Many progressives today insist that gender is fluid and that American law should abolish any distinctions between the sexes. Yet, ironically, many of these same people point to overly simplistic statistics derived from binary male-female categories to claim that women are the victims of wage discrimination and to demand more regulation, more government monitoring, and many, many more lawsuits.
Surely, such a binary approach to categorizing workers and comparing wages is woefully outdated in our new woke world!
According to progressive activists, sexism is the reason that the average woman earns only about 80 cents for every dollar earned by a man. This logic has never held up to scrutiny. Commonly used wage gap figures simply compare the average full-time working woman’s wages to the wages of the average full-time working man. Such raw statistics don’t account for occupation, specialty, years of experience, or even hours worked.
That last factor alone explains a large chunk of what’s often referred to as the wage gap. According to the Department of Labor, the average female full-time worker logs several fewer hours per week on the job than the average male. It’s hardly surprising—or evidence of discrimination—that someone who works ten percent less each week also earns less. When factors such as these are controlled for, the unexplained differences between male and female earnings shrink to just a few percentage points.
Progressives like to claim that the differences between men and women’s work-lives are the unsavory fruit of our innately sexist society that pushes women to sacrifice their careers and earnings to take on the lionshare of caregiving. To raise awareness of this alleged inequity and push policymakers to make it easier for workers to sue their employers, they created the pseudo holiday “Equal Pay Day” to mark the day that women will have earned enough to catch up with men’s earnings in 2020.
This year, Equal Pay Day fell on March 24. But it seems that in 2021, Equal Pay Day didn’t get the attention it once did. And not just because of COVID. The truth is, progressive groups that used to champion women’s interests just aren’t that interested in women anymore. In today’s woke world, women take a back seat to other “oppressed groups.”
This actually makes sense: Women aren’t a victim class at all. Women make up a majority of the population and a majority of registered and actual voters. Women are an increasingly educated and powerful segment of society. Women today dominate universities, earning 6 out of 10 bachelors degrees, and a solid majority of professional degrees. Women are a near majority of workers, and though they are still less likely than men to be CEOs, they are a growing share of business owners and making hiring and compensation decisions. Indeed, if employers are overwhelmingly discriminating against women, then women are doing a lot of the discriminating. Efforts to paint American women broadly as a victim class have long been a stretch.
It’s strange to witness the Left’s absolute reversal when it comes to their concerns about women. Those who just a few years ago insisted that sexual harassment and violence against women are ubiquitous, openly scoff at the notion that opportunistic male predators would claim a different gender identity to gain access to female-only prisons, locker rooms, domestic violence shelters, and women’s and girls’ bathrooms, in order to do them harm.
Watching Congress talk about “women” in recent weeks is enough to cause mental whiplash: After replacing the term “women” in the “Violence Against Women Act” (VAWA) with words like “people,” “adults,” or “youth; redefining “sex” in our nation’s civil rights laws to mean “gender identity;” and, trying to resurrect the misnamed “Equal Rights Amendment” to outlaw any legal protections or programs (like VAWA) aimed specifically at women (even when these protections make sense), the same body wants to pretend to care that women as a group make less than men as a group. Never mind that sex-based pay discrimination has been illegal in the United States since the 1960s. The logical fallacies, self-serving hypocrisy, and two-tongued virtue-signaling when it comes to women is too much to watch. Women should take note.
I had once hoped that we would stop fixating on the wage gap because it isn’t a helpful tool for measuring workplace discrimination. I had hoped that we would come to respect that women and men make different choices and recognize that it’s ok if these choices impact earnings. Sadly, that’s not why Equal Pay Day is irrelevant today. But I’d still take its elimination as a win.