Is the Gender Pay Gap Real? Is the Gender Earnings Gap Real?
The gender pay gap is real, and so is the gender earnings gap. Even after all reasonable differences are factored out, an unexplained pay gap between men and women exists across the board.
This means we are, in our research below, accounting for the idea that women tend make different life choices (such as staying at home with kids, working part-time, or choosing different careers than men), and thus we are considering earnings (what a woman earns compared to a man in general) and the pay gap (what a woman makes dollar-for-dollar for the same job).
With that in mind, we can say the pay gap is generally less than the earnings gap, but both are real. Not just across the board, but in general, state-by-state, nation-by-nation, etc.
TIP: Not every article makes all theses nuances clear, but studies like The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap do a good job at addressing them.
One thing I’d note here is that the pay gap is worse for many women of color, so while the data is complex and some sources seem to exaggerate things, just about every study I’ve seen hints at a gap. Likewise, the gap exists for men of color. All the racial and gender factors hint that something is up, although one thing is clear, whatever it is it is more complex than just explicit bias (AKA purposeful prejudice).
Consider these facts on the earnings gap:
- Women in the U.S. who work full time, year round are typically paid only 80 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts.
- African American women working full time, year round typically make only 63 cents for every dollar paid to their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts. For Latinas this figure is only 54 cents, for Asian American women it is 85 cents, for Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women it is 70 cents, and for Native American women it is 58 cents.
So, even if we consider many other factors, it is hard to not see the above as at least a red flag that merits discussion and further study.
Consider too, the existence of a gender gap isn’t just an American phenomena, it is generally true for all countries including the U.S. (although the exact gap differs by how it is measured and which country we are discussing).
Any reliable data on wages crunched in any way, will show that there is a pay gap (not just an earnings gap) in the United States and the World.
With that in mind, it takes some fancy number crunching to get the famed 22% pay gap specifically (AKA the 78 cents on the dollar figure that gets tossed around).
The earnings gap really is 22% or so on average, but the pay gap (where we compare dollar-per-dollar with other factors accounted for) is generally less (although this is where things get complex, because there is no perfect methodology).
Despite all this, the gender gap still exists and most recent studies try to account for the complex factors (knowing that the idea of a pay gap based on gender has been labeled a myth in a pushback against the “liberal” use of the “78 cents talking point”).
Now, if all of this is a thing of gender bias or not is another issue, it is likely some who have a bias toward women cherry pick just like those who have a bias against statism and feminism have a bias (if TV has thought me anything, it is that).
Of course, this page isn’t asking “are people sexist” (and if that differs by job type or rank or other factors), and it isn’t asking “are liberals and conservatives skewing the numbers for political reasons”, it is asking first and foremost “is the pay gap / earnings gap” a fact or a myth.
The bottomline is that our answer is that “our research indicates that the pay gap is real, but the complexity of determining exact numbers means throwing around specific numbers is tricky“.
Feel free to cite a source and prove us wrong, all the studies we can find show the gap is real, all the sources we can find that refute the idea are opinion articles calling into question the studies.
Is the Gender Pay Gap Real? This video does an excellent job of explaining the subjected from a centered standpoint.
FACT: IN 2014 the U.S. was 65th in the world on gender pay gap. That is not great, but we aren’t alone. There’s no country in the entire world where a woman earns as much as a man for doing the same job. It’s going to take another 81 years for the gender gap to close, according to a new report by the World Economic Forum.
Is Gender-based Discrimination Real?
It is very likely that the gender pay gap is a result of sex-based discrimination, but proving that for certain is a tall order. We can show an unexplained gap, and we can push for pay equity, but connecting this to discrimination with certainty is more difficult. This is true for the race-based pay gap, which is also real.
The Racial Wealth Gap in America. The race-based pay gap isn’t the main issue here, but since many women are also Black, Hispanic, Asian, or otherwise not white, the issue is related.
TIP: The gap isn’t always what you think. For example, Asian men earn more on average than white men (according to PewResearch data). Again, though, we have to avoid taking one study or one factoid to heart. The general concept of pay gaps based on discrimination and the general complexities of the gap such as differences in cultures and the perception of those cultures by employers should be the focus.
Do Women Make 77, 78, or 79 Cents on the Dollar?
The gender pay gap is more complex than women earning 77, 78, or 79 cents for every dollar a man makes.
For that talking point to be true, one has to crunch the numbers in a very specific way.
According to the Washington Post, “the 78 cents number comes from a simple calculation from the Census Bureau: a ratio of the difference between women’s median earnings and men’s median earnings. (The median is the middle value, with an equal number of full-time workers earning more and earning less.) That leaves a pay gap of 22 cents. Meanwhile, the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the gap is 18 cents when looking at weekly wages. The gap is even smaller when you look at hourly wages — 13 cents — but then not every wage earner is paid on an hourly basis so that statistic excludes salaried workers.”
If we took this one talking point at face value and constructed a law around it, the result might be unfair and cause us to overcompensate. Of course, no one is going to do that in practice. The Census and Labor Department thinkers know that the conversation is more nuanced. They present many documents about this, including Census Bureau Examining the Gender Earnings Gap: Occupational Differences and the Life Course.
What people miss about the gender wage gap.
FACT: In many instances, women are paid less than men, even for the same job. This is arguably the type of discrimination based gender pay gap that is the most troublesome.
How to Find the Actual Gender Pay Gap
To get a real answer to how much of a pay gap there is, we need to factor things like (but not limited to):
- The fact that women are in our culture traditionally do unpaid work like raising children.
- The fact that women are more likely to take maternity leave.
- The fact that women take difference career paths.
- The fact that different cultures have different expectations based on gender.
- The fact that women are more likely to be single mothers. Single mothers are more likely to live in poverty.
- Certain jobs seem to have a bias toward one of the two sexes (be it reasonable or not). Think construction workers vs. nurses for instance. This bias is changing, but change takes time.
- We must consider jobs where women earn more than men.
- We must also consider differences between part-time and full-time labor and between supervisory and non-supervisory labor.
When we factor away all reasonable reasons for a pay gap, we are left with a single digit unexplained pay gap. The Vlogbrothers video estimates it is about 4% – 8%. I’m hesitant to give an exact number, but this seems right). This pay gap differs by demographic and job type, but is true across the board, for all types of positions, and this is the gap that needs to be addressed.
FACT: In 2012, 28 percent of all U.S. children lived with one parent. According to U.S. Census Bureau, out of about 12 million single parent families in 2015, more than 80% were headed by single mothers.
TIP: If there were no discrimination based gap, one would expect that the unexplained gap would not be true across the board in America and in other nations.
TIP: The general methodology can be done for other gaps, like those related to race. This isn’t, however, the focus of this page.
Despite this, Is There a Chance the Gender Pay Gap a Myth?
As illustrated above, the pay gap isn’t a myth. There is a gender gap and a race gap in the United States of America. This means, not only is the gap real, but it hurts non-white women the hardest generally speaking (except in the case of Asian women), and especially Black and Latina women see the most severe gap according to studies I’ve seen.
The Powell Memo Politics of the Pay Gap
The main problem we have is that the progressive talking points tend to overplay the severity of the problem (in great “progressive left feminist ally fashion”).
This leads to sources like PragerU (the YouTube’s version of the Heritage Foundation) to nitpick language to give the appearance of their being no gap, or that gaps don’t matter “because free-market.”
This element of their view is not helpful despite their view’s foundational classical liberal value, which shouldn’t be dismissed.
With that in mind, we should call attention to the ongoing tension between socially liberal progressivism and free-market Powell memo type conservatism (what PragerU is).
The modern polarization of the parties is largely a divide over social issues that can be seen in the sixth party strategy and Conservative Coalition and New Deal Coalition. In both cases feminism is a major issue that is seen as being aligned with progressivism and the socially conservative free-market pushback is a response to this.
This schism is very apparent in the polarized conversations surrounding the wage gap. Any one seeking truth should keep that overarching truism in mind. Using our reason we can say the answer is somewhere in the middle, and the studies seem to back up that our reason has once again not failed us.
The Myth of the Gender Wage Gap. Videos like this express their own sort of bias toward the free-market and against feminism. The truth is somewhere in-between this and the 78 cents talking point (the talking point based on the earnings gap across the board).
TIP: Equal pay for equal work can be proven. The fact there is a wage gap can be proven. The 77 cents, 78 cents, or 79 cents figure is a result of specific methodology (as one can see in the studies below). All of this is open to debate, feel free to comment below.
Wage Gap: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO).
Only as a flat average. It should be called the “gender EARNINGS gap” to show that women earning less is due to life choices and not work based discrimination which is miniscule in our modern day society.
Well there is a good point there, there is a differences between a gender earnings gap AND a gender pay gap.
They both those exist and I think you are still downplaying it.
Women earn less due to life choices, but generally also earn less for reasons not explained by this (the article goes into that, but there is zero expectation for everyone to fine-tooth-comb every article before they comment; the comment is smart and appreciated).
Yes, social liberals tend to up-play it, but I sense you are a libertarian or conservative and are downplaying it. We can play up or down, but there is a gap and addressing it with a level head seems like the best solution.
Really appreciate the update, we’ll keep researching it and hopefully find an answer that works for everyone. Feel free to drop citations.
In my country the government releases official statistics on work hours and wages paid. Men work 25% more hours and earn 25% more per yer. Per hour the difference is 0.4%. I feel like the same applies to other countries but it’s ignored for some reason.
I personally think you may be correct. There is a Gender Pay gap, that is fact, that is even a fact for your country. The question is “what does that fact mean?”
The data you show seems to assert that the gap isn’t a result of bias as much as it is a result of conduct and customs. That could very well be the case. Acknowledging the gap and researching it, and pushing for a culture that respects equal pay for equal work, is I think the best end goal here.
Thanks for the insight. Always curious to have insight into the explained and unexplained portions of the pay gap.
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