Half-a-dozen very tough letters came from men who objected to the Wednesday column. They pointed out, using official U.S. government statistics, that men in the government do have a much higher median salary than women in government. Examples of the male backlash:
R.A.H. of Falls Church, writes: "I must say that I was very irritated by your column in which you compare male vs. female salaries and conclude that the women have something to complain about. This is like saying that some frozen lakes have fish in them, therefore fish cause lakes to freeze.
"I'll admit that my salary is above the female median; despite my losing four unpleasant years out of my career for Army service, going to night school for 11 years and keeping my nose to the grindstone to build up lifelong seniority so that I could spend 99 per cent of my income on family and home and 1 per cent on myself.
"While you're simplisticly reciting median salaries, why don't you recite other male vs. female statistics that bear on the situation: For example: average number of dependents: male 4.1, female 1.1 (we are forced to try harder).
"Average number of years professional preparation: male 4.2, female 0.1; (that partying and TV watching must have been fun - why study?). Average years of job seniority: male 12.6, female 2.4 (we can't wander in an out of the job market).
"There are other statistics but I hope I've given enough to show that there is another side of the coin."
L.G.G. of Chevy Chase: ". . . Isn't it elementary that such comparisions must take into account the level of training and experience of the two groups? Surely, the male group has a much higher proportion of lawyers, engineers, physicians, researchers, economists and other specialists who achieved their training before entry into federal employment.
"And surely, the female group has a much higher proportion of secretaries, typists and clerks without training beyond high school. "What does comparison of salaries of such groups mean? Simply that these lawyers, etc., earn more, as a group, than these secretaries, etc.
"If you now wish to argue that women are discouraged from advanced training, you need information far beyond these data.If you wish to argue that men receive higher median pay for the same work, again you need information beyond these figures. I am told there are studies which show this to be so, but I am not familiar with them. I would raise two rather obvious caveats in examining such reports:
"1, that the judgement of equality of work he made by others than those directly involved, and 2, that the studies be made by others than those who stand to gain or lose by the outcomes or conclusion drawn.
"Please note, I am not saying that women have nothing to yell about. I am saying that the kind of comparisons you present in the Dec. 29 column and many similar such comparisons in the popular press, have finally moved me to do some yelling myself: Such comparisons by themselves neither support such yelling nor deny its justification."