An Eternal Problem: The Gender Wage Gap

It may be true that women earn 77 cents on every dollar earned by men.  At least that is what the U.S. Census Bureau and the President of the United States tell us.  It is a fact which is not in much dispute, but it offers a political opportunity, a perfect excuse for politicians to sell us their solutions and demonize their opposition at the same time.  The gender wage gap is an eternal problem.

An eternal problem is one that never goes away.  This is somewhat like putting out a forest fire with a squirt gun, or teaching a pig to sing.  No matter how hard you try, the fire still rages, and so might the pig.  In some cases, attempts to resolve eternal problems actually make things worse, much worse.  Sometimes we have eternal solutions looking for problems to solve.  Consider the common core initiative stirring up public education, but that’s another fine kettle of fish ready for our pickling.

The gender wage gap as determined in the recent census is the difference between the average wages of working men and working women.  It is a result of many demographic and societal factors, most of which are beyond anyone’s control.  Therefore, why don’t we empower our federal government to mitigate this cruel inequity?

For precisely 50 years it has been against the law to discriminate on the basis of gender when determining wages for workers.  For much longer than that it has been terribly unfair and even immoral.  Has the gender wage gap lessened during the past  five decades?  Yes!  Is that because it is against the law?  probably not.  It’s more likely this wage gap diminished because more men now choose to be elementary school teachers or nurses, while more women choose to be engineers, doctors, lawyers, stockbrokers, or CEO’s.  The gender wage gap is the result of a woman’s right to choose her career and her priorities.

One way the government could reduce the gender wage gap is to set gender limits for careers, which of course would be gross discrimination on the basis of gender.  Why not  mandate that elementary school teachers’ salaries be the same as engineers?  Either raise the amount that teachers must be paid or lower the salaries of engineers.  Nope!  I don’t think that would work either.  There would be a pretty serious shortage of engineers and a whole bunch of bankrupt school districts.  There must be an answer to this horrible state of affairs.  We certainly can’t allow men to make more than women forever.

Perhaps we should just increase penalties for gender discrimination in the determination of wages of workers.  That should stop it.  If an employer is found guilty of paying men more than women, off with his or  her head, figuratively speaking, of course.

The wage gap is largely the result of women, and men, having the right to choose where they work, how much they work, who they work for, and whether they work at all.  It has nothing to do with gender discrimination by employers.  Proof of that is demonstrated by the utter absence of realistic solutions.

The gender wage gap is an eternal problem.  It is an excuse for politicians to pander to a constituency.  If you are not in favor of paying men and women the same wage, you must be evil and should be voted out of office at the next election.  What bothers me most?  The politicians and their media collaborators who dreamed this up either think we’re stupid, or they don’t know what their talking about.  Maybe both.

About DocStephens

Retired college professor of science and mathematics, academic administrator, and president (emeritus).
This entry was posted in Human Behavior, Politics and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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