Who could have foreseen that a law designed to help one specific person wouldn’t solve the world’s alleged problem?
Ten years ago, President Barack Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act. It was the first bill he signed as president – and he made sure we all knew this throughout his presidency. Ledbetter worked at Goodyear Tire as a supervisor and later a manager, but found out she was being paid significantly less than her male counterparts. She sued and won, but the decision was overturned on appeal because she hadn’t filed her claim within a certain amount of time. The law named after her changed that.
For 10 years, I have tried to find an example of someone else being helped by the Lilly Ledbetter Act. I’ve found none.
So, it’s no surprise that the “gender wage gap” hasn’t been closed because of this one law signed 10 years ago, given that the Equal Pay Act has been the law since 1963 and that apparently hasn’t solved the “problem” either.
That’s because there is no gender “wage” gap. It’s a gender “earnings” gap, and as I’ve written many times before, it’s due to the different choices men and women make in their careers. No, that doesn’t mean women are choosing to earn less money, but they are making decisions in their careers that lead to less money in exchange for other benefits — such as more time with friends and family.
But Ashe, aren’t earnings based on wages, one might ask. Here’s a simple example to illustrate how two people can be paid equally but still earn different amounts. A man and a woman of equal talent, experience, and education (something unlikely to happen in the real world) get a job at the same company and are each paid $20 an hour. Information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that women on average work fewer hours each week than men. So, the man making $20 an hour and working 42 hours a week will earn $840 at the end of the week, while the woman making $20 but only working 39 hours a week will earn $780. They’re paid the same, yet they take home different amounts.
The gap is measured by comparing the median earnings of all men and the median earnings of all women — that’s not an “apples to apples” comparison. There is no apples to apples comparison because the results might find there are no women being paid less for equal work. Instead, we get claims that female doctors make less than male doctors, even though women go into different specialties than men, and work, on average, fewer hours.
No matter how many times the “wage” gap is debunked, politicians and media outlets will continue to blast headlines claiming it exists and is due to widespread discrimination.
The truth is much more nuanced and doesn’t make for a good rallying cry. It also calls on women to take responsibility for themselves, something modern feminists do not seem to like.