Saturday, May 30, 2009

Why Do Some Believe There Is No Wage Gap?

In any discussion with a feminist, after she has been proven wrong on every other issue, her position will eventually devolve to the trump card: "Well, I just believe women ought to get paid the same amount for doing the same work, don't you?"

This is the appeal to the "wage gap," that amount that women don't get paid for doing a man's work. The wage gap is, of course, buttressed by hundreds of newspaper stories, conferences, and senile legislators every year who go about warbling about the unfairness of it all.

But people who are responsive to truth and facts do not believe in the wage gap.

Because, the fact is, there is no wage gap. Any rational human being (which excludes everyone affiliated with NOW in any way) can dispassionately look at the evidence and see that there is no wage gap. However, feminists run to the supposed "wage gap" when they lose all other arguments concerning justice, morality, and the supposed "equality" of men and women, as if the one final, irrefutable reason why everyone should agree that feminism should still exist is because women are being abused by underpaying employers.

In fact, women have achieved parity with men in terms of pay. It is a continuing feminist myth that there is a so-called "wage gap," but once you dispense with simplistic feminist thinking on this issue, it is apparent that no "wage gap" exists.

One way of determining job performance is promotion - but since the positions which folks are talking about are very few and tend to be highly selective, I think a better means of discussing the performance of women as a group (and whether their performance is adequately rewarded) is by peering into the so-called "wage gap." Wages, of course, is the reward given to women as a group - so it is the most direct means of determining how women as a group are treated.

In any survey of men and women aged 35, there will be a stark difference in the median wages of the respective groups - men will always be anywhere from 8 cents to 15 cents on the dollar higher, according to the studies that I have seen. Feminists take this as an evidence of a glass ceiling, reasoning, "Every 35 year old should be making roughly the same amount of money in the same job. Since that is not so, the cause is necessarily that we live in a patriarchal society that discriminates against women."

Of course, this is politically convenient - but as with everything that feminists say, it is not true.

Because, in any grouping of 35 year old people, the males will have worked, on average, 10 years longer than the females in the group. This is because men begin working sooner (or, at least among the current crop of 35 year olds, they did - it seems like kids never work at all today, but that's another discussion), and tend not to have childbearing, sickness, and moving gaps in their work careers.

When the two groups are normalized, i.e., only women who have never had children remain in the group, then the discrepency in the wages drops to a mere 2 cents - which is a reasonable risk premium on the part of an employer that the female MIGHT get pregnant and drop out for 5 years, might move, etc. Of course, such a minor variation could also be explained by imbalances in performance, sickness or other absenteeism - but on the whole 2 cents is statistically insignificant.

The same could be said of the so-called "glass ceiling" issue with promotions of women. If the average woman has worked less and performed less effectively than the men in her peer group by age 35, she is not likely to ever be invited to become a CEO (or any senior officer) of a corporation, simply because she is far behind the curve as far as the experience level of her peer group.

There is no wage gap and no glass ceiling. There is only underperformance by women.

An excellent source on the wage gap myth is Carrie Lukas in The Politically Incorrect Guide to Women, Sex, and Feminism.

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