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Comparable worth, as a standard applied to eliminate
inequities in pay, insists that the values of certain tasks performed
in dissimilar jobs can be compared. In the last decade, this
approach has become a critical social policy issue, as large
numbers of private-sector firms and industries as well as federal,
state, and local governmental entities have adopted comparable
worth policies or begun to consider doing so.
This widespread institutional awareness of
comparable worth indicates increased public
awareness that pay inequities--that is, situations in
which pay is not "fair" because it does not reflect the
true value of a job--exist in the labor market.
However, the question still remains: have the gains
already made in pay equity under comparable worth
principles been of a precedent-setting nature or are
they mostly transitory, a function of concessions made
by employers to mislead female employees into
believing that they have made long-term pay equity
Comparable worth pay adjustments are indeed
precedent-setting. Because of the principles driving
them, other mandates that can be applied to reduce or
eliminate unjustified pay gaps between male and
female workers have not remedied perceived pay
inequities satisfactorily for the litigants in cases in
which men and women hold different jobs. But
whenever comparable worth principles are applied to
pay schedules, perceived unjustified pay differences
are eliminated. In this sense, then, comparable worth
is more comprehensive than other mandates, such as
the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964. Neither compares tasks in
dissimilar jobs (that is, jobs across occupational
categories) in an effort to determine whether or not
what is necessary to perform these tasks--know-how,
problem-solving, and accountability--can be quantified
in terms of its dollar value to the employer.
Comparable worth, on the other hand, takes as its
premise that certain tasks in dissimilar jobs may
require a similar amount of training, effort, and skill;
may carry similar responsibility; may be carried on in
an environment having a similar impact upon the
worker; and may have a similar dollar value to the
Which of the following most accurately states the central purpose of the passage?
(A) To criticize the implementation of a new procedure
(B) To assess the significance of a change in policy
(C) To illustrate how a new standard alters procedures
(D) To explain how a new policy is applied in specific cases
(E) To summarize the changes made to date as a result of social policy
Which of the following best describes an application of the principles of comparable worth as they are described in the passage?
(A) The current pay, rates of increase, and rates of promotion for female mechanics are compared with those of male mechanics.
(B) The training, skills, and job experience of computer programmers in one division of a corporation are compared to those of programmers making more money in another division.
(C) The number of women holding top executive positions in a corporation is compared to the number of women available for promotion to those positions, and both tallies are matched to the tallies for men in the same corporation.
(D) The skills, training, and job responsibilities of the clerks in the township tax assessor's office are compared to those of the much better-paid township engineers.
(E) The working conditions of female workers in a hazardous-materials environment are reviewed and their pay schedules compared to those of all workers in similar environments across the nation.
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