A new congressional report claims that, even when the life choices women make are factored into the financial equation, there is still a “wage gap” of around 20 percent between what women and men earn.

Quick to spot sexism, if not outright misogyny, Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York insisted that this only goes to show that “men get an inherent annual bonus just for being men.” Wow.

If only it were true. They’d then have more to spend on us! But there’s a problem with Maloney’s avowal: It’s simply not borne out by the study which — oh by the way — was conducted by the General Accounting Office at the request of Maloney and Democratic Rep. John Dingell of Michigan. In fact, according to the Associated Press, “The study could not explain the reasons for the earnings difference.” Commissioned to find discrimination, the best the study could do was find “experts” who, according to the AP, “speculated” that the gap “could be due to discrimination.” Hmmm. They also speculate it could be due to “the decision by some women to forgo career advancement for family-friendly jobs that offer more flexibility and less stress.” It further reports that women frequently trade higher earnings for flexibility or time with their children or other pursuits. This is more in keeping with the Independent Women’s Forum findings in a study entitled “Women’s Figures: The Economic Progress of Women in America.” Here we raised the issue of women’s life choices as a factor in what they earn, daring to suggest that choices, rather than sexism, accounted for much of the “wage gap.” When we compared apples with apples — childless men and women between 23 and 27 — the wage gap disappeared.

The very study requested by Maloney and Dingell finds similar choice-based wage disparities. For example, almost nine out of 10 men are employed full time compared with only one in three women. And how ’bout the marriage gap? The study finds that married men earn about 8.3 percent more than men whove never been married. Why does Maloney, who has no problem pulling a sex-discrimination rabbit out of the hat of “expert speculation” not find this marriage gap evidence of discrimination based on marital status? Is there not an “inherent annual bonus” just for being married?

At IWF, we continue to find that women are more in control of our own fates than Ms. Maloney would like to concede. Preferring “speculation by experts” over the actual facts in the study, Maloney and Dingell want to establish a research center at some public university to study the alleged wage gap. As the Associated Press put it, such a center would “study potential solutions and publish information for employers and employees.” Solutions to what? The on the job gap? The study found that, on average, men work 2,147 hours a year compared to 1,675 hours for women. Should men be forced to work less? Should women be coerced into working more? We suggest a federally funded institute to study this looming problem.