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The Gender Wage Gap: The Real Truth About Whether or Not It Exists

I’m sure we are aware of the concept of the gender gap pay in the United States. Women as a whole have made great strides in attending higher education institutions, obtaining higher career positions, and reducing the gap in pay difference. There are many articles and arguments to support the difference in pay between men and women in the workforce. This phenomenon causes us a great hurdle as we prepare for retirement. If women consistently earn less than men, we will have less money available to invest into our retirement accounts.

The text below is an excerpt from the article titled “No, Women Don’t Make Less Money Than Men” in The Daily Beast. It takes an interesting viewpoint on the origin of the cause of the gender gap.

The 23-cent gender pay gap is simply the difference between the average earnings of all men and women working full-time. It does not account for differences in occupations, positions, education, job tenure, or hours worked per week. When all these relevant factors are taken into consideration, the wage gap narrows to about five cents. And no one knows if the five cents is a result of discrimination or some other subtle, hard-to-measure difference between male and female workers. In its fact-checking column on the State of the Union, the Washington Post included the president’s mention of the wage gap in its list of dubious claims. “There is clearly a wage gap, but differences in the life choices of men and women… make it difficult to make simple comparisons.”

Consider, for example, how men and women differ in their college majors. Here is a list (PDF) of the ten most remunerative majors compiled by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. Men overwhelmingly outnumber women in all but one of them:


  1. Petroleum Engineering: 87% male
  2. Pharmacy Pharmaceutical Sciences and Administration: 48% male
  3. Mathematics and Computer Science: 67% male
  4. Aerospace Engineering: 88% male
  5. Chemical Engineering: 72% male
  6. Electrical Engineering: 89% male
  7. Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering: 97% male
  8. Mechanical Engineering: 90% male
  9. Metallurgical Engineering: 83% male
  10. Mining and Mineral Engineering: 90% male


And here are the 10 least remunerative majors—where women prevail in nine out of ten:


  1. Counseling Psychology: 74% female
  2. Early Childhood Education: 97% female
  3. Theology and Religious Vocations: 34% female
  4. Human Services and Community Organization: 81% female
  5. Social Work: 88% female
  6. Drama and Theater Arts: 60% female
  7. Studio Arts: 66% female
  8. Communication Disorders Sciences and Services: 94% female
  9. Visual and Performing Arts: 77% female
  10. Health and Medical Preparatory Programs: 55% female

Much of the wage gap can be explained away by simply taking account of college majors. Early childhood educators and social workers can expect to earn around $36,000 and $39,000, respectively. By contrast, petroleum engineering and metallurgy degrees promise median earnings of $120,000 and $80,000. Not many aspiring early childhood educators would change course once they learn they can earn more in metallurgy or mining. The sexes, taken as a group, are somewhat different. Women, far more than men, appear to be drawn to jobs in the caring professions; and men are more likely to turn up in people-free zones. In the pursuit of happiness, men and women appear to take different paths.

But here is the mystery. These and other differences in employment preferences and work-family choices have been widely studied in recent years and are now documented in a mountain of solid empirical research. By now the President and his staff must be aware that the wage gap statistic has been demolished. This is not the first time the Washington Post has alerted the White House to the error. Why continue to use it? One possibility is that they have been taken in by the apologetics of groups like the National Organization for Women and the American Association of University Women. In its 2007 Behind the Pay Gap report, the AAUW admits that most of the gap in earnings is explained by choices. But this admission is qualified: “Women’s personal choices are similarly fraught with inequities,” says the AAUW. It speaks of women being “pigeonholed” into “pink-collar” jobs in health and education. According to NOW, powerful sexist stereotypes “steer” women and men “toward different education, training, and career paths.”

            While this article points out that the gender gap pay is not due to gender discriminatory reasons, it does not show that there is no difference in pay between men and women. It clearly shows that the reasoning for women earning less pay is not due to the traditional thoughts. While the gap may not be due to the existing rationale, there is still evidence that there is a difference nonetheless. This shows us that no matter what the reason, women for the most part are still earning less than men. This still means that we are able to put away less for our retirement accounts. With the information in this article, we can take a different view if we like on the reasoning behind why women earn less. However, we cannot ignore that no matter what the reason, women are still making less. This is a fact that we cannot ignore when we are planning for retirement. We have to take this fact into consideration and plan to combat it. If we choose to ignore this vital information, our futures will be much less enjoyable with less money.

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Financial Sisterhood TM, 2016