One of the hottest topics for quite a long time now has been what feminist groups call the “gender pay gap“. If you’ve had a pulse for the last thirty years or so, you’ve certainly heard of it. The argument has been that women typically receive a lower average salary than men in the same jobs, and many groups on the left want to change the situation to make sure women get paid the same as men for the same job title. It sounds very noble, but is it fair?
The biggest problem with statistical data is that, unless you’re willing to spend hours and hours researching on your own, you have to accept the narrative being provided by the person using the data to justify their position. This means that if they have an ulterior motive and are using the data in a dishonest way to support their opinion, you have no way of knowing unless you check it out for yourself. Virtually no one has that kind of time, so we just take their word for it.
Where we run into trouble with the gender pay gap is the way the pay disparity is perceived by the public. There truly is a pay disparity between men and women; no reasonable person is arguing that point. Women on average make around 80% less than men. This is a hard fact that we can’t really argue against, and the statistic is the first line of defense for feminists arguing that we need to upend the system to fix it.
The dishonest part about that statistic is that it doesn’t take into account the reasons behind that pay disparity. Women have a range of circumstances that affect their ability to provide value to a business enterprise. Many women have a strong desire to focus on family over career, leading to fewer hours in the workplace compared to men. Pregnancy has a huge effect on the salaries of women, as many prefer to take an extended break from work following the birth of their children. Many women simply want to have a traditional relationship where the man makes the money and she runs the household. Personal preference plays a large role.
The reality is that in many careers, women make more than men. The choice of career has a large impact on the potential to make money, and in fields where male attributes are not an advantage, women typically do better. This is one of the reasons why single statistics can be so misleading, because while on average men make more than women, there are myriad cases where men are actually at a disadvantage in the workplace.
Even in careers where men and women are doing exactly the same thing, however, there are arguments against women receiving just as much compensation as the men. In sports, for example, women make far less for performing the same tasks and putting in the same effort. This seems to be an unjust situation caused by greedy employers, but when you take a look at the next layer down, it becomes clear that the problem isn’t with the team owners; it’s with the fans.
Men’s sports generate more money than women’s by a huge margin. Fans just aren’t as interested in watching women participate in the same activities as men. There are several reasons for this, but it primarily comes down to the fact that men are physically more powerful than women and the sports tend to have a lot more shock value because of it. Watching a seven foot tall man slam a basketball into the hoop is simply far more exciting to watch than a less than six foot woman tossing it up. Tennis has less of a gap, but the power behind the male’s racket pushes the game to a different level than the women.
We can see that the simple statistic that men make more than women for the same job isn’t quite as simple as it looks on the surface. Most people won’t take the time to even consider other variables, much less look into the situation with any detail. Flashy headlines have become the basis for our political decision making, and the media no longer does its job of keeping us informed of the facts. We are now solely responsible for looking past the obfuscation of dishonest political interests and looking at these things objectively.
So the question becomes: what do we do about the gender pay gap? It is unfair, or is there more at work here than the people who would benefit from the changes want us to know about? When we peel the onion back as far as possible, we start to realize that the impetus for this push for equal pay is less about things being fair, and more about those people pushing for it getting something out of it. We have reached a tipping point in our society where honor is less important than profit, and most of the political pushing we see today has a reward for the pushers somewhere down the road. It is difficult to trust such people.
How do you feel about the disparity in pay between the genders? Have you experienced a truly unfair situation, or is it just something you hear about? We need to take a hard look at this topic before making decisions about it, because moving forward with only partial information always leads to terrible unforeseen consequences. If we can set aside the hype and get down to the bare facts, we have a much better chance of creating the kind of world we want to live in.
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