Gender Wage Gap Revisited

| Wed Jun. 22, 2005 5:50 PM EDT

"Give me a break," John Stossel quips about the difference in wages between men and women. There's no sexism here, he claims, citing a new book on the subject, it's all about choices:

"Women themselves say they're far more likely to care about flexibility," says author Warren Farrell. "Men say, I'm far more likely to care about money." … His research found that the wage gap exists not because of sexism, but because more men are willing to do certain kinds of jobs.

Well gee, I wonder why women need to be more concerned about flexibility when thinking about jobs. Surely not because they don't get much support raising children, eh? And surely not because this country has wholly inadequate provisions for family leave. No, surely not. At any rate, Farrell may well be right that the wage gap isn't due to gender discrimination—I haven't read his book—although here's an in-depth look at the issue that argues that the wage gap persists even after one accounts for all the usually-cited factors: job choice, hours worked, etc. etc. That's very much worth a read. And even if Farrell's right that job preferences account for the gap, it's unlikely that this is because men are somehow "hardwired" to care more about money. The modern workplace, especially in the United States, isn't exactly accomodating for women who want to try to raise a family. And pregnancy discrimination is still very much alive and kicking. Now Stossel claims that this is all "just." But presumably he believes that the country also needs children if it wants to, you know, not run out of people. Ah, therein lies the problem.

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