Sierra Canyon High School

A common fable: The myth of the gender wage gap

You may have heard that the average, full-time working woman earns 77 cents for every dollar a man earns—but it’s just not true.

The charge, that many major news sources are making, that there is a 23 percent wage gap between men and women, is constantly repeated by feminist activists and their supporters, yet it is so deeply misleading — bordering on an outright lie. The 23 percent wage gap is simply the difference between the average earnings of all full-time working men and the average earnings of all full-time working women. It does not take into account occupations, hours worked per week, positions, job tenure, or education.

“Women make up about half of our workforce, but they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns,” President of the United States Barack Obama said in his 2014 State of the Union address. But, in a 2014 report, the Department of Labor disputed this information.

While Obama argued that there is a 23 percent wage gap between men and women, the U.S. Department of Labor found that the gap is only five percent.

Feminist groups like American Association of University Women and the National Women’s Law Center say that even when taking education and occupation into account, there is still a very large wage gap. But, if you look deeper into specific examples, you can see that the wage gap can be easily disputed.

Take the case of medicine; on the surface, it looks like female doctors with a specialty make significantly less than male doctors with a specialty with men making $324,000 and women making $242,000 per year according to Business Insider. But, if you dig a little deeper, you find that women are far more likely than men to choose lower-paying specialties like pediatrics as opposed to higher-paying specialties like orthopedics. Women are more interested in a specialty working with children than other specialties. Take the highest paying specialty— orthopedic surgery. The average orthopedic surgeon, including men and women, makes $443,000 per year with about 95 percent of orthopedic surgeons being men. In contrast, in pediatric surgery, the lowest paying specialty, the average surgeon makes $204,000 with 75 percent of pediatric surgeons being women, according to Business Insider. Because the claimed wage gap is the difference between the average earnings of all full-time working men and the average earnings of all full-time working woman; in the statistic above that the wage gap is disputable.

Similarly, women are more likely to work part time and women who work full time put in about seven fewer hours than men, according to the American Enterprise Institute. In addition, women are more likely to take long leaves of absences—usually to start a family.

Whether it’s a woman or a man, if people want to be paid equally for the same work, they have to make the sacrifice of not having children or taking the time off to start a family.

When taking all of these factors into account, the workplace wage gap vanishes. The existing wage gap is not stimulated by sexism, it is stimulated by these workplace differences between men and women.

Companies should be able to decide how much their employees are worth—not the federal government. Big government results in less freedom for the business owner and this lack of freedom results in the power being put in the hands of the federal government. We should not be basing salaries off of gender, but off of hard work and merit.

Discrimination does not cause the wage gap and therefore cannot be fixed through government interference. Again, we should not pay employees based on gender, but off of diligence and work ethic— equal pay for equal work.

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