April 12th is Equal Pay Day, a day which marks when women have “caught up” to what men earned the previous year.
This day is based on the oft-repeated statistic that women make 77 cents per every man’s dollar. Did you know that statistic only compares the median wages of all full-time male and female workers? Yes, it does not even compare men and women in the same field.
The pay gap actually closes and sometimes women earn more when comparing men and women who do equal work at the same job.
The real question is why do women, on average, make less?
There are a lot of different factors.
Children, of course, play a big role.
It’s all about value and trade-offs. Women with children leave the work force at higher rates than men. They value raising their children more than the job and the trade-off will be reduced earnings in the future.
Even in countries with “free” daycare, the pay gap still exists because women take more time off work and work fewer hours. Some working mothers would prefer to leave their jobs to raise their children, but the household cannot afford to survive on one paycheck. Especially in “Democratic Socialist” countries where taxes are so high!
Of course, there’s already been a lot of attention on how women sacrifice pay for the family. But what about men, what do they sacrifice?
In my experience, men tend to not like their jobs as much as women.
There is cultural pressure on men to be the breadwinner of the household. Therefore, men tend to value pay more than passion when choosing a career. Men are more likely to sacrifice their happiness at work if the job brings home enough money to provide for their families. Look at all the dangerous jobs that men do that pay well. There’s just not that many female oil well drillers.
As a woman, I never felt the pressure to be the breadwinner. I value my happiness more than high pay. I chose a career field that I loved with a smaller paycheck over going to law school and probably having a tedious job with a large paycheck. I think it’s common for women to choose fields that they are passionate about where lower pay is usually the trade-off. That’s why there is far more women in social work and charity organizations.
The pay gap is largely due to men and women making choices based on their values. Some women choose passion over high pay– and that’s OK. There’s nothing that the government needs to “fix.”