Years ago, I took a class in women’s studies. It started when I was talking to this girl at the campus bar:
Girl: Are you a feminist?
Girl: You don’t believe in the equality between men and women?
Me: Of course I do
Girl: Then you’re a feminist
Me: Do you believe in the equality between men and women?
Girl: Of course I do
Me: What remains unequal?
Girl: The gender pay gap for one and—
Me: What about dating?
Girl: What about dating?
Me: Men predominantly paying for dates and going for the first kiss, taking on more risk of rejection. Do you find that equal?
Girl: No and I don’t like it
Me: You never let the guy pay for a date?
Me: When was the last time you went for the first kiss?
Girl: I kissed a girlfriend at last week’s party
Me: And a guy that you were actually interested in?
Me: I want another drink. This round is on me.
Girl: Didn’t I just say that I don’t let guys pay for me?
Me: So get the round after
There was some good tension and she eventually went for the first kiss. We had some fun, one thing led to another and I ended up taking a women’s studies course as an elective. At the time, I didn’t know much about the subject and I was actually open to learning more about it. It involved some reading, writing, and giving presentations, things that came easy to me.
The gender pay gap was one of our first topics. Everyone in that class believed it and no one bothered to do any research of their own. We’ve been hearing about this for years starting in high school. To this day, the ‘sexist’ gender pay gap is still taught in schools across North America and it is repeated by the majority of mass media.
Later when I started doing research of my own, all of the raw data showed otherwise. What has been presented was partial and biased. Evidence started piling up against this myth since the 90’s, but feminists still continue to repeat it and rally together every year on ‘Equal Pay Day’. With any type of inspection, we find that this phenomenon has nothing to do with sexist discrimination. Here are five major areas that contribute to the difference in raw and net wage:
1. Women work less and opt for more benefits
In 2009, the US Department of Labor commissioned an Analysis of Reasons for the Disparity in Wages Between Men and Women. This report analyzed recent data from the Census Bureau, Department of Labor and reports from other major institutions regarding the subject, totalling more than 50 peer-reviewed papers.
The findings were:
1. More women work part-time and part-time work tends to pay less than full-time work.
2. More women leave the labor force for child-birth and child care.
3. The pay gap focuses on raw yearly wages. Total compensation is more accurate than raw wages as women prefer to take a greater portion of their compensation in the form of health insurance and other fringe benefits (such as pensions).
4. The pay gap is closer to 4.8-7.1 percent as opposed to the ’75 cents on the dollar’ figure that gets thrown around.
In the 2007 Bureau of Labor statistics, it showed that 27% of full-time working males and only 15% of full-time working females worked 41 hours or more per week. 4% of men and 12% of women work 35-39 hours a weeks. You can’t expect to put in fewer hours, receive more benefits, and get paid the same raw wage. Canada has similar government data.
2. Wage gap data between men and women in the same field is presented with bias
The data above only shows the raw wage gap between men and women in general. It doesn’t even compare men and women working in the same field. The occupational categories used to compare earnings in the same field are ridiculous.
For example, physicians and surgeons are grouped together. Under this broad category, women only earn 64% as much as men (and sometimes it’s presented as female doctors only make 64% of what male doctors make). However, surgeons tend to significantly out earn pediatricians/general practitioners and women only make up 16% of surgeons. This trend can be seen across other “occupational categories” as well, and the vast majority of flawed comparisons are conducted this way.
Even the most recent comparison between male and female physicians only examined the yearly raw wage. Total hours worked was completely ignored. A reasonable person would think that is at least somewhat relevant. It seems that the data presented is always partial and biased in some manner.
When you compare unmarried and childless women with men in the same circumstances, women earn 8% more in general. This gap no longer exists when you compare women and men of the same education level, but the comparisons still falls under the broad occupational categories. Jobs with a higher economic demand pays more and women tend to avoid these choices. These higher paying jobs generally have more demanding (and often unpleasant) hours and require more technical training (cardiac surgeon vs. part-time pediatrician, for example).
3. Women consistently fall behind men in the work place
The most comprehensive study on this subject was conducted by Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Kats of Harvard and Marianne Bertrand of the University of Chicago. They followed around 2500 MBA graduates between 1990 and 2006.
After graduation, men and women earned the same. But over the next 10 years, women fell behind because they had children (more women also took marketing courses while more men took finance courses that paid more). By the 10 year mark, about half of the women with children were working full-time. This was complete with career interruptions due to the children. On the other hand, almost all of the male graduates were still working full-time. Women chose to spend more time with child care and domestic life. This is a simple trade-off—you choose what appeals more to you.
4. Dangerous jobs men work pay higher wages
Men work more dangerous jobs, work longer hours, and experience more unemployment
Between 2007 and 2010, men have lost 7.4 million jobs while women only lost 3.9 million jobs. Women now make up the majority of the work force.
While women now make up the majority, 92% of workplace fatalities happen to men. In the same census data, it showed that out of approximately 256 billion total work hours, 56% was contributed by men (despite having lower employment rate than women in 2010). Can you imagine the outrage if these stats were reversed?
81.6% of workplace homicides were inflicted upon men. It would make sense for jobs with significantly higher fatality rates to pay better.
5. The push for comparable worth leads to incorrect conclusions
Comparable worth is the concept that if jobs filled mostly by women are judged “comparable” to jobs filled mostly by men, wages for both should be the same. This completely ignores the actual economic demand and output involved.
The one remaining argument is that women are socially pressured to pursue these lower paying jobs. Funny enough, the campaign for ‘equal pay’ doesn’t inform women of the choices that lead to higher pay. It also refuses the possibility that men and women in general have different work preferences.
Even Iceland and Sweden follows the same choice trends and they are considered to be the most gender-equal countries in the world. Their women still have the tendency to go for lower-paying jobs in the public sector, part-time jobs, and they spend more time in domestic life than men (click on Iceland/Sweden once you land on the page).
If feminists actually wished for women as a whole to earn the same as men in a fair manner, they would educate women on the choices that lead to more raw wages. This includes taking high risk/high fatality jobs (flight engineers, pilots, industrial machinery repair/maintenance/installation, etc), jobs in the hard sciences, joining sub-fields requiring more technological skills and training, not having children, working longer hours (trial lawyer vs family lawyer), chasing higher salary instead of benefits like health insurance and pension, etc…However, equal pay campaigns do nothing to teach this.
The feminists that continue to push for equal pay are basically pushing for comparable worth so that women can be paid the same despite working fewer hours in lower paying jobs while keeping the benefits. This ignores all real data and the goal is to get more benefits without the obligation. These concepts throw economics right out the window and it’s simply not viable for a country that wants to thrive over the long-term. It has nothing to do with sexism. In a free competition market, higher economic demand leads to more pay and companies with higher costs and lower output will get taken out.
Ultimately, the fallacies above can be summed up in one real-world test: if it was actually cheaper to hire a woman for the same productive output in the same job at the same company (75 cents on the dollar for example), companies would only hire women and slaughter the competition with significantly lower costs of operation.
Read More: 8 Essential Rules To Surviving The Workplace