‘Equal Pay Day’ is March 14 this year. But ever since its founding in 1996, this event is based on erroneous assumptions. It is meant to illustrate the gap between men’s and women’s wages. But is there really such a gap? And is it based on discrimination?
The idea to select a Tuesday as Equal Pay Day was to represent how far into the work week women must work to earn what men earned the previous week.
A date in March was selected which would mark the month when a woman’s earnings catch up to what her male counterpart earned in the previous year.
According to statistics from a women’s committee on pay equity, women now earn 81.6 cents for every dollar men earn. A few years ago, it was 77 cents; a few years before that, it was 74 cents. Maybe ‘Equal Pay Day’ should be on a Monday in February.
The first time I heard that women earn less than men, I nearly choked on my food (served by a waitress who earns more than I do) at a café (owned by a woman who earns more than I do) before returning to work (for a woman who earns more than I do).
What is implied — but not stated — in the ’81 cent mantra’ is that such inequality is due to discrimination. This is an erroneous assumption.
The first assumption is that the statement is based on straight wages. It is not! Men do earn more than women but it is based on a number of factors.
- Men, on average, work more hours (even in cases where both report full-time employment, the average man works six hours more per week than the average woman).
- Their job entails more hazardous assignments (92% of workplace deaths occur to men, even more for battlefield fatalities).
- They are more apt to move overseas or to an undesirable location (off-shore work, anyone?).
- Men often accept more-technical jobs with less people contact (most engineers are men, same with accountants).
Judging from the job choices they make, women are more likely to balance income with a desire for safety, fulfilment, flexibility, the potential for personal growth, and proximity to home. These are not bad things.
The ‘Equal Pay Day’ folks have re-defined earnings as payment for the same hours for the same work. But this contains erroneous assumptions as well.
Erroneous Assumptions Explained
Many women have gaps in their employment that were spent giving care to their children. In my personal experience, I subjugated my career to be a stay-at-home dad. When I re-entered the workforce, I did not expect to earn as much as my friends who stayed on the job. No discrimination here. Not every woman takes time off from work — but enough do such that it skewers the statistics.
When I did re-enter the workforce, I accepted a job that entailed 30 hours a week so I could pick up my son from school and spend time with him on weekends. My co-worker who worked 40 hours a week — and was always available for overtime — received promotions more than me.
Again, there was no prejudice. Even though two people may do the same job, the person with more experience often receives the larger salary.
Statistics offered by the pay gap people will lump the salaries of all medical doctors together. This erroneous assumption falls apart when one realises that male physicians are more likely than women to pursue higher-stress specialties with unpredictable hours, thus enjoying greater pay.
The ‘Occupy Protests’ brought to light an interesting observation. The top one percent of the population control 42 percent of our country’s wealth. Because the vast majority of this one percent are men, their earnings skew the statistics for women all the way down the line. Chances are, you and I will never be in the one percent, but their earnings can cause a lot of erroneous assumptions.
Yet, the ‘Equal Pay’ folks insist on believing women are at a disadvantage in the ordinary workplace. Erroneous assumption again!
According to a 2010 Time magazine article, “in 147 out of 150 of the biggest cities in the U.S., the median full-time salaries of young women are 8% higher than those of the guys in their peer group.”
It is much the same in the United Kingdom. In 2011, the Independent reported that “women aged between 22 and 29 in employment are now earning more on average per hour than men of the same age.”
Dr Warren Farrell (former board member of the New York National Organization for Women), arrived at the same conclusion in his book, Why Men Earn More: “… women earn more when they work equal hours at the same job with the same size of responsibility for the same length of time with equal productivity”.
Politically Incorrect But Not Sexist
An oft-repeated argument against such ‘politically incorrect’ beliefs is the charge of a hatred of women. But just as patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, the first defence of a misandrist is to pull out the ‘misogynist’ label.
It is not sexist to recognise the truth. Who exhibits the greater bias: the one who believes women are poor helpless creatures who need governmental favouritism, or the one who believes women are whole and strong and able to be treated equally in any situation?
Name-calling is not the only propaganda technique used by the ‘Equal Pay’ party. The adage, ‘If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth,’ has been bouncing around since the days of the Nazi Party. Perhaps some people have come to believe discrimination is the cause of income disparity because it has been repeated so loudly for so long.
The pay gap contingent will have none of these facts. They insist that all things being equal, women make less than men and it’s because of prejudice.
The erroneous assumption is apparent when considering self-employed women. In his article, “Men Don’t Have it Easy Either”, Marty Nemko finds that working women who have no boss (they own their own business) “earn only 49% of what the average male business owner earns.”
A Rochester Institute of Technology study may explain this. It was found that money was the primary motivator for only 29 percent of women versus 76 percent of men. According to Nemko, “Women put a premium on shorter work weeks, proximity to home, fulfilment, autonomy, and safety.”
More females than males finish high school. More women than men enter — and finish — college. Why is this not reflected in wages? The correlation between education and earnings is not a myth. What is a myth is the erroneous assumption that men earn more than women due to prejudice.
If women earned less than men for the same work, why would anyone hire a man? “Ah, ha”, the pay gappers may exclaim, “this accounts for the he-cession”. Well, no. That is another erroneous assumption. The majority of jobs that were lost in the recession were in the ‘high-dollar’ blue-collar industries like construction; jobs that most women avoid.
The Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963 to abolish wage disparity based on sex. So why do we need additional governmental regulation? If a woman believes she earns less than a man due to discrimination, she can take it to federal court.
Where are these women who earn 81 cents for every dollar a man earns anyway? One could save 19 cents on the dollar if he or she sought treatment from a female dentist. Want to cut your legal expenses? Hire a woman lawyer! Think how much taxpayers are saving for enlisting all those women soldiers. And Americans save money for every woman politician. The taxpayer must be saving millions!
No, this is an erroneous assumption. Just as the gender pay gap is an erroneous assumption.
Photo by kting.