The Myth of the Gender Wage Gap
"Pretending that different decisions do not have disparate consequences is a hallmark of the left, which believes that equal results must be guaranteed regardless of personal choice. But wishes do not shape reality, and quashing Americans’ business freedom based on mythology is both counterproductive and immoral." -BS
Last month, in my Social Foundations class at New York University, my professor uttered a statement that stopped me in my tracks:
“People in the United States think that they are the most modern and advanced in the world, but women in this country, still make 70 cents on the dollar compared to men. That is unacceptable.”
Surely I couldn’t have heard correctly. Was my well-educated and rather brilliant professor validating the mythological gender wage gap? Hadn’t dozens of scholars and economists disproven and debunked it entirely?
I didn’t want to undermine my professor in front of the entire class by questioning her statement, or start a political debate unrelated to the class discussion, so I sent her a respectful yet confrontational email later that day. I caged my message to be respectful, to ensure it wouldn’t be interpreted as an attack.
I never received an answer.
Whether my email never reached her inbox, or she just didn’t care enough to answer I will never know, but I believe this episode is representative of a rather crude mentality too commonly found in university professors pushing leftist agendas.
In my three years studying Philosophy and history at NYU I have never had a professor who leaned to the right side of the political spectrum. This wasn’t exactly a shock, considering liberal professors outnumber conservatives 12:1 in the US, and that I attend one of the most liberal universities on the continent.
But what is worrying, is that I can only recall a handful of professors who conscientiously left their personal vendettas out of the classroom. That should be a shock to anybody who cares about unbiased professorships, and equal representations of opinions in university classes. I’m left to wonder why evidence and analysis doesn’t trump personal opinion at this level of academia.
So back to the 70 cents on the dollar myth...
This number, in fact, comes from dividing the median earnings of all women working full time, by the median earnings of all men working full time.
But it does not take into account the specific occupation, career, personal or educational choices, overtime work hours, or hours worked per week.
Many of these factors are individual choices, all intrinsically important factors to consider when talking about personal income. When taken into account, the wage gap sinks to sheer 6.6 cents, according to study by the American Association of University Women, a feminist organization.
There is also a discrepancy in the subjects men and women choose to study.
Today, the top 6 highest paying majors in the US are computer science, electrical engineering, Mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, industrial engineering and information technology; 80% of those studying these subjects are men. Studies show that women, by their own accord, are more likely to favor a family over a more economically rewarding career, and thus seek out less economically rewarding majors.
Additionally, once women do enter the job market, they are statistically less likely to ask for promotions or negotiate salaries, a phenomenon studied by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever in the book “Woman Don’t Ask.”
Women are also less likely to relocate for better pay or volunteer for additional working hours, which also accounts for a sharp wage gap at the year’s end.
These factors are all traceable to choices woman make freely, whether they be to prioritize a family over work, or to not rush into a demanding career in order to prioritize family life.
Think about it: If entrepreneurs could get away with paying female employees 30% less than their male counterparts, why would they not hire them and see their payrolls drop by a third?
Do we really to believe that sexism is more important to these businessmen than money?