The Gender Pay Gap Based on Unjust Discrimination is a Complete Myth
77 Cents on the Dollar Myth
Much of the Wage Gap Accounted for by Self-Selection in College Majors
How Many Flight Attendants are Men?
Wage Gap Myth Exposed by Feminists
The AAUW researchers looked at male and female college graduates one year after graduation. After controlling for several relevant factors (though some were left out, as we shall see), they found that the wage gap narrowed to only 6.6 cents. How much of that is attributable to discrimination? As AAUW spokesperson Lisa Maatz candidly said in an NPR interview, "We are still trying to figure that out."
But isn't the unexplained gap, albeit far less than the endlessly publicized 23 cents, still a serious injustice? Shouldn't we look for ways to compel employers to pay women the extra 5-7 cents? Not before we figure out the cause. The AAUW notes that part of the new 6.6-cent wage-gap may be owed to women's supposedly inferior negotiating skills -- not unscrupulous employers. Furthermore, the AAUW's 6.6 cents includes some large legitimate wage differences masked by over-broad occupational categories. For example, its researchers count "social science" as one college major and report that, among such majors, women earned only 83 percent of what men earned. That may sound unfair... until you consider that "social science" includes both economics and sociology majors.
Economics majors (66 percent male) have a median income of $70,000; for sociology majors (68 percent female) it is $40,000. Economist Diana Furchtgott-Roth of the Manhattan Institute has pointed to similar incongruities. The AAUW study classifies jobs as diverse as librarian, lawyer, professional athlete, and "media occupations" under a single rubric--"other white collar." Says Furchtgott-Roth: "So, the AAUW report compares the pay of male lawyers with that of female librarians; of male athletes with that of female communications assistants. That's not a comparison between people who do the same work." With more realistic categories and definitions, the remaining 6.6 gap would certainly narrow to just a few cents at most.
Could the gender wage gap turn out to be zero? Probably not. The AAUW correctly notes that there is still evidence of residual bias against women in the workplace. However, with the gap approaching a few cents, there is not a lot of room for discrimination. And as economists frequently remind us, if it were really true that an employer could get away with paying Jill less than Jack for the same work, clever entrepreneurs would fire all their male employees, replace them with females, and enjoy a huge market advantage.