The Gender Pay Gap Lie

Why Talk About This?

The feeling of victimhood is rampant in modern society. More and more people are looking for any excuse to be a victim. Being a father to boys and a girl I want to try and remove any unnecessary obstacles in the way of my children. Very concerning to me is this dangerous obstacle of victimhood. My daughter is a very smart, very curious girl who can do whatever she puts her mind to. My sons are the same way.

What I want to remove is this false narrative that just because you are “x” you are at a disadvantage so you need special considerations in order for you to succeed. What you need is to make the right choices. Those choices have rewards and consequences.

Opportunity and Disparity

Modern women in America have equal opportunity as men – the outcome disparity is due to choice. If there is one takeaway from this article it’s that last sentence. Choice is the primary factor.

  • Did you choose to dedicate your life to your schoolwork and earn your way into a prestigious university?
  • Did you choose to skip the parties and work on your studies?
  • Did you then choose to go head-on into your career, starting at the bottom and working your ass off doing everything extra asked of you?
  • Did you relocate so that you had the best chance to move up in your career?
  • Did you choose career above relationships?
  • Did you work long hours and made sure you were never “off duty”?

Did you answer yes to all of the above questions? Then you have made the best decisions to maximize your chances of being successful in your career. You have also made the choices that minimized your chances of having a successful family and home life. Most all of us choose some combination of the above. However, the important element is choice.

Women vs Men: Choices for Home Life

Women are more likely to choose careers that maximize time with children/family. Period. There are general statements that can be made about men and women and what their choices are.

For example, over human history men have gone out hunting, exploring and warring. These tasks have taken them away from home, away from their wives and children for days, weeks, months, even years. During this time women stayed at home, handled the day to day responsibilities of raising children, keeping the home safe and in general keeping society going. Each of these roles were necessary for life to continue and society to exist.

In modern western society, these strict role definitions are not as important. Women go to war, men stay at home, and every combination you can think of. Both genders have a virtually unlimited choice when it comes to career and family choices. Given these unlimited choices people have, biology still plays a role in the choices an individual makes.

Women, for example, choose the lowest paying college majors in much larger numbers than men. Men choose the highest paying college majors in much larger numbers than women. No one at these college campuses are preventing women from taking engineering classes. They also aren’t preventing men from taking early childhood development. You choose your major and the classes you take based on several factors, the most common being your own interest. I’ll give some suggestions later on a better way.

Choices Women Make

The desire for relationships (PEW Research Center)

  • From 1997-2012, the number of women 18-34 who said a successful marriage is one of the most important things in life rose from 28% to 37% (30 percent increase)
  • During the same period, the number of men who said the same thing DECLINED 15 percent (35% to 29%)
  • The proportion of married people dropped from 75% in 1960 to 50% now
  • Among never-married adults 30-59, men are 3x as likely as women to say they NEVER want to marry

Women don’t want high-pressure jobs

  • When they hit their thirties, most of the top female lawyers leave their high-pressure careers (Stanford Law and Policy Lab)
  • Only 15% of equity partners at top 200 law firms in the US are women.  This hasn’t changed in the last 15 years. The problem isn’t equality – the law firms WANT women to stay and work. Women are choosing to leave. (University of Texas)
  • The same is true in other high-pressure jobs

What Influences Wage?

Agreeableness (University of Sidney)

“People who are highly agreeable are often labeled as compassionate, polite and kind, which may seem advantageous to their career success. Women who are highly agreeable, however, received a wage penalty. This was especially prominent for women of high incomes. The impact on men of appearing agreeable was insignificant, giving them a significant wage advantage.

“While this finding may seem puzzling at first glance, more agreeable women may be too passive in conflict situations, poor wage negotiators, or simply sort into the lower paying occupations.”

Extraversion (Harvard Business Review)

“How does [the] difference in annual earnings add up over a lifetime? Consider two men […] who are equal on all background characteristics and all traits, except for extraversion. The man who is average on this trait will earn $600,000 more over a lifetime than his more introverted peer (whose extraversion is, say, in the bottom 20% of the distribution). This effect size corresponds to about 15% of lifetime earnings. The magnitude of this effect is equally large for conscientiousness, which isn’t surprising given other research: conscientious men receive higher wages for being more productive on the job. They are also more likely to obtain higher education, which in turn boosts earnings. Furthermore, individuals that are more conscientious tend to lead longer and healthier working lives, and therefore accumulate higher lifetime earnings.”

Mobility

Being able to move or commute to a higher paying job. Those individuals that are willing and able to move to a location better suited to their career obtain higher paying jobs. Also, those who are able to endure long commutes can reap some of, if not all, the same rewards.

Availability

If you are like most people, you have a job where you exchange hours of your life for money from your employer. Generally employers will reward employees for picking up extra hours and being available for weekend/off hours. This is either a direct reward (more money), extra favor with the boss or both.

These four factors, above all else, affect your pay. No matter if you are male or female if you improve any of these factors, you will increase your paycheck.

Stats Lie

Researchers and scientists take many high-level classes on how to crunch numbers. Regardless of their agenda, researchers shape the numbers to prove their point of view.  

If this sounds like lying that’s because it is.

Most people look at the headline, fewer look at figures and just about no one looks at the raw numbers. You must be careful with what you choose to consume, from TV to radio, to blogs to media outlets. EVERYONE has a bias. Even here at wearesuperiormen.com there is an agenda. Click the links we put in articles – our goal is to find out at where the information came from. We try to be as transparent as we can. Most media sources, however,  have a very direct and highly biased goal. “Make the facts work to fit your agenda” is the motto of many.

“Think for yourself and question authority.”

~ Timothy Leary

Final Words on Stats:

  • Don’t trust media stats until you’ve researched them
  • Synthesize your own numbers
  • Determine bias from source (Political ideology/special interest groups/who funded the study/etc.)

Wage Gap Numbers

Here is where I’ll really dive into the numbers. What you have heard in the media is both correct and a lie. In the United States (2017) women make 81.8% of what men make. That is the truth. What is extrapolated from that is a lie. It also doesn’t address the problem and instantly pits women against men. For example:

“Women make 81 cents to every dollar a man makes” (true) turns into “Women are obviously paid less for the same work a man does” (false).

Wage is not a so simple a figure to come to. As you know your weekly pay is determined by several tangible factors and intangible factors.

Tangible factors:

  • Hourly pay rate
  • Hours worked
  • Voluntary overtime hours worked (higher pay rate)

Intangible factors:

  • High or Low regard from an employer
  • Being recommended for special or extra assignments
  • Merit pay increase

How The Numbers Lie

The 81.8% figure is calculated by taking the median income of men and dividing it by the median income of women. What these numbers don’t take into account are:

  • Occupation: Women are far more likely to select occupations which pay less than men
  • Position: Men are more likely to seek and obtain promotions at work
  • Education: Men receive degrees in the higher paying majors in a much greater proportion than women
  • Weekly Work Hours: BLS considers 1-34 hours/week part time, 35+ is considered full time. Someone who works 18 hours a week is part time, someone who works 50hrs/week is full time. Not apples/apples. 

Weekly Wage vs Hourly Wage

ALL of the facts and figures compare weekly wages NOT hourly wages. If you are paid an hourly wage it should come as no surprise that the more hours you work, the more money you will make. It really isn’t all that complicated. As previously discussed being available to work more hours will ultimately end up with more hours worked. One of the biggest limiting factors to availability is family obligations, specifically obligations to children. Speaking as a parent I have declined extra work due to child care issues and other family obligations. Those without those obligations and the willingness to work will earn more money.

Labor Force Participation

Males represent a higher labor force participation than females at every age bracket.

The smallest gap is at ages 16-19:  0.57% difference

The largest gap at ages 35-44: 90.6% of men and 74.5% of women are working

The Real Wage Gap

According to a 30-year NBER meta-analysis published in January 2018, the real gap is a childbearing penalty. Women who remain childless have income almost identical to men without children. The difference begins just before the child is born and doesn’t even out until 3 years after childbirth. Once it evens out the disparity remains.

The study did not answer why the gap continued after childbirth but I believe it’s rather self-evident and has roots in biology. Women are natural caretakers and men are natural providers. Men are compelled to work and provide, women are compelled to spend time with their children. Each gender is biologically driven to perform their essential roles.

Passion vs Opportunity

Women can earn the same as men, men can earn as little as women, men can earn the same as women, women can earn as little as men. The real opportunity is in finding something that no one else wants to do and doing that. Or finding a way to do something more efficiently than everyone else. Mike Rowe (from the TV show “Dirty Jobs”) has an awesome video about passion vs opportunity.

Some takeaways:

  • “Just because you’re passionate about something doesn’t mean you won’t suck at it”
  • Chase the opportunity
  • “Never follow your passion, always bring it with you”

Ultimately, if you live in the Western World, it’s your choices and your personality that will dictate your pay.

Conclusion

I want the same thing for my daughter as I do my sons. I want each of them to develop their talents and abilities and leverage those traits to be successful and happy. I also understand that based on biology and society my daughter and sons will be treated differently as well as have different interests. The goal is to maximize their opportunities and help guide them to make the best decisions. Don’t think you are a victim. Don’t raise your children to be a victim.

Be Superior!


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Matt
Matt is a husband, a father, an avid motorcycle rider, and an all around awesome guy.