Yesterday, the Daily Collegian published an article about the “gender pay gap” being a factor for students entering the work force. The wage gap is an extremely pervasive and persistent myth that has been touted by such notable figures as former President Barack Obama as well as Hillary Clinton. A few companies, such as Audi, even dedicated millions of dollars in Super Bowl ad time to signal their displeasure at the existence of the wage gap. The problem, however, is that almost everything ever said about the wage gap is untrue.
The Collegian’s first assertation, “A study conducted by the Center in 2015 found an approximate 17-cent gender pay gap, and that women earned 83% of what their male counterparts earned,” is misleading and false. Women do not and cannot be paid less than their male counterparts. Over 50 years ago, President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act which made unequal pay between the genders illegal.
The studies cited in support of the “wage gap” are analyses of aggregate income, not of wages. For example, if a man and a woman are both working for $10 an hour and a man works for 10 hours a week and the woman works for 8 hours a week, their wage is the same, but they earn different amounts. In this case, there is no “wage gap,” but only an aggregate earnings gap.
The aggregate earnings gap between the genders can be explained by several factors, including experience, position held, education, and hours worked. There are still those who assert that systematic sexism disproportionately keeps women out of well-paying jobs. The Collegians’ claim, “possible contributing factors to the wage gap… included society itself and the idea that women are not encouraged to actively seek out higher wages,” is proven false by empirical studies. A study from Cornell University found that women in fact have a 2 to 1 hiring advantage over men in academic science, one of the highest paying and most prestigious career fields.
It is also worth mentioning that women attend college at a higher rate than men do. A recent study found that in the ‘under 30’ demographic, women earn more than men in 147 of the 150 biggest cities in the US. The different lifestyle choices men and women make has been consistently found to cause the difference in aggregate income between the genders. To be a free, independent, human being making her own decisions is all we could ever want for any woman in this country, and that is what we have now. The “wage gap” is a myth. Students who want a successful career should be aware that their lifestyle choices are what affects their income, not their gender.