The idea that “women are paid less than men for the exact same work” is perhaps the foremost talking point of modern feminism. Ask any feminist for evidence that “male privilege” exists in America today and the wage gap is sure to be one of the first arguments mentioned. When I lived in San Rafael Hall two years ago I saw a poster suggesting that any man who did not care about the wage gap was not “a decent human being.” This narrative is repeated by some of the most influential people in our society, including President Obama.
There’s only one problem with the wage gap narrative: it isn’t true.
It is true that women, on average, earn 79 cents for every dollar that a man earns. But this figure does absolutely nothing to account for factors such as type of career, number of hours worked or work experience. When you take these factors into account, the gender pay gap shrinks dramatically. Although a gap still exists, there is no evidence that it is caused by discrimination, as opposed to other factors such as women’s relative unwillingness to negotiate for higher pay.
Are there legitimate questions to be explored here about how women are disadvantaged in the workplace? Absolutely. But the claim that women earn only 79 percent of what men earn “for the exact same work” is simply not true.
Gender discrimination in the workplace is an issue worth taking seriously, and we will not be able to make any headway on it by pushing blatantly false narratives that serve the political interests of the feminist movement over the truth.
On an economic level, wage discrimination makes no sense. If women are willing to do the exact same jobs as men for less pay, then why wouldn’t any rational, self-interested employer choose to hire only women? No feminist has ever been able to sufficiently answer this question.
If women are willing to do the exact same jobs as men for less pay, then why wouldn’t any rational, self-interested employer choose to hire only women?
Not only is wage discrimination pointless, but it is also already illegal. Equal pay for equal work has been the law in America since 1963.
So why do we keep hearing about all these federal “equal pay” laws? Laws like the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the proposed Paycheck Fairness Act simply make it easier to sue employers for wage discrimination. Some of Obama’s executive actions on equal pay also violate employer rights by forcing them to reveal private salary data to the government.
There exists a clear monetary interest behind these laws. We hear a lot about the pernicious influence of big corporations in politics, but trial lawyers donate big bucks to politicians as well — $120 million in the 2014 election cycle, and overwhelmingly to Democrats.
Like corporations, trial lawyers have also been known to push false narratives in the interest of profit. In fact, the fraudulent 1998 study linking vaccines to autism was funded by trial lawyers who wanted a chance to sue the pharmaceutical companies for big bucks. Similarly, equal pay laws which facilitate lawsuits are a win-win for Democrats — they allow them to appeal to women voters while keeping their trial lawyer donors happy.
Ask yourselves: if all of these equal pay laws are so effective, then why do we need so many of them? As Albert Einstein said in response to the book 100 Authors Against Einstein, “If I were wrong, then one would have been enough!” By a similar token, if the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 was such a great law, then why has the pay gap barely decreased since 2009? Why do we need yet another law now?
Ask yourselves: if all of these equal pay laws are so effective, then why do we need so many of them?
Perhaps it is time to recognize that women’s choices are one of the primary factors behind the pay gap, and these cannot be legislated.
This is not to say that women do not face any discrimination at all in the workplace. There is some evidence showing that employers are more likely to respond to male resumes than identical female ones. But this sort of hiring discrimination is a completely different phenomenon from the wage discrimination that feminists constantly claim.
While we wring our hands over the largely mythical wage gap, other equally shocking gender gaps go completely unnoticed. Men go to prison for 63 percent longer than women for the exact same crimes, but I’m still waiting for feminists to push for the “Billy Bedwetter Fair Sentencing Act” to rectify this horrible misandrist gender disparity.
Similar gaps in life expectancy, workplace injuries and suicide rates also go largely ignored because they disadvantage men and not women. Of all these gender gaps, only the wage gap has become a staple of our political discussion, because it is the only gap which fits the narrative of female oppression and male demonization.
But one of the most decent things a human being can do is to ask questions and try to learn the truth.
Advocates of the wage gap narrative might suggest that anyone who does not automatically side with them is not “a decent human being.” But one of the most decent things a human being can do is to ask questions and try to learn the truth. We should be willing to look past the black-and-white rhetoric of the “equal pay” movement and read the small print in their proposals. They might be less sound than you think, and some of them might even pose a threat to our freedoms.
Jason Garshfield hopes this article clears up confusion regarding the wage gap.