The “Wage Gap” Demystified

Posted on August 8, 2011 by

Journalist Kay Hymowitz, who has an admittedly mixed track record in being fully candid on issues between the sexes, has nevertheless penned a rather interesting article at The Wall Street Journal regarding the persistent wage gap myth.  It’s well worth a read.

The money quote:

So it makes no sense to think of either the mommy track or the resulting wage differential as an injustice to women. Less time at work, whether in the form of part-time jobs or fewer full-time hours, is what many women want and what those who can afford it tend to choose. Feminists can object till the Singularity arrives that women are “socialized” to think that they have to be the primary parent. But after decades of feminism and Nordic engineering, the continuing female tropism toward shorter work hours suggests that that view is either false or irrelevant. Even the determined Swedes haven’t been able to get women to stick around the office.

The “wage gap” is largely one of choice — choice made by women themselves.  By and large, if women can afford to do so, majorities of them seem to prefer working part-time or not working at all when they have children below a certain age.  This is the main element behind the “wage gap”.  As Hymowitz points out, even in matriarchal feminist utopias like Iceland:

The country boasts a female prime minister, a law requiring that the boards of midsize and larger businesses be at least 40 percent female, excellent public child care, and a family leave policy that would make NOW members swoon. Yet despite successful efforts to get men to take paternity leave, Icelandic women still take considerably more time off than men do. They also are far more likely to work part-time. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), this queen of women-friendly countries has a bigger wage gap—women make 62 percent of what men do—than the United States does.

I guess Iceland is still not sufficiently matriarchal.

This issue is like a bloodied shirt that the feminist movement uses to rile up women, especially younger women who do not yet have children.  It’s mostly a canard, as Hymowitz points out.  It’s important that this gets increasingly pointed out, particularly by well-informed women like Hymowitz and Catherine Hakim, to counter the bloodied-shirt propaganda of the feminist left.

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