The myth of the gender wage gap

The modern feminist movement cares most about appearances, not realities. Let me endeavor to illustrate this to you.

Last week, the U.S. Senate failed to pass a bill called the Paycheck Fairness Act, which was intended to help combat wage discrimination against women based on their gender. The vote, which occurred along partisan lines, was immediately spun by the bill’s proponents (modern feminists and their political allies) as evidence that those who oppose the bill put “politics ahead of women and their families.” The bill’s proponents knew beforehand that the legislation did not have the votes to pass, and it was widely recognized (and reported) that the primary purpose of pushing the legislation to a vote was to paint the bill’s opponents as uncaring in regard to women.

The fact is, however, that the “gender wage gap” – the very problem that the Paycheck Fairness Act is meant to solve – is largely a myth: differences in pay between men and women can be explained almost entirely by behavioral differences between men and women. 

In 2009, a private research firm statistically analyzed the gender wage gap for the U.S. Department of Labor. The researchers reported a difference in wages between men and women of roughly 20 percent, but found that there are “observable differences” in male and female employees that account for two-thirds to three-fourths of that 20 percent. In other words, between two-thirds and three-fourths of the 20 percent wage difference was due to observable, non-discriminatory factors, leaving the leftover portion of the difference – the portion that could possibly be due to discrimination – at a relatively small amount of five to seven percent.

Those “observable differences” were all differences in behavior among working men and women. Three behaviors primarily explained differences in wages between men and women:

  1. A larger portion of women than men choose to work part-time, and part-time work “tends to pay less than full-time work”
  2. A larger portion of women than men choose to interrupt their careers to care for elderly adults or children, leading to lower pay if/when they go back to work
  3. Women tend to value “family friendly” workplace policies (parental leave, flexible schedule, child care, and sick leave) more than men, preferring such policies to higher pay

Further, the researchers reported that “research also suggests that differences not incorporated into the [statistical analysis] due to data limitations may account for part of the remaining gap.” This means that the part of the wage gap that could possibly be due to discrimination might actually be significantly smaller than the five to seven percent mentioned earlier. In other words, there isn’t really much of a “gender wage gap” to speak of – that idea is mostly a myth in today’s world and doesn’t require a corrective policy change.

The analysis of the “gender wage gap” supports this assertion. As the researchers conclude, “this study leads to the unambiguous conclusion that the differences in the compensation of men and women are the result of a multitude of factors and that the raw wage gap should not be used as the basis to justify corrective action.”

So if, in fact, society has basically eliminated wage discrimination based on gender, why doesn’t the modern feminist movement simply declare victory?

Well, it wouldn’t look good for the movement to admit it has basically become irrelevant when it comes to women in the workplace, would it?