The truth about gender income equality

“You know, today, women make up about half our workforce, but they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment.” These are the words of President Obama in his State of the Union address earlier this year, as reported by The Washington Post. This statistic has been reported as false at worst and misleading at best by both left and right publications. “What is wrong and embarrassing is the President of the United States reciting a massively discredited factoid,” said The Daily Beast, and  The Atlantic called this statistic “famously false.”

It’s not that there isn’t a wage gap. There is. But the wage gap is much smaller than the Obama administration would like us to believe.

“The latter gives the impression that a man and a woman standing next to each other doing the same job for the same number of hours get paid different salaries. That’s not at all the case,” according to left-leaning publication Slate.

This statistic merely represents the median wage gap between men and women, according to The Daily Beast. The key word here used by The Daily Beast is “median”.

“There is a wage difference. But it might not be the wage difference that you thought. The real gap isn’t between men and women doing the same job. The real gap is between men and women doing different jobs and following different careers,” according to The Atlantic.

“The point here is not that there is no wage inequality. But by focusing our outrage into a tidy, misleading statistic we’ve missed the actual challenges,” says Slate.

There are numerous reasons for the wage gap. One of the reasons cited by both left and right publications is that women tend to gravitate towards lower paying jobs. According to The Atlantic, nine out of the ten highest paying jobs are predominately male, while nine out of the ten lowest paying jobs are predominately female.

“The big differences are in occupation and industry. Women congregate in different professions than men do, and the largely male professions tend to be higher-paying,” according to Slate.

According to sources on both the left and right, the actual wage gap, is between 5-9 cents. This is significantly less than some would like us to believe.

The wage gap will and should continue to close. The majority of bachelor’s degrees have been earned by women in recent years and there is an all-time high of 40% of working moms being the primary breadwinners, according to The Atlantic, which says that women are “well-positioned to benefit from a growing professional service economy.” The closing line of the report by The Atlantic makes an excellent point: Ideally, one day the fact that men and women are equal competitors in the workforce will just be an obvious truth.

However, The Atlantic points out that if women continue to gravitate towards lower paying careers, the wage gap will remain.  But is that really such a bad thing? If women are choosing these careers because that is what makes them happy, fulfilled and satisfied, isn’t that more important than “income equality” as long as you are providing for your family? “In the pursuit of happiness, men and women appear to take different paths,” says The Daily Beast.

If these women are fortunate enough to be able to find a career which both provides for their family and satisfies them, why should it matter if they are making nine cents less than a man? Is it really worth sacrificing a fulfilling career for nine more cents and the ability to claim “income equality?” Is “income equality” worth sacrificing your fulfillment and happiness?

Many have to sacrifice a fulfilling career for one which is less enjoyable, but puts food on the table, especially single parents. If you are fortunate enough to be able to find a career which both satisfies you and provides for your family, you are very fortunate. Why should you give up a job that makes you happy just for a little more money?

This post was originally featured on Turning Point USA.

Katherine Zehnder

Katherine Zehnder

I'm junior majoring in English, with an emphasis in government and a minor in history. I'm also a contributor to the Blaze, & a Staff Editor for 2AO Nation, and a columnist for Turning Point USA.