Example 1: Take two electrical engineers; both 32 years old, both in the industry at the same firm since graduating from the same college with the same
BA BS in EEE. One – not naming names here – has worked at the company the entire ten years. The other – again, not naming names – has taken about a year of parental leave, and also spent about a year working part-time while their kids were little. So between an engineer with ten years’ experience and one with in effect 8.5 years’ experience, who, all other things being equal should get paid more?
Example 2: Take two 25 year olds. One became an oilfield worker – a field involving a lot of brutally hard work, dominated by men, and with perennial shortage of workers with immense demand (especially in North Dakota), driving up wages. One went into social work – a field involving significant work, sometimes a state license, dominated by women, and a perennial glut of workers, driving down wages. With all other things equal, who should get paid more?
Example 3: Take two accountants – one male, one female. They have identical qualifications, identical experience, identical job reviews. Who do you think makes more? Statistically, the difference is within the realm of statistical noise, nationwide.
Example 4: Take a low-income couple. He works as a security guard, doing his best to pick up 50 hours a week to make ends meet. To avoid having to pay daycare, she stays at home with the kids and is counting the days til their youngest is at kindergarten so she can get a temp office job, or a part-time job at Target. This one’s a no-brainer, right?
Example 5: A female business analyst with ten years’ experience is working with a male business analyst working his first job. Who makes more?
Example 6: A brother and a sister – fraternal twins – graduate from high school. He goes into car mechanics. She goes into daycare.
Now – compare the “men” in the above examples with the “Women”. In aggregate, the guys make about 50% more than the women.
Is it because the men in the five examples are benefitting from sexism? Or because of the…:
- Career choices each of them made: Men are more likely to go into technical fields, highly-physically-demanding jobs that pay a premium, dangerous jobs that pay a premium, or to work while their spouses take time off or stay home.
- Life choices each of them made: Women have babies. That’s the way biology made the species – so sue us. No, that’s a figure of speech. But women are more likely to take time off from work to do it. Should men be penalized for working while women are, well, not?
This last cuts both ways, by the way; when my kids were little, I made a conscious choice to seek out jobs that offered flexibility in hours and schedules, so I could spend more time with them. This pretty inevitably led to contracting, which gave me flexibility and decent money – but cut down the chances for linear, corporate “career advancement”. Am I lagging behind other people in my “age cohort” in that career? Probably not – I switched careers – but if I were still a technical writer, those years that I spent focusing on other things would probably have had me lagging. (Technical writing, by the way, is a field where women make more than men, on average. Why? Because they’ve been doing it longer, and they dominate the field, and they tend to go into it for a career, as opposed to men (like me) who see it as a stepping-stone to elsewhere. Not because female tech writers are sexists. Although some are. Oh, the stories I could tell But won’t. Because most tech writer stories are really really boring.
Of course, the whole “gender wage gap” isn’t so much about facts as about waving a bloody shirt to try to shore up Democrat numbers in a year that’s looking very bad for them, and to draw attention away from the fact that this past five years have been little better for women, economically, than for African-Americans.