The gender pay gap – you’ve heard of it, you’ve read about it, you might have even had passionate discussions at the Christmas table about it.
Let us rip the band aid off right from the start and share a not so popular opinion – there is NO gender pay gap. Gasp!
A pay gap exists, but not in the sense of how the media, politicians and feminists portray it to be – wholly gender based.
Income Differences: The Big Picture
Income inequality does not come from sexism and businesses paying women less. The inequality comes from dozens of components which are not taken into consideration when people are regurgitating all the mainstream statistics.
If we want to help women improve their pay, firstly we must appreciate and familiarize ourselves on how these components work.
Women Value Differently Things Than Men
When thinking about the gender wage gap, general statistics don’t work, simply because factors like hours worked, occupation and personal choice are left out. Women usually value different things when applying for a job. Flexible hours, safe transportation, health insurance and other benefits are some of the elements that influence women when choosing a job.
In a study from 2018 on bus and train operators, the wage gap which has been estimated to be $0.89, has been entirely explained by the fact that, while having the same choice sets in the workplace, women and men make different choices.
Women use the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to take more unpaid time off than men. And they work fewer overtime hours at 1.5 times the wage rate.
Women are less likely to take shifts on weekends and holidays and they prefer to have more time for family, friends and personal life.
American Time Use Survey also concluded that on average men worked longer than women—8.4 hours compared with 7.8 hours.
If women want to improve the wage gap, they must be willing to work overtime, take night shifts and work on weekends, like men do. Women are not paid less for the same job, they are paid less, because hours spent on the job are less.
Men Are More Likely To Occupy Dangerous High Paying Jobs
Georgetown university perfectly demonstrates this by comparing majors with the highest concentration on women and men.
When we crunch the numbers of the most dangerous jobs and how much they pay, it is only natural to see that men are dominating these fields and earn more than women who prefer to be librarians.
Most low paying jobs are still occupied by women, and this is understandable as these jobs do not require overtime work, are less dangerous, and employers provide family friendly policies for their workers.
We understand that not many people are fine to hang from an electric poll and risk being electrocuted, but the facts are that these dangerous jobs pay above average. Women can bridge the pay gap by starting to look for similar jobs and walk away from the low paying ones like teaching or social services.
They can also improve their career opportunities by acquiring higher degrees and qualifications in technical fields (rather than say, gender studies), which are necessary for earning higher salaries.
Some feminists may react to this by saying that women are forced to take these jobs, because they are brainwashed by society.
But as we enter the year 2021, we should consider that American women are educated and smart enough to make up their own minds. With so many feminist organizations, literature and even documentaries, it’s hard to imagine how women might still be indoctrinated and blocked from such information, which is practically everywhere and easy for everyone to access.
Instead of blaming society for everything, we should accept that women are capable enough to make their own informed decisions. And being as informed as they are today, they continue to make decisions that generally lead to safer, lower-paying jobs that provide more hours for non-work related activities.
Negotiation And Competitiveness
In the study Gender Differences In Behavioral Traits And Labor Market Outcomes individual behaviors of women and men explain a good chunk of the wage gap.
Evidence points that women are less willing to compete in individual tournaments where the task is perceived to favor men, regardless of whether this perception is correct or incorrect. In such a case, women might feel that jobs which are stereotypically male are not in their favor and to refuse to apply for them.
Women are also less likely to take risks, and both of these points might explain why they don’t engage in the high paying jobs which are male dominated and considered unsafe.
Risk aversion is also firmly associated with negotiating salary.
Babcock and Laschever (2003) document that female business school graduates negotiate salary 7% of the time, compared with men’s 57%. Recent studies suggest that both women and men are equally good at negotiating, but women are more reluctant to do so.
Instead of blaming society, men, or some other external factors, what women can do is attend workshops for negotiation and improve their self-confidence. Negotiation classes are available everywhere, and they not only provide tips, but they can also help an individual believe in her potential and realize her worth.
Stop Blaming Sexism and Take Charge of Your Own Life
Feminists would have to stop blaming sexism for the gender wage gap and consider all of the components that are actually the real reasons there is a disproportion in wages.
No one is helping women by shouting the outdated “statistic” that “women earn 89 cents for every dollar a man earns”.
Instead of blame, we can promote change based on valid information. Instead of women believing they’re being mistreated, they can finally realize that they have the same power anyone else does to earn the kind of living they might want to earn.