Don’t trust the Canadian media when it comes to stories about the so-called gender pay gap.
Depending on the day, and the latest study from a left-wing advocacy group, we’re told women earn somewhere around 70% of that of their male colleagues. And, we’re told, it’s because of deeply ingrained sexism and a society-wide bias against women.
We recently saw stories claiming that Ontario Universities pay female professors about 10% less than male professors.
The problem with these stories is that they compare apples to oranges.
The studies are based on a one-dimensional look at the data. Pay gap studies literally only control for one factor: gender, and ignore other factors that determine how much a person earns, like occupation, experience, education, seniority, parental status, union status and number of hours worked.
Many gender gap studies literally take the average salary of all women, and compare it the average salary of all men.
It’s the equivalent of looking up everyone with the last name “Jones” and comparing their salary with everyone named “Smith.”
If it turns out the Joneses earn 10% more, on average, would we conclude there must be conspiratorial factors holding the Smiths down? Hardly.
But that’s how the wage gap is calculated. It doesn’t compare doctors to doctors, or workers with the same experience, education and numbers of hours worked. It compares stay-at-home moms with workaholic never-married men.
If we want a real picture of what is going on – because there is an 8% pay gap when studies look at the all relevant factors – we should also look at factors beyond gender.
For instance, studies show that women, on average, work fewer hours than men. Men are more likely to pursue higher paying professions like engineering, more likely to relocate for a job, and more likely to prioritize work of over things like time with family.
Men take more risks, which is partially what leads to them getting more economic rewards. But there are obvious down-sides to those risks. Men are 20 times more likely to die in the workplace than women, and men make up about 97% of all workplace deaths.
And, there are other reasons for the generalized discrepancy in pay between men and women.
An analysis in Denmark found that the number of hours women worked plummeted after the birth of their first child. Men, meanwhile, continued on the same trajectory after their child is born.
In other words, women who chose to start a family tend to devote more time to that family and less time to their job.
The more we look into the data, the more we see that it’s women’s choices, not some kind of sexism or conspiracy, that leads to the gap.
In fact, one study found that never-married women earn about 8% more than never-married men.
Feminists try to pit women against men, but frankly, that’s why feminism is so unpopular.
We shouldn’t think of the economy in a men vs. women dichotomy, since most families consist of both men and women.
If a woman wants to earn more money, she can – by making different choices, like becoming an engineer, working more hours, not getting married and not having children.
The reality is that most women don’t want to make these choices.
Instead of social engineering, gender quotas, and an insistence on equality of outcome, we should celebrate the freedom we have – and continue to let women make choices for themselves.
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