Debunking the Gender Pay Gap Myth—It’s Just a Tool for 2017’s Identity Politics
Even the famously left-leaning New York Times has begun quietly revealing the truth about the supposed gender pay gap in America: it’s caused by motherhood.
As we all know, motherhood is inherently sexist—men can’t be mothers.
If men can’t be mothers, then they won’t lose pay because of motherhood. If they don’t lose pay, then men will make more. If men make more, there is inequality.
But aside from the asinine analysis they provide about why this inequality is morally wrong, the New York Times raises an interesting point. Inequality exists.
But is this inequality a bad thing?
Or, more specifically, is it caused by inequity?
The simple answer: no.
Let’s talk about the gender wage gap in America. Specifically, why the ‘wage gap’ in its conventional form doesn’t actually exist—and while we’re at it, let’s look at what’s causing the perceived inequities.
America’s Gender Wage Gap is a Myth
The gender wage gap is a myth.
Nearly every dollar that men are paid in excess of women can be explained by something that has nothing to do with oppression or sexism.
And if we’re being honest women make more than men for similar work, because of less competition, more government handouts, and affirmative action programs etc.
This idea that women make 77 cents, or 83 cents, or even 95 cents for every dollar a man makes is nonsense.
To start with, it’s actually illegal to pay women less than men, for the same work, in most of the world—including the United States (this comes as a shock to many liberals).
Granted, law doesn’t always translate perfectly into reality.
But laws like this do mean that if there was an actual problem, there’s not a whole lot more that the government could do to fix it—you can easily eliminate legal inequalities, but tapping into the culture is harder.
They can’t mandate women be paid more, because that would be sexist. So as far as government action, they’re pretty much tapped out.
But this doesn’t stop the screeching from the left though. No, no.
And honestly I don’t think any of them have ever even thought about it very carefully.
Are there reasonable explanations to account for the differences in overall pay?
Yes—and none of them have anything to do with inequity or inherent unfairness.
Contributing Causes To The Gender Pay Gap
Let’s list some salient reasons why men end up making more money than women, thereby contributing to the gender pay gap myth:
- Men and women have different motivations, passions, and interests: men focus on making money, women often choose more people-oriented professions—these careers often pay less.
- Men work longer hours, and work more overtime shifts.
- Men are more likely to be willing to relocate for a better job.
- Many women choose to work part time, rather than full time.
- They have different hobbies that perfect different job skills.
- Biological factors are important: women have children, and generally prefer to stay home and raise them during their tender years.
- Cultural factors also play a role. For example, men are more likely to negotiate for higher salaries, and work jobs with flexible schedules.
- Men are generally more willing to take risks, which can result in generating more income in the long run.
This list is not exhaustive, but as you can see, every reason can be boiled down to different life choices.
Is this a bad thing? No.
In fact, forcing equality of outcome, when there is no equality of input, is necessarily oppressive. Let me explain.
In any free country, individual liberty will be exercised differently by different people. People are free to do two things: to follow their passions and maximize their strengths.
It’s called capitalism.
Now, if different groups tend to make different choices on average (even liberals must admit they do, otherwise how could “diversity be our strength”?), then the outcomes will on average be different.
If you accept that groups on average are not the same, in terms of choices and strengths, then you must accept that in a liberated society the outcomes will not be the same either.
Put simply: equal opportunity does not always lead to equal outcomes. Equal opportunity is fair, equal outcomes are not.
By leveling the outcomes, you necessarily hurt some groups while “helping” others. Making outcomes the same is necessarily oppressive.
As an aside, I want to point out that the same can be said for inequality as a whole. Inequality is necessary for an efficient economy, because it shows that people’s advantages are being maximized in at least some regards—more on that another time.
Freedom to Choose One’s Profession Causes The Gender Pay Gap
Now, on the average, men and women have both different passions and different strengths.
For example, men have better motor and spatial skills whereas women have better verbal memories, as well as social cognitive capabilities.
Men tend to prefer working alone, whereas women tend to prefer working in teams.
These differences play out in the economy. Taken as an aggregate, across the litany of different careers and professions, these differences explain away the supposed gender pay gap.
For example, the alleged wage gap between male and female doctors is 26%. Ostensibly, this means that female doctors earn 74 cents for every dollar a male doctor earns.
Taken at face value it seems that male doctors just get more money than female doctors—but they don’t. Why?
They don’t do the same work.
Females generally choose to study medical specialties that pay less.
For example, women doctors tend to be over-represented in pediatrics and family medicine, whereas male doctors dominate emergency medicine and surgery.
It just so happens, the more specialized types of medicine that men choose earn more, on average, than the ones women tend to occupy.
Cardiologists make more than pediatricians. That’s just how it is.
No one should force women to be cardiologists in the same way no one should force men to be pediatricians. This is a fine example of choosing your careers based on both passions and strengths.
Women tend to be more compassionate and better with children, where men tend to like working with their hands more.
Even as infants, females tend to prefer looking at faces while males prefer to look at mechanical stimuli (eg mobiles).
Another example is lawyers.
Women tend to go towards working for non-profits and family law while men tend to be more involved in international contracts and big construction law. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, it’s just the way the cookie crumbles.
A third example: professors.
Male professors tend to dominate higher paying fields such as STEM fields, where as women tend to be more involved in social sciences and arts. It just so happens that STEM fields generate more money than arts and social sciences do.
Funny enough, there is actually evidence of a distinct advantage for women wanting to be STEM professors now.
You get the point.
And you can do this for all occupations.
To further drive this point home, take a look at the proportion of men and women in the top 10 highest and lowest earning majors in college.
Let’s start with the lowest:
- Counseling Psychology: 74% female
2. Early Childhood Education: 97% female
3. Theology and Religious Vocations: 34% female
4. Human Services and Community Organization: 81% female
5. Social Work: 88% female
6. Drama and Theater Arts: 60% female
7. Studio Arts: 66% female
8. Communication Disorders Sciences and Services: 94% female
9. Visual and Performing Arts: 77% female
10. Health and Medical Preparatory Programs: 55% female
Now here’s the highest:
- Petroleum Engineering: 87% male
2. Pharmacy Pharmaceutical Sciences and Administration: 48% male
3. Mathematics and Computer Science: 67% male
4. Aerospace Engineering: 88% male
5. Chemical Engineering: 72% male
6. Electrical Engineering: 89% male
7. Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering: 97% male
8. Mechanical Engineering: 90% male
9. Metallurgical Engineering: 83% male
10. Mining and Mineral Engineering: 90% male
Do you see how males make up a large majority of the most lucrative college majors while women make up a large majority of the least?
This is just another example of how choices affect overall pay; no one is forcing men to choose different majors than women.
You also can’t even complain that men have more opportunities in higher education, since women outnumber men in grad school 141 to 100.
That’s why America’s gender wage gap doesn’t ‘exist’ in the conventional sense. It’s not that it’s not there, it is.
It’s just not a problem—or shouldn’t be, if you believe in personal freedom.
Debunking Misleading Statistics About The Gender Wage Gap
Now, studies that claim the gender pay gap is a big problem always leave out at least one crucial statistic (sometimes, many)—one crucial piece of information that would almost entirely explain the gap in the results.
The entire myth started by taking the aggregate of what women made and comparing that to the aggregate of what men made. This showed women made 77 cents on the dollar compared to men.
Obviously this is ridiculous and doesn’t show much of anything.
Using such a simple comparison would also lead us to conclude that the workforce is ageist as well, since older generations make substantially more than their younger counterparts. No one sees this as a problem.
Because it’s obviously accounted for by the differences between the two ages (eg elder generations have more experience).
Now change ‘age’ to ‘sex’ and suddenly people become credulous and completely forget about the differences between genders.
Watch Alex Castellanos explain some of the different choices men and women make to Rachel Maddow.
And economists like Steven Horowitz have long debunked the simple statistics used to push the wage gap lie.
The fact is the leftist reports you read about America’s gender pay gap all miss something crucial.
For example, the most recent American Association of University Women study claims that women make 80% of what men do. They literally just took the median income of men and divided it by the median income of women. This renders their report meaningless.
In fact, you can see exactly how the gender pay gap disappears when more factors are taken into account.
Just look at Diana Furchtgott-Roth’s testimony in front of the Senate Joint Economic Committee where she evaporates the myth in front of their eyes:
Data from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics that women earned 80 cents for every dollar that men earned in 2008 and in 2009, using full-time median weekly earnings, ignore fundamental differences between jobs, experience, and hours worked.
If we compare wages of men and women who work 40 hours a week, without accounting for any differences in jobs, training, or time in the labor force, Labor Department data show the gender wage ratio increases to 86 percent[.]
She continues with more factors:
When the wage gap is analyzed by individual occupations, jobs and employee characteristics, regional labor markets, job titles, job responsibility, and experience; then the wage gap shrinks even more. When these differences are considered, many studies show that men and women make about the same. For instance, a 2009 study by the economics consulting firm CONSAD Research Corporation, prepared for the Labor Department, shows that women make around 94% of what men make.
She goes on to ponder possible explanations to explain the remaining differences.
This itself is not a hard thought exercise, and it could likely be explained by any combination of factors I outlined above.
In all probability, if every variable was controlled for, the wage gap would disappear entirely. It would go from being negligible and suspect, to being nonexistent.
Common Sense Logic Debunks The Gender Wage Gap—It’s A Myth
Many leftist myths, like rape culture, the patriarchy, and the gender wage gap, can be debunked without the use of statistics: you just have to think about them for a minute.
For example, if companies could really get away with paying women less than men they would likely do it. Why? Because it would confer on them a competitive advantage.
Logically, this would mean that women would make up more of the employed workforce than men.
This is simply not the case.
If the wage gap were that simple, you would see men losing jobs to women. Don’t believe me? Companies have been paying illegal immigrants lower wages for decades for that very reason; because they can pay them cheaper wages.
If you think companies wouldn’t hire women to increase their bottom line, you’re probably unfamiliar with the Harvard Business School’s recent bottom-line oriented business model, exposed by Duff McDonald’s recent book The Golden Passport.
Also, as with all leftist myths, the solutions are nonsensical and poorly thought out.
Take for example the BBC’s six proposed solutions to “fix” the gender wage gap: enforce paternity leave, subsidize childcare, allow babies in the office, let parents work from home, give women a pay raise, and increase the value of low paid work.
These solutions are hilariously stupid and have multiple flaws, apparent with even the slightest amount of thought—mostly because all of them either require government intervention (no doubt increasing government spending and taxes) or doing things that will hurt the economy as a whole.
I’ll leave you to figure out which does what.
Honestly, I think the wage gap is just one of those hot button issues that people rally against, but have no idea what to actually do about it.
It’s just an another excuse for big government and social engineering geared towards leftist ideals of radical liberalism. It’s propaganda by another name.
If those are the only solutions, then that should raise some alarms.
If the Gender Pay Gap Does Exist, It’s Probably Impossible To Fix Anyways
The following section is the only thing so far that has given me pause for concern about the gender wage gap.
I once had a conversation with a friend where she outlined her mechanism for how the wage gap happens. She explained a plausible hypothetical (one that not doubt happens in many industries) involving two associates at a law firm; one male and one female.
Their boss, a male partner, invites them both to a hockey game.
The man accepts the invitation immediately because he enjoys hockey.
The woman doesn’t like hockey, so she does one of two things: goes to the hockey game anyways, or she doesn’t go.
In the case where the woman doesn’t go, the male associate now has the opportunity to bond with the male partner. This extra bonding times snowballs into more opportunities to bond (he gets invited to more private events and parties).
The male associate then starts getting invited to more things and therefore has more opportunities to network and build relationships with the rest of the firm; all because his interests are likely more aligned with the current people at the top of the power structure (in this case a male partner).
This causes the male associate to be given more work and advance quicker than his female counterpart—all because he likes hockey and she doesn’t
In the other scenario, where the woman does go, it’s a wash because they both have the same opportunity.
The point of the hypothetical is that, by virtue of being a man, the male associate already has an advantage in building relationships and gaining opportunities over his female counterpart.
I also want to point out that it’s not just sports (and yes, plenty of women like sports), but any shared interest the males tend to have (it could be as basic as a shared interest in women).
The point is that males tend to enjoy activities that other males enjoy more often than females do. So when the top of the food chain is full of males, they will likely tend to choose male-oriented activities for outside of work events more often than female-oriented ones.
On average (talking entire industry numbers here), this will likely confer a small advantage on males for networking and advancing in the company, just by virtue of them being males and being more likely to have similar interests.
And honestly, if there is a discrepancy in the gap between genders, this probably explains the nominal amount it is, or situations like this.
To this all I can say is tough shit.
As a man who doesn’t drink alcohol, or watch many team sports, I can empathize with not wanting to spend my free time with other people schmoozing just to stay on par with my colleagues.
Where it may come natural and be fun for some, it may be tedious and not worth the effort for others.
But honestly, there isn’t any real way to fix this. Why? Because it’s not a problem. This is just the natural extension of a free market economy. It’s liberty at work.
There are only three conceivable ways to “fix” this problem anyways.
First, and often proposed, diversity training.
Train companies not to do this stuff. Not only does this not work, it sometimes makes the problems even more apparent. Check out Jordan Peterson outlining some problems with this.
Second, legislate the workplace.
Craft some sort of regulation that infringes on liberty of workers (or bosses in this case) to artificially even the playing field by disallowing these sorts of considerations during promotions. Or even go further and say that more work needs to be given to the “disadvantaged” person in this scenario (eg minority, women, LGBT, etc.).
Not only would this fail, it may add fuel to the fire.
And, again, it necessitates inequality.
By pushing people up, you necessarily push others down. That’s just how it works. It creates divides between demographics, and fuels identity politics, which is the downfall of any Western democracy as we know it.
Additionally, this second option would fail because it would be unenforceable. It’s impossible to regulate someone’s mind. It’s a frivolous attempt to solve a non-issue. There is no proxy you could use to accurately measure what factors are going into decisions people make, and if there was one there would be no way to stop people from lying about it.
It would likely also be prohibitively expensive to small businesses, thus rendering it regressive and damaging to the economy as a whole.
Third, change the culture.
Now this is actually what the left is trying to do. Their main goal is to change the culture to align with leftist ideals (radical liberalism) in an attempt to craft a new world where everyone is “equal” (necessitating inequity).
But this has the potential to throw the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak. It also bets the entirety of Western civilization on a theory, which is a bad idea.
People Self-Segregate, Which Could Contribute to the Gender Pay Gap
The last leftist critique is that men already have “power”, in that they are over-represented in positions of power and wealth, and tend to inadvertently gift these positions of power to other men.
The idea is that, because men have more in common with other men, that they will get along with them better, on average, than they would with women. This leads to a cycle of more men in positions of power and more men gaining better opportunities in the economy.
Now, not only do the stats not show this, but for the same reasons outlined for the hypothetical above, there is just no problem here. If there was, it also couldn’t be solved for the same reasons.
It may be frustrating, but the only ‘solution’ is by granting inequity. In this sense two wrongs (or one ‘wrong’ and one natural evolution of society) do not make a right.
Here’s Jordan Peterson talking about why women don’t occupy plenty of positions of power.
Conclusion? America’s Gender Pay Gap Doesn’t Exist
There you have it.
The wage gap doesn’t exist.
Even if it did, it is not a problem.
And even if it was, you can’t fix it without producing inequity.
Anytime someone tells you otherwise, feel free to refer them to (at least) the list of possible factors I outlined above.
Any time you see a claim that “women make __ cents for every dollar that men make” check the source and see which of the factors they didn’t control for.
I guarantee every “study” will miss something.