weather icon Mostly Cloudy

Want to empower women? Stop talking about gender pay gap

If you want to empower women, stop talking about the mythical gender pay gap.

So-called Equal Pay Day was last week. Democrats and their media allies spent the day decrying that women earn 80 cents for every dollar men earn. But that’s an aggregate figure — based on total earnings for all female and male full-time workers, regardless of profession — purposely designed to mislead.

Yes, a man and a woman with equivalent experience in the same job should be similarly compensated — and when you control for these factors, the disparity shrinks significantly. The pay gap is actually the result of choices individual women make — including college majors, working in nonprofits and prioritizing family.

It’s important to understand how the left is twisting numbers for political purposes, but it’s also vital to rebut the destructive message they’re sending.

The subtext of Equal Pay Day is that women can’t. No matter how hard women work, no matter how smart they are, no matter their choices, women can’t earn as much as men. Try your hardest, sister, but your gender will keep you down.

Remember when feminism was about empowering women? One simple way for a woman to boost her lifetime earnings is by changing her major from performing arts to engineering. The theme of Equal Pay Day is “Why bother? Your personal choices are less important than the systematic oppression under which you’re suffering.”

Female disillusionment isn’t just an unfortunate side effect of these efforts. It’s the main point. Democrats want to turn discouragement into anger that they can use to boost their electoral chances. It’d be one thing if Democrats had a plan to solve this “crisis.” They don’t.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Giunchigliani tweeted that she wants to “take strong measures to end the gender pay gap in Nevada.”

“I’m working in partnership with UNLV to have (Clark) County participate in their Gender Equality in the Workplace Survey,” said Giunchigliani in a statement. “In addition to this, I would explore establishing an Equal Pay hot line similar to Illinois’.”

There’s a statewide conspiracy systematically robbing women of billions of dollars, and your “strong measures” include a survey and a phone number?

At least she’s trying. Her Democratic gubernatorial opponent Steve Sisolak tweeted that he’d do “everything I can to end the gender pay gap.” His campaign refused a request to provide even a single policy idea.

The obvious thing to do is to ban gender-based wage discrimination. But Congress did that — in 1963. This means the equal pay folks are contending that, for the past 55 years, tens of millions of employers, including tens of millions of women, have broken the law by paying females 20 percent less than males. This conspiracy is so vast that not one of these greedy capitalist pigs was willing to pay top-performing women 90 cents on the dollar and crush his or her competitors.

Cue “The X-Files” theme. Liberals are pushing the greatest conspiracy of all time.

There’s a better message to send your daughter, wife, sister or mother: You live in America during a time of unprecedented opportunity for women. The greatest influence on your life and career is you. What you study, where you live and how hard you work matter, and you get to make those choices. If you don’t think you’re paid enough, you have the ability to ask for a raise or find another job.

Life isn’t fair, and for some people that could include a sexist boss. Take legal action if appropriate, but don’t let another’s sexism deprive you of your agency. You can find a better alternative. There’s no need to wait on a scheming politician.

If you decide that motherhood is more important than “winning” the rat race, good for you. Your beliefs and values are more important than contorting your priorities to fit some leftist talking point.

That message won’t help Democrats stir up voters, but it’s both empowering for women and true.

Listen to Victor Joecks discuss his columns each Monday at 9 a.m. with Kevin Wall on 790 Talk Now. Contact him at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.