If you live in a swing state like I do, you have probably seen the ad from the Obama campaign entitled “First Law.” The claim in this ad is that women are “paid 77 cents on the dollar for doing the same work as men.” This claim (a real pet peeve of mine) is nothing new; the Obama campaign is repeating the same myth that Leftists and so-called feminists have been making for years.
Here is the ad:
The researchers at FactCheck.org concluded that the claim that women are being paid 77 cents on the dollar for doing the “same” work isn’t true and to the extent there is a gap has little to do with discrimination on the part of employers.
Breaking last year’s figures down by occupation, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research showed women doing the “same work” (that is, within the same occupational groupings) often make much more than 77 percent of their male counterparts’ median weekly earnings. The IWPR is affiliated with the graduate program in Public Policy and Women’s Studies at the George Washington University and says it seeks “to address the needs of women.”
The IWPR study found that “median earnings are lower than men’s in nearly all occupations.” But for the most part, the gap for “the same work” is not as wide as Obama’s figure suggests. Of the 36 different occupational categories in the study, in only seven were women paid 77 percent of the pay of men or less.”
Economists have identified a host of factors — other than discrimination by employers — that lead to lower earnings for women. These include such things as women choosing to work fewer overtime hours, choosing jobs that offer more “family friendly” fringe benefits in lieu of higher pay, and choosing to leave the workforce for years to rear children. Whether these choices are voluntary, or unfairly forced on women by society, is a good question. But they are not discrimination by employers.
All the researchers at FactCheck.org did was determine an apples to apples comparison rather than lump all occupations men and women have and calculate an average. This may be a difficult concept for the Occupy crowd and Leftists in general but I do not want to live in a society where doctors and lawyers make the exact same money as janitors and store clerks. As pointed out in the article, the reason that women on average make less than men is because they choose not to work in the higher paying career fields, don’t work as much overtime, and generally have larger and more frequent gaps in their employment histories than men.
Let me break this down even more. Person A who has been an engineer for 10 years with few or no gaps in his or her employment history is probably going to make more than Person B who has been out of work for years at a time over the same period. Could we really say that Person B is doing the “same work” as Person A since both are engineers? I would have to say no. Person A has more job experience as an engineer than Person B. Person A should be paid more because of the additional job experience (provided that Person A is a more competent engineer than Person B).
Consider the above next time you hear someone complaining that women should be paid equal for equal work. More often than not, the “work” isn’t actually equal to begin with.