Those most responsible for the gender pay gap are women.
That’s the conclusion of a new study by Harvard researchers looking at data from the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. The authority is a union shop that pays employees based on seniority, not merit. A sexist boss can’t depress the wages of women. Yet female workers make just 89 cents for every dollar made by their male colleagues.
The researchers used “confidential administrative data” to dig deeper. They found “the weekly earnings gap can be explained by the workplace choices that women and men make. Women value time away from work and flexibility more than men.” Women were more likely to take unpaid leave for family issues and worked fewer overtime hours than men.
Women didn’t make the wrong choice, and neither did men. They just made different choices.
The Harvard study is one of many to show that the gender pay gap is overwhelmingly, if not entirely, the result of choices individuals make. Women are more likely to work at nonprofits, major in a low-paying degree field and avoid dangerous jobs, which pay a wage premium. Then there’s having children, which is one of the biggest reasons female earnings drop. That’s the case even in Scandinavian countries, whose governments mandate paid family leave.
Gender discrimination is wrong. It’s also been illegal for more than 50 years.
Women are freely choosing to prioritize family over the rat race. Modern feminists view the results as evidence of rampant sexism and discrimination rather than proof that there are inherent differences between the sexes. Their solution is for women to act like men — climb that career ladder and you’ll be happy. It doesn’t always work that way.
A woman named Jennifer called into the Dennis Prager show recently. Her feminist mother told her to find fulfillment in making money. She is single, has four college degrees and makes “adequate money.” But now she believes “feminism is a lie.”
“I want to tell women in their 20s: Do not follow the path that I followed,” she said. “You are leading yourself to a life of loneliness,”
Writing into The Cut’s advice columnist, a 35-year-old single woman bemoaned her decision to live an “exploratory” lifestyle instead of getting married and having kids. “I used to think I was the one who had it all figured out,” she said. “Adventurous life in the city! Traveling the world! Making memories! Now I feel incredibly hollow. And foolish.”
Citing his experience as a psychologist, author Jordan Peterson found that most “high-caliber women decide in their 30s that relationship and family is the most important thing in their life.” In part, these choices stem from a key biological difference between men and women — fertility. More than 90 percent of Americans have or want children, according to Gallup. However, no government mandate can slow down a woman’s biological clock.
Telling women to act like men may shrink the pay gap, but it won’t necessarily make them happy.
Victor Joecks’ column appears in the Opinion section each Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Listen to him discuss his columns each Monday at 9 a.m. with Kevin Wall on 790 Talk Now. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.