Memo to John Roberts: The Gender Wage Gap is Real

Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D., Barbara Gault, Ph.D., Erica Williams

August 31, 2005
  • ISBN:
  • ID: #C362

Equal pay and the wage gap have become central issues in
discussions of John Roberts’ nomination to the Supreme
Court. Roberts authored documents in 1983 and 1984
suggesting he did not believe that that there was a gender
pay gap or that women experienced pay discrimination,
and voicing opposition to proposed actions to promote
pay equity, including the Equal Rights Amendment
and comparable worth remedies. For example, one
memo referred to “the purported gender gap,” while
another discussed “perceived problems” of gender bias,
and another called comparable worth policies “highly
objectionable” and “staggeringly pernicious.”1 Census
Bureau data show that the gender pay gap was quite
real in the 1980’s, and persists today, even among men
and women with comparable education levels.