Gender Pay Gap

We have all heard that for every dollar a man makes, a woman makes eighty-two cents. Is this true? How valid is this statement now? According to the American Association of University Women (AAUW), this is certainly the case. As mentioned previously, according to the AAUW, a man makes eighteen more cents than a woman per dollar. However, when analyzing a variety of factors, this may not be the case. In fact, some of the graphs that the AAUW use don’t tell the full story and are missing a variety of factors. Many of these studies used by the AAUW miss a lot of key details when it comes to analyzing the pay gap. Once you put into reality the time in the workforce amongst other key factors, we can slowly start to see that the wage gap becomes less and less and nears a zero cent difference.

First, let’s take a look at a very popular uncontrolled study by Pay Scale that measures the pay gap. This specific study measures the median salary for all men and all women. The study concludes that for every dollar made by a man, a woman only makes 81 cents. While these statistics are extreme, they don’t include everything. For example, this study does not include part-time work, qualifications (more in the controlled study below), and many more important factors. We all agree that women work just as hard as men and do deserve to be paid the same amount for their productivity. However, part-time work and job hours have different effects on men and women. If a man or woman works longer, shouldn’t they be paid more? Who do you think deserves more pay, a part-time worker, or a full-time worker? Studies have shown that 15.8 percent of men work part-time contrary to women’s 29.4 percent. So, if women choose to take more time off from work, wouldn’t they be paid less than men? Certainly, in fact, most women with a college education are leaving the workforce mid-career, especially those with wealthy husbands. Another key factor in this model is childbirth. Most women choose to put their careers on a halt to attend to their newborn babies. Due to this time lost in the work environment, men will most definitely advance in the workforce and climb the ladder higher. Also, besides time off from work, certain job choices suit different groups of people. According to a study by the Journal of Psychology, women are physically not as capable as men. This leads to men taking the higher risk and higher-paying jobs such as construction workers, coal miners, and more. While these jobs are higher paying, they can be in uncomfortable environments. Most women choose to opt-out of these high-risk jobs even if they are physically capable. 

Now, let’s look at the controlled gender pay gap study by Pay Scale. This study measures the median salary for men and women with the same job and qualifications and shows that for one dollar made by men, women earn 98 cents. When you look at both of these studies, we see a big 16 cent difference between them. Even a two-cent difference in the pay between men and women in this study means thousands of dollars per annual income loss for women. But, like the previous study, this study does not take into account all factors. This study, like the last one, does not include part-time work. Men also on average, work much longer a week than women. While women work about 36.4 (35 and up is considered full time) hours a week, men work 41 hours. To reiterate, these studies do not factor in things such as job hours worked, part-time employment, and more. Evaluating the statistics, does a pay gap or choice gap seem to be more apparent?

So, if a man works more hours in a year than a woman, and is in more demanding jobs, shouldn’t they be paid more? If a woman chooses to take more time off from work or chooses to interrupt her career, shouldn’t the pay gap be justified? Ultimately it all comes down to choice. What field you work in, how many hours you work, and other major or minor choices factor into this pay gap. Taking all this into account, we can now see that there is really no pay gap and that there is a choice gap.