Contributing Writer John Serlin, ’22

“A lie repeated enough becomes the  truth,” is a common axiom. Despite this, no matter how many times you may repeat a lie it will not simply become true. This has been tried, however. People that want certain realities to be true for political gain often find ways to introduce often damaging and corrosive lies to the general discourse.

Often we hear “A woman earns 79 cents to every dollar a man makes,” or some variation thereof. This is simply not true; it is misleading and wrong. Where do we get the 79 cents to the dollar figure? It is simply the average of the amount of money men make versus the amount of money women make. This sounds reasonable enough, but it isn’t. This way of calculation only works when there is a 50/50 gender split in careers and all people make the same decisions.

For example if we are to look at the five top paying occupations, we find that as of 2019 they are Anesthesiologists, Surgeons, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, Obstetricians-Gynecologists, and Orthodontists[1]. Now if we look at the ratio of men to women filling these jobs, we see it is 77:23 [2], 81:19[4],92:08 [5], 17:83 [3], and 66:34 (general dentistry)[9], respectively. Out of the top five paying fields the vast majority are primarily male.

Still there are other issues. Men on average tend to work longer hours than women [7].

Women work on average a 36.4 hour work week versus a man’s 41 hour work week. Over a year, this accumulates to an average employed man working 239.2 hours more than the average employed woman.

A Harvard paper [8] did an analysis of a wage gap within bus and train operators and found that the gender differences in pay were mostly due to men taking more overtime, working less desirable hours, and other individual differences, and not due to gender discrimination.

Women and men should be able to choose what occupation suits them best, what hours they want to work, and what they wish to do with their lives and money. Because people are different, inevitably some will earn more and some will earn less. This by itself is not a problem. The only problem we should be worried about is fairness. The “gender pay gap” doesn’t show any lack of fairness in our system. We shouldn’t focus on how much people are earning;  it is their life after all, and they should be free to choose to earn more or less depending on how much or what work they do.


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