Tuesday was Equal Pay Day, which, according to the National Committee on Pay Equity, “symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year.” The day is intended to raise awareness concerning the so-called gender pay gap—namely, that women earn only 77 cents on average for every dollar a man earns for the same work.
But the facts do not support this narrative. A multivariate analysis of the gender wage gap shows that once we account for the different choices made by men and women in their educations, careers, and personal lives, the gender wage gap shrinks to virtual nonexistence.
In fact, a 2009 study released by the U.S. Department of Labor found that the gender pay gap “may be almost entirely the result of individual choices being made by both male and female workers.”
For instance, women choose majors that correlate to lower-paying jobs than those majors generally chosen by men. College majors that result in the highest-paying jobs—such as petroleum engineering and aerospace engineering—are occupied by men at a rate of 87 percent and 88 percent, respectively. Majors such as communication disorders sciences and services as well as early childhood education, which correlate to lower-paying jobs, are occupied by women at a rate of 94 percent and 97 percent respectively. Petroleum engineers earn an average of $154,330 per year, while early childhood educators earn an average of $41,370 per year.
Choices in college majors are only one of the many variables which cause women to earn less than men on average. Women tend to value non-monetary benefits in jobs, such as flexible schedules or remote work, more than men. Forty-three percent of women with children choose to leave the workforce for a period of time during their careers. Women tend to choose jobs that are lower-paying, but more “people-oriented” than those chosen by men. Men working full time are more than 2.3 times more likely than women to work more than 60 hours a week.
Even the Washington Post admitted back in 2012 that when you, “control for life choices,” the actual gender wage gap dwindles to only 91 cents for every dollar a man earns. Harvard Economist Claudia Goldin explained on an episode of “Freakonomics” that after controlling for different choices made by women, “we don’t have tons of evidence that it’s true discrimination.”
Indeed, the gender wage gap is simply the difference in average annual earnings among women and men working full-time. It does not account for differences in the kinds of jobs held or the number of hours worked, as American Enterprise Institute scholar Christina Hoff Sommers has noted.
It’s no surprise that women aren’t as likely as men to want to work taxing jobs during their youngest years. Women must contend with a smaller window of fertility than men. In other words, they can’t wait forever to have children. And once they do have children, they are subject to the unique physical toll that pregnancy and childbirth have on a mother. When women take time out of the workforce to have children, even if that window is only four to six weeks of maternity leave, they can lose a competitive edge on their male coworkers in certain career fields.
Many women, however, believe this is a fair bargain.
Canadian psychologist Jordan B. Peterson went viral in 2018 explaining this phenomenon to journalist Cathy Newman on Channel 4 News. “Many women around the age of between 28 and 32, have a career-family crisis that they have to deal with,” Peterson told Newman, noting that much of that had to do with career-oriented women coming to grips with the limited timeframe in which they can have children. Faced with a choice between achieving the top of the most demanding professions or having children, many women choose the latter. At the very least, they choose less demanding jobs or opt for part-time work that allows them to enjoy a little bit of both worlds.
But once the wage gap is proven to be mainly a result of women making different choices than men, feminist intellectuals claim that this very fact proves that sexism is prevalent in our culture. Women’s different choices in regard to education and career are a result of, “persistent stereotypes that steer women and men toward different education, training, and career paths,” the National Organization for Women claims.
The Left is loath to admit that men and women naturally make different choices in their careers, let alone that perhaps they should make different choices. Yet even the Republican Party bemoaned the fact that many mothers are “staying home to take care of their children,” arguing that the Biden Administration should instead be working on “getting mothers back to work.” Although some of these women were unjustly laid off due to the tyrannical pandemic lockdowns, some have simply found that they would rather not miss out on key moments in their children’s lives in order to keep a job.
Why is it necessarily considered a bad thing that women would make different life choices than men? Why is it a problem to be “fixed” that women are more domestically minded than men—that when confronted with the choice, many women opt for motherhood at the expense of career achievement? Forcing “gender equity” into the workforce or homelife would mean ignoring the unique strengths and weaknesses which men and women bring to the table.
But feminists have moved on from ensuring that women have equal rights—what they really strive for now is sameness.