BY GLENN KESSLER January 28 at 11:13 pm
“Today, women make up about half our workforce. But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment.”
There is clearly a wage gap, but differences in the life choices of men and women — such as women tending to leave the workforce when they have children — make it difficult to make simple comparisons.
Obama is using a figure (annual wages, from the Census Bureau) that makes the disparity appear the greatest. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, for instance, shows that the gap is 19 cents when looking at weekly wages. The gap is even smaller when you look at hourly wages — it is 14 cents — but then not every wage earner is paid on an hourly basis, so that statistic excludes salaried workers.
In other words, since women in general work fewer hours than men in a year, the statistics used by the White House may be less reliable for examining the key focus of legislation pending in Congress — wage discrimination. The weekly wage is more of an apples-to-apples comparison, but it does not include as many income categories.
Economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis surveyed economic literature and concluded that “research suggests that the actual gender wage gap (when female workers are compared with male workers who have similar characteristics) is much lower than the raw wage gap.” They cited one survey, prepared for the Labor Department, which concluded that when such differences are accounted for, much of the hourly wage gap dwindled, to about 5 cents on the dollar.
BY Christina Hoff Sommers
It’s the bogus statistic that won’t die—and president deployed it during the State of the Union—but women do not make 77 cents to every dollar a man earns.
President Obama repeated the spurious gender wage gap statistic in his State of the Union address. “Today,” he said, “women make up about half our workforce. But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment.”
What is wrong and embarrassing is the President of the United States reciting a massively discredited factoid. The 23-cent gender pay gap is simply the difference between the average earnings of all men and women working full-time. It does not account for differences in occupations, positions, education, job tenure, or hours worked per week. When all these relevant factors are taken into consideration, the wage gap narrows to about five cents. And no one knows if the five cents is a result of discrimination or some other subtle, hard-to-measure difference between male and female workers. In its fact-checking column on the State of the Union, the Washington Post included the president’s mention of the wage gap in its list of dubious claims. “There is clearly a wage gap, but differences in the life choices of men and women… make it difficult to make simple comparisons.”
Consider, for example, how men and women differ in their college majors. Here is a list (PDF) of the ten most remunerative majors compiled by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. Men overwhelmingly outnumber women in all but one of them:
1. Petroleum Engineering: 87% male
2. Pharmacy Pharmaceutical Sciences and Administration: 48% male
3. Mathematics and Computer Science: 67% male
4. Aerospace Engineering: 88% male
5. Chemical Engineering: 72% male
6. Electrical Engineering: 89% male
7. Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering: 97% male
8. Mechanical Engineering: 90% male
9. Metallurgical Engineering: 83% male
10. Mining and Mineral Engineering: 90% male
And here are the 10 least remunerative majors—where women prevail in nine out of ten:
1. Counseling Psychology: 74% female
2. Early Childhood Education: 97% female
3. Theology and Religious Vocations: 34% female
4. Human Services and Community Organization: 81% female
5. Social Work: 88% female
6. Drama and Theater Arts: 60% female
7. Studio Arts: 66% female
8. Communication Disorders Sciences and Services: 94% female
9. Visual and Performing Arts: 77% female
10. Health and Medical Preparatory Programs: 55% female
Much of the wage gap can be explained away by simply taking account of college majors. Early childhood educators and social workers can expect to earn around $36,000 and $39,000, respectively. By contrast, petroleum engineering and metallurgy degrees promise median earnings of $120,000 and $80,000. Not many aspiring early childhood educators would change course once they learn they can earn more in metallurgy or mining. The sexes, taken as a group, are somewhat different. Women, far more than men, appear to be drawn to jobs in the caring professions; and men are more likely to turn up in people-free zones. In the pursuit of happiness, men and women appear to take different paths.
But here is the mystery. These and other differences in employment preferences and work-family choices have been widely studied in recent years and are now documented in a mountain of solid empirical research. By now the President and his staff must be aware that the wage gap statistic has been demolished. This is not the first time the Washington Post has alerted the White House to the error. Why continue to use it? One possibility is that they have been taken in by the apologetics of groups like the National Organization for Women and the American Association of University Women. In its 2007 Behind the Pay Gap report, the AAUW admits that most of the gap in earnings is explained by choices. But this admission is qualified: “Women’s personal choices are similarly fraught with inequities,” says the AAUW. It speaks of women being “pigeonholed” into “pink-collar” jobs in health and education. According to NOW, powerful sexist stereotypes “steer” women and men “toward different education, training, and career paths.”
“Much of the wage gap can be explained away by simply taking account of college majors. In the pursuit of happiness, men and women appear to take different paths.”
Have these groups noticed that American women are now among the most educated, autonomous, opportunity-rich women in history? Why not respect their choices? For the past few decades, untold millions of state and federal dollars have been devoted to recruiting young women into engineering and computer technology. It hasn’t worked. The percent of degrees awarded to women in fields like computer science and engineering has either stagnated or significantly decreased since 2000. (According to Department of Education data, in 2000, women earned 19 percent of engineering BA’s, and 28 percent in computer science; by 2011, only 17 percent of engineering degrees were awarded to females, and the percent of female computer science degrees had dropped to 18.) All evidence suggests that though young women have the talent for engineering and computer science, their interest tends to lie elsewhere. To say that these women remain helplessly in thrall to sexist stereotypes, and manipulated into life choices by forces beyond their control, is divorced from reality—and demeaning to boot. If a woman wants to be a teacher rather than a miner, or a veterinarian rather than a petroleum engineer, more power to her.
The White House should stop using women’s choices to construct a false claim about social inequality that is poisoning our gender debates. And if the President is truly persuaded that statistical pay disparities indicate invidious discrimination, then he should address the wage gap in his own backyard. Female staff at the White House earn 88 cents on the dollar compared to men. Is there a White House war on women?
Christina Hoff Sommers is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. She is author of The War Against Boysand Freedom Feminism: Its Surprising History–and Why it Matters. Follow her on Twitter @Chsommers
ORIGINAL SOURCE ARTICLE
BY LESLEY CLARK
McClatchy Washington BureauJanuary 29, 2014 Updated 15 hours ago
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama calls it “wrong” and an “embarrassment” that women make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes, saying women deserve equal pay for equal work.
“At a time when women make up about half of the workforce, but still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns – we’ve got to finish the job and give women the tools they need to fight for equal pay,” Obama said Wednesday in Maryland, calling for an end to “workplace policies that belong in a ‘Mad Men’ episode.” His remarks echoed what he said the night before in his State of the Union address, and which he’s said before, always to applause.
But a McClatchy review of White House salaries shows that when the same calculations that produced the 77 cents is applied to the White House, the average female pay at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is less than the average male pay. When counted the same way that produced the 77-cent figure, the analysis found, women overall at the White House make 91 cents for every dollar men make. That’s an average salary of $84,082 for men and $76,516 for women.
Asked about its own payroll, the White House said Wednesday that it should be measured by how it pays men and women in the same jobs, but not the kind of broad brush that compares overall male and female pay.
White House aides said that overwhelmingly, the president’s employees with the same position make the same money: all press assistants make $42,000 regardless of gender; most presidential assistants, including Press Secretary Jay Carney and Lisa Monaco, Obama’s counterterrorism adviser, make $172,200.
The 77-cent figure – which Obama used on the campaign trail in 2012 – stems from a 2011 report by the U.S. Census Bureau that found that in 2010, females overall made 77 percent of what males made. That means all workers regardless of what jobs they hold – not one worker in one particular job compared with another worker in the same job.
Obama didn’t make the distinction in his State of the Union speech or in remarks Wednesday as he celebrated the fifth anniversary of the first bill he signed into law, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which he said helps protect a woman’s right to fair pay.
The White House has supported a Democratic-sponsored Paycheck Fairness Act, which would require businesses to show that wage discrepancies between men and women are not based on gender. It also bans retaliation against workers who reveal their wages. Republicans have opposed it as a show vote aimed at making them look anti-women.
White House spokesman Eric Schultz said equal pay legislation calls for equal pay for equal work.
“That’s what we have at the White House,” he said. “Men and women in equivalent roles earn equivalent salaries.”
He noted two deputy chiefs of staff – one man and one woman – make the same salary. And he said 16 department heads – over half of whom are women – make the same salary.
The Republican National Committee noted the disparity in Obama’s remarks, pointing to a 2013 American Enterprise Institute study that found a pay gap of 13 percent, using the same White House data that McClatchy used. The data, which the White House has been required to deliver to Congress since 1995, includes the title and salary of every White House Office employee. It includes more than 400 employees, including administration officials who work at the Office of Policy Development, including the Domestic Policy Council and the National Economic Council – along with White House Office employees.
“It’s interesting, though, that for all his talk, President Obama allows his White House to pay women less than men,” wrote Sarah Isgur Flores, the RNC’s deputy communications director. “Last night, President Obama told Congress, ‘Women deserve equal pay for equal work,’ and then he headed back to the White House where women don’t receive equal pay.”
Anne York, who studies gender equality in the workplace as an associate professor at Meredith College School of Business in Raleigh, N.C., said the 77-cent pay disparity figure masks a variety of factors as to why women – on average – don’t make as much as men.
“We have no definitive answers, but a lot of reasons,” York said. Whether by tradition or personal choice, women often seek lower-paying occupations than men – say, home health aide vs. neurosurgeon – and often trade earnings for flexibility at work, York said.
“We’re past the days of blatant discrimination, we’re past the ‘Mad Men’ days, but we’re not there yet,” York said.
Some studies show that pay for men and women in their 20s is at parity, Young said, but that gaps emerge as women move into motherhood.
“Companies aren’t off the hook that make it difficult for anyone to have work-life balance,” she said. “But there’s a lot of societal views that are still influential.”
DANIEL WHITE AND DANNY DOUGHERTY OF THE WASHINGTON BUREAU CONTRIBUTED TO THIS REPORT.
Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/01/29/216301/how-does-obama-stack-up-on-womens.html#storylink=cpy
"Even feminist Hanna Rosin dismissed this metric last August, also concluding that the actual difference is (a) much smaller, and (b) due to “rational choices” made by women:
The official Bureau of Labor Department statistics show that the median earnings of full-time female workers is 77 percent of the median earnings of full-time male workers. But that is very different than “77 cents on the dollar for doing the same work as men.” The latter gives the impression that a man and a woman standing next to each other doing the same job for the same number of hours get paid different salaries. That’s not at all the case. “Full time” officially means 35 hours, but men work more hours than women. That’s the first problem: We could be comparing men working 40 hours to women working 35. …
Economists Francine Blau and Lawrence Kahn did that in a recent paper, “The Gender Pay Gap.”.”They first accounted for education and experience. That didn’t shift the gap very much, because women generally have at least as much and usually more education than men, and since the 1980s they have been gaining the experience. The fact that men are more likely to be in unions and have their salaries protected accounts for about 4 percent of the gap. The big differences are in occupation and industry. Women congregate in different professions than men do, and the largely male professions tend to be higher-paying. If you account for those differences, and then compare a woman and a man doing the same job, the pay gap narrows to 91 percent. So, you could accurately say in that Obama ad that, “women get paid 91 cents on the dollar for doing the same work as men.”
The point here is not that there is no wage inequality. But by focusing our outrage into a tidy, misleading statistic we’ve missed the actual challenges. It would in fact be much simpler if the problem were rank sexism and all you had to do was enlighten the nation’s bosses or throw the Equal Pay Act at them. But the 91 percent statistic suggests a much more complicated set of problems. Is it that women are choosing lower-paying professions or that our country values women’s professions less? And why do women work fewer hours? Is this all discrimination or, as economist Claudia Goldin likes to say, also a result of “rational choices” women make about how they want to conduct their lives."
Gender wage gap at the White House: Female staffers are paid less than 87 cents for every dollar paid to men
ORIGINAL SOURCE ARTICLE
Last month, President Obama proclaimed August 26, 2013, as Women’s Equality Day and called upon Americans to celebrate the achievements of women and promote gender equality, here’s an excerpt of his presidential proclamation:
From the beginning, my Administration has been committed to advancing the historic march toward gender equality. We have fought for equal pay, prohibited gender discrimination in America’s healthcare system, and established the White House Council on Women and Girls, which works to ensure fair treatment in all matters of public policy.
Yet we have more work to do. A fair deal for women is essential to a thriving middle class, but while women graduate college at higher rates than men, they still make less money after graduation and often have fewer opportunities to enter well-paid occupations or receive promotions. On average, women are paid 77 cents for every dollar paid to men. That is why the first bill I signed was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. It is also why I established the National Equal Pay Task Force, which is cracking down on equal pay violations at a record rate. And it is why I issued a Presidential Memorandum calling for a Government-wide strategy to close any gender pay gap within the Federal workforce. To build on this work, I will continue to urge the Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that would strengthen the Equal Pay Act and give women more tools to challenge unequal wages. My Administration will also continue our campaign to engage women and girls in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers, and we will broaden our efforts to empower women and girls around the world.
As we reflect with pride on decades of progress toward gender equality, we must also resolve to make progress in our time. Today, we honor the pioneers of women’s equality by doing our part to realize that great American dream — the dream of a Nation where all things are possible for all people.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim August 26, 2013, as Women’s Equality Day. I call upon the people of the United States to celebrate the achievements of women and promote gender equality in our country.
MP: I hereby call upon President Obama to promote gender equality by addressing a serious gender wage gap for women working on his staff at the White House. According to an analysis of salary data from the “2013 Annual Report to Congress on White House Staff,” the 228 female employees in the Obama White House are being paid a median annual salary of $65,000, compared to a median annual salary of nearly $75,000 for the 231 male White House staffers (see chart above). In other words, females working in the Obama White House are paid less than 87 cents for every dollar paid to male staffers, and there is therefore asignificant White House “gender pay gap” of more than 13%.
Because women working at Obama’s White House earn less than men on average, they must unfortunately work much longer for the same amount of pay. Female White House staffers will have to work about 8 additional weeks into 2014 on average to earn the same income that the average man earned working at White House in 2013. In the tradition of the National Committee on Pay Equity (and endorsed by President Obama in this Presidential Proclamation) I hereby proclaim that the next White House Equal Pay Day will take place on about February 28, 2014. That date symbolizes how far into the year 2014 female White House staffers will have to work to earn what their male counterparts earned in 2013. By creating the White House Equal Pay Day, we can recognize the injustice of the gender wage gap at the White House by marking how far into each new year female White House staffers have to work just to make what men did in the previous one.
As President Obama reminds us, “we have more work to do” on the historic march toward full gender equality. Addressing and closing the significant gender wage gap of more than 13% at the White House might be a good place for the President to start some of that unfinished work.
by Thomas Sowell
In Economic Facts and Fallacies, Thomas Sowell exposes some of the most popular fallacies about economic issues in a lively manner that does not require any prior knowledge of economics. These fallacies include many beliefs widely disseminated in the media and by politicians, such as fallacies about urban problems, income differences, male-female economic differences, as well as economic fallacies about academia, about race, and about Third World countries.Sowell shows that fallacies are not simply crazy ideas but in fact have a certain plausibility that gives them their staying power-and makes careful examination of their flaws both necessary and important.
The Gender Wage Gap Lie: You know that “women make 77 cents to every man’s dollar” line you’ve heard a hundred times? It’s not true.
How many times have you heard that “women are paid 77 cents on the dollar for doing the same work as men”? Barack Obama said it during his last campaign. Women’s groups say it every April 9, which is Equal Pay Day. In preparation for Labor Day, a group protesting outside Macy’s this week repeated it, too, holding up signs and sending out press releases saying “women make $.77 to every dollar men make on the job.” I’ve heard the line enough times that I feel the need to set the record straight: It’s not true.
HANNA ROSINHanna Rosin is the founder ofDoubleX and a writer for theAtlantic. She is also the author of The End of Men. Follow her on Twitter.
How to get a more accurate measure? First, instead of comparing annual wages, start by comparing average weekly wages. This is considered a slightly more accurate measure because it eliminates variables like time off during the year or annual bonuses (and yes, men get higher bonuses, but let’s shelve that for a moment in our quest for a pure wage gap number). By this measure, women earn 81 percent of what men earn, although it varies widely by race. African-American women, for example, earn 94 percent of what African-American men earn in a typical week. Then, when you restrict the comparison to men and women working 40 hours a week, the gapnarrows to 87 percent.
But we’re still not close to measuring women “doing the same work as men.” For that, we’d have to adjust for many other factors that go into determining salary. Economists Francine Blau and Lawrence Kahn did that in a recent paper, “The Gender Pay Gap.”.”They first accounted for education and experience. That didn’t shift the gap very much, because women generally have at least as much and usually more education than men, and since the 1980s they have been gaining the experience. The fact that men are more likely to be in unions and have their salaries protected accounts for about 4 percent of the gap. The big differences are in occupation and industry. Women congregate in different professions than men do, and the largely male professions tend to be higher-paying. If you account for those differences, and then compare a woman and a man doing the same job, the pay gap narrows to 91 percent. So, you could accurately say in that Obama ad that, “women get paid 91 cents on the dollar for doing the same work as men.”
The point here is not that there is no wage inequality. But by focusing our outrage into a tidy, misleading statistic we’ve missed the actual challenges. It would in fact be much simpler if the problem were rank sexism and all you had to do was enlighten the nation’s bosses or throw the Equal Pay Act at them. But the 91 percent statistic suggests a much more complicated set of problems. Is it that women are choosing lower-paying professions or that our country values women’s professions less? And why do women work fewer hours? Is this all discrimination or, as economist Claudia Goldin likes to say, also a result of “rational choices” women make about how they want to conduct their lives.
Goldin and Lawrence Katz have done about as close to an apples-to-apples comparison of men’s and women’s wages as exists. (They talk about it here in a Freakonomics discussion.) They tracked male and female MBAs graduating from the University of Chicago from 1990 to 2006. First they controlled for previous job experience, GPA, chosen profession, business-school course and job title. Right out of school, they found only a tiny differential in salary between men and women, which might be because of a little bit of lingering discrimination or because women are worse at negotiating starting salaries. But 10 to 15 years later, the gap widens to 40 percent, almost all of which is due to career interruptions and fewer hours. The gap is even wider for women business school graduates who marry very high earners. (Note: Never marry a rich man).
If this midcareer gap is due to discrimination, it’s much deeper than “male boss looks at female hire and decides she is worth less, and then pats her male colleague on the back and slips him a bonus.” It’s the deeper, more systemic discrimination of inadequate family-leave policies and childcare options, of women defaulting to being the caretakers. Or of women deciding that are suited to be nurses and teachers but not doctors. And in that more complicated discussion, you have to leave room at least for the option of choice—that women just don’t want to work the same way men do.
ORIGINAL ARTICLE HERE
By Dean Kalahar
We constantly hear that discrimination and exploitation force women to make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. It's time to end the wage gap myth with a dose of common sense economics.
First of all, the wage gap is based on inappropriate use of data and statistical analysis. In the U.S. the 77% number is calculated by looking at the median yearly earnings of women to men. The median is defined as the middle value of all the wages in a given sample. Using the median is useful if we are comparing winter temperatures between New York and Tampa, where one dimensional data has validity, but applying it to humans that have free will and biological differences proves nothing except that demagoguery works.
Is the median wage lower for women? Absolutely it is, but the statistic is not an apples to apples, job for job comparison and thus has nothing to do with "paying women less than a man for doing the same job." Using the median without taking into consideration specifics of individuals in the workplace is intentionally misleading or ignorant.
So what causes the variation in pay? Personal and workplace choices account for much of the gap. Labor Department research shows that men choose more dangerous and high stress jobs. Men choose higher paying career fields. And men hold more full time jobs, work longer hours, weekends, and nights than women. All these factors lead to higher wages regardless of gender.
Stanford economist Thomas Sowell shows that "women are typically not educated as often in such highly paid fields as mathematics, science, and engineering, nor attracted to physically taxing and well paid fields as construction work, lumberjacking, coal mining and the like." All these factors create differences in pay that have nothing to do with the exploitation of women.
Maybe the biggest reason is biology. Women make up 50% of the workforce but give birth to 100% of the babies. And if women choose to have children, their incentives change and this affects their choices of jobs, careers, continual service and hours spent on the job. TheNew York Times reported that among Yale alumni in their forties, only 56 percent of the women still worked, compared with 90% of the men. It goes without saying that traditionally men do not face the same incentives of biology and child rearing as women.
When these variables are included to the unadjusted 23 cent wage gap difference, the gap falls to 5-7 cents; according to a 2010 study by The United States Congress Joint Economic Committee's Comprehensive Review of Women in the U.S. Economy. Thomas Sowell concurs, showing that "Women who remain single earn 91 percent of the income of men who remain single, in the age bracket from 25 to 64 years old." And what's left of the 5% gap is bridged by systemic socio-cultural factors, not by intentional causation based on discrimination.
If we actually compare apples to apples in the workforce, the facts will disturb those who are married to the vision of female victimization. According to Marty Nemko and data compiled from the Census Bureau, unmarried women who've never had a child actually earn more than unmarried men. In a 2010 study of single childless urban workers between the ages of 22 and 30, Reach Advisors found that women earned an average of 8% more than their male counterparts. And according to the Labor Department, "of men and women who work 30 to 34 hours a week, women make more, 109 percent of men's earnings."
Sowell backs up these findings, "comparing never-married women and men who are past the child-bearing years and who both work full-time in the twenty-first century shows women of this description earning more than men of the same description."
Basic economics tells us that it makes no sense for an employer to pay a man more than a woman, if they can get the same productivity out of hiring the woman; unless the employer likes discrimination more than profits. To believe that women are paid 75 percent of what men receive for doing the same work is to believe employers can afford to pay 3 male workers the same as they pay 4 female workers that would produce 25 percent more output, and stay competitive in a economy that sees most businesses last less than ten years.
Even prior to all the hand wringing about pay inequality, free markets proved there was no pay discrimination. Sowell's research shows that single women in 1971 who had worked continuously since high school earning slightly more than men of the same description. This fact was conveniently missed in 1972 when an executive order was signed creating affirmative action for women who were being underrepresented in the workplace.
The facts just don't add up in the wage gap argument. To say that men are paid more than women for the same job is an attempt to redefine the laws of supply, demand, profit motive, and human nature. Class, gender, and racial victimhood pay big dividends for politicians, but only if gullible, ill-informed citizens buy false rhetoric like the female wage gap.
Dean Kalahar teaches economics and psychology, and has authored three books, including Practical Economics.
There Is No Male-Female Wage GapA study of single, childless urban workers between the ages of 22 and 30 found that women earned 8% more than men.
By CARRIE LUKAS
Tuesday is Equal Pay Day—so dubbed by the National Committee for Pay Equity, which represents feminist groups including the National Organization for Women, Feminist Majority, the National Council of Women's Organizations and others. The day falls on April 12 because, according to feminist logic, women have to work that far into a calendar year before they earn what men already earned the year before.
In years past, feminist leaders marked the occasion by rallying outside the U.S. Capitol to decry the pernicious wage gap and call for government action to address systematic discrimination against women. This year will be relatively quiet. Perhaps feminists feel awkward protesting a liberal-dominated government—or perhaps they know that the recent economic downturn has exposed as ridiculous their claims that our economy is ruled by a sexist patriarchy.
The unemployment rate is consistently higher among men than among women. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 9.3% of men over the age of 16 are currently out of work. The figure for women is 8.3%. Unemployment fell for both sexes over the past year, but labor force participation (the percentage of working age people employed) also dropped. The participation rate fell more among men (to 70.4% today from 71.4% in March 2010) than women (to 58.3% from 58.8%). That means much of the improvement in unemployment numbers comes from discouraged workers—particularly male ones—giving up their job searches entirely.
Men have been hit harder by this recession because they tend to work in fields like construction, manufacturing and trucking, which are disproportionately affected by bad economic conditions. Women cluster in more insulated occupations, such as teaching, health care and service industries.
Yet if you can accept that the job choices of men and women lead to different unemployment rates, then you shouldn't be surprised by other differences—like differences in average pay.
Feminist hand-wringing about the wage gap relies on the assumption that the differences in average earnings stem from discrimination. Thus the mantra that women make only 77% of what men earn for equal work. But even a cursory review of the data proves this assumption false.
The Department of Labor's Time Use survey shows that full-time working women spend an average of 8.01 hours per day on the job, compared to 8.75 hours for full-time working men. One would expect that someone who works 9% more would also earn more. This one fact alone accounts for more than a third of the wage gap.
Choice of occupation also plays an important role in earnings. While feminists suggest that women are coerced into lower-paying job sectors, most women know that something else is often at work. Women gravitate toward jobs with fewer risks, more comfortable conditions, regular hours, more personal fulfillment and greater flexibility. Simply put, many women—not all, but enough to have a big impact on the statistics—are willing to trade higher pay for other desirable job characteristics.
Men, by contrast, often take on jobs that involve physical labor, outdoor work, overnight shifts and dangerous conditions (which is also why men suffer the overwhelming majority of injuries and deaths at the workplace). They put up with these unpleasant factors so that they can earn more.
Recent studies have shown that the wage gap shrinks—or even reverses—when relevant factors are taken into account and comparisons are made between men and women in similar circumstances. In a 2010 study of single, childless urban workers between the ages of 22 and 30, the research firm Reach Advisors found that women earned an average of 8% more than their male counterparts. Given that women are outpacing men in educational attainment, and that our economy is increasingly geared toward knowledge-based jobs, it makes sense that women's earnings are going up compared to men's.
Should we celebrate the closing of the wage gap? Certainly it's good news that women are increasingly productive workers, but women whose husbands and sons are out of work or under-employed are likely to have a different perspective. After all, many American women wish they could work less, and that they weren't the primary earners for their families.
Few Americans see the economy as a battle between the sexes. They want opportunity to abound so that men and women can find satisfying work situations that meet their unique needs. That—not a day dedicated to manufactured feminist grievances—would be something to celebrate.
Ms. Lukas is executive director of the Independent Women's Forum.
Victim Feminist Central
Christina Hoff Sommers