The wage gap has been discussed ad nauseam.
One side views it as a great social injustice, as discrimination against women, stating “women get paid less for the exact same work”, which must be addressed.
On the other side of the fence, it is regarded as a myth, laconically stated that “the wage gap doesn’t exist”.
Many times the discussion will never go beyond this point, and in such cases, both sides have it wrong, due to misrepresentation of the wage gap, and misrepresentation of the criticism.
The misrepresentation of the criticism happens when the myth is ascribed to the existence of the actual gap, yet whenever the wage gap is debunked the argument stating it is a myth, only addresses the statement “getting paid less for the exact same work”, not the gap itself.
This creates a lot of confusion, and indeed many times you can hear people trying to argue against this false point.
So it is paramount that this misconception be cleared, as only stating the gap is a myth, without mentioning it is about the claim “for the same exact work”, will appear to many as disconnected from reality.
Another thing which needs to be stated clearly and promptly is that EVERY study or research which examined the wage gap, literally every study out there, varies only in the percentage of the gap, yet all of them without exception get the same, or very close results, for the reasons behind the gap.
All of them show that most of the gap disappears when controlling for occupation, working hours, certain life choices, and negotiation skills. When doing that, the gap shrinks dramatically to only few percentages.
The remaining gap cannot be measured and every study suggests that discrimination could explain some of this remaining gap, but to what extent they simply cannot tell.
The statement “there’s no wage gap” by itself is false, and the statement “women get paid less for the exact same work” is remarkably false.
Now the discussion shifts from these two falsehoods to a new claim which states the discrimination is due to:
- Women are socially oriented to choose lines of work that pay less, for example kindergarten teachers instead of STEM
- Women are socially oriented not to be good negotiators, by being encouraged to be more cooperative and less aggressive
- Society does not take into consideration that only women bear children, and are socially oriented to be the primary caregiver, which affects their careers and ultimately their income
All of these points are valid for debate, yet rarely you could find people debating them on the mainstream media, and other venues.
In my opinion, when people make such arguments, placing all the blame on society, they are not only being very dishonest, but also commit a serious injustice, both to our society but especially to the women they presumably so wish to help.
What they are doing is taking women, as a whole, out of the equation, as if they have no say and/or they are not a factor, even when many women resent it. Many women assume responsibility for their life choices, the career they chose, the hours of work they do, openly stating that they never abide by so called “social norms”, to no avail. Such statements and arguments are immediately dismissed with only two simple words: “internalized misogyny”.
In other words, even when women demonstrate agency, they are told that they have none, whether they exhibit it or not, whether they think they have it or not, and then at the very same time we are told that they are equal to men.
Hence, as society is to blame, it is society alone which must do something about it, by telling women they SHOULD choose high paying jobs, but they may not need to work longer hours, go on maternity leaves, negotiate better, or even be good enough to be hired, companies must take care of such issues by doing the following:
- Introducing quotas (regardless of merit, as merit favors men for some reason)
- Automatically equate salaries whenever a man negotiates a raise (as usually men are the ones that are capable of doing so, but not women)
- Stop paying men overtime, or pay women overtime they didn’t actually do (because they simply can’t)
- Promote women who spent some or much time on maternity leaves over men who gained more experience, because experience is second to the lack of choice women have when bearing children
The question that needs to be asked is “who is really putting women down”?
More reading and videos on the subject:
Study from the women organization AAUW
Debunk videos by Sargon of Akkad and yours truly: