The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

The 'Wage Gap' Will Forever Be a Myth

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/6/2015 Category: Society
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 860 times Debate No: 74868
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (6)
Votes (1)




The wage gap is a terrible myth that needs to be debunked again after how many times it has been. First round acceptance and questions, last round no new arguments.


I accept, and look forward to your affirmative case.
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for accepting, Con.

As I have said before, the wage gap is something that has been debunked plenty of times before this debate. Anyway, here's something I've heard a lot about:

Women get 78 (or 77) cents with every dollar a man gets.

If this was true, companies and businesses wouldn't waste their money on hiring men- they would only hire women and save plenty of money. Along with that, women often have jobs that aren't as high-paying as men do, not because they are forced to, but because they simply want to. It is very terrible that people believe that women absolutely have to be forced into jobs that they don't want, simply to even out the numbers. (Looking at you, Affirmative Action.)

Now, I'd like to add that men usually choose to have higher paying, but high risk jobs, but women usually choose to work family-friendly, safe places with lower pay. Many women simply choose more flexible jobs due to things such as marriage and children.

However, the biggest problem about the wage gap is that it is almost impossible for it to be truly a fact. They are much too many variables in play here, such as part-time and full-time, maternity leave, experience and lots of other factors.

To you, Con!


Thank you, Pro. I'm looking forward to our discussion.

1. The resolution cannot be proved.

We are debating the resolution "The 'Wage Gap' Will Forever Be a Myth." To prove this statement true, Pro not only must show that the 'Wage Gap' is a myth today, but that it will be a myth forever, throughout the entire future history of human civilization. To prevail, Pro must affirmatively show that there is no conceivable set of circumstances under which a Wage Gap could ever develop. This is, like proving a negative, an impossible task. This point alone is sufficient to justify a vote for Con.

2. Pro has admitted the existence of a Wage Gap

My opponent has already tacitly admitted that the Wage Gap exists. He concedes that "women often have jobs that aren't as high-paying as men do...because they simply want to." Women often "choose more flexible jobs" for family reasons, and "choose to work family-friendly, safe places with lower pay." Sure! True! And this creates a Wage Gap! It seems my opponent does not in fact want to debate about the existence of a Wage Gap, but the reasons for the Wage Gap.

The Wage Gap is a very simple concept - it's just the difference between the median income of a full-time, year-round working male ($47,715 in 2010), and the median income of a full-time, year-round working female ($36,831 in 2010). ($47,715 - $36,831) / $47,715 = .2260. [1] That's a difference of $0.226, which is why people say women make $0.77 or $0.78 on the dollar of what men make. It's a simple, objective, verifiable fact. The Wage Gap exists. Why? Good question! But not the question framed by the resolution. The resolution is that the Wage Gap is a myth, and I have conclusively demonstrated that it is a fact.

3. Wage discrimination against women is a significant factor in the Wage Gap

As my opponent rightly notes, some portion of the Wage Gap can be explained by individual lifestyle choices. Not all personal choices are measured by the census data - because we're talking about full-time, year-round workers, we're excluding stay-at-home moms, women who work less than 35 hours in a flex-time position, teachers and seasonal workers, for example.

How much of the Wage Gap is due to life choices? Best estimate, across many studies - about 60%. [2] [3] Leaving aside the question of structural sexism reflected in these choices - why are women the ones expected to sacrifice career for family? do women face educational discrimination that limits their options? etc. - that still leaves 40% of the Wage Gap attributable to sheer discrimination. [4] That's just over nine cents - but whether the specific amount of the Wage Gap attributable to discrimination is a dime, a nickel, or a penny, wage discrimination based on gender is unacceptable.

There is substantial evidence that women are paid less the same work based solely on gender:

-Even if time off for family affects earnings later in one's career, that doesn't explain gaps at the beginning of a career. But still, newly trained male physicians in 2008 made $16,819 than newly trained female physicians, even after controlling for hours, specialty, practice, etc. [5]
-Life choices can't account for experimental conditions. Researchers at Cornell found that in a laboratory experiment, equally qualified job candidates who were identified as mothers were thought of as less competent and were recommended lower starting salaries. [6]
-Life choices don't explain the fact that discrimination is reduced when women are making decisions. In my own profession, female lawyers made 83.0% of men lawyers’ salaries in 2014 - But when women were more present on compensation and governance committees, the gender pay gap was reduced. [7]
-CEOs are a labor market unto themselves - hiring and compensation decisions are driven by corporate boards and generous offers are made to attract the best talent. And yet female CEOs face the largest earnings gap of any profession - about 31 cents. [8]
-Even though some women may pursue lower-paying fields, that doesn't explain the pay gaps within professions. Note examples above - doctors, lawyers, executives. These are driven, intelligent people who have made a decision to pursue high-powered, time-intensive careers. The Wage Gap persists across nearly all professions, including those dominated by men and those dominated by women. [9]

My opponent says that there are "too many variables in play" to attribute the Wage Gap solely to discrimination - and I agree. But there is significant evidence that discrimination does drive a meaningful portion of the Wage Gap. We should not ignore that evidence.

My opponent also makes a brief economic argument - that if the Wage Gap were real, employers would simply hire all women. It's a bit of a silly argument - it depends on a quasi-religious belief in homo economicus, the unbiased rational wealth-maximizer, a not-quite-human species unobserved outside of Ayn Rand novels and Austrian spreadsheets. To this argument I counter that this simplistic model of human behavior is wrong for the same reason that the free market failed to end segregation at lunch counters - in real life, people's biases, values, and cultural identities always matter more than marginal revenue boosts. How much are employers willing to spend, even unconsciously, to maintain the systems of male power that permeate society? Looks to be roughly nine cents on the dollar.

[1], Table A-6.
Debate Round No. 2


Thank you very much for continuing this debate.

For 1, I apologize. This is around, say, my fifth debate on DDO, and all of them until now have been rather informal. You are probably the first person I have had a debate of this type with. (And I very much appreciate you for that!) I confess I cannot prove something will 'forever be a myth', as stated by the resolution. I'm not the most skilled, and I certainly know people will vote con on the point alone. If con wants to, I can make a new debate with the same idea, but with a different resolution that would fit this argument better.

For 2, I do in fact want to talk about the existence of a wage gap. You see, when I hear of the wage gap, I always know someone is going to say one thing, and that thing is that the wage gap is very sexist. Perhaps it is because of were I live, places where I go, or some sort of personal factor, but everyone I know says the wage gap is very sexist. My opinion is that the wage gap is sexist, and that is what I am trying to debate.

I very much know there is a difference in making money between genders, but I do not believe it to be the 'sexist wage gap' it is all said to be. Very much sorry that I had not pointed this fact out earlier. (Now that I think about it, 'Wage Gap Sexist or Not' would be a better resolution...)

For 3, your first bullet confuses me. 'newly trained male physicians in 2008 made $16,819 than newly trained female physicians' do you mean they made 16,819 more money than female physicians?
for your second bullet, mothers have to be payed less, not because of 'incompetence' but because they are simply mothers. Again, businesses and companies do not want to give a mother who has children the same amount of money as a male or a father, because males are less likely to not be at work than mothers. There are even bonuses for fathers so they can provide for the family, letting the mother need the money less.
for your third bullet, I looked into the source, and all I found was what I had stated before- women had more flexibility, many women found it hard to balance work with family, among other things. I failed to find where you found that the wage gap was reduced when women were making the decisions, however.
for your fourth and fifth bullet, I don't see how this helps. We have already said that there is a difference in wage, but you did not show anything that made the wage gap for CEOs or any profession of any importance, or anything unique about that special profession that could specifically affect the wage.

The last argument con makes is extremely unstable. If we are talking about biases, values, and cultural identities, then it would be near impossible to pinpoint what a company would do in such situations. There's even a part of mothers that work that get a bonus for being mothers.

(Again, if con wishes, I will gladly instigate another argument with a better resolution.)

To you, con!


Thank you, Pro. While I appreciate your offer to start a new debate with a more refined resolution, I'm perfectly content to continue this one. While I do believe that the semantic arguments entitle me to a win (Vote Con!), I am more than happy to continue to discuss the substance of your intended topic.

I'll respond to each of my opponent's points in this round, but I want to particularly focus on this pair of contradictory statements made by Pro:

1> I do not believe it to be the 'sexist wage gap'
2> mothers have to be payed less ... because they are simply mothers

*record needle scratch sound effect*

Wait, let's roll that tape back one more time for emphasis:

1> I do not believe it to be the 'sexist wage gap'
My opponent believes the Wage Gap is not attributable to sexism

2> mothers have to be payed less ... because they are simply mothers
My opponent attributes the Wage Gap to blatant sexism.

In all seriousness - what does Pro think sexism is? Look, if a company is paying equally-qualified, full-time fathers more so that they can be "breadwinners" and equally-qualified, full-time mothers less so they can be "homemakers" - that's sexist. That's really about as sexist as it gets.

What kills me about this, really, is how matter-of-fact my opponent makes this statement, as if of course, obviously mothers should be paid less, why would anyone ever think different? That's why you give fathers more money. The reflexive nature of this attitude reflects just how deeply ingrained sexist thought is in our society - my opponent, who rejects sexism in the abstract, fails to see it in front of his nose.

The first two disctionary definitions of sexism are as follows:
1. attitudes or behavior based on traditional stereotypes of gender roles.
2. discrimination or devaluation based on a person's sex or gender, as in restricted job opportunities, especially such discrimination directed against women. [1]

The attitude that a mother is necessarily the parent who must stay home with sick kids, or take early afternoons to shuttle kids to soccer practice, and will therefore somehow be less comitted to her job, is an attitude "based on traditional stereotypes of gender roles" and is therefore sexist. There's no legitimate reason why the father cannot be the parent to drive kids to school or be the one called in to the principal's office when they get into trouble. Employers who pay women less based solely on the assumption that women are "supposed" to do these things are sexist under the second definition, restricting women's pay and advancement opportunities based on these stereotypical attitudes.

These attitudes are changing, if slowly. I've personally observed that among high-wage professionals (doctors and lawyers), many younger women are setting themselves up in the primary "breadwinner" role, allowing their husbands or wives to stay home and function in the caregiver role. That's much harder to do if the employers are deciding that they should be paying these women based on traditional gender roles that they and their spouses have rejected. [2]

I would note that the source my opponent cites actually supports my side of this argument. [3] To quote:

[B]eing perceived as taking care of your kids instead of contributing at the office is seen as bad for business, even if it’s not the reality, and mother’s wages suffer as a result.
* * *
In the end, however, the biggest problem remains social bias. The study even confirms this fact. In an upcoming study on the fatherhood bonus across the globe, Budig found the “biggest fatherhood bonuses in countries that are really conservative,” including Germany, she says. The bonus is “smaller in egalitarian countries like Sweden and Denmark.” In other words, conservative views on gender equality coincide with an increase in the gender pay gap.

To briefly address the rest of my opponent's points:
-Yes, I meant to say newly trained male physicians in 2008 made $16,819 more than newly trained female physicians. Thank you for pointing out the omission. (Similarly, I assume that when you said "My opinion is that the wage gap is sexist," you intended "not sexist"?)
-With respect to the Catalyst source, look again and check the bullet points with footnotes 26 and 27, along with the report cited. [4] You'll find that the source does support my third bullet point above.
-You misunderstand my point about doctors, lawyers, and CEOs. You argued that "women usually choose to work family-friendly, safe places with lower pay." And that might explain some of the wage gap - women choosing a different set of professions than men. But it does not explain why, within any given profession, wage discrimination persists for equally-qualified, full-time workers. When two Johns-Hopkins-educated doctors with the same number of years of experience in the same specialty, or two Yale-educated partners in the same law firm with similarly-sized practices, are paid very differently, and the only difference between them is a Y chromosome, then the only remaining reasonable explanation is gender discrimination.

Back to you, Pro. Thanks again for this debate.

Debate Round No. 3


lol why do you care so much. your stupid an


I understand that someone other than my opponent posted that last "argument." Let's skip the round and move on to the last one. I propose that we allow new arguments in the final round due to the missed opportunity in this round.
Debate Round No. 4


Due to previous argument's problems, (impossible revolution, friend posting inadequate argument) I will have to forfeit this debate. I'm sure that even if I posted a good argument, people would vote con no matter what I do. I am truly sorry for con for this last 'argument', but this one debate has been a stressful item on my shoulders, especially with the embarrasment of my friend doing such a terrible thing on something I owned.

But I must say, thank you very much for this debate, con, it was very informative. Hoping very much that this apology will lift some weight off my shoulders.


Well, I am sorry that our discussion has come to something of an abrupt end. I quite enjoyed our exchange, and you have no cause to apologize. I'm sorry that this has been stressful for you.

To our readers, I urge a vote for Con. Thank you.
Debate Round No. 5
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by CASmnl42 1 year ago
According to the mods we can either just skip the round or restart the whole debate. I'm in favor of just moving ahead, but allowing new arguments in R5 to make up for it.
Posted by ImaRealMeanie 1 year ago
Posted by CASmnl42 1 year ago
Let's see if admin can delete that argument and give you a chance to respond genuinely.
Posted by ImaRealMeanie 1 year ago
I am so sorry, a friend of mine got into my account and typed up that argument. I will try my best to fix up anything. Right when I came into the room, they posted it. So sorry! They are out of the room and have promised never to do it again, at least I hope.
Posted by Idiosyncratic 1 year ago
Yes it is actually. I looked and... so yeah not sure why people still have the notion of gender discrimination when it comes to wages... its not "patriarchy" or any of that nonsense. It's just illegal.
Posted by Idiosyncratic 1 year ago
Isn't it a law to pay someone the same amount for the same labor no matter their gender anyways? Or am I imagining that?
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by That1User 1 year ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Con made better arguments and pro forfeited gracefully, I will not punish pro for conduct because his/her friend posted the insult.