With the official “Equal Pay Day” behind us, we have heard over and over that woman workers in America earn significantly less than men do. So much of the discussion embraces a willful ignorance of important facts and principles that it begs further insight and a deeper look.
Many writers either knowingly overstate the case for effect or simply follow the crowd in unthinking populist fervor. It is certainly true that women, as an aggregate statistical group, earn significantly less than males earn as an aggregate. For many activists, those aggregate statistics necessarily imply gross injustice and a disturbing systemic unfairness that cries for government intervention.
The question that few people seem even the slightest bit interested in asking and answering is how valid are aggregate statistics in measuring differences in populations that have vastly different compositions. There is a mountain of pertinent detail hidden under the aggregates, so let’s lift the veil a bit and discover. It’s not very difficult to understand.
There are certain career paths that earn more money that others. A waitress at a greasy spoon cannot realistically expect the earnings or benefits of plumbers, construction managers, or offshore-drilling roustabouts, but more women than men take such greasy-spoon-waitress and similar jobs, and more men take the others.
As much as class-warfare, cultural-Marxist activists resist the idea, there is much more to it than discrimination and greed, and there are real actions that women can take now to decrease the pay gap, the most important of which is to be more like men. Make the decisions, have the preferences, and make the same sacrifices that highly-paid men do.
Women who do make those choices, entering fields such as law, engineering, or architecture, and who dedicate the time and do what the job requires, earn as much as men in those fields, and earn significantly more than the average female.
Though women make up forty-six percent of the labor force, men have ninety-two percent of all job-related deaths. Another way to trim the gap is for women to take more jobs that tend to pay risk premiums. They should be mine workers and drilling-rig roustabouts instead of daycare workers or receptionists.
More women are going into STEM fields, and thus to higher earning careers, and that is much of the reason that the gap has been narrowing, but there is still a profound difference in career preferences between the sexes.
One thoughtful report on the issue was prepared by Harvard economist Claudia Goldman. It addressed various social factors and was more nuanced than others, not using the standard screechy discrimination charges.
It recognized various economic realities, yet she still refused to acknowledge the vast differences in career paths between the average man and woman, falling prey, again, to the aggregation fallacy. She assumes that work flexibility is the real problem, and that “we” need to do something about it. The goal, even in that report, is complete gender equality on an aggregate basis.
The fairly obvious fact, which the majority of people can’t seem to grasp, is that independent economic factors determine wages for job classes. Even if pay for every job was gender equal, complete gender equality on an aggregate basis is not even remotely possible without having 50/50 representation by both genders in every type of work, equalizing all physical or mental capabilities with technology.
That is neither desirable nor advantageous in free society, because it assumes interchangeability of the sexes and identical preferences. Men and women are different and will continue to be so even as society changes to accommodate new attitudes and norms, and that is a good thing.
Remember the Statistician who drowned in a lake with a mean depth of 3 feet.
Norb Leahy, Dunwoody GA Tea Party Leader