First of all, if there were real wage equality, mothers would be the highest paid workers ever–they are on call 24/7, often act as family CEO’s, peacemakers, custodial staff, grounds keepers, in charge of grocery logistics, family nurse, and often hold a job outside the home as well. If there were true wage equality, mothers would make more than most company presidents.
However, in regard to President Obama’s statement on Tuesday night that “You know, today, women make up about half our workforce, but they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment.” This is simply not true.
The argument against this statement comes from three articles from people with very different political persuasions. On November 5,2012, Real Clear Politics posted an article by Dean Kalahar, on January 29, 2014, the American Spectator posted an article by Natalie deMacedo, and on January 30, 2014, Power Line posted an article by Scott Johnson.
All three articles said essentially the same thing–the figure of 77 cents on the dollar does not represent equal work–it represents the overall workplace and does not take into consideration the fact that many women work part time or that men tend to go into the higher paying professions–engineering, medicine (as doctors), etc.
What should be considered here is that women don’t always have the luxury of dedicating themselves to the high-paying corporate fast track. Women have to make a choice of priorities–motherhood versus career. While many women in lucrative careers can afford good child care, women in jobs in industries that do not pay as well often have difficult choices to make. That is not the government’s fault or the government’s responsibility–it is simply the way that things are.
Many years ago, I spent a few years working as a temporary employee. I learned a few things along the way. One of the things I learned was that pay scales in various industries vary a great deal. I have no idea why this is, but it was very obvious during the early 90’s in New England. I definitely considered that fact when I finally accepted a full-time job. It is also good to remember that a good statistician can make any given set of statistics say anything he wants them to say. The 77 cents on the dollar quote is a good example of that.
Just for the record, this is the statistic that was not cited (from the American Spectator):
Women congregate in different professions than men do, and the largely male professions tend to be higher-paying. If you account for those differences, and then compare a woman and a man doing the same job, the pay gap narrows to 91 percent. So, you could accurately say in that Obama ad that, “women get paid 91 cents on the dollar for doing the same work as men.”
Many men tend to go into science and engineering fields which generally pay more. Women who stay at home with children are factored in as earning nothing. Therefore, the 77 cent stat is a misleading one.
Rosin adds that the reason women are making less could largely depend on more complicated issues, such as maternity leave, marriage, and a lack of childcare options. Debates on those topics can be saved for another day.
Remember, any good statistician can make any given set of statistics say anything he wants them to say!