcoming that.”
According to the American non-profit the National Women’s Law Centre, women in Utah make 71c for every dollar earned by a man, which falls under the US national average of 80c. It is worse still for African-American and Latina women, who make 56c and 47c respectively, below the national average of 63c and 54c.