Opinion: The wage gap isn’t what you think it is … Or is it?

The wage gap has become a heavily-contested, hot-button issue with the rising clash of ‘SJW liberal snowflakes rekt’ YouTube compilations from anti-feminists, and a ‘#woke’ Twitter culture holding politics and individuals under a left-leaning microscope.

Of course we have all heard the long-standing statistic that women make 75 to 82 cents per every $1 that a man makes, but is this accurate?

An individual’s potential earnings can be affected by a number of variables including type of occupation, age, race, location, education, experience, demand and even gender. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research found that in 2017 the median salary of men was around $10,600 more than that of a women. This does not necessarily indicate a wage gap, but a disparity in earnings.

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 aimed to end pay inequality in the workforce with laws banning wage discrimination based on gender. Therefore, if pay inequality surfaces, companies can be held liable for this form of discrimination.

If these businesses could commonly get away with paying women less for the same job and hours worked, why wouldn’t they excluseively hire women to save 25-18 percent on employee costs?

A large source of the earnings gap boils down to personal choice. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent numbers from 2016, women lead men by 5.9 percent in part-time employment.

Additionally, The National Science Board found that women have previously been incredibly underrepresented in STEM fields, occupying only 29 percent of the related workforce in 2013.

Even in high-paying fields such as medical practices, women appear to still earn less than men. This can likely be (at least in part) attributed to the gender differences in specialized medicine.

The American Medical Association recognises that women make up the majority in psychiatry (57 percent), family medicine (58 percent), and pediatrics (75 percent) whereas their male counterparts are more likely to work in emergency medicine (62 percent), anesthesiology (63 percent), and radiology (73 percent), which are more lucrative positions.

Even when women hold well-paying jobs, there is an interesting difference in how women approach negotiating pay raises in comparison to men. According to Kim Elsesser of Forbes Magazine, during an experiment testing how the sexes may react differently to being payed three dollars after a promised payment of between $3 to $10 for playing a game of Boggle, “Men were nine times more likely than the women to directly ask the experimenter for more money. The women just didn’t ask.”

Though the cause of the earnings gap has not always been understood, it is still important to question how these very real differences came about.

It is unlikely that there is any one specific cause for these numbers, but cultural trends and societal expectations may subtly influence the career fields women are more likely to pursue, their specific positions, and how they may ask for better pay.

This issue is far more nuanced than deliberate institutional sexism, and thinking that way may be a disservice toward actually understanding the root of the disparity. Redefining the problem as a simple threat against women risks ignoring the factors that might affect how women find their place in the working world.

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