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November 29 2018

Study Claims the Gender Wage Gap is 51 Cents on the Dollar, But Ignores Real Working Women

by Inez Feltscher Stepman

French philosopher and feminist icon Simone de Beauvoir famously opined that women should be forced out of the home and away from their families against their wishes, lest too many decide against being in the workforce full-time. In her 1976 book, Beauvoir wrote “No woman should be authorized to stay home to raise her children. Women should not have that choice, because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one.”

It seems that feminists today have reprised that radical position. Instead of fighting the very real misogyny and oppression that exists around the world, they are obsessed with second-guessing women’s free choices.

A new study released by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research claims that the often-debunked 80 cents on the dollar gender wage gap statistic doesn’t even reflect the extent of the problem. Over a 15-year earning period in which the participants worked at least one year, economists Heidi I. Hartmann and Stephen J. Rose claim women made just 51 cents to men’s dollar.

The refrain is “equal pay for equal work,” but the methodology of the IWPR study reveals that slogan is old news, since its authors compare decidedly unequal work. For example, in the study, a woman who worked for one year of the 15-year span, and then decided to stay home with her family is compared with a man who worked full time for the full period.

It’s sheer nonsense to compare the income of a woman who has mostly been a stay-at-home mother to a man’s who worked full time and conclude that the resulting discrepancy has anything to do with sexism rather than different choices. In fact, on average, women make different decisions than men in a thousand large and small ways, including choosing different university majors, flexibility over salary bumps, and more time with family and friends over putting in overtime at the office. Even Uber, which pays its drivers by an automatic formula totally impervious to subjective bias and doesn’t take into account past salaries or work experience, has a wage gap between male and female drivers.

Those free choices are the real culprit behind the wage gap. When women have children, their desires simply don’t line up well with the mantra emanating from women’s studies faculty lounges. Just 40 percent of working moms with young children say they’re employed because they want to be, and 54 percent of mothers say they would prefer being at home.

Left-wing feminists are at war, not with an oppressive patriarchy that limits women’s options, but with the free choices of women themselves. No wonder they increasingly demonize conservative women; it’s not only women’s political diversity that bothers those who claim to speak for us all, it’s the different choices we think are best for our own lives.

As long as women have a choice about work-life balance, the decisions they make will never satisfy the ideological left, which demands equality at the expense of women’s individual freedom. A woman may be happier with a 25-hour a week flexible job that allows more time with her children, but according to the perspective on display in this “study,” she’s letting down the feminist sisterhood and perpetuating the pay gap.

Women in the United States today have more opportunities than they’ve ever had in the history of humankind. What they choose to do with those opportunities is nobody’s business but their own.



Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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