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Pew Research Fuels Gender Wage Gap Myth

Do women make as much money as men? According to a new report from Pew Research, the answer is no.

Titled “The Enduring Grip of the Gender Pay Gap,” the report states:

“The gender pay gap – the difference between the earnings of men and women – has barely closed in the United States in the past two decades. In 2022, American women typically earned 82 cents for every dollar earned by men. That was about the same as in 2002, when they earned 80 cents to the dollar. The slow pace at which the gender pay gap has narrowed this century contrasts sharply with the progress in the preceding two decades: In 1982, women earned just 65 cents to each dollar earned by men.”

As the report shows, we have known for decades that men make more money than women. Feminists love to remind us of this. Yet this particular data point is often grossly distorted by the left. Those who rally against the gender wage gap rarely tell you that it mostly disappears after controlling for key factors.

This issue came to the fore during Barack Obama’s re-election campaign. An ad published by the Obama campaign on June 21, 2012, said the following:

“The son of a single mom, proud father of two daughters, President Obama knows that women being paid 77 cents on the dollar for doing the same work as men isn’t just unfair, it hurts families. So the first law he signed was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to help ensure that women are paid the same as men for doing the exact same work. Because President Obama knows that fairness for women means a stronger middle class for America.”

As previously stated, on the whole, men do make more money than women. However, the Obama campaign’s ad claimed that “women (are) paid 77 cents on the dollar for doing the same work as men,” which is a separate claim.

Amusingly, the left-leaning PolitiFact debunked this claim the very day the advertisement ran, saying, “Indeed, if you look at men and women working in the same professions, the pay gap is much smaller.”

The PolitiFact article provides the following data:

“For computer programmers, for instance, women earn 95 cents for every dollar a man earns. For cashiers it’s 92 cents. For cooks and customer service representatives, it’s 95 cents. Other occupations have more unequal ratios. Women who are personal financial advisers, for instance, earn just 58 cents of what men in that job earn. (The statistics come from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a think tank focusing on women’s issues.)”

So while women do earn less than their male counterparts in certain jobs, that is not the case for all jobs.

The PolitiFact article concludes by writing that “the 77-cent figure is real, but it does not factor in occupations held, hours worked or length of tenure.”

The Pew study similarly points out that women make less than men in part because they on average work fewer hours. The study states, “Men overall also worked about three hours more per week at a job than women in 2022, on average, down from a gap of about six hours per week in 1982.” Motherhood is also a factor, as mothers “tend to work fewer hours each week when employed.”

Worth noting is that the study does not merely present the data. Were that the case, its lack of proper contextualization would be excusable. But its final paragraph contains a number of highly partisan suggestions for how the gender wage gap could be closed:

“More sustained progress in closing the pay gap may depend on deeper changes in societal and cultural norms and in workplace flexibility that affect how men and women balance their careers and family lives. Even in countries that have taken the lead in implementing family-friendly policies, such as Denmark, parenthood continues to drive a significant wedge in the earnings of men and women. New research suggests that family-friendly policies in the U.S. may be keeping the pay gap from closing. Gender stereotypes and discrimination, though difficult to quantify, also appear to be among the ‘last-mile’ hurdles impeding further progress.”

The fact of the matter is that there is no misogynistic conspiracy designed to pay women less money. Women make less money than men because on average they work fewer hours, accrue less seniority, and are often employed in less remunerative fields. Put simply, women make different choices regarding work and their careers than men do.

Aside from cases of abject discrimination, why should ensuring men and women make exactly the same amount of money, regardless of other factors, be a societal priority? It is, of course, the left’s obsession with equal outcomes that drives this agenda. But when men and women are different, why should we expect—or even want—the two sexes to have the same outcomes?

Image credit: Flickr-Lyncconf Games, CC BY 2.0



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