The gender wage gap is a myth

Courtesy of wiki commons

We have all become accustomed to the idea that women make 78 cents to a man’s dollar for the same job. 

According to Forbes, “Using the statistic that women make 78 cents on the dollar as evidence of rampant discrimination has been debunked over and over again. This statistic doesn’t take into account a lot of choices that women and men make – education, years of experience and hours worked – that influence earnings.” 

The gender wage gap can be seen as a result of arbitrary decisions rather than discriminatory practices. There are too many factors that go into making those statistics that no one is talking about. For example, say at a company women make on average $30,000 and men average $40,000. What isn’t being taken into account is the type of positions they are in.

The most recent official Bureau of Labor Department Statistics found, “In the fourth quarter of 2019, women had median weekly earnings of $843, or 82.5%of the $1,022 median for men. Over the year, median weekly earnings for men increased 2.9%, compared with 6.2% for women.” 

So, not only are the numbers improving, but even if the number was 77%, the common saying would still be misleading. It gives the impression that a man and a woman standing next to each other doing the same job, for the same number of hours, get paid different salaries. That’s not the case. “Full time” officially means 35 hours, but according to the Bureau of Labor Department, “men worked longer than women – 8.4 hours compared with 7.8 hours. Men work more hours than women.”

If a woman works as a cashier, do they anticipate getting the same compensation as their male manager? If a woman only works 30 hours, does she expect to get the same pay as the man who works 40? When studying the wage gap we should look at people’s positions, professions, and knowledge. Pay is based on knowledge, background, duties and negotiation. We have to take into account what jobs do women typically go for and what jobs men go for.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, lower-paying fields like public education teachers are statistically dominated by women. Higher paying fields like orthopedic surgery are dominated by men, as stated in the Association of American Medical Colleges. Surgeons get paid more than teachers and that is a fact. The wage discrepancy here stems from career choices, not pay discrimination. 

As stated in the National Review, “When the choice or major, hours worked, and career choices are taken into account, the wage gap shrinks to 6.6 percent.” The point is that this is not being forced upon them these are all their choices. 

Georgetown University compiled a study of the five best-paying college majors and the percentage of men and women majoring in those fields: the petroleum engineering major is typically 87% male; pharmaceutical science is 48% male; mathematics and computer science is 67% male; aerospace engineering is 88% male; chemical engineering is 72% male. Notice women outnumber men in only one of those categories.

At the same time, the five worst paying majors in the study are predominantly female: counseling and psychology is 74% female;  early childhood education is 97% female; the theology and religious vocations major is 66% male; human services and community organization is 81% female; social work is 88% female. Notice women took the lead in this category all but one.

Even in the same profession, men and women make different career choices that impact how much money they make. Take nursing for an example; according to Healthcare It News, male nurses earn 18% more than female nurses. This might be because male nurses gravitate to the best-paying nursing specialty and work longer hours. 

If you still find yourself thinking, “Why is there a wage gap at all?” It’s impossible to know for sure. There are so many people working for many companies who lead so many different lives. With so many variables, it will be impossible to know for sure. However, the gender wage gap isn’t sexist – it’s common sense.