The Instigator
Pro (for)
The Contender
Con (against)

The Gender "Wage Gap" is Inaccurate and a Myth in the United States

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/13/2018 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 447 times Debate No: 112704
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Many people are concerned with the supposed "gender wage gap" in America. If men were actually payed more than women for the same job, work, etc., I would without a doubt support change for equity. However, this debate and claim have been debunked a multitude of times, as it is easy to do so logically.

The main claim that most Americans are probably familiar with is the "78 cents to a man's dollar" idea. Contrary to what many studies will tell the reader/watcher, this statistic is false. It is found by averaging the salaries of American women, and comparing this total to an average American man's salary. Lo and behold, there is a difference; and it turns out that, on average, men make about 20% more money than women in America. Because of this, so many of us are quick to jump to conclusions about what is really going on. Us as humans tend to simplify things, to a point where we often jump to cause-and-effect relationships. When we see that women, on average, are being payed less than men, we establish the notion that there is some sort of discrimination going on. With the gender wage gap, this is simply not the case.

Instead of asking ourselves "how much are men in America payed" and "how much are women in America payed" and then comparing the two, we should delve a little deeper and consider all the factors that go into one's wage. Some of these factors, which are of the utmost importance include: experience, education (colleges, degrees, etc.), performance and performance reviews, number of workers and reports managed, certifications or memberships in professional organizations, types of shifts worked (differentiation in desirability and favorability), working conditions (dangers or hazards), and time taken off from work. When all of these components are put into place, it would be found that men and women are actually payed equally when they stack up equally in the previously mentioned factors - this is very important to remember. Women are more likely to perform better than men in many categories such as teaching, veterinary medicine and college graduation. This doesn't mean that men can't do these things, it just means that women are generally better at them. The same goes the other way as well. Men statistically dominate professions such as engineering and computer science. Again, this isn't to say that women can't do these jobs as well or better than men, it simply means that there are statistical differences between the two. On average, men take less time off, and work more dangerous and higher paying jobs than women. There are more men working in 9 of the 10 highest paying jobs in America, whereas out of the 10 lowest paying jobs, 6 out of 10 (plus 1 50-50% tie) are dominated by women.

Here are two more important things to ponder:
1. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act, which is a "labor law that prohibits gender-based wage discrimination in the United States." ( Because of this law, it is illegal to pay men less than women for the same job, performance, time worked, experience, etc. If given that all factors are equal between the man and the woman and they aren't payed equally, it should be reported.
2. Now, my final and maybe most important point: A business's foremost purpose is to make a profit; this is how money works. A business will usually do anything and everything necessary to make the largest profit possible, and a vital part in making money is saving money. Companies of course, have to pay their employees. So, if women are really being payed less than men for the same work (all factors equal), then why wouldn't companies hire only women? By doing this, businesses would be saving around 20 cents for every dollar, in turn increasing the rate of profit drastically, right? This is where a large amount of inconsistency occurs in a gender wage gap argument.


Thank you to PRO for making the debate.

In his post PRO has largely made a series of claims without supporting them or backing them up in any way. My focus will therefore be on contrasting PRO's claims with what reality really shows.

The Adjusted and Unadjusted gender wage gap
PRO concedes that as a base comparison, women do indeed get paid less then men. What he does however is to try and make the case that this is irrelevant, that we instead look at the wage gap when lots of factors including education, performance, work hours, etc (normally known as the human capital factors) are taken into account and that when we look at this we'll see the gap is accounted for. This is of course all without evidence to back it up and there are two large flaws in the argument.

1) When you adjust the wage gap to take into account human capital factors, the gender wage gap shrinks but still exists. For example:

"In reaching its conclusions, the AAUW analyzed data from longitudinal studies conducted by the U.S. Department of Education. Researchers controlled for a variety of factors—such as occupation, college major, work hours, and the like—that might affect earnings. Still, 7% of the difference remained unexplained, with females still earning less. Said the AAUW: “Ten years after graduation, the portion of the gender pay gap that remains unexplained increases to 12%."[1]


"Even after taking into account number of years of experience, industry, and global region, women still were more likely than men to start in a first post-MBA job at a lower level.

Men were more likely to take a first assignment at a higher rank with greater levels of responsibilities than women, from first level manager to CEO/senior executive.

It’s not a matter of different aspirations. The findings hold even when considering only men and women who aspired to CEO/ senior executive level

It’s not a matter of parenthood. The findings hold even when considering only men and women who did not have children." [2]

Experts in economics want to know the truth about the gender wage gap, so as standard they factor in exactly what PRO says they should and they STILL find that that doesn't explain the gap between men and women. The unadjusted wage gap shows women earn about 20% less than men. The adjusted wage gap shows they earn about 10% less. 10% less is still less. As PRO believes that the adjusted wage gap represents the actual discrimination based pay disparity he must therefore accept the gender wage gap is real because that is the scientific consensus:

"Economists have explored the gender pay gap for many decades and produced hundreds (if not 1000s) of articles and reports to explain the reasons for the gender pay gap. No matter how sophisticated and complex their models, they always find that some portion of the wage gap is unexplained by the sets of variables for which they can measure differences between men’s and women’s education levels, work experiences, ages, occupation or industry in which they work, or region of the country they reside."[3]

2) As PRO puts it " many of us are quick to jump to conclusions about what is really going on. Us as humans tend to simplify things, to a point where we often jump to cause-and-effect relationships." This is in fact something he is guilty of himself.

Throughout his point he simply assumes that because there is a difference in hours worked, education, experience, the job worked, etc that this is automatically completely separate from discrimination. This completely ignores the possibility that these could themselves be caused by discrimination - e.g. not that women choose to work lower paying jobs than men but that sexism causes them to end up in those roles.

In fact when we actually look at the evidence we see the differences in approach to work are themselves rooted in gender discrimination. As one study puts it:

"The human capital approach, in which various explanatory variables are used to shrink the perceived size of the gap, is often used to argue that much of the gap is due, not to discrimination, but to differing investments in employment by women and men. However, neither “investments” nor “outcomes” can be assessed in gender-neutral ways and the model’s underlying notion of rational choices made against the backdrop of a gender-neutral playing field is flawed. Discrimination appears to be entwined with gendered work patterns and behaviors; many of the human capital “explanatory” variables themselves require explanation."[4]

In fact while PRO assumes that everything is fine and dandy with men occupying the most highly paid jobs, when we investigate this we find that women who apply for jobs in male dominated sectors are biased against - though men can apply for typically feminine jobs without facing the same restrictions.[5] Ergo while differences in the jobs they end up working explains some of the difference in the pay gap, that difference is itself rooted in discrimination.

Therefore if the unadjusted wage gap which includes differences not due to discrimination is about 20% and the adjusted wage gap which doesn't factor in some forms of discrimination (but does remove human capital factor) is about 10%, the actual discrimination based wage gap will be somewhere between the two and even greater than indicated with my first point.

Gender Based Discrimination is Illegal

PRO makes the argument that gender based discrimination is illegal.

Hiring illegal immigrants and paying them below minimum wage is also illegal. Does someone believe that that never occurs? Of course not. Being illegal is not synonymous with something never happening, if anything it'd be the opposite!

Please also note that the law only covers the most basic and easily spotted form of gender wage discrimination anyway, two people working exactly the same job getting paid different. It pays no attention to subtler forms of discrimination, some of which are perfectly legal (e.g. the societal expectation of woman to be the carers and look after the child even though in this era of formula milk and breast pumps there is no reason the man can't stay home and sacrifice his career).

Why don't companies hire only women

PRO makes the argument that because women are cheaper companies should want to hire them because they can pay them less, even if it is illegal

Illegal immigrants are even cheaper than women (and hey, what about female illegal immigrants, jackpot!). As we know illegal immigrants are hired for jobs and are paid less - if his logic is correct then companies should only hire illegal immigrants. As companies don't just hire illegal immigrants we know his logic is wrong.

It also seems to miss the point that women are being discriminated against. The pay gap doesn't come from nowhere but because employers don't want to hire women, don't want to pay them as much, don't want them in men's roles etc. His idea seems to ignore the most basic fundamentals of what this is about, that women are viewed as less capable.

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