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Event Summary

The wage-gap debate raises important questions about federal employment discrimination policy. At an AEI event on Thursday, expert panelists joined AEI scholar and City University of New York’s Baruch College professor June O’Neill to discuss her and Dave O’Neill’s new book, “The Declining Importance of Race and Gender in the Labor Market” (AEI Press, 2013). O’Neill argued that pay gaps between racial and gender groups are the result of factors such as education, job experience, and personal choices, not labor market discrimination. She also argued that while US government intervention was effective at rooting out explicit discrimination in the Jim Crow-era South, current policies implemented by agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have had no effect on the wage gap.

Michael Meyers of the New York Civil Rights Coalition applauded the O’Neills’ book, emphasizing that current government actions are driven primarily by ideology and result in actions that do not address traditional discrimination in a targeted fashion. Harry Holzer of Georgetown University, however, criticized many of the book’s findings, arguing that it pays little attention to academic uncertainly regarding the extent of wage gaps. He argued that racial discrimination still exists in the hiring process and in early education. Diana Furchtgott-Roth of the Manhattan Institute concluded by indicating that selection of college majors, job choice preferences, and child-rearing decisions — not discrimination — largely explain the gender wage gap.
–Andre Gardiner

Event Description

With Equal Pay Day on April 9 and the Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin affirmative action case pending in the US Supreme Court, gender- and race-based discrimination continues to simmer in public discourse. The wage-gap debate, characterized by competing interpretations of the scope and causes of the gaps, raises important questions about federal employment discrimination policy.

Are wage gaps created by predatory employers, or do they reflect differences in work experience, in cognitive strengths, and in choice of occupations and work settings? What reforms should policymakers pursue to address the roots of these gaps? Join former Congressional Budget Office director June O’Neill for a discussion of these pertinent questions, addressed in her new book “The Declining Importance of Race and Gender in the Labor Market” (AEI Press, January 2013), which was co-authored by Dave O’Neill.

If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.


11:45 AM
Registration and Luncheon

12:00 PM
Opening Remarks
Karlyn Bowman, AEI

12:10 PM
June O’Neill, Baruch College and AEI

12:30 PM
Panel Discussion:
Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Manhattan Institute
Harry J. Holzer, Georgetown University
Michael Meyers, New York Civil Rights Coalition

Linda Chavez, Center for Equal Opportunity

1:00 PM
Question-and-Answer Session

1:30 PM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Brad Wassink at [email protected], 202.862.7197.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829.

Speaker Biographies

Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity, a nonprofit public policy research organization in Sterling, VA. In January 2001, Chavez was former president George W. Bush’s nominee for secretary of labor until she withdrew her name from consideration. Chavez has served in a number of appointed positions, including chairman of the National Commission on Migrant Education (1988–92), White House director of public liaison (1985), and staff director of the US Commission on Civil Rights (1983–85). Chavez was the Republican nominee for US senator from Maryland in 1986. In 1992, she was elected by the United Nations’ (UN) Human Rights Commission to serve a four-year term as US expert to the UN Sub-Commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities. Chavez was also editor of the prize-winning quarterly journal American Educator (1977–83), published by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), where Chavez also served as assistant to former AFT president Al Shanker (1982–83) and as assistant director of legislation (1975–77).

Diana Furchtgott-Roth is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. She is a contributing editor of and a columnist for the Washington Examiner,, and Tax Notes. From 2003 to 2005, Furchtgott-Roth was chief economist of the US Department of Labor. From 2001 to 2002, she served as chief of staff of former president George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers. Furchtgott-Roth served as deputy executive director of the Domestic Policy Council and associate director of the Office of Policy Planning in the White House under former president George H.W. Bush from 1991 to 1993. She was also an economist on the staff of former president Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers from 1986 to 1987.

Harry J. Holzer is a professor of public policy at Georgetown University. During the Clinton administration, Holzer served as the chief economist for the US Department of Labor. He served as associate dean of the Georgetown Public Policy Institute from 2004 to 2006 and was acting dean in fall 2006. He is also currently a senior research fellow at the American Institutes for Research, a senior affiliate at the Urban Institute, a senior affiliate of the National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan, a national fellow of the Program on Inequality and Social Policy at Harvard University, a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and a research affiliate of the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He is also a faculty director of the Georgetown Center on Poverty, Inequality and Public Policy.

June O’Neill served as director of the Congressional Budget Office from 1995 to 1999. Before that, she held positions as director of policy and research at the US Commission on Civil Rights, senior economist on the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, senior research associate at the Urban Institute, and research associate at the Brookings Institution. She was elected vice president of the American Economics Association in 1998. She is currently the director of the Center for the Study of Business and Government at Baruch College, City University of New York. She is also an adjunct scholar at AEI.

Michael Meyers is president and executive director of the New York Civil Rights Coalition (NYCRC), which he cofounded in 1986. Meyers assumed the post of NYCRC executive director in 1991 from his senior staff position in the New Jersey Department of Higher Education, where he had served as special assistant to former chancellor of higher education T. Edward Hollander. Meyers was the associate and protégé of the noted educator and psychologist Kenneth B. Clark and fellow and principal assistant while Clark headed the Metropolitan Applied Research Center (MARC) from 1967 to 1975. In 1975, Meyers joined the national staff of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) as assistant director, where he served for nine years.

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