Ivanka Trump, the eldest Trump daughter, has been a perennial presence on the campaign trail. But on Thursday night, she went where no advocate for a Republican presidential nominee has ventured in primetime before: She spoke explicitly about the gender wage gap and the plight of working mothers.
“Single women without children earn 94 cents for each dollar earned by a man, whereas married mothers made only 77 cents,” Ivanka declared.”Gender is no longer the factor creating the greatest wage discrepancy in this country, motherhood is.”
Was another Trump woman borrowing lines from the Democrats?
Ivanka, a Trump Organization executive and mother of three, was mostly correct. The wage gap starts early — female college graduates still typically receive lower starting pay than the men, even in the same lines of work — but it widens as women enter their thirties, right around the time many start raising families.
A Third Way study this year found fatherhood generally brings a 6 percent wage boost for each child, while motherhood carries a 4 percent pay penalty. Controlling for education and experience, economists say the pay disparities come from both career choices (industry, occupation, how much time a woman takes off once the baby arrives) and discrimination.
Some women, for example, hide their pregnancies in the office for as long as possible, fearing their bosses will take them less seriously once they become mothers. Some suspect they’re passed up for promotions or prestigious projects, simply because a manager assumes they want to devote more time to home.
Trump himself backed up these fears in a 2004 statement. Pregnancy, he said on NBC’s dateline, is "a wonderful thing for the woman. It's a wonderful thing for the husband. It's certainly an inconvenience for a business. And whether people want to say that or not, the fact is it is an inconvenience for a person that is running a business."
This came a decade after he told ABC News that, for a businessman, “putting a wife to work is a dangerous thing. … I have days where, if I come home -- and I don't want to sound too much like a chauvinist -- but when I come home and dinner's not ready, I go through the roof.”
Ivanka described a different man Thursday night — a savvy move, considering Trump’s persistent lack of female voter support in national polls. “At my father’s company, there are more female than male executives,” she said. “Women are paid equally for the work that we do and when a woman becomes a mother, she is supported, not shut out.”
The room full of Republicans burst into applause.
Last year, Michael Cohen, a Trump lawyer and television surrogate (until he told a reporter that husbands can’t actually rape their wives), made the same claim, asserting women outnumber men in upper jobs at the Trump Organization.
We can’t verify that. Neither the Trump campaign nor the Trump Organization will release the gender breakdown of employees in top roles.
As for Ivanka’s wage claims, well — Trump doesn’t appear to champion equality on his campaign. He paid men on his staff one-third more than women in April, while Hillary Clinton paid her employees equally, according to a Boston Globe analysis of payroll data.
Female Trump staffers took home an average of roughly $4,500 that month, the report found, while men earned $6,100. The numbers are skewed by a lack of women in leadership, it turns out. Of the top 15 highest-paid Trump staffers in April, just two were women. (He has since hired two more.)
During her speech, Ivanka made another never-before-heard RNC pledge, one that Republican women in Washington, who’ve pushed for their party to address the issue, have longed to hear.
“My father will change the labor laws that were put into place at a time when women were not a significant portion of the workforce,” Ivanka said. “And he will focus on making quality childcare affordable and accessible for all. Policies that allow women with children to thrive should not be novelties; they should be the norm.”
Whether Trump follows through on his daughter’s progressive promises remains to be seen. Kristen Rowe-Finkbeiner, co-founder of the nonpartisan MomsRising (who is married to a former Republican state senator), sent a reminder into the Twitterverse. “Don’t be fooled,” she wrote. “Ivanka lifts women/moms... Trump is on the ballot.”
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