The gender pay gap is real.

Is the Gender Pay Gap Real?

The gender pay gap is real. Even after all reasonable differences are factored out, an explained pay gap between men and women exists across the board. This is true in all countries including the U.S., but the exact gap differs by how it is measured and which country we are discussing.[1][2]

Any reliable data on wages crunched in any way, will show that there is a pay gap in the United States and the World although it takes some fancy number crunching to get the famed 22% pay gap; as explained below.

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.[3]

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.[4]

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.”[5][6][7][8]

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.[9]

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.[10]
  • 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.[11]

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[12]). 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.[13] According to U.S. Census Bureau, out of about 12 million single parent families in 2015, more than 80% were headed by single mothers.[14]

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, especially Black and Latina according to studies I’ve seen.

The main problem we have is that the progressive talking points tend to overplay the severity of the problem. 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 “cuz free-market.” This element of their view is not helpful despite their view’s foundational classical liberal value, which shouldn’t be dismissed.

The Myth of the Gender Wage Gap.

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 open to debate so it isn’t the best foundation upon which to rest the argument.

Wage Gap: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO).


The gender pay gap is real and it is very likely some of this can be attributed to sex-based discrimination.

With that said, discrimination based pay gaps are a complex problem of which the 77 cent talking point doesn’t begin to do justice. We need to take Pay Equity & Discrimination seriously, but that means being honest about where discrimination is and isn’t happening and how we can address it effectively.

It is arguably a disservice to over-simplify the issue (as in this case, it has led to the idea that the gender gap and discrimination are myths by entities like PragerU).


  1. Pay Equity & Discrimination
  2. Gender wage gap
  3. Women — if you’re waiting for the wage gap to close soon, don’t hold your breath.
  4. Racial, gender wage gaps persist in U.S. despite some progress
  5. The ‘Equal Pay Day’ factoid that women make 78 cents for every dollar earned by men
  6. Census Bureau
  7. Census Bureau Examining the Gender Earnings Gap: Occupational Differences and the Life Course
  8. Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics Highlights
  9. Women Are Still Paid Less Than Men – Even In The Same Job
  10. Single Mother Statistics
  11. The 15 Jobs Where Women Earn More Than Men
  12. Do Men Really Earn More Than Women? [Infographic]
  13. Single mothers much more likely to live in poverty than single fathers, study finds
  14. Single Mother statistics

"There is a Gender Pay Gap" is tagged with: American Politics, Feminism, Left–right Politics, Liberalism, Liberty, Money, Morality, Time, Value

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