The people most responsible for the much-hyped gender pay gap are women.
Tuesday was Equal Pay Day, a chance for liberals to lament that women in America make only 80 cents — or 81 cents in Nevada — for every dollar a male makes. Activists say a woman has to work more than 15 months to make as much as a man did in 2017. The hyper-liberal National Partnership for Women and Families calculates this by comparing the median annual earnings of men and women working full-time.
Democrats and the national mainstream media take this as proof positive that America is full of widespread sexism. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto spent the day tweeting about “how absurd it is that the gender pay gap still exists. We will not tolerate blatant discrimination against women.”
Good news. We don’t tolerate blatant discrimination against women. Congress banned wage discrimination based on gender — in 1963. The 20 percent, mythical wage gap is a statistical deception derived from an aggregate total of all male and female workers, without regard to education, experience or profession. It fails to reflect the many factors that explain compensation differences between male and female employees.
It starts with education. Women earn more associate, bachelor and graduate degrees than men do, but they earn them in far different fields. Men account for 80 percent of the graduates in the seven highest-earning degree fields. These are fields such as computer science and electrical engineering. Of the top 20 highest-earning college majors, women make up a majority of the graduates in just one — nursing.
In contrast, women dominate the 10 majors in which graduates can expect to earn the least. Men are a majority in just one. These are majors such as early education, 97 percent female; social work, 88 percent female; and studio arts, 66 percent female.
Then there are differences in the jobs themselves. Men are more likely to go into dangerous jobs, where employers have to pay workers more to compensate them for the risk. Andrew Biggs and Mark Perry with the American Enterprise Institute found that men make up 94 percent of the workers in the 20 jobs with the highest death rates. Overall, 92.5 percent of workers who die on the job are men. Funny that you never hear anyone talk about the gender death gap in the workplace.
Women, on the other hand, dominate the nonprofit sector. Nonprofits tend to pay less but attract employees by allowing them to work for causes they support. Seventy percent of nonprofit workers are female.
There are other differences. Men tend to work more hours and have longer commutes. Then there’s the biggest difference of all — motherhood. News flash: Only women bear children. Many mothers value time with their kids over working full-time. Some drop out of the labor force for a few years, returning with less experience. Biggs found that among workers between 43 and 51, men had an average of two years more work experience than women.
A 2009 Department of Labor study on the wage gap found 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. Indeed, there may be nothing to correct. The differences in raw wages may be almost entirely the result of the individual choices being made by both male and female workers.”
This isn’t to claim that individual instances of gender discrimination don’t exist. They do, but the data show that such bias isn’t widespread. What is widespread are the differences in choices men and women make when it comes to education, risk tolerance and prioritizing family over professional advancement.
The prevalence of these differences leads to the conclusion many leftists want to avoid most of all: Men and women earn different amounts because men and women are different.
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.