September 3 2013
National Review Online
Carrie L. Lukas
It’s gratifying to see Hanna Rosin declare in Slate that the “women are paid 77 cents on the dollar for doing the same work as men” line – a true staple of the Left – is untrue. She goes through the figures and variables that Corner readers have long known are the primary drivers of the wage gap: men and women’s different choices when it comes to work, particularly about how much time is spent on the job and on what kind of careers to pursue.
Yet while Rosin accepts that women’s choices are the root of the wage gap, she can’t shake the presumption that women are making the wrong choices when they fail to prioritize the almighty dollar. She points to our lack of paid-leave laws (she should read Christina Hoff Sommers’ work on this, which describes how the generous leave programs in Europe actually result in a larger wage gap and fewer women in powerful positions), but grudgingly closes with the conclusion that “you have to leave room at least for the option of choice – that women just don’t want to work the same way men do.” The phrasing suggests that this is a disappointing explanation and evidence of a serious flaw in the female sex.
Readers, however, should consider an alternative framework for considering the issue. Why do we assume that the right set of priorities is to maximize pay? Why does this conversation always begin with the idea that women would be better off mimicking men and that our failure to do so is a problem society must solve?
Conservatives are often caricatured as greedy capitalists, but in this discussion at least, it’s the Left that consistently suggests that money should be people’s top concern when making job decisions, and only fools let minor distractions like family and personal interest stand in their way.