Every local media outlet, including my station, had stories Tuesday about the wage gap between men and women. According to the talking points, women in Seattle earn 73 cents for every dollar earned by men – making our region one of the worst in the country for gender pay disparity. There’s just one problem with the gender pay storyline…
It isn’t true.
The stat that is so often cited – and so oft-repeated – is based on simply calculating the median pay for women vs men based on census statistics.
The relevancy of that methodology was debunked long ago. The truth is that there are solid statistically-based reasons for that pay gap that have nothing to do with gender discrimination.
Do women earn less than men? Yes.
Are there reasons for that disparity that have nothing to do with bias? Yes.
As Julie Borowski points out, women dominate lower-paying college majors such as education, English and psychology.
Men are more likely to choose high-paying majors such as engineering and computer science.
Borowski also makes this point:
Men are also more likely to have dangerous jobs, high stress jobs, and work longer hours than women. These kinds of jobs tend to pay more. About 93 percent of all workplace fatalities are men. The Department of Labor’s Time Use Survey finds that the average full-time working man spends 8.14 hours a day on the job compared to 7.75 hours for the average full-time working woman.
To determine if gender discrimination is the sole reason for the wage gap, it’s necessary to hold all other variables constant. Believe it or not, this makes the wage gap swing the other way: males are paid less than their female counterparts, on average.
The average annual salary for a female mechanical engineer is $61,100 compared to $60,400 for males. Young, childless, single urban females earn 8 percent more than their male counterparts. Women who have never had a child earn 113 percent of what men earn.
For whatever reason – be it biological or social or cultural – women take more time off to have kids and raise families… and they gravitate to lower-paying fields. In other words, there are solid, statistically-based reasons for the so-called “pay gap.”
But the president and Patty Murray and the media will parrot this statistic – and declare that there’s a “war on women” in our city and in our country.
As the father of three daughters, I can tell you there are plenty of things to be concerned about as my girls go out into the world. This phony pay victimization is not on that list.