The gender wage gap is a popular topic for feminists and politicians alike. The concept that women are paid less across the board is false, dangerous and disingenuous.
The wage gap is used to claim that there is systemic discrimination against women in the workplace and that women need special treatment and legislation to ensure that they get paid exactly the same amount as men. Political action is considered to be the only solution, never mind that it’s the politicians saying such things.
So where did the wage gap come from? Bad statistics, mostly. As is commonly said, there are lies, damn lies and statistics. Those with a vested interest in manipulating a population can use cleverly-arranged numbers to elicit feelings of persecution and self-righteous anger.
Explanations for the wage gap are multifaceted, one of the biggest factors being marriage and raising children. Women more often than men take time off or quit their jobs entirely when having and raising children. When looking at pay statistics for unmarried, childless women, there is no pay gap. In fact, the women make just a small amount more than men.
Men also make up more of the workforce for what are considered to be dangerous jobs. Crab fishing in Alaska, ice road trucking, oil rigs, underwater welders, men are a majority. Not to say that women don’t or can’t work a dangerous job just as well as men can, but in terms of career choice when it comes to dangerous work, men takes these jobs more often than women and consequently earn more.
Numbers have been thrown around, saying women make 75 cents on the dollar compared to men across the board for the same job, and the absurdity is unclear to most. If that were the case, men would be unemployable and it would be nearly impossible to be hired as a man. What sane manager would go out of their way to have a more expensive labor force? Why not hire all women and cut labor costs by 25 percent?
If a company decided to routinely pay women less than the men, what woman would voluntarily work at a place where every man made more than her? Even more important, if a company in the same field didn’t discriminate, women would be more willing to work for an employer offering equal pay, and that company would be able to hire the most skilled labor.
In almost any other aspect of the job market, labor working for cheap was considered to be somewhat dangerous and unwanted. Xenophobia in earlier times was in part based on the belief that immigrants working for cheap would steal jobs away from Americans. When it comes to women, however, there is zero discussion about women working for cheap stealing jobs from men because it simply isn’t the case that women get paid less than men for the same job.
Outsourcing jobs overseas occurs because overseas workers are able to be paid far less than American workers, yet there’s no outsourcing of jobs from men to women.
When single figures are used to describe the entirety of a highly complex situation, anybody should be suspicious. There is massive variation between individuals in the world, there is no way any meaningful information can be gained by taking averages of all women and all men.
The one thing worse than the actual belief that the pay gap exists is the fact that politicians attempt to go out and fix the problem. Never mind the problem doesn’t exist in the first place, people are convinced the wage gap is an issue and are convinced that only the government can solve such horrendous inequality.
Politicians campaign for female votes by promising to fight against discrimination, and employee pay becomes more and more regulated. Anti-discrimination laws arise and the lawsuits follow.
I can’t think of much worse than a politician going out of their way to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. By holding on to the misconception of systemic pay discrimination, politicians are given more power over the market by those who don’t know economics.
Progress cannot occur until real pressing matters are addressed. Getting worked up about the nonexistent boogeyman in the closet is counterproductive and a waste of energy.