Comparable worth is a concept that rejects the premise of a separate and lower wage hierarchy for jobs that are done primarily by women, arguing instead that earnings should reflect only the worth of the work performed. This worth should be determined by an evaluation system that rates jobs according to their social importance and skill requirements. Because comparable worth does not attack all forms of inequality, it can have only a modest direct effect on the overall degree of inequality in society, but in attacking gender inequality in the job classification system it attacks a major component of gender inequality in the United States. The likelihood that other forms of inequality will become more manifest with the lessening of gender inequality is not a valid argument against comparable worth. Indeed, struggles for comparable worth may help launch campaigns against similar forms of inequity. Still, while conservatives have battled hard against comparable worth, radicals have been reluctant to fight for it because they see the narrow presentations in comparable worth litigation as the limits of the concept. But in addition to helping redress particular inequities, comparable worth could open a discussion of the entire wage system. Its theoretical and political impact will reach far beyond the framework in which it was conceived and force a rethinking of assumptions underlying current employment practices and the market itself.
How comparable worth will affect the hierarchy of wages is more difficult to foresee. It does not directly challenge the concept of a hierarchy; in fact, its insistence that jobs must be evaluated implies a hierarchy. However, its rejection of the market as an adequate basis for determining wages initiates a discussion of how value should be assigned to jobs. Advocates of comparable worth have challenged prevailing standards of evaluation, which them from formal job ovalions first developed in industrial settings. These evaluations, based on points awarded for different job tasks, gave considerable emphasis to such activities as strenuous lifting and the operation of expensive equipment. Consequently, the skills and knowledge more typical of work done by women are less heavily emphasized. The `Dictionary of Occupational Titles’ reveals numerous current instances of such imbalance in job ratings.
While comparable-worth advocates accept the principle of a hierarchy of wages, arguing only that they seek more objective measures of job worth, the issues they raise provoke a broader debate. This debate does not, as the opponents have claimed, concern the feasibility of setting up and applying evaluative standards. Employers have done that for centuries. Rather, the debate is about the social values and priorities underlying the wage hierarchy and, ultimately, the market where age-old conventions and political, as opposed to purely economic, forces enter the process of setting wages.
Question: Which of the following summarizes a main point of the passage?
- The history of comparable worth closely parallels the history of changes in the structure of the economic system.
- The ultimate success of comparable worth depends on a public discussion of the historical conditions that led to its formulation.
- Comparable worth has social implications that extend beyond specific adjustments to the wage hierarchies for men and women.
- Comparable worth is gaining adherents even though it has traditionally met with organized opposition.
- Comparable worth has been instrumental in affording women access to jobs that had been held largely by men.
Question: It can be inferred that the phrase a separate and lower wage hierarchy for jobs that are done primarily by women, as used in lines 2-3 of the passage, most nearly means which of the following?
- That there is a greater range of salaries for men than for women
- That women typically receive less money than men do for doing jobs of approximately the same value
- That there are fewer wage-earning women than men in the work force
- That men have traditionally been more likely than women to receive advancement on the basis of seniority
- That men and women typically do not compete for the same jobs
Question: In the first paragraph of the passage, the author describes the potential role and function of comparable worth in language that most often suggests
- artistic endeavors
- business transactions
- criminal investigations
- military operations
- scientific experiments
Question: It can be inferred from the passage that advocates of comparable worth believe which of the following?
- A given kind of work has a particular inherent value to the employer or to society.
- The market is more influenced by political and social forces now than it was in the past.
- Gender inequality in the United States is primarily a product of the current economic system.
- Conservatives and radicals have the same reasons for not supporting comparable worth.
- Those who devised job-evaluation standards were more interested in economic than political issues.
Question: As used by the author in line 2 of the last paragraph, “more objective” most nearly means
- more quantifiable
- more seminal
- less categorical
- less job-specific
- less sex-biased
Question: Which of the following best represents the sort of question at issue in the “broader debate” referred to in line 48 above?
- What political factors have affected the relationship between wages and job-evaluation ratings?
- What gains have been achieved in the struggle for comparable-worth legislation?
- Will a new standard for job evaluation be any more workable than the current one?
- How will the balance of supply and demand be affected by comparable worth?
- How soon is it reasonable to expect the passage of stronger comparable-worth legislation?
Question: According to the passage, which of the following is the most likely application of the notion of comparable worth?
- The detailed explanation of the various forces that guide the market
- The formulation of attitudes about the role of supply and demand in setting wages
- The establishment of a political coalition in the struggle against inequity
- The integration of the industrial work force into the job market for a service and technology economy
- The reassessment of job characteristics as a means for determining just compensation
Question: It can be inferred from the passage that radicals have not supported comparable worth because they view it as being
- unrelated to historic developments that have molded the current economic system
- an integral part of the same system that has institutionalized various forms of inequity
- likely to undermine the unity of a reform move-men by polarizing the different interest groups
- too limited and restricted in its uses to promote fundamental changes in the system
- inherently flawed in that it has given rise to the concept of a wage hierarchy
Question: The author’s primary purpose in the passage is to
- criticize inconsistent experiments
- suggest a new direction for research
- describe an intriguing geophysical phenomenon
- present evidence supporting a theory
- evaluate data relating to lunar geology
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