Some lawmakers, politicians and interest groups, particularly those that like to perpetuate self-serving narratives about systemic sexism, say April 12 was a special day: Equal Pay Day.
Foundational to Equal Pay Day is the Labor Department statistic that women make only 79 cents for every $1 earned by men.
But that has been largely debunked.
The Washington Post’s fact checker has given the number two Pinocchios more than once.
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That’s because the statistic only looks at the median salaries for men and women without accounting for other factors.
And as the Post’s Glenn Kessler points out, the 21-cent gap substantially closes when one looks at weekly or hourly wages.
The statistic further implodes when other facts are considered, like the average woman has less work experience than the average man, often because women take time off to raise children.
Women also tend to seek jobs with more flexible hours to accommodate family life and tend to work more weeks of part-time hours than full-time hours.
According to Kessler, government labor data show that women who forgo marriage and children have virtually no wage gap.
Women also tend to choose professions that pay less.
In many cases, jobs performed by males tend to be more labor-intensive and dangerous – and that risk carries a price tag.
Indeed, for the reasons explained above, over the course of the average woman’s lifetime she will earn less than her male counterpart.
Most of that gap can be explained by individual choices, not some patriarchical scheme.
Some feminists argue that staying home to have and raise children is forced upon women by society and that America’s insufficient paid maternity leave and child-care programs drive women out of the workforce against their will.
But even that loses steam when comparing America with nations that have generous leave policies.
American Enterprise Institute scholar Christina Hoff Sommers reviewed a study by two Cornell economists who found that in Sweden, where parents can take up to 16 months off work for the birth of a child and may then work part time (at a reduced salary) until that child is 8 years old, women are more likely to take advantage of this law.
Further, women “never find their way back to full-time or high-level employment.”
Unfortunately, what never seems to enter the conversation is the fact that the “work” of having and raising children is so valuable that its worth cannot be quantified.
Perhaps it would benefit women to steer the conversation to ways in which society can better recognize the role they play in family life, rather than peddling irresponsible statistics about their perpetual victimhood.