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Equity and Gender

The Comparable Worth Debate

About the Book

Equal pay for jobs of comparable worth is a backward approach that treats women as helpless victims, according to Ellen Frankel Paul. In this book she argues that equality of opportunity is a better means of promoting women’s rights and economic advancement.

Paul examines the legal, economic, and moral implications of comparable worth. She agrees with advocates of comparable worth that justice must outweigh economic efficiency in considerations of the issue, but she argues that the market process is more just than any attempt to establish salary equity by government writ. “Comparable worth.…harps on perceived injustices of the past — some real, some exaggerated, and some simply misdirected — and pleads for redress,” Paul writes. “The time has passed for women to plead with men for a fair chance in the marketplace; they have the chance, and they should be encouraged to continue taking advantage of it. The choice seems obvious: retrogress with comparable worth, or progress with the market.”

About the Author

Ellen Frankel Paul is an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute and deputy director of the Social Philosophy and Policy Center and professor of political science at Bowling Green State University.

What Others Have Said

Equity and Gender is the rarity, a thoughtful and reasoned treatment of a vexed and vexing subject. Whatever their views on the topic, those engaged in the comparable worth debate will find both useful information and analyses that can challenge their preconceptions.”
—David L. Kirp, Author, Gender Justice

“Paul has made a clear, compelling case against comparable worth and has done it with fairness to the views on both sides of the debate. Her presentation of the comparable worth proposals was exceptionally lucid.”
—Ann McLaughlin, former Secretary of Labor

“Anyone who really wants to understand the pros and cons of ‘comparable worth’ should read Equity and Gender.”
—Rita Ricardo‐​Campbell, Hoover Institution