In an epic irony, a Wyoming lawmaker who missed part of every day during 2016 legislative session claims women are paid less than men because they often don't show up for work, the Casper Star Tribunereported this week.
Republican Rep. Gerald Gay initially explained women's shortcomings, calling them a "dependability issue about whether they're going to show up for things," in an interview with Better Wyoming, a progressive advocacy organization.
"Historically [women] tend to take every sick day that's available with them, and that's a gender thing," Gay told the group. Cashing in sick days is also a gendered activity, according to Gay. "If they go for two years and they've only taken three sick days, they're going to cash in the remaining 21 sick days. That's a gender thing and it hurts getting [the gender wage gap] rectified."
To clarify: The wage gap is basically the fault of women! "Some of the misuses and abuses that go on there, and it's predictable, it's statistics that are written in stone," Gay said. "As long as you have people who behave differently on it between the two genders, it hurts the chances of getting that gender wage gap shrunk all the way down."
When given the chance to dig himself out of his misogynistic hole in a later interview with the Star Tribune, Gay stuck to his guns. "Women in the workforce traditionally take a disproportionate amount of their sick days off for other reasons than sick days," he told the paper. He explained that he knew this from talking to local employers, although he refused to name them. "They take Junior to the hospital or go see Johnny's soccer game," he said -- as if taking a child to the hospital were something a mother shouldn't do?
Women generally earn less than men, and in Wyoming, women earn just 69 cents to a man's dollar, according to the paper. While there are many reasons for the wage gap, the root cause is sexism. Women who are mid-career may take time off work to be primary caregivers for others. Upon reentering the paid workforce women may have lost years of experience. Women are also less likely to negotiate for higher wages because "the social cost of negotiating for higher pay has been found to be greater for women than it is for men," according to The Harvard Business Review.
Gay, notes the Star Tribune, missed one whole day and portions of every remaining day in the 2016 legislative session. When asked about his attendance record, Gay said he was not like women. "It's a different thing," he told the paper. "You're elected versus when you're hired. I don't have the best attendance record. I was in the hospital for part of the [time] when I was in the Legislature. I was in a long-term rehabilitation wing of a nursing home during the session." In other words, unlike all those female fakers, Gay was actually sick.