It’s sadly the case that modern men are afraid to tell women the truth. Especially when those men are running for office and want the women’s vote. And the truth on the male-female wage gap isn't that women are given less — it's that they earn less.
The intersex wage-gap question asked at the last presidential debate once again thrust the issue of equal pay for women into the headlines. And since Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are both vying for women — who vote in greater numbers than men do — both campaigns have been saying all the “right” things. Obama has touted his signing of the Lily Ledbetter Act, while the Republicans have pointed out that not only does the liberal network MSNBC pay its female employees less, so does, ironically, the Obama administration (by the way, Obama did the same in his office when he was a senator). Yet the truth on women’s pay is something neither candidate dare say.
Women aren’t given less.
They earn less.
The reality is that far from being a result of discrimination, the intersex wage gap — 72 cents on a man’s dollar, or 77 cents, or … well, it depends on whom you listen to — is solely due to the sexes’ different lifestyle and career choices. Columnist Carrie Lukas explained this in 2007, writing:
All the relevant factors that affect pay — occupation, experience, seniority, education and hours worked — are ignored [by those citing the wage gap]. This sound-bite statistic fails to take into account the different roles that work tends to play in men's and women's lives.
In truth, I'm the cause of the wage gap — I and hundreds of thousands of women like me. I have a good education and have worked full time for 10 years. Yet throughout my career, I've made things other than money a priority. I chose to work in the nonprofit world because I find it fulfilling. I sought out a specialty and employer that seemed best suited to balancing my work and family life. When I had my daughter, I took time off and then opted to stay home full time and telecommute. I'm not making as much money as I could, but I'm compensated by having the best working arrangement I could hope for.
Women make similar trade-offs all the time. Surveys have shown for years that women tend to place a higher priority on flexibility and personal fulfillment than do men, who focus more on pay. Women tend to avoid jobs that require travel or relocation, and they take more time off and spend fewer hours in the office than men do.
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Selwyn Duke (photo)