Last week, the Seattle Times ran dueling editorials responding to a recent study that showed that Seattle has the worst gender pay gap among major US cities. I didn't link to the editorial at the time because it was mostly unsubstantiated garbage—mostly thanks to Bruce Ramsey—and I didn't have time to respond to its unsubstantiated garbageness point by point. (Sample garbage argument, courtesy of Ramsey: There's no real gender gap, Seattle's job market just disproportionately benefits men. It's not men's fault that Seattle is misogynist! Women are simply fundamentally better suited for poorer paying, "indoor" work like secretarial and nursing duties, which, silver lining "has become better paid because women [have] more alternatives to it." Never mind that male nurses are still paid slightly better than their female counterparts.)
But in a delightful turn of events, today Mayor Mike McGinn published a blog post addressing and debunking Ramsey's garbage arguments with—gasp!—facts and studies:
Leaving “personal choice” aside, even women who follow a man’s playbook and pursue leadership positions in high-paid industries are still paid less than their male counterparts. This gap persists even when you control for education, experience, ambition and choice to start a family. This study from non-profit advocacy group Catalyst surveyed only men and women who graduated from an MBA program and were recruited by top firms across industries. They found that even when they only looked at men and women with similar levels of experience, education and ambition, women were still being paid nearly $5,000 less in their first job out of their MBA program. These findings were consistent even when examining only men and women who did not have children. So when Bruce Ramsey says “the “gap” everyone talks about is not between men and women with the same jobs” he’s just factually incorrect.
Seattle has a problem with gender inequality in pay. Let’s not make excuses and blame women for their “personal choices.” That isn’t going to help the 141,949 households in the Seattle metro area that are headed by women, 23 percent of which are living below the poverty line. For these families, the wage gap isn’t just a matter of fairness – it’s a matter of survival.
McGinn ends his post with a "we have to get our house in order" stump speech by announcing that the city is taking a "hard look" to make sure city employees are paid equitably for their work, and that he'll announce a firmer policy proposal addressing the city's gender pay gap soon.
Which, frankly, McGinn needs after the commanding lead his mayoral challenger Bruce Harrell has taken on this issue.