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The Blame Game: How the Rhetoric of Choice Blames the Achievement Gap on Women

22 Pages Posted: 12 Sep 2013 Last revised: 30 Apr 2014

Nicole B. Porter

University of Toledo College of Law

Date Written: September 10, 2013

Abstract

In 2013, fifty years after the Equal Pay Act guaranteed women equal pay for equal work, almost fifty years since Title VII made discrimination based on sex unlawful, thirty-five years since the Pregnancy Discrimination Act made it unlawful to discriminate against women because of pregnancy, and nineteen years after the Family and Medical Leave Act provided twelve weeks of unpaid leave for some caregiving reasons, there is still a significant achievement gap between men and women in the workplace. Women still make less money, and rise more slowly and not as high in workplace hierarchies. Why? The common narrative states that because these laws have given women access to formal equality for many years, the fact that women have not achieved equality in the workplace must be blamed on something else. Specifically, the “something else” relied upon by society, the media, employers, and courts, is that women’s own choices are to blame for the achievement gap. The blame game asserts that women’s relative lack of success in the workplace is caused by three interrelated choices: (1) women’s decision to not pursue high-pressure, high-status professions, or jobs that are seen as “men’s work”; (2) women’s unwillingness to negotiate on their own behalf; and (3) women’s decision to devote more time and effort to caregiving and homemaking tasks.

Suggested Citation

Porter, Nicole B., The Blame Game: How the Rhetoric of Choice Blames the Achievement Gap on Women (September 10, 2013). 8 FIU L. Rev. 447, 2013; University of Toledo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2014-01. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2323887

Nicole B. Porter (Contact Author)

University of Toledo College of Law ( email )

2801 W. Bancroft Street
Toledo, OH 43606
United States
419-530-4785 (Phone)

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