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Is the Gender Wage Gap Fact or Fiction?

Does+a+woman+really+make+79+cents+to+each+man%27s+dollar%3F
Does a woman really make 79 cents to each man's dollar?

Does a woman really make 79 cents to each man's dollar?

Does a woman really make 79 cents to each man's dollar?

Aaron Patashnik, Staff Writer

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When only using the average annual salaries of both men and women in 2016 to calculate the gender wage gap, women make 79 cents to the dollar. However, when considering the weekly earnings between genders, it becomes 81-82 cents per dollar. Further, look at hourly wages, excluding salaried workers and including part-time, and the gap shrinks even more to 86 cents (a 14 percent gap). This is without taking into consideration any other factors that may impact the numbers, including what careers men and women go into, whether they look for jobs with more flexible hours, differences in education and job tenure or jobs that give more benefits rather than higher wages. According to a 2014 Daily Beast article written by Christina Hoff Sommers, when those factors are accounted for, the gap, depending on the algorithm, shrinks to about 95 cents to the dollar.

Before this article goes any further, first a disclaimer:

THERE IS A WAGE GAP BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN.

With that, it is an incredibly complex idea that cannot be truly simplified into one number. The sheer amount of variables that would go into the equation make it near impossible to determine. But one thing is certain: the idea that a women makes 79 percent of what a man makes is misleading as the context must be considered as well.

For years now, we have heard the cries from people all around the world, calling for equality in the workplace. These may be people who have suffered from discrimination in their personal lives at work and now they want justice for all.  Maybe they have just learned about the famous number, 79 cents, believing the data wholeheartedly and therefore not researching any further. Even President Obama has used the untrustworthy data. In his State of the Union Address in 2014, he claimed that “today, women make up about half our workforce, but they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.” While our president has since stopped using specific numbers to define the gap, millions of Americans heard and accepted the statistic. The intention was clear in that he proved an important truth about women facing inequality at their jobs. However, while likely unintentional, Obama misled millions of Americans into accepting a fact that does not accurately represent the true extent of discrimination that women face in the workplace.

There are also people all the way on the other side of spectrum who say that the wage gap does not exist at all. They believe that none of the gap is due to discrimination, and that the supposed gap is based solely on the different life choices that men and women make. Included in these choices are getting married and having children. Some go so far as to say that, once all of the variables are considered, the average woman actually makes more money than their male counterpart does. While it sounds ludicrous, there may actually be some truth to that, at least among people in their 20s. A Press Association study that took data from the Office for National Statistics between 2006 and 2013 found that until they begin to hit their 30s, women are the biggest breadwinners. Most of these young women are not affected by family yet, and therefore lead similar lifestyles to men, allowing for equal pay between genders. It is once they start families that the gap widens, when the factors mentioned previously come to the forefront.

For the wage gap, sexism and all inequality in America to truly end, everyone needs to stop taking what they hear at face value and stop assuming that it is the entire story.”

The difference between the fields of work that men and women each enter into is potentially the largest reason for the exaggerated wage gap. The simple fact is that women typically enter careers that pay less than the careers that men choose. In fact, in a recent Georgetown University study, it was found that nine out of 10 of college majors which led to the highest paid professions, such as various types of engineering, were dominated by men. Pharmaceutical Science and Administration were the only high paying majors where women were the majority, at 52 percent. Conversely, nine out of 10 of the majors that led to the lowest paid occupations were more popular among women. Included in these careers were early education, social work and the performing arts, with the exception of a religious vocation.

Some would say the above disparity is because women are being pressured by society into working at these lower paying jobs as opposed to the more lucrative STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) jobs that men typically dominate. Another theory is that when women attempt to enter into the latter field, they face discrimination in their interviews. This has also been disproven. A study from the Institute for Women in Science at Cornell concluded that women actually are more than twice as likely to be chosen for jobs in the STEM fields over equally qualified men. After looking at all of this data, it seems as if women are not being dissuaded from the aforementioned STEM jobs because of their gender; it may simply be that that they are not as interested in those fields. The fact that they will be paid less for other professions is a sacrifice they are willing to make.  One thing seems clear: the jobs pursued by men and women are not controlled by the money they could make, but by their own pursuits of happiness.

When one first looks at the inflated wage gap of 79 cents to the dollar, it seems as if the gap will take upwards of five decades to close. If this were true, it would be understandable that all of our efforts should be directed towards solving this major problem because  without a doubt equal opportunity is something that everyone deserves. But, once one carefully looks at all of the facts before them, it suddenly becomes clear that all of America is not apart of some massive conspiracy against women in the workforce.

And yet, America has not fully conquered sexism. This prejudice is why at some workplaces, there is a large pay gap between genders. However these are few and far between. The vast majority of people believe that men and women should be considered equal in the workplace as long as they are equally qualified. For the wage gap, sexism and all inequality in America to truly end, everyone needs to stop taking what they hear at face value and stop assuming that it is the entire story. Moving away from the misleading idea that a woman is paid 79 cents for every man’s dollar is certainly a good place to start.

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4 Comments

4 Responses to “Is the Gender Wage Gap Fact or Fiction?”

  1. Anonymous on December 6th, 2016 10:26 am

    Wow u would

     

    [Reply]

  2. Andrew Patashnik on December 6th, 2016 11:19 am

    Very informative article and very well written. I’m glad that both sides of the argument are out there in this school.

     

    [Reply]

  3. Vanessa Salman on February 22nd, 2017 12:00 pm

    Excellent article! Thank you for recognizing the multiple factors that go into this issue. You are indeed correct, the “famous” numbers (77 cents/79 cents) being touted do not address WHY the gap exists. Great job!

     

    [Reply]

    adviser Reply:

    Means a lot coming from a former EIC!

     

    [Reply]

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Is the Gender Wage Gap Fact or Fiction?