John Kasich: Women Earn Less Due to Lack of 'Skills' and 'Experience'

When questioned about his feelings on the gender pay gap in America, presidential hopeful John Kasich said the disparity comes down to “skills” and “experience.”

The Ohio Gov. and Republican vying for the 2016 presidency spoke this Tuesday at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC). The organization’s president, Javier Palomarez, asked Kasich how he explains the inequality to his own two daughters.

“Well, a lot of it is based on experience. A lot of different factors go into it. It’s all tied up in skills,” Kasich said. “Do you not have the skills to be able to compete”

Palomarez questioned Kasich further, asking if he believed women as workers cannot be as skilled as men; in classic Republican fashion, Kasich immediately tried to rectify his response: “No, no, of course not. I mean, a woman is now running my campaign, and she’s doing a fantastic job. The head of our welfare reform office is a woman. I understand that if you exclude women, you’re not as effective.”

While Kasich may indeed have women working for him, there is no evidence to show he does not exclude them in other ways. A 2014 analysis of Kasich’s payroll revealed that the women in his office earn, on average, nearly $10 an hour less than the men.

Kasich’s claim that women lack the skills and experience falls flat when looking at measurable data, though. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, women have been earning bachelor’s degrees at higher rates than men since the 1990s. More women than men also began earning master’s degrees around 2000. This actually makes women statistically more equipped to obtain jobs than men.

Not all companies feel the same way as Kasich, either, and have proven his statements wrong. Many successful companies have women as the head — including Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, No. 1 on DiversityInc’s Top 50 list. Novartis’s President, Christi Shaw, has successfully led her company since last April, and about 60 percent of her direct reports are also women — clearly demonstrating that women lack neither the skills nor the experience to be successful.

Neither Kasich nor anyone else in his office has any reason to be unaware of the skillset women can bring to the table, anyway. Members of Kasich’s team hold Beth Hansen, his campaign manager, in very high regard and have publically praised her accomplishments.

“She’s the strength and the glue in any campaign operation I’ve ever observed her in,” said Franklin County Republican Party Chairman and one of Kasich’s close advisers, Doug Preisse. “She’s steady Eddie. She’s calm. She can bring order to a situation, to an organization, to a challenge. That’s her greatest strength.”

While Kasich may believe that he has also paid tribute to her, his words (and likely her salary) don’t exactly reflect this. When announcing that Hansen would be his campaign manager this past summer, Kasich said, “Forget everything else. I love the fact that she’s a woman.”

“What a fantastic thing that is,” he added. “I like to have women in high places in organizations.”

What he meant by these vague comments is unclear. Rather than “love the fact that she’s a woman,” perhaps Kasich should instead highlight Hansen’s decade-plus of political experience that has given her the “skills” and “experience” to run his campaign — which Kasich just said women tend to lack.

Kasich has made gender inequality a theme this week; he couldn’t hold back this past Monday, either, when he visited the University of Richmond. He spoke to a crowd of about 500 students and faculty members. Sophomore Kayla Solsbak, who was excited to be noticed by the governor, almost jumped out of her seat to ask him a question. When Kasich saw her, he laughed and said, “I’m sorry, I don’t have any Taylor Swift tickets.” In another instance, when looking at a female student in the front, he said, “I’m sure you get invited to all of the parties.”

Of course, Kasich is not the only person who has made such incorrect remarks about women in the workforce. Just last year, Mircosoft CEO Satya Nadella said that women should rely on “karma” as a career strategy to get a raise: “It’s not really about asking for the raise, but knowing and having faith that the system will actually give you the right raises as you go along.”

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