This morning, I read a letter to the editor in the paper that it is “Equal Pay Day” today. Since women supposedly earn 77% of what a man earns, a woman has to work until April 25 to make as much as a man did in 2005.
I have always known that the whole wage gap thing was a bunch of malarkey. It is a total no-brainer that men on the whole would earn more than women because women often delay or interrupt their careers to take care of their kids. Not only that, but women do not typically need to define themselves by how high up the corporate ladder they can climb – the way men so often do – so, they are free to pursue careers that they love that pay less – such as childcare and social work.
I simply do not believe that it is in any way common for a woman to be paid less than a man for performing the same job, at the same level, with the same experience and education. I just do not believe it.
My first job out of college, I worked my tail off, always asked for extra work when I was finished, and took the time to learn all of the aspects to the project I was on. As a result, I ended up getting a big merit-based raise (which I know is not always how it works). I was making more than every man I worked with. (Of course, it helped that my woman boss was pushing hard for my raise, but she did have to convince her male boss to sign off on it.)
I know that one anecdote does not mean that gender discrimination never happens, but there are other reasons that I don’t buy it. For one, it makes very bad business sense. There are lots of women who are very good at what they do. It would be foolish for any company to risk losing valuable female employees due to discriminatory compensation practices.
So, why are there more men than women in the top jobs? Back to my own anecdotal explanation, I decided after a while of being in the working world that climbing the corporate ladder was not how I wanted to spend my life. I decided that I would rather make less in order to have more time to spend with my kids. I’m not only talking about fewer working hours, but also having a less stressful job, so I could leave work at the office, instead of bringing the problems home with me, as I did in that first job.
Now, I am out of the work force completely. When I do go back to work, probably not for many more years, I will not be in a position to make very much money. I’m okay with that and so should other women who make personal choices to put family above finance.
There will always be women like me and because of that, there will always be a gender wage gap.
Addendum: There was a column on Town Hall today called “The feminist complaint festival,” written by Carrie Lukas about this same subject. She added some other factors that explain why women make less than men. She also mentions a book called, Why Men Earn More, by Warren Farrell, which talks about choices that factor into how much one earns.