published Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

The gender pay gap fiction

“New data reveal pervasive wage gap, women paid less than men in 97 percent of congressional districts.”

That was the hand-wringing headline accompanying a study released last week by the National Partnership for Women & Families in the hopes that wage gap hysteria would sweep America — and just in time for the election, no less.

Throughout America, according to the National Partnership, full-time working women are paid only 77 cents for every dollar paid to full-time working men.

To hear the National Partnership tell it, the wage gap is one of the biggest problems facing America and one of the great injustices of our time.

The only problem is that, when factors like hours worked and life choices are considered, the wage gap barely exists — if it exists at all.

When a man and a woman with the same education are doing the same work in the same field, the pay gap is less than 5 percent and, in certain professions, women actually earn more than men.

According to the Department of Labor, the average man working a full-time time job spends 8.14 hours a day on the job, compared to 7.75 hours for the full-time working woman.  

Since the National Partnership’s study compared full-time male workers to full-time female workers, instead of the average hourly wage earned by men versus the average hourly wage earned by women, the study is flawed to the point of being a joke. If a man works 50 hours per week and a woman in the same job making the same hourly pay works 40 hours per week, she will earn 80 percent of what the man makes — and that only seems fair.

Where the National Partnerships argument really falls apart, however, is when life choices are considered. For example, men tend to choose to major in computer science, mathematics and engineering in higher rates than women. These majors often result in more profitable careers than majors chosen more often by females. The only way to change that is for schools to ban men from certain majors and women from others. Seems a bit extreme, doesn’t it?

Women also go in and out of the workforce much more often than men — and usually for a reason that no social scientist or government official can do anything about: to have babies.

If, for instance, a woman leaves the workplace for three years to have and raise a child, when she returns to the workplace, her colleagues’ pay will reflect any pay increases earned during those three years. The mother’s pay will resume roughly where it was when she left. There’s nothing anyone can do to fix that problem, unless the government wants to get in the business of preventing women from starting families.


A few females who aren’t suffering from the supposed wage gap are the women behind the organization that put out the study. According to the National Partnership’s most recently available nonprofit disclosure forms filed with the IRS, the group’s president, Debra L. Ness, raked in a $246,000 salary and another $45,000 in benefits in 2010. Judith L. Lichtman, a former president of the outfit who now serves as its “senior advisor,” collects $264,000 in combined salary and benefits.

It seems more than a little disingenuous that two women who snag such extravagant salaries courtesy of their donors are so busy crying wolf about the low pay of women.

In the end, those hefty paychecks seem to be the reason that the people behind the National Partnership continue to spread their fables of female economic woe and oppression.

After all, who would donate to the National Partnership if they told the truth about the state of women in American society? No women in the history of the world have been treated more equally or had as many opportunities as American women in 2012. That narrative, while exciting, encouraging and accurate, doesn’t get people to donate. And without those donations, Ness and Lichtman aren’t pulling in more than a quarter million dollars a year.  

So even though the gender wage gap is a myth, the National Partnership and other women’s groups continue to take numbers out of context and toss logic aside in order to keep the cash rolling in.

Certainly, there are disadvantages to being a woman. And there is a place for special interest groups, think tanks and grassroots activism to ensure that women are empowered with every right and opportunity afforded men. Let’s just hope that, in the future, these organizations focus their efforts on addressing real problems, rather than inventing — and promoting — pretend ones.     

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conservative said...

The writer is correct, there really is no wage gap between men and women.

However, my experience and my eyes have noticed that there is a work or productivity gap between men and women. In other words there is often not equal work for equal pay.

For the most part,women who hold job positions such as fireman, policeman, construction workers, outside telephone technicians as well as utility workers are just not capable of accomplishing the same amount of work a man can, yet receive the same hourly pay.

For instance,the telephone companies have spent and wasted millions of dollars training women for such jobs as lineman and installers only to have the majority quit and go back inside to an easier job. The few who have remained get the easier jobs and don't have to be as productive as a male coworker.

This situation is the result of government intervention, i.e. quotas, but this waste of time and money is reflected in your higher phone bill.

September 25, 2012 at 7:46 a.m.

1 Peter 3:7___Holy Bible.

"Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered."

Women are weaker in that they have much more complex bodies, and, i believe, minds. Women, by nature, are not able to be available for as great an amount of time on the job as is a man. Men do not have monthly cycles, for example. Men do not have to take maternity leave, which i have observed being severely abused in my employment experience. Chivalry, indeed, is not dead. When it comes time to take a bullet, or, knife, or, any other weapon's injuries, the man knows who will endure this. The woman will be protected by the man at any cost...including his own life. Well, I quoted Jesus Christ of Nazareth, now another quote by someone who saw it through , let's just say, 'another category' of eyes! The quote:

"This is a man's world But it wouldn't be nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl".

Song written by: James Brown and Betty Jean Newsome; performed by: James Brown band.

September 25, 2012 at 9:30 a.m.

Actually, they do control for all of those things, but since the right-wing pundits were so glad to misrepresent the pay at the White House with their interpretations of it, I await your condemnation of them and their errors.

How long will it take? Why won't you complain about Fox News or the National Review? Free Beacon?

I dare you, I double-dog dare you, to speak up.

Or you can realize that maybe those "life choices" you talk about aren't even actual choices, but the result of a lack of free decision making.

But heck, I remember you making your blanket condemnations of EPB employees being overpaid compared to the average salary of the area.

Where was your discernment when making that statement?

Oh yeah, you only stand by it when you can use that to press your rhetorical advantage. When it's better to blindly say something without consideration, well, that's what you do instead.

September 25, 2012 at 11:03 a.m.
Leaf said...

This article shows a basic lack of understanding of statistics. Sorry, but in order to refute statistics you need to use numbers, not belief. Since you do not provide any proof, only supposition and anectdotes, I must discount this article as simply uneducated opinion.

September 26, 2012 at 12:05 p.m.
JustOneWoman said...

I notice that it is the men that post here that tend to think there is no wage gap. There is, and has always been here in Chattanooga and surrounding areas, a very real big wage gap. I experience it every moment of my life. If men don't see it, I wonder about their intelligence! Bless their little hearts. LOL Women know there is a wage gap. And most of us women, when hearing you guys say there is not a gap, think "what an idiot"! But many of us don't call you that to your face. We are nice like that.

September 27, 2012 at 3:09 p.m.
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