You can find this particular slice of ironic baloney everywhere in liberal ideology. It always raises its fraudulent head during a political campaign because that is when it is most valuable.
Women make 77 cents on the dollar compared to men. Or 79 cents. Or 80 cents. It moves about a little. This is cited as evidence of the ongoing patriarchal oppression that American women suffer under. That’s the claim and that’s the cudgel with which to bash opponents and raise money.
Naturally, running as the XX-chromosome candidate, Hillary Clinton droned on about the gender pay gap on the campaign trail. President Obama, speaking at the 2016 Equal Pay Day, said, “Today, the typical woman who works full-time earns 79 cents for every dollar that a typical man makes.” Of course everything with Obama was about systemic discrimination, even when neither the specific system nor the specific discrimination could be identified.
The media duly “reports” the gender pay gap myth, and it is repeated with great dramatic flair by endless streams of intellectually isolated celebrities. The picture with this article represents hundreds of such memes playing on the uninformed and not the reality.
Equal Pay Day is a part of this great political theater. It is in early April and is meant to symbolize how long a woman must work into the next year to make as much as a man from the previous year. Every April, Democrats crank up their reliable demonstration/protest mode to call attention to this terrible injustice in which the American patriarchal system oppresses women.
Democrats even push annually for the Paycheck Fairness Act because, of course, women making personal choices that may result in them making less money is “unfair.” There oughta be a law! (The Democrat solution for every problem.)
The real pudding proof on this fib is that if it were true, money-grubbing capitalists everywhere would be hiring women to save 21 percent on their labor costs. Duh. But of course, that is not happening. Because this is not true.
Why it’s mythological bunk
The thing is, there is actually no evidence of discrimination here. Even liberal economists cannot find it. It is simply rendered as true, and millions of people swallow it and react angrily at the wrongdoing. But there’s nothing wrong.
Here’s how this hokum is produced:
Using the most generalized data set from the Census Bureau, you take full-time working men’s median annual earnings and full-time working women’s median annual earnings and you find that, on the broadest of averages, there is a pay differential of 20 to 21 cents. That’s it. No glaringly obvious variables. No common sense applications. Just the two rawest data points because part of every feminist assumption is that men and women are exactly the same.
And then conclude discrimination.
But without an ounce of research from smart folks — who we’ll get to in a minute — anyone giving it actual thought knows that men and women approach jobs and careers differently when marriage and children are in the equation. A mother is likely to take time off from work, oftentimes months or even years. She will frequently seek out part-time work or jobs with flexible hours because her maternal drive prioritizes the time needs of her children. The man’s paternal drive prioritizes providing for the entire family.
Obviously, that puts those women — in the millions — at a slower career growth pace and therefore earning less than men. That pulls down the average woman’s pay and that is all the gender gap looks at. That is one huge variable that falls under the category of freedom.
We also know from observation that women tend to choose lower wage careers such as teachers and nurses while men tend to choose higher wage careers such as engineering and MBAs. That too drags down women’s salaries compared to men’s and as we will see, these variables explain almost the entire difference. And all of them fall under what one might call “a woman’s right to choose.”
It could be argued in the broadest terms that women’s career choices are more noble than men’s — if they must be compared — because they often involve serving others while men’s often involve building things. But the liberal feminist ideology clings to the pay gap myth because every movement needs an enemy, and for the feminist, that enemy is men.
Women choose children over careers
The first obvious variable is most women do double-duty as moms, and this impacts their careers and long-term earnings. Most women also find this an acceptable trade-off, hence they choose it. Secondary to this one is that women tend to be the primary caregivers when elderly parents need it. Both obviously affect careers and earnings.
Instead of going deeply into the numbers that back up all this common sense, and they are legion, let’s use the conclusions from those numbers of two liberal, feminist, Ivy League academics.
Claudia Goldin was the first tenured professor of economics at Harvard University in 1990. Goldin has done extensive research on the issue of women in the workforce and concludes almost the entire gap deals with women’s choices.
“Some of the best studies that we have of the gender pay gap, following individuals longitudinally, show that when they show up right out of college, or out of law school, or after they get their MBA — all the studies that we have indicate that wages are pretty similar then,” she said on the Freakonomics podcast. “But further down the pike in their lives, by 10-15 years out, we see very large differences in their pay. But we also see large differences in where they are, in their job titles. And a lot of that occurs a year or two after a kid is born, and it occurs for women and not for men. If anything, men tend to work somewhat harder.”
So it is the choices women freely make.
Princeton public-policy scholar Anne-Marie Slaughter wrote in “Unfinished Business” about what she called the “care penalty” as the primary driver of gender pay inequity. Understand, she does not like this or even think it right, but she also does not find gender pay discrimination in the workforce. Slaughter wrote:
“If you take women who don’t have caregiving obligations, they’re almost equal with men. It’s somewhere in the 95 percent range. But when women then have children, or again are caring for their own parents or other sick family members who need care, then they need to work differently. They need to work flexibly, and often go part-time. They often get less-good assignments because their bosses think that they’re not going to want work that allows them to travel, or they’re not going to be able to stay up all night, or whatever it is. And so then you start — if you’re working part-time, you don’t get the same raises. And if you’re working flexibly your boss very typically thinks that you’re not that committed to your career, so you don’t get promoted.”
I’m purposely choosing liberals and feminists who have studied this, but are approaching it academically, not for its raw political value. Neither Goldin or Slaughter necessarily approve of this reality in women’s choices, and encourage women to change their decisions and even believe in programs directing them to. But their conclusions are rock solid.
It’s not discrimination. It’s women’s choices.
Women’s choose serving careers
Looking at the spread of career choices, something becomes obvious. Women tend to take lower-wage jobs that often involve serving others while men tend toward higher paying jobs that involve creating things.
A Georgetown University study on the income values of different college majors showed that nine of the 10 most lucrative majors — such as petroleum engineering, naval architecture and aerospace engineering — were dominated by men. At the same time, nine of the 10 least lucrative majors — such as education, social work and early childhood education — were dominated by women.
Well this is a sticky wicket, because women are not choosing rightly for the feminist social engineers. American Progress, a large, influential liberal think tank, suggests women aren’t really making these career choices but that the patriarchy “trains” them to think certain ways. American Progress writes:
“…there are several factors that lead women to traditionally female-dominated roles, including the gendered socialization that trains girls from childhood to embody the sorts of traits that translate well into traditionally feminine jobs centered on nurturing, service, and supporting other people in their jobs.”
This seems particularly insulting to women as it suggests they really are not making good choices — by the tens of millions. They are being tricked by wily men. And it further suggests that there is no natural nurturing in a woman, only what a patriarchal society inculcates in them.
This reflects a total detachment from reality that continues the thread that most women are not naturally more nurturing and caring of others but that that is a societal construct.
The reality is that women are different from men inside and out and they therefore frequently make different choices. In fact, for a culture to be strong, that is a necessity.
But the feminists despise that reality and will always work to change it. And because that is reality, there will always be a “gender pay gap” for Democrats to exploit come election time.
And really, that mixed with social engineering is the whole point of it.
EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in The Revolutionary Act.