Few topics are as buzz-worthy as that of gender income inequality. The fact of the matter is that equal pay statistics are often times misleading and after examining the statistics associated with the issue it becomes apparent that gender income inequality is nothing more than a misguided narrative.
Perhaps the most quoted statistic pertaining to the issue of equal pay is that women make 82 cents for every dollar a man makes. Now if this statistic were true it would definitely prove to be problematic and would inherently be proof of gender discrimination in the American workforce, however, this statistic is more complex than it initially appears. The study that is responsible for this 82 cent statistic was generated by examining the median salaries of men and women across the country. The study found that women working in the United States were, on average, paid 18 percent less than men who worked full time. Contrary to what many people believe, this disparity is not attributable to workplace discrimination, but rather a difference in life choices between men and women.
One of the single greatest reasons why women, on average, make less than men over a lifetime is because women often times take time off of work in order to have babies and raise a family. However, when men are faced with the same situation of raising a family they often times work longer hours in order to ensure that their family is provided for.
My family is the perfect example of this. My mom, who is an elementary school teacher, decided to take 10 years off of teaching in order to raise my brothers and I. After my youngest brother was in elementary school, she then returned to teaching. My dad, however, did the exact opposite and began to work even more when I was born in order to make sure he could provide for my family. My dad has made substantially more money than my mom over the past 18 years, not because of discrimination, but because my mom took time off of work. Now you could argue that this point is invalid since my mom and dad both work different professions and have different yearly salaries but that is exactly what is wrong with with the initial study that generated the 82 percent statistic, it does not focus on men and women in the same occupation, but rather men and women with a multitude of jobs and salaries.
Now, even when you take a look at men and women in the same profession, an income disparity can sometimes be spotted. For example, female doctors make 29% less than males. Even though it would seem that this statistic is evidence of gender inequality, it does not indicate discrimination. The reason for this is because there are a wide range of different professions that fall under the category of ‘doctor’ and each of these professions have different salaries. Men who are doctors tend to pursue higher paying jobs such as that of a cardiologist or anesthesiologist while positions like that of a pediatric doctor are dominated by women.
Another contributing factor to gender income disparity is that generally women pursue jobs that not only have more flexible hours but are also convenient and ‘mommy friendly’. Jobs that involve traveling, high stress, and danger are almost entirely populated by men simply because women usually prefer to attend to their children than to achieve higher career titles. The fact that in 2012 men accounted for 92% of workplace deaths further supports this notion.
Maternity leave and job selection aren’t the only factors that contribute to the income gap. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2014 men who worked full-time worked 8.4 hours a week compared to women who worked 7.8 hours a week. The pew research center also cites that women are more likely to work part time than men.
Furthermore, the idea that women are paid less than men for the same work proves to be problematic in an economic sense. If employers could get away with paying women 18 cents less than men for doing the exact same work then men would be all but run out of the workforce. Capitalism is gender blind and if a company can get away with paying women less for doing the same amount of work then they would never have a reason to hire another man again.
Since we have eliminated discrimination from the list of reasons why men make more than women is it possible that men are just simply more qualified than women to work? In many areas that indicate job readiness women aren’t doing as well as men, they are doing better. According to the American Psychological Association a 2014 study found that women outperform boys in every single school subject. Lead study author Daniel Voyer, PhD, elaborated on the studies findings stating that even though boys typically score higher on math and science achievement tests girls still, “have the advantage on school grades regardless of the material.” Along with girls domination of boys in school, the US Census Bureau also cites that for the first time since 1940 women are more likely to have a bachelor’s degree than men. American women are every single bit as able to contribute to the workforce as men, and in many ways women are more qualified than men. Therefore it is apparent that the gender gap is not a result of a man’s superiority to work because this superiority simply doesn’t exist.
American women are arguably the most educated and emancipated group of females in the world and in many aspects they are outperforming American men. The gender income gap is not attributable to discrimination, inequality, or the fantastical notion that men are more qualified than women to work. It is solely a result of the fact that women make different career and life choices than men. The idea that women are paid less than men for doing the same work is a fallacious narrative that discredits one of the most powerful groups of people in the world, American women.