Why is the gender pay gap quoted at 20% even though it's lower when controlling for variables?

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The Politicus
Apr 02, 2019 06:41 PM 0 Answers
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Roughly speaking, the average woman in the U.S. earns 80% as much per year as the average man. (I'm not sure if that's over all people or just those employed)

I was raised in a time where people would bring up statistics like this to assert gender based discrimination in the work place leading to women earning 80% of what a man of equal ability would earn.

But that's not what the pay gap is. As I best understand things:

  • roughly half of that discrepancy is directly attributable to hours worked
  • roughly half of what remains is due to career choice
  • roughly half of what still remains is probably due to personality type

and what little remains has not been statistically shown to be due to gender-based discrimination.

But... people keep talking about the 80% figure as something we should care about. Even after acknowledging the explanations for the gap.

If it's not about gender-based discrimination in the workplace, then what is it about? What phenomenon are people trying to highlight by citing the gap? What changes are people hoping to bring about?


(Edit) To better clarify my question, this is not intended to be a "The wage gap is a myth: prove me wrong!" type posting.

Even if I suppose for the sake of argument the majority of the wage gap was conclusively attributed to the sort of gender discrimination I mention above, it's still the entire yearly earnings gap I regularly see brought up as the thing to talk about. And my question is to understand the point of making that statistic being made the topic of discussion.

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  • April 2, 2019