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Why is the Gender Wage Gap an Economic Fallacy?

I know this topic has been talked about repeatedly and for those of you even remotely familiar with economics, this is just a myth. However, this conversation seems to be one of those things that refuses to die, like an economic hydra, who respawns three new heads for every head that is severed. So let try to shed light on why women, allegedly, make less than men. In his book, Civil Rights: Rhetoric or Reality, Dr. Thomas Sowell addresses the wage gap and speaks about the language used in 1984, “a woman is paid 59% less than a man for the same work.” As we can see, even the language is like our own but the reasons for this disparity remain relatively the same. According to Dr. Sowell, women’s earnings can be explained by their life choices. Every individual has a choice to make when it comes to their career field, or the amount of time worked in that field. Dr. Sowell explains that “women work substantially fewer hours annually than men, in part because a much higher proportion of women are part-time workers.” This observation being found in the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics from 1983, and we can still find this assertion today. According to The U.S. Bureau of labor statistics, “In 2016, 1 in 5 working women worked part-time for noneconomic reasons."

In contrast, with 1 in 10 men work part-time for noneconomic reasons.” As we can clearly see, part-time work is still led by women. In his book, Dr. Sowell continues by telling us that if we compare women who never married and never had children, to men who never married and never had children, the wage gape disappears. Not only that, but the inverse happens where men are found to be underpaid. This tracks perfectly with the pay study conducted by Google which found, according to the Washington Post, “Managers had dipped into the discretionary funds more often for women engineers, creating a pay gap for men in the same job category.” So, what can be the main contributor to the wage gap? It is simple, women make choices to become wives and mothers. The economic results of men becoming fathers and husbands, are inverse to women becoming mothers and wives.

Additionally, we should also understand most women do not enter high-paying industries/fields like STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), and shy away from high paying industries like construction. Even if they enter field like law, they tend to quit at a certain age. A recent survey, “Women leaving Law Research Report 2022,” found 60% of the females leaving their law firms were between the ages of 35 to 55. It is important to understand these years are crucial for job advancement in law firms, but it is also a crucial age for raising children. Yet, 90% of women surveyed stated the reason they were leaving was, “workplace culture,” while 82% siting, “lack of flexibility/life balance.” It is very important to understand that high-level law firms are not in the business of make friends, they are in the business of wining. The culture in these environments is high paced, stressful and one needs to put in long hours of work. What about fields which are dominated by women?

Surely, we can see the differences disappear. If we look at nursing, we find that 90% of all nurses are women. Despite this, one finds men being overrepresented in specialized nursing fields like nurse anesthetist, where women compose 63% and men are 37%. Or how about authorship in nursing literature? According to the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, which looked at the statistics for The United Sates of American, and the U.K. finds that despite men composing only 10% of the field of nursing, 30% of first-time authors in nursing journals were male. This means men are publishing papers at a rate 3 times higher than their average female counter part. In its conclusion, the JRSM states, “female nurses take time out to have families and social and family responsibilities prevent them from taking opportunities for career progression.”As we can see, the conversation of the wage gap, has been going on for some time now. Yet, this disparity has a simple explanation, and it’s not discrimination, it's a choice.

Disclaimer: The views expressed by the guest writers are strictly their own.


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Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Great read, informative and explanatory.


Apr 20, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Interesting stuff. I'll have to check out this Thomas Sowell guy. Never knew about him before.


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