CFER Foundation


Published March 08, 2021

First Major City-Level Pay Gap Study Tells Inconvenient Truths—CFER Debunks Lies and Mistruths Promoted by San Diego Mayor and the Media




For Immediate Release

March 8, 2021

SAN DIEGO, CA -- March 8, 2021- City of San Diego recently released the country's "most scientifically robust and thorough internal pay equity study" on a municipality level. The comprehensive and empirically sound research traces gender and racial-and-ethnic pay gaps in the city's public workforce to societal factors other than discrimination, thereby invalidating the "inequity" hypothesis and strengthening the "equal pay for equal work" argument. Californians for Equal Rights Foundation (CFER) issues a formal statement to review this groundbreaking study and criticize biased coverage following its publication as politically motivated, reckless and divisive.

"'Equity' alone should never be a goal for any policy. This landmark study finds no evidence of unfairness and demonstrates that City of San Diego is in good shape in guaranteeing equal treatment;"-commented Frank Xu, President of CFER- "It's very concerning to watch the media and politicians distorting the report to push for an ideological agenda of equity and for political gains. They are simply lying!"

CFER summarizes five major findings of the "2020 Pay Equity Study":

1. Occupational sorting is the primary reason accounting for pay gaps. There is no evidence of discrimination or inequitable treatment. 

2. A "Parenthood penalty" exists to account for 10% of the gender gap and 5% of the racial-and-ethnic gap.

3. The likelihood of working overtime explains 5% of the gender pay gap and 2% of the racial-and-ethnic pay gap.

4. Different demographics of men and women and demographics of different racial categories explain 5% of the gender gap and 3% of the racial-and-ethnic gap.

5. 12% of the pay gaps remain unexplained, unmeasured or unmeasurable.

Instead of communicating the conclusion of no intentional bias or the report's nuances to the public, a variety of media outlets such as the San Diego Union TribuneKPBSFox 5 and KUSI resorted to selective and click-baiting reporting of the study to highlight half-truths and perpetuate the myth of racial and gender inequity. Mayor Todd Gloria even took one step further to promise "fairness for all", even though the report doesn't identify any direct evidence of unfairness or bias.

"Despite the fact that the Pay Equity Study specifically cautions against generalized solutions and against attributing the pay gaps to 'bias' or 'discrimination'", argued in CFER's official statement, "various media platforms rushed to generate sensational titles that mystified and perpetuated the 'disparity caused by inequity' hypothesis upon the report's release."

CFER sincerely urges our friends of the press to pursue truthful and balanced coverage of this very important issue so that the public stays well informed. In a similar light, we also call upon policy makers to resist the temptation of preferential treatment and government overreach as easy but misguided fixes to income inequality. Instead, the public sector, the media and the civil society should collaboratively engage in meaningful policy discussions to address pay gaps without compromising liberty, equality or prudent governance.


Wenyuan Wu

About Californians for Equal Rights Foundation (CFER):

We are a non-partisan and non-profit organization established following the defeat of Proposition 16 in 2020, with a mission to defend and raise public awareness on the cause of equal rights through public education, civic engagement and community outreach. In 1996, California became the first U.S. state to amend its constitution by passing Proposition 209 to ban racial discrimination and preferences. Prop. 209 requires that “the state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.” CFER is dedicated to educating the public on this important constitutional principle of equal treatment.


Defend merit and advance equality.

Media Outreach


Stay up to date

© 2023 Californians for Equal Rights Foundation. All rights reserved. CFER is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit recognized by the IRS.

Tax ID Number: 85-2315151