President Obama, in a speech last week, repeated the oft-used platitude that “women make $.75 for every dollar that men make” or something like that. This self-serving applause line has been perpetuated by those who pander to women in general and like to rail against men specifically. But its not true.
During my own educational process I’ve been tasked with numerous papers regarding this subject and have found, time and time again, that women who do the same job, with the same education and the same experience, make the same money. Why the discrepancy? Well, the answer is somewhat complex, but I can reduce it to one overriding reason. Children. Yes, women, who have been biologically and evolutionarily chosen to be the factories of our perpetuation, usually take some time off to have children. Sometimes, many years. I know this because I see lots of babies around and, based on my extensive education and personal experience, they all came out of women.
If you do some simple math, you will find that two college grads, one female and one male, both 25 years old, who apply for the same job as a financial analyst, will get paid the exact same amount (I’ve yet to see a job that advertises one salary for men and another one for women). The problem occurs later on. Let’s say that these two meet at work, fall in love and get married. Irrespective your opinion on the matter, statistically, it is the woman who will quit her job (especially if the husband’s salary can support them both) and raise their children. This becomes more prevalent as the couple decides to have two or three children, since it is obviously more difficult to work outside the home the more children you have.
Then, say, 6 years later, when the children are in school or day care, the woman chooses to re-enter the workplace. She is now 6 years behind her husband in experience and has likely not maintained her contacts for the last 6 years. It makes perfect sense that a 31 year-old woman who hasn’t worked for 6 years would be worth less money than a man (or woman for that matter) whose experience is current. In that case it is perfectly justifiable for the person with less and less current experience (in this case the woman) to make less than the other (in this case male) applicant. This is quite a common scenario, especially in higher tech industries where technological change is a major factor, although there are certainly some women who work during their child-raising years. The point is that statistically, if anyone is going to quit their job to raise children, it is still likely to be the female, rather than the male. This may change in the future, but it happens to be the way things are today.
Other factors include the fact that woman are less likely to take high-risk/high-pay jobs (there are substantially more male firefighters, police, oil rig operators, armed guards and coal miners than female). In addition, women take most of the lower paying jobs such as education, sociology, early childhood care, performing arts, as well as part-time jobs which allow them to spend more time with their families.
Further, women, once again due to obligations to their children, are less likely to take jobs that require long hours or overnight travel. Once again, statistically, if there is a male presence in the household, it is he who is more likely to take on these higher paying jobs, since the woman, (this is based on statistics, not stereotype), is more likely to forgo the higher pay for the purpose of raising children.
The conclusion is that, although I’m certainly an Obama supporter, he is just as guilty as anyone of pandering to women in an effort to gain their support by perpetuating this myth.
And he should stop doing so.