Last night I saw a piece on ABC World News Tonight, and here’s the link to their online version of it. It says that in most major cities, young women (under 30) who have no kids and are not married earn about 8% more than men. In some cities, New York for example, the difference is as high as 17%.
Now, if I were the director of a Men’s Center, I would issue a public statement about how this is clearly unfair to men, an obvious sign of gender discrimination. I might even have a bake sale to raise funds to raise awareness of the unfairness of it all. But that would obviously be ridiculous…there’s no such thing as a Men’s Center (even though we’re a minority at almost every college in the country).
The main reason cited in the article is actually a bit of speculation, since no analysis of the educational levels and/or occupation of women vs. men is reported. But the apparent cause is a simple one: women make up 60% of college graduates these days, and college graduates earn salaries about twice what high school graduates thus, thus women earn more money. The “gender gap” has been narrowing for decades as the composition of college graduates has been changing, so this is hardly a surprising result.
(Of course, if you look into the “gender gap” and correct for occupation and education, you’d see that all but 5% of the gap disappears. Yet directors of Women’s Centers keep citing that women make 78 cents for every dollar a man earns, as if that is really the statistic that is relevant for determining discrimination. That would be like me citing the fact that the composition of the NFL is 70% black, and then jumping to the conclusion that white players are clearly being discriminated against. It’s a statistical fact, but it doesn’t tell you anything about why it’s a fact. For more, see an old favorite of mine.)
But let’s get back to this article. The interesting thing is that it is only single childless women who get paid more than men. Women are more likely to take time off of work during/after pregnancy, and also more likely to drop out of the labor force for extended period of time after having children. Whether that’s “fair” or a result of old-school societal norms that force them to be at home while their husband “gets” to work is beside the point — it’s a fact. And it’s a fact that business should be accounting for. If I have two people, one of whom is more likely to drop out of the workforce and make all the training they received wasted, I’m going to pay that person less because my expected return on them is lower. If someone demands equal pay but does not have equal workplace expectations, that’s not equal at all. Until men can have kids, firms are likely to expect women to work fewer years. It’s that simple. And if men giving birth is anything like it was in the movie Junior (in which my good friend Dana Wagner, aka Studio Compton, has a small extra appearance), it’s probably not something you want anyway.
(Note: This is also a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy: firms believe women will be less likely to stay in the work force, so they pay them less as a result, and then women find the choice to stay home more appealing because the opportunity cost of doing so is lower. Thus, women are more likely to leave the work force, and employers feels justified in paying them less. It’s like when I was a teenager and my friends and I would go to a restaurant: the server would assume we were going to tip poorly, so we would get poor service, and then we would of course tip poorly.)
By not having kids and, in fact, not even being married, these women are giving their employers a signal about their commitment to the job, and they are being rewarded with higher pay. And they’d likely get even higher pay if they could enter into a contract with their employee to waive maternity leave rights (thereby making an even stronger commitment to staying in the work force), and saving their employers a large expected expense in the future. After all, not every women wants to have children (despite what Dr. Bob might tell you). But thanks to the Family and Medical Leave Act, that kind of contract would be illegal because Big Brother has determined that you should not be allowed to waive your rights to maternity leave, even if you never plan on having a child.
So all the single ladies (all the single ladies), congratulations on getting the money you rightfully deserve (and have probably been getting for a while now, despite protestations by Women’s Center directors to the contrary). Just remember one thing: if it weren’t for big government intervening to “protect” you, you’d probably be making even more money than you are.