Kathleen Parker

Although women do not lead as many Fortune 500 companies (only 3 percent, according to Obama), they account for 51 percent of all workers in the high-paying management, professional and related occupations, according to the study. Women outnumber men, for example, as financial managers, human resource managers, education administrators, medical and health services managers, and accountants and auditors.

Otherwise, wage differences can be explained by "observable differences in the attributes of men and women," including, among many, the fact that a greater percentage of women than men take leave for childbirth and child care, which tends to lead to lower wages. Also, women may place more value on "family-friendly" workplace policies and prefer non-wage compensation, such as health insurance or flexibility.

The statistical analysis, which included these and other variables, produced an adjusted gender wage gap between 4.8 percent and 7.1 percent. The gap shrinks to almost nothing when men and women of equal backgrounds and tenure are compared, according to another study of young, childless men and women.

While no one would argue that women shouldn't be compensated as well as men for the same work, it isn't quite accurate to suggest a widespread problem of wage discrimination.

Or, as the Labor Department labor study warns against, to justify policy-level correctives.

Whatever imbalances remain should be self-correcting as women and men achieve educational parity, but that's if (BEG ITAL)boys(END ITAL) get some help. Indeed, men and women reached educational parity with college graduation rates in 1982. Today, women receive 58 percent of bachelor's degrees and represent half of graduates in medical and law school.

Boys, meanwhile, are the ones dropping out of school or being expelled. They're the ones failing, abusing drugs and committing suicide. What kind of men do we expect them to become, assuming they survive?

As a father of two daughters, Obama wants to do the right thing by women. A noble purpose. But if he wants America's girls to find proper mates, he might create a White House Council for Boys and, perhaps, Fathers.

It's the right thing to do for a nation that aspires to equality. Just say yes, dear.

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
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