The myth of the gender wage gap

posted at 11:01 am on February 2, 2014 by Jazz Shaw

This is one of those “facts” that has been hammered into our heads for so long that it’s passed into the common knowledge. The sad state of affairs is that women just earn less money than men for doing the same jobs. On average, they are paid 77 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts. You already knew that, right? The problem is that it’s apparently a completely bogus statistic. There’s a good article on this at The Daily Beast this week, (no… seriously. The Daily Beast) titled, No, Women Don’t Make Less Money Than Men which explains it.

President Obama repeated the spurious gender wage gap statistic in his State of the Union address. “Today,” he said, “women make up about half our workforce. But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment.”

What is wrong and embarrassing is the President of the United States reciting a massively discredited factoid. The 23-cent gender pay gap is simply the difference between the average earnings of all men and women working full-time. It does not account for differences in occupations, positions, education, job tenure, or hours worked per week. When all these relevant factors are taken into consideration, the wage gap narrows to about five cents. And no one knows if the five cents is a result of discrimination or some other subtle, hard-to-measure difference between male and female workers. In its fact-checking column on the State of the Union, the Washington Post included the president’s mention of the wage gap in its list of dubious claims. “There is clearly a wage gap, but differences in the life choices of men and women… make it difficult to make simple comparisons.”

Reading through the numbers on this, it becomes clear that old school math doesn’t explain it all away and the reasons for what we see happening are complicated. If you take the total amount of money earned by women in the United States and stack it up against the totals earned by men, then yes… women average 77 cents to the male dollar. But why? The great irony here is that the explanation can be boiled down to one simple word; choice. The academic degree you pursue and the profession you enter will have a huge impact on how much money you make. And while women are now enrolling in and graduating from university degree programs at an even faster pace than the boys, they’re simply not going into the fields where the most money is earned.

In nine of the ten highest paying college major programs (which include Petroleum, Aerospace, Chemical and Electrical engineering) the majority – and mostly very substantial majorities – of the students enrolling are guys. Conversely, female students dominate the ten least profitable majors, such as Early Childhood Education, Human Services and Community Organization or Communication Disorders Sciences and Services.

The real question is, once the students – both male and female – arrive at work with their degree in hand, are employers paying the ladies 23 cents per hour less for the same entry level job? The answer appears to be no. They might be averaging a nickel less, but that’s nearly within the margin of error. This isn’t to say that there aren’t still some individual employers out there who are pulling misogynistic tactics like that, and they should be exposed for doing so. But by and large, it looks like the playing field is considerably more level than we’ve been led to believe. The key to solving this puzzle and getting rid of some of that 23 cent gap isn’t getting more girls into college. It’s good career counseling to help them select better paying fields.

Of course, that won’t wipe it all out. Other choices, such as tough decisions about being stay at home moms and other lifestyle choices will still drive down the average lifetime pay of women, but that’s an entirely different discussion.


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The lie is just too good not to tell. Liberals are dishonest in general so this is EASY for most of them.

CWchangedhisNicagain on February 2, 2014 at 11:06 AM

See those right-wing rags Daily Beast and Hot Air are continuing the war on women by disassembling the statistic. Accept it for what it is, and don’t question it! /sarc

tdarrington on February 2, 2014 at 11:06 AM

President Obama repeated the spurious gender wage gap statistic in his State of the Union address.

Obama is not a thinker. He’s really not.

Paul-Cincy on February 2, 2014 at 11:06 AM

This isn’t to say that there aren’t still some individual employers out there who are pulling misogynistic tactics like that, and they should be exposed for doing so.

why? why is it my business what an employer pays their employees?
do they pay you (just example, no idea if you guys are paid or not) more than Erika?
NOT my business.

dmacleo on February 2, 2014 at 11:08 AM

Is there any issue on which Our Idiot President is honest enough and bright enough to get the facts straight? This is why so many arguments come down to “is he a liar?” or “is he an idiot?” — It’s very hard to tell.

Jaibones on February 2, 2014 at 11:13 AM

You can get a degree in Community Organization? Those must be hard classes.

pat on February 2, 2014 at 11:13 AM

This isn’t to say that there aren’t still some individual employers out there who are pulling misogynistic tactics like that, and they should be exposed for doing so.

Jazz please tell me how that works?

What keeps a competitor from stealing this prize candidate away at the ‘correct’ wage? Do tell.

CWchangedhisNicagain on February 2, 2014 at 11:19 AM

Is there any issue on which Our Idiot President is honest enough and bright enough to get the facts straight? This is why so many arguments come down to “is he a liar?” or “is he an idiot?” — It’s very hard to tell.

Jaibones on February 2, 2014 at 11:13 AM

Liar or idiot. They both speak to the lack of depth in what Obama says. He’ll just say stuff, assert stuff, but what’s underneath? Lies, nonsense. Often, he’ll say he supports something, or believes something, or is going to do something, and it never comes to pass. You could write a book of examples of Obama’s empty rhetoric.

Words. Just words.

Paul-Cincy on February 2, 2014 at 11:19 AM

“A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” Where’s the feminist outrage?: http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Peace/2014/02/01/Austrian-rape-victim-told-to-marry-her-attacker-following-crime-in-United-Arab-Emirates

davidk on February 2, 2014 at 11:19 AM

“We have to have abortion because of rape.” But they don’t care about rape victims: http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Peace/2014/02/01/Austrian-rape-victim-told-to-marry-her-attacker-following-crime-in-United-Arab-Emirates

Where’s Planned Parenthood? Where’s the National Organization of Woman? Where’s Wendy Davis?

Where is the journalist brave enough to ask them about this?

davidk on February 2, 2014 at 11:23 AM

“A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” …

davidk on February 2, 2014 at 11:19 AM

Feminists:

They’ll take the ride with Hillary on Bill’s coat tails in a New York minute.

CWchangedhisNicagain on February 2, 2014 at 11:23 AM

David Burge ‏@iowahawkblog Jan 28

If women get paid less than men for the same work, why would a capitalist ever hire a man?

davidk on February 2, 2014 at 11:30 AM

Good video here from Learn Liberty:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EwogDPh-Sow&feature=share

MT on February 2, 2014 at 11:45 AM

They never mention how women make out like bandits in a divorce. Somehow that stat is never discussed or included.

John the Libertarian on February 2, 2014 at 11:45 AM

“But I promise you, folks can make a lot more, potentially, with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art history degree,” Obama declared.

The president seems to have caught himself pretty quickly.

“Now, nothing wrong with an art history degree — I love art history,” he then swore.

From the Daily Caller….

heh.

CWchangedhisNicagain on February 2, 2014 at 11:53 AM

Words. Just words.

Paul-Cincy on February 2, 2014 at 11:19 AM

This will be the epitaph of Our Idiot President’s two terms in office. Silly liberal rhetoric with nothing behind it, and a handful of disastrous policy changes – the work of an imbecile.

Jaibones on February 2, 2014 at 12:04 PM

I bet if you add in what strippers, hookers and high end call girls pull in I think you’ll find women actually make over $1.00 relative to men.

Women can work or have kids.
Most do a mixture of both before dumping work for the higher calling of kids.
My wife did and has never once regretted it although she’ll be the first to tell you kids is WAY harder.
Going back into the workforce later puts you at a lower rung on the corporate ladder.

Or start your own business. Do not expect help from Obozo though as you didn’t build it.

Guys are taught from Day 1 to get a job and provide for your family.
No options.

Double standard? Sure! But different standards are required for the sexes as they possess biological different purposes. Apples and Oranges, while both fruit, require different standards.

Bubba Redneck on February 2, 2014 at 12:06 PM

What will the Ds run on in Nov. then?

What will Hillary run on now?

Leftist thugs invent fictitious wars.

Schadenfreude on February 2, 2014 at 12:06 PM

CWchangedhisNicagain on February 2, 2014 at 11:53 AM

From the dummy in chief, who thinks that Austrian is a language.

Schadenfreude on February 2, 2014 at 12:08 PM

Even Maureen Dowd agrees.

Schadenfreude on February 2, 2014 at 12:10 PM

I seem to remember an article that pointed out that made up the large majority of work related deaths. If for no other reason than the increased risk, I would think there was some justification for a small wage difference.

http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/cftb0274.pdf

12 to one it seems.

OBQuiet on February 2, 2014 at 12:11 PM

http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/cftb0274.pdf

12 to one it seems.

OBQuiet on February 2, 2014 at 12:11 PM

…so the women…are winning…the war on women?

KOOLAID2 on February 2, 2014 at 12:19 PM

The Gender pay gap is definitely an ideologically mythical creature used to divide the country.
Growing up, outside from school teachers, or, nurses, the majority of women I knew took part-time unskilled jobs, and/or, stayed home to raise children.

One of the major factors in the gender pay gap is that men were historically more likely to own their businesses.
Most of the businesses were maintenance/repair related; builders, masons, truckers, plumbers, electricians, excavators, machinists, mechanics and the like.
Natural Fact: Real non-beta males like to set their own rules, write the terms of their contracts, seldom ask for directions, and hold the wheel.
My brother-in-law started his own business, his wife and sister went to work for him … who do you think made more money? Trick question his wife of course!
Had his wife or sister owned the business the shoe would have been on the other foot.
According to census statistics the percentage of women who start up their own business has been on the rise.

kregg on February 2, 2014 at 12:19 PM

I have always believed women should receive equal pay for equal work. And maybe someday they will do equal work.

DeweyWins on February 2, 2014 at 12:20 PM

Communication Disorders Sciences and Services

Huh?

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on February 2, 2014 at 12:24 PM

This isn’t to say that there aren’t still some individual employers out there who are pulling misogynistic tactics like that, and they should be exposed for doing so.

Ah yes, the required nod to say, “well, despite the evidence there are still problems.”

Bullocks. Provide the evidence or drop the rhetoric.

PackerBronco on February 2, 2014 at 12:25 PM

If you hire a woman and she gets pregnant you have to keep her job waiting for her to return – if SHE chooses – for a year. I wonder how much that little cost is factored in, both in money and opportunity cost to the business.

Of course, if you hire some gay guy in a pretend gay marriage and he decides that he wants to pretend he’s pregnant then you have to keep his job waiting for him for a year, too (though it really hasn’t been determined, yet, what the actual gestation period of a pretend gay pregnancy is) …

And we won’t even talk about monthly hormonal variations and their effects – both real ones for the women and the pretend ones for the gay guys …

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on February 2, 2014 at 12:30 PM

One thing that I haven’t seen analyzed is the difference between men’s and women’s labor force participation rate (LFPR) over the last 66 years.

Women’s Labor Force Participation Rate rose for 50 years, then held for 11 years, and has dropped continuously for 5 years under Obama.

Men’s Labor Force Participation Rate has been dropping continuously over the last 66 years (Jan 1948 – Dec 2013), but more precipitously under Obama.

It’s understandable why women’s LFPR rose for 5 decades, as more and more women chose to be part of the labor force. We appear to have hit the maximum percentage of women who choose to participate in the workforce at around 60% at the end of 1997. That held fairly steady for about 11 years, but has now dropped to less than 57% under Obama. Women’s LFPR is back to where it was in 1988… 25 years ago.

The steady decline in men’s LFPR is something of a crisis. In February of 1948, only 13% of men were NOT participating in the labor force… but in December 2013, 30.9% of men were not participating in the labor force. The percentage of men not participating has well more than doubled!

For decades, the increasing women’s LFPR helped mask the decreasing men’s LFPR when looking at the overall LFPR. But for the last 5 years, BOTH men’s and women’s LFPR have been dropping faster than they’ve ever dropped before. This is NOT GOOD for our economy or our nation!

ITguy on February 2, 2014 at 12:33 PM

To Obama, words are just a way of inciting emotional responses in his favor. Truth is irrelevant.

Count to 10 on February 2, 2014 at 12:52 PM

I want Ed’s “Green Room” thread on fair wages (or one like it), placed on the main page !
.
.
How much influence to commenters have on this sort of thing, anyway ?

listens2glenn on February 2, 2014 at 12:54 PM

To Obama, words are just a way of inciting emotional responses in his favor. Truth is irrelevant.

Count to 10 on February 2, 2014 at 12:52 PM

.
I believe you just described most (not necessarily all) politicians, in both parties.

listens2glenn on February 2, 2014 at 12:56 PM

This “statistic” has been debunked for the last 20 years. It’s embarrassing that Dear Liar is repeating it.

rbj on February 2, 2014 at 12:57 PM

If you hire a woman and she gets pregnant you have to keep her job waiting for her to return – if SHE chooses – for a year.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on February 2, 2014 at 12:30 PM

FMLA is only 12 weeks with some states allowing an additional amount of time (Jersey, for example is up to 12 additional weeks). FMLA also only applies to employers with 50+ employees.

While I agree that the gender wage gap is bogus, I’m not sure where you’re getting the idea pregnancy will result in a job being held open for an entire year.

Lost in Jersey on February 2, 2014 at 1:22 PM

While I agree that the gender wage gap is bogus, I’m not sure where you’re getting the idea pregnancy will result in a job being held open for an entire year.

Lost in Jersey on February 2, 2014 at 1:22 PM

My mistake. But, yours, too. What the Department of Labor says is:

You are entitled to take up to 12 weeks of leave per year for medical reasons (including pregnancy and childbirth) and for childcare if your employer is covered under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and you qualify for FMLA leave. Both parents can qualify for FMLA leave and violations of FMLA should be reported to the Department of Labor’s Wage & Hour Division.

So, that’s 12 weeks PER YEAR. Of course, they threw the other parent in, too (whether father, husband, housemate, gay pretend spouse or whatever).

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on February 2, 2014 at 1:30 PM

The key to solving this puzzle and getting rid of some of that 23 cent gap isn’t getting more girls into college. It’s good career counseling to help them select better paying fields.

Money is not the only consideration when choosing a career.

myiq2xu on February 2, 2014 at 2:03 PM

Well, there must be a trans-gender wage gap then.

Keep the faux crises coming!

The Pravda-like trotting out… everywhere… of the new Fake Problem of “income inequality” (what are the political fraudmeisters going to tilt against next? ~ “height inequality”, and put us in a Federal Procrustres Program to make all people one uniform ‘socially just’ size?) is depressingly predictable in its ubiquity, homogeneity, brainlessness, and instant acceptance as valid, and unquestionable, by the B.J. Media.

profitsbeard on February 2, 2014 at 3:28 PM

A little searching on the internet will result in learning that:

Single women without children between 22 and 30 earn more than men in the same age bracket.

Women in part-time jobs earn more than men.

Jasper61 on February 2, 2014 at 3:31 PM

Of course, if you hire some gay guy in a pretend gay marriage and he decides that he wants to pretend he’s pregnant

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on February 2, 2014 at 12:30 PM

Careful there now Cowboy. If there is one thing we have learned today is that if he says he is …..he is. If he says he’s female…he is. Fantasies come true here on Liberal Island.

CWchangedhisNicagain on February 2, 2014 at 5:27 PM

Unless I missed it, strangely libfreakily has not graced this thread. Hmmm. He cannot even defend obama on this lie.

CWchangedhisNicagain on February 2, 2014 at 5:28 PM

Reading through the numbers on this, it becomes clear that old school math doesn’t explain it all away and the reasons for what we see happening are complicated.

Why is it so damned hard to say that 92% of work place deaths are suffered by males? Does this fact offend women? It must since everybody seems to be afraid to say it. Way to puss out Jazz.

DFCtomm on February 2, 2014 at 5:29 PM

Why is it so damned hard to say that 92% of work place deaths are suffered by males? Does this fact offend women? It must since everybody seems to be afraid to say it. Way to puss out Jazz.

DFCtomm on February 2, 2014 at 5:29 PM

I haven’t been able to find out if it is still true but not too long ago 24 of the top 25 most dangerous jobs were dominated by men

CWchangedhisNicagain on February 2, 2014 at 5:39 PM

It is totally unfair that I, an adult male, am paid less than Oprah Winfrey. I can think of no reason other than gender discrimination, and demand that Obama do something about it!

Colony14 on February 2, 2014 at 5:48 PM

From The Obama Timeline:

“He [Obama] seems not to know that pay differences are generally the result of career choices, not gender, and that gender pay discrimination has been illegal for 50 years. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 protects men and women who perform substantially equal work in the same establishment from sex-based wage discrimination. No new legislation is therefore necessary; Obama can end any existing discrimination simply by enforcing existing federal law. Further, the 77 cents figure he cites is incredibly out of date. According to a 2007 study, women make, on average, about 91 cents for every dollar a man earns. Even that figure is misleading, as it represents nothing more than the average male wage versus the average female wage—not taking into account what people do for a living. That a female kindergarten teacher earns less than the male CEO of IBM does not mean she was the subject of discrimination any more than Oprah Winfrey earning more than a male truck driver is “proof” of gender discrimination. Male autoworkers earn less than the new female CEO of General Motors—but that does not mean anyone is being treated unfairly.”

Colony14 on February 2, 2014 at 5:49 PM

Single women without children between 22 and 30 earn more than men in the same age bracket.

Women in part-time jobs earn more than men.

Jasper61 on February 2, 2014 at 3:31 PM

Yes. I do think there is an inequity in that women with children in that same bracket do much worse. Children are a far larger hindrance to a woman’s lifetime earnings than a man. The current trend, however, is for career-minded women to marry guys who will stay home with the kids. So this weighted disparity will likely disappear in another decade, particularly as women continue to outearn college degrees.

alwaysfiredup on February 3, 2014 at 11:33 AM

Obama seems not to know that pay differences are generally the result of career choices, not gender, and that gender pay discrimination has been illegal for 50 years. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 protects men and women who perform substantially equal work in the same establishment from sex-based wage discrimination. No new legislation is therefore necessary; Obama can end any existing discrimination simply by enforcing existing federal law. Further, the 77 cents figure he cites is incredibly out of date. According to a 2007 study, women make, on average, about 91 cents for every dollar a man earns. Even that figure is misleading, as it represents nothing more than the average male wage versus the average female wage—not taking into account what people do for a living. That a female kindergarten teacher earns less than the male CEO of IBM does not mean she was the subject of discrimination any more than Oprah Winfrey earning more than a male truck driver is “proof” of gender discrimination. Male autoworkers earn less than the new female CEO of General Motors—but that does not mean anyone is being treated unfairly.

Colony14 on February 3, 2014 at 4:33 PM