Wage gap was oversimplified

On July 24, Audra Wilson, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of Illinois, writes, "women make up nearly half the workforce, receive their college and graduate degrees at a greater rate than men and are …. Yet on average, women continue to make significantly less money than their male counterparts." The problem is not a wage gap/difference but an earnings difference with multiple causal factors.

For example, in 9 out of the 10 highest-paying college majors - various Engineering fields, Computer Science, Statistics and MIS - men represented more than 80% of the college graduates in those fields.

The only college major of the top ten where women are overrepresented is Nursing, where 84.4% of the bachelor's degrees in 2014 were awarded to women. The bottom of the Top 50 college majors which includes study areas such as communications, music, education, sociology, social work, etc., dominated by female graduates, have an average first five-year salary average of $42,800 while the first five-year salary average for the top ten majors is $58,400.

On another front, according to the Bureau of Labor Statics, among full-time workers (those working 35 hours or more per week), men were more likely than women to work a greater number of hours. For example, 25.8% of men working full-time worked 41 or more hours per week in 2015, compared to only 14.5% of women who worked those hours, meaning that men working full-time last year were nearly twice as likely as women to work 41 hours per work or more.

The raw gender wage gap doesn't exist because employers discriminate against women in the labor market. It reflects voluntary and personal choices of both men and women in terms of college majors, careers, the number of hours worked, and family roles and responsibilities.

Joe H. Heater


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