Heidi Heitkamp's Gender Wage Gap Advocacy Makes No Sense


Every April the feminist movement celebrates what they call Equal Pay Day. Supposedly it’s the day in the year representing the amount of time women have to work in addition to men to earn equal pay. Here’s a description from the American Association of University Women:

Think about it: Women have to work almost four months longer than men [until today, April 14] do to earn the same amount of money [as men] for doing the same job. What’s more, we have to set aside a day each year just to call the nation’s attention to it.

North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp is an active participant in this day, as you can tell from her Twitter feed. Our state’s junior Senator claims that women make $0.30 on the dollar less than men:

The problem? Well, the statistics used as the basis for this advocacy is kind of a load of bunk. Professor Mark Perry calls it “a statistical fairy tale because it’s based on the false assumption that women get paid 23% less than men for doing exactly the same work in the exact same occupations and careers, working side-by-side with men on the same job for the same organization, working the same number of hours per week, traveling the same amount of time for work obligations, with the same exact work experience and education, with exactly the same level of productivity, etc.”

In other words, what Senator Heitkamp and others are doing is comparing the wages of all men to all women and the attributing the difference to gender bias. But that’s not a sound analysis, because the professional lives of men and women tend to be very different.

Like the fact that men overwhelmingly work the most physically-intensive and dangerous jobs. In 2013 men represented 93 percent of workplace fatalities. More danger means more pay.

Also, “The average man working full-time worked two more hours per week in 2013 compared to the average woman,” writes Perry. He continues:

Among full-time workers (those working 35 hours or more per week), men were more likely than women to work a greater number of hours (see Table 5). For example, 25.5% of men working full-time worked 41 or more hours per week in 2013, compared with only 14.3% of women who worked those hours, meaning that men working full-time last year were almost twice as likely as women to work 41 hours per work or more. Further, men working full-time were also more than twice as likely as women to work 60-hour weeks: 6.3% of men worked 60 hours per week in 2013 compared to only 2.7% of women working full-time who worked those hours.

Also, women were more than twice as likely as men to work shorter full-time workweeks of 35 to 39 hours per week: 12.2% of women worked those hours in 2013, compared to only 5% of men who did so. Although not reported by the BLS, I estimate using their data that the average workweek for full-time workers last year was 41.4 hours for women and 43.4 hour for men; therefore, the average man working full-time worked 2 more hours per week in 2013 compared to the average woman.

The data used by Senator Heidi Heitkamp doesn’t take into account these differences in hours work, because the feminist groups that produce them don’t bother with apples-to-apples comparisons, yet clearly they’d have an impact on earnings.

And speaking of apples-to-apples, consider this: When you compare the pay of single women who have never had children to men the wage gap almost disappears. As Perry notes, “single women who have never married earned 95.2% of male earnings in 2013.”

Again, Senator Heitkamp and the feminist activists she’s aligning herself with would have us believe that the gender wage gap can only be explained by discrimination. Yet, it’s clear that it can be explained almost in its entirety by the difference choices men and women make in their careers, not to mention the traditional roles women play in family matters such as child rearing and elder care.

We could have a debate about whether or not men should take more responsibility for children and family so that women can be more career-focused, but outside of that the best way for women to close the gender gap with men is to start working like men do

That means working longer hours at more dangerous jobs while spending more time away from family. Many women would probably be just fine with that. I suspect others wouldn’t be. But if we accept the narrative Senator Heitkamp is pushing, we have to pretend that men and women are completely interchangeable cogs in society, and not only is that not true today I’m not sure we should want it to ever be true.