Women are not victims of a wage gap

Marilyn Gardner's May 10 column, "Fair pay is fair play," propagates a distorted view of the gender pay "gap" - a statistic which attempts to make women feel victimized by sexism and discrimination in the workplace.

The gender-pay gap is simply the ratio of men's and women's average annual earnings. It does not account for many relevant economic factors that affect wage determination, such as experience and tenure, years and type of education, hours of work, and industry and occupation - all of which can differ considerably between men and women.

Our research shows that there is no pay gap among full-time workers age 21 to 35 who live alone, and there is a pay gap of only 3 percent among full-time workers age 21 to 35 who are married but have no children. In fact, as early as 1971, never-married women in their '30s, who had worked continuously, earned slightly higher incomes than their male counterparts.

Women should receive equal pay for equal work: That's why laws to protect women already exist - the 1963 Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Citing misleading statistics to incite women doesn't do justice to the real debate: How to help women balance work and family.

Anita Hattiangadi Washington The Employment Policy Foundation

Leave chickens in the barnyard

Thank you for your wonderful May 3 article "Here a chick, there a chick, everywhere a ...." However, the classroom hatching of birds, cited in the sidebar as a valuable learning experience, should be discouraged.

I speak as the director of a sanctuary for domestic fowl. Even hinting to children that bringing more baby animals into our society, which already kills millions of unwanted animals every year, is a mistake.

Efforts to reduce pet overpopulation are undermined by well-meaning, but mistaken, incubations.

While it may appear that birds hatched by thousands of school projects will find good homes, the vast majority of these birds, many of them deformed, overstressed, and malnourished, will not.

Karen Davis Machipongo, Va.

Avoiding e-viruses

Regarding the opinion piece "Just say 'no' to dancing-pig e-mail" (May 10): This is a good article, but the author goes a little far in saying people should never use e-mail attachments. For those who know a little about what they're doing, it's quite safe and very convenient. It would be better if Internet service providers offered better file transfer protocol support, including providing ftp disk space for subscribers. Then maybe we could talk about attachments going away completely.

A first step is to get rid of Outlook, and choose a better vendor. Also, virus scan programs only detect past viruses; they are useless against anything newer than the last time you updated yours. The "I Love You" bug really showed how the virus vendors locked the barn door after the horse diaspora. The end-user will always be the last defense against malicious vandalism. Get educated, or get wiped.

James Flynn Sunnyvale, Calif.

Minor-party candidates

Regarding your article "A year of topsy-turvy ideologies" (May 3): Given the mind-numbing race for the political center, I certainly hope that the Monitor (and other media outlets) give more attention to Harry Browne (Libertarian), Ralph Nader (Green), and other so-called minor-party candidates - particularly those candidates who make the ballot in every state.

Daniel Walker Tallahassee, Fla.

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