Is The Gender Pay Gap Real?

By Staff 1 year ago

Narrative: Women make 80% of what men make

Working the same job, women are, on average, paid 80 cents for every dollar that a man earns. This disparity is caused by sexism, be it individual or systemic.

Supporting Narrative: Men and Women Make choices due to societal pressure (false)

This Narrative is false because dividing the average earnings for all women by the average earnings for all men ignores the fact that men and women are different and make different choices.

Women make different choices

Globally, women and men make different career choices. In fact, women choose stereotypically "feminine" jobs more often when given more choice.

These choices affect womens pay, not misogyny

Women choose to stay home with children, work fewer hours, or pursue lower paying jobs because they want to.

Adjusted for the choices made by individuals The pay gap disappears almost entirely.

The 70's Feminism mantra "Same job same employee means equal pay for men and women" has been achieved. Misogyny and male chauvanism are not affecting womens' career paths to a significant degree.

Credit: PayScale


A Deeper Look

The claim that women make about 80 cents for every dollar a man earns is a claim known colloquially as the “wage gap.” This claim is made frequently by major news outlets such as The New York Times, Vox, etc., and even former president Barack Obama stated this as fact.

The message is that men and women are getting paid differently for doing the same work, substantially favoring men. Proponents of the wage gap claim that this discrepancy between men and women must therefore be due to sexism, because men and women are inherently the same and therefore would make the same decisions given the opportunity.

However, this narrative is supported by dividing the average earnings of a woman by the average earnings of a man. Simply averaging across all jobs and professions is not a robust method for demonstrating systemic sexism, because it does not control for any relevant variables. There are many factors, such as the type of job, hours worked, personal preference, etc., that need to be accounted for before discrimination can be considered the central, or even peripheral, driving force of the wage gap.

The gender wage gap can be explained largely by labor markets, the jobs women vs men tend to gravitate to, the number of hours they are willing to work, time off for child-rearing, and willingness to negotiate, rather than overt or implicit discrimination against women. In fact, when you control for demographics, job, education, background and work experience, the gender wage gap almost entirely disappears. An analysis of wages by PayScale found that when you control for these factors, the wage gap shrinks to just 2 cents.

The narrative's proponents may then take the "systemic" route, claiming that since men and women have the same brains and therefore make the same decisions, that systemic sexism is pressuring women into stereotypical roles which include lower paying jobs.


On Male and Female Brains:

The "Systemic misogyny" argument supporting the validity of the paygap surrounds the idea that women and men are the same, and women are only making lower paying choices du to pressure to do so, not for some innate differences between the sexes. But is it true that there is no such thing as a male and/or female brain?

The issue with most studies concluding that male and female brains don’t exist is methodological in nature. Authors often analyze sex differences one trait at a time (i.e. using univariate analyses). But not all complex natural phenomena — such as male and female brains — can be accurately described by comparing single variables one at a time. Instead, some phenomena are best captured by the correlational structure between many variables (i.e. using multivariate analyses).

The insistence that categories must be cleanly separable and reducible to a single essential factor in order for them to be considered real or “natural” categories is known as the univariate fallacy.

Jonathan Rosenblatt demonstrated that using only two variables, each exhibiting substantial overlap, that “a simple multivariate analysis using the same data suggests the opposite: Brains are indeed typically male or typically female” (see figure below).

In another response paper, Checkroud et al , using different data but again only two variables, were able to distinguish between male and female brains with 93-95 percent accuracy and concluded that “multivariate analyses of whole-brain patterns in brain morphometry can reliably discriminate sex.”

Five other studies conclude similarly.1 2 3 4 5

While male and female brain differences cannot be reduced down to a single binary factor, the claim “there is no such thing as a male and/or female brain” is misleading and the result of applying overly simplistic univariate statistics to a complex multivariate phenomenon. Men and women have substantially different brains - but does that mean they make innately different decisions, independent of their society?

On Male and Female Decisions

Gijsbert Stoet and David C. Geary’s study, The Gender-Equality Paradox in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education, demonstrates that, in countries with less gender equality, women pursue STEM education more often. This graph tells the story quite well:

What could explain this? Armin Falk and Johannes Hermle provide some plausible answers in their paper “Relationship of gender differences in preferences to economic development and gender equality.” Comparing survey results from 80,000 individuals across 76 countries, they find that more wealthy and equal countries produce larger gaps in gendered behavior. They conclude that “the critical role of availability of material and social resources, as well as gender-equal access to these resources, in facilitating the independent formation and expression of gender-specific preferences.” In other words: men and women behave more stereotypically when they have the ability to, and women, equally capable of performing work in STEM, are much more likely to choose it only when they need to (because resources are scarce and STEM jobs pay more).

The Takeaway

The apparent gender wage gap that most people reference is actually a mirage caused by a failure to account for a multitude of relevant variables to one’s pay. Men and women have on average different job preferences, choose to work fewer hours, and often drop out of the workforce altogether to raise children. Any demonstration of sexism will have to include these relevant variables. And, when those variables are included, the purported gender wage gap nearly vanishes.

They gender pay gap narrative fails because:

  1. Given the same job and the same employer, women get paid approximately the same as men.
  2. Since multiple studies have shown rather conclusively that men and women have different brains, it is unreasonable to assume they would think the same way about everything. Therefore the presumption that the choices to stay home, etc are purely due to societal pressures is very unlikely to be true
  3. Globally, women in general take STEM jobs because they need to, and not because they want to. Therefore, the idea that women are vying away from higher paying jobs because of systemic sexism has no support.

So why would activists and the media continue to perpetuate the myth of the gender wage gap if it doesn’t really exist? Because it fits in with the pre-existing narrative that the world is inherently sexist. They believe in the wage gap because they believe in systemic sexism.

What do you think? Bring your data and let's discuss!

Why do you think the myth of the "Gender Pay Gap" persists?

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Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of this website or its members.

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Friends of ours are both attorneys, but he makes nearly three times what she does. Of course, he works for a law firm, while she is the legal counsel for a non-profit. In fact, nearly the entire staff at the non-profit are women, which is often true of these organizations.


I agree with you. The wage gap has been debunked by many. I did work in production for a time. Men and women working side by side. The was equal for all. If women would work for less then there would have only been women working.


All of the above!