The popular feminist claim is that women are “systematically paid less than men,” that women earn roughly 77 cents for every dollar that a man makes. And after all, according to Bureau of Labor statistics, full time working women earned 81 percent of what full time-working men earned in 2010. Surely some left-wing political crusader out there would shed tears to the general public and whine about how it is the duty of the government to combat the “19 percent gap between the sexes,” as if discrimination is the only possible variable to account for this differential.
But, like most, if not all, of the cries on racial and gender inequality, the wage gap is based on rather inappropriate data and a misleading statistical analysis. The wage gap is a simple reflection of the median earnings of all men and women who work full time. It does not compare two individuals of different sexes with the same career who log the same number of weekly hours with the same education. This statistic is a broad scope of median earning that fails to take into account several factors, such as differences in positions, education, or even hours worked per week.
For example, the term “full-time” officially means 35 hours, but on average, men work 14.9 percent longer than women. Sure, let’s compare a male electrical engineer working 40 hours a week to a waitress logging 35 hours a week to illustrate the systematic social discrimination in this country that can somehow only be solved by further government action. Because the comparison is an apples to oranges comparison of jobs, this ‘gap’ has nothing to do with paying a woman less than a man for the same line of work.
In fact, it has always bamboozled me, to think of why any business owner would ever hire a man if women were always paid less for the same line of work? Why would I, as a business owner, have such an immense male bias that I would pay extra money to hire a male as oppose to a female? The wage gap is entirely inconsistent with the best interests of the employer.
When I say it is entirely inconsistent with the best interests of the employer, it is neccessary to realize what I am getting at. Let us imagine a scenario in which the government enacts equal pay legislation. First off, the law will have no effect on employers who do not exercise male bias, seeing as they hire based on ability and merit as opposed to biological factors.
Yet, the law will make it less costly for those employers that are male biased to discriminate against female employees. Suppose that I am an employer who can provide a $60,000 salary, and both a female and male with the same qualifications are competing for the job. I have two possibilities: I can hire the man at $60,000 or I can hire the woman at $60,000. If I truly am biased towards males as an employer, the cost of discrimination is nothing, because I am required by law to pay females and males the same. Because I face having to pay the same rate regardless of sex, I do not face any penalty for exercising my male bias.
Now, let us evaluate the same situation, just without equal pay legislation. I have $60,000 to hire either the male or the female, and I yet again have two options. I can pay the male $60,000, or I can pay the female $60,000, although she will take $55,000 if need be. In this situation, the female underbids the male, and if I elect the male due to my bias, I face a $5,000 penalty.
My male bias has an imposed cost when there is no equal pay law, however when such legislation is enacted, I do not face the same penalty. Discrimination does not come cheap in the marketplace, economist Ludwig Von Mises pointed this out when he said, ” The market does not directly prevent anybody from arbitrarily inflicting harm on his fellow citizens; it only puts a penalty upon such conduct.” In a market economy, people are free to exercise their bias, however that does not mean such is without imposed costs.
Calling for equal pay for equal work enacted by government action and compelled by force underplays the importance that offering one’s labor for less money has in the process of hiring. Because people are not of identical merit, such labor cost bargaining is an important tool, yet with the enactment of an equal pay for equal work, this tool disappears. Essentially, there is more harm done to women who lose this bargaining tool than to employers with a male bias upon an enactment of equal pay for equal work. In such a situation as the one provided above, the woman can expect to remain unemployed.
Ultimately, the feminist facilitated wage gap can only be illustrated when there is a broad sweep of median income earnings across all industries. This kind of data collection does not display the institutional effect because almost nowhere in human affairs are people represented evenly. When you start comparing similar men and women in the same field, with similar qualifications, that wage gap shrinks rather quickly. In fact, women tend to earn significantly more than men if they have the same marital status, the same education level, and the same number of years in the workforce.
If you take it as far back as 1969, women in the academic field who never married earned more than academic men who had never married. And just 2 years later, single men in their thirties who worked continously through high school earned slightly less than women of the same description. Likewise, Forbes ran an article in early 2015 entitled, “15 Jobs where women earn more than men,” in regard to Bureau of Labor statistics.
Some of these jobs included teacher assistants, bakers, and occupational therapists. Furthermore, the 2003 Census Bureau Current Population Survey demonstrated that women working between 35 and 39 hours earned 107 percent of what men earned for the same work duration, and 134 percent for between 25 and 34 hours.
In addition, a Reach Advisors 2010 study found that single childless female workers between the ages of 22 and 34 earned 8 percent more than their male counterparts. Moreover, of men and women who work between 30 to 34 hours a week, women make 109 percent of men’s earnings, according to the Labor Department.
There are numerous factors that affect pay, but of course, asking Democratic politicians to even consider any other than discrimination would be a stretch. The reason for women being paid less overall than men has to do with personal choices. The fact is, men tend to work more hours, and take riskier jobs, while women tend have children and take time out of the workforce to raise a family.
If one were to look at the ten most profitable majors, it would be discovered that all but one are male-dominated. Chemical engineering is 72 percent male, petroleum engineering is 87 percent male, and mining is 90 percent male. Interestingly enough, nine of the ten least profitable majors are female-dominated, with early childhood education being 97 percent female.
While petroleum engineering provides a mean earning between $80,000 to $120,000, early childhood educators earn between $36,000 to $38,000. There should be no doubt that forcing business owners to pay women the same as men will fix the gender inequality between the pay of male petroleum engineers and female childhood educators.
It should not come as a surprise to see a gap in earning once the extent of differing factors is taken into account. Where is the gender inequality in the average full-time working woman spending 7.75 hours a day on the job making less than the average full-time working man spending 8.14 hours a day on the job? There is none.
Biology is but another factor lost in the whines on how terribly women are exploited in the workfield. While women account for 50 percent of the workforce, they give birth to 100 percent of the babies. And from childbirth on, their incentives are altered. There is less of a desire to work riskier jobs, work longer hours, or do more traveling for work. Due to gaps in careers stemming from childbirth and childcare, women tend to have lesser experience, and thus, lower pay.
On the other hand, men do not face the same incentives that are pushed by biology. For example, in a survey conducted by Pew Research, men were less likely to say they had career interruptions to care for their family. Just 24 percent of fathers say they had taken significant time off from work to care for a family member or child, compared to 39 percent of mothers.
Also, 42 percent of mothers admitted to reducing work hours, 27 percent said they had quit work altogether, and 13 percent turned down a promotion. As for fathers, 28 percent reported reducing work hours, 10 percent turned down a promotion, and 10 percent quited their job.
In the end, men and women tend not to have the same goals, and therefore, do not make the same choices. It is men who tend to take longer hours, work more stressful jobs, and choose to work in the industries of science and technology. While women have increased their presence in high-paying fields that were traditionally dominated by men, women as a whole tend to steer towards lower-paying careers.
And if a woman wants to be a teacher as oppose to an electrical engineer, more power to her. Inevitably, when such a point is made, it is somehow the fault of society that this occurs, that the ‘glass ceiling’ is preventing women from thriving in the workforce. But this, just like the gender pay gap, is false.
Truth be told, millions of federal and state dollars have been spent in attempts to recruit young women into computer technology and engineering in recent decades, but to no avail. In 2001, women earned 28 percent of computer science BA’s and 19 percent in engineering. But by 2011, 18 percent of engineering degrees and 19 percent of computer science degrees were earned by females. If a woman chooses to be a teacher as oppose to an electrical engineer, more power to her, right? Why must we attempt to victimize her with an invalid analysis of misinterpreted statistics?
It truly is amazing to me how easily people can be swept away by rhetoric, while reality is left far behind. The gender pay gap argument outright rejects human nature and basic economics. There is no logic to be had when one says that an employer would pay a male more than a woman if he could get the same productivity out of each individual. Why would any employer ever do this? Is discrimination more important than profit?
Like most of the arguments on the Left, the gender pay gap doesn’t stand up to basic scrutiny. All the gender pay gap boils down to is another fruitless attempt to escape reality for Democratic politicians and victimize another group of Americans in the process. Please, for the sake of this country, stop buying into false rhetoric.
Isaiah Minter is a 16-year old High School Writer and Debater. He advocates for liberty and prosperity, the preservation of Western Culture, laissez-faire capitalism, and the recognition of the illegitimate nature of government. Isaiah can be found here
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