Another Round of Wage Gap Nonsense

A new study from the Journal of Applied Psychology claims that men with traditional views of gender roles earned nearly $12 000 more than men with egalitarian views, $13 000 more than women with egalitarian views, and over $14 000 more than women with traditional views. As described in the Washington Post, the study claims to compare Americans “working in the same kinds of jobs with the same levels of education and putting in the same number of hours per week.”

The Journal is a publication of the American Psychological Association, which has been described by former president Robert Perloff as “too politically correct” and “obeisant to special interests.” Despite the fact that Perloff himself has allied himself with politicized pseudoscience like conversion therapy, there is no reason to assume the APA kettle is white because the Perloff pot is black.

Even if the Journal’s findings were genuine (see below why they are not), the huge pay gap between highly-paid traditional men and low-paid egalitarian men demonstrates that the “protected class” model of civil rights that informs the study is inherently flawed. The primary factor in pay inequality is attitude, not gender: men and women with egalitarian views are most equal while men and women with pro-disparity views show more disparity. Moreover, it would be interesting to factor in the socio-economic background of those traditionally-thinking men; this could be an class phenomenon more than a gender phenomenon, with men born wealthy enough to get choice jobs having more conservative views of gender roles.

And, it is interesting to note that the average of traditionally thinking men and women would fall well above the average of egalitarian men and women, indicating perhaps a political bias as well.

But, the findings are not valid. There are multiple reasons to doubt this study on scientific grounds, not least of which because it was based on the National Longitudinal Study of Youth, which has been tracking the lives of 12 000 Americans since 1979. The marks against NLSY include:

  • It is, in part, a self-reported survey and therefore suffers from the same subjectivity and reporting bias as any self-reported survey.
  • Being a continuous study of people who know they are being observed, rather than a random sampling, NLSY arguably represents the best example of a long-term investigation into Hawthorne-style reactivity.
  • The study was also the primary source for the infamous 1994 best-seller The Bell Curve which asserted, among other controversial claims, inherent racial differences in intelligence.

However, the most absurd aspect of the study is the sample size. Considering how many different “kinds of jobs” there are in the United States, how could valid samples be found in the same jobs, with the same education level, and the same number of hours/week for each comparison in a study of only 12 000 people? The broad categories in the Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook alone contain hundreds of job classifications in the United States—like “police and detectives” and “writers and editors”—that do not even begin to break down the workplace into specific jobs for which people could reasonably expect to be paid equal wages.

Even being generous to the Journal‘s study by assuming there are only 1 000 “kinds of jobs” in the US, that leaves an average of 12 NLSY participants for each kind of job, among whom to find people with the same education level and same work load. This is simply not scientifically valid. The researchers would have either had to lump together unlike information or rely on tiny sample sizes, both of which invalidate the findings.

The study’s findings are also dubious considering that the often-quoted talking point about women being paid 77 cents on the dollar is based on the median income of all women compared to all men regardless of other factors like seniority, hours worked, education, experience, and willingness to travel or otherwise sacrifice for the organization. That 77:100 gap in unadjusted median income should be far higher if the Journal‘s claimed gap in same-work income is genuine, particularly considering that (according to yet another Department of Labor statistic) women on average only work 86 percent as much as men do.

The reality is that research comparing men and women is hopelessly skewed by feminist foregone conclusions about society’s presumed anti-woman bias; the fact that women feel free to quit working when their husbands work harder but men do not enjoy the same privilege has even been spun as something that impacts women negatively! When we can make freedom look like slavery, we are well outside the realm of reason.

But, beyond all of the claims and counter-claims, beyond the self-reported survey statistics and wrangling over how to weigh them, we in the United States already have a solution in place to deal with workplace wage discrimination. The United States passed the Equal Pay Act in 1963:

No employer having employees subject to any provisions of this section shall discriminate, within any establishment in which such employees are employed, between employees on the basis of sex by paying wages to employees in such establishment at a rate less than the rate at which he pays wages to employees of the opposite sex in such establishment for equal work on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions, except where such payment is made pursuant to (i) a seniority system; (ii) a merit system; (iii) a system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or (iv) a differential based on any other factor other than sex…

I am the first to assert that income is far from being rationally and fairly rewarding in our current economy, but the real gaps have little to do with sex. If women are really being paid so much less than men for the exact same work, why aren’t they bringing these rogue employers to justice? Anyone who would reward equally-productive workers differently simply to surround themselves with penises doesn’t deserve to be managing other human beings, so why not charge them for their idiotic crimes? If they are being charged and such cases are simply being dismissed due to corruption in the judicial system, where’s the evidence and criticism?

In short: why not appeal to the existing anti-discrimination law, instead of consistently appealing to poor reasoning, bad statistics, and sexist Damsel-in-Distress sentiment? Obviously because the wage gap is a myth, deployed to demonize men and damselize women for political gain.

Could it be that activists and politicized researchers, on both the left and the right, don’t get publicity and don’t get paid unless they prop up the pre-conceived gynocentric assumptions of their target audience?

Sam and Jody

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