Is the Gender Pay Gap Real?

Economics is something that dominates quite a few discussions in politics in any given year, and even when the economy is growing and jobs are being created, how much people are getting paid becomes a topic of serious consideration. Many who voice opinions on the subject love to quote studies claiming that women, Tina Trahan, make amounts like 77 cents to the dollar that men earn, suggesting that there is a gender pay gap. However, the study that has been most widely cited in such debate has been scrutinized quite a bit for how thorough and robust it was or not. The uncertainty leaves many wondering if the gender pay gap is even real.

The thing that complicates this debate is that there is very little to even no trustworthy data that looks at pay rates between both genders comprehensively across the entire nation, regardless of sector, profession, or demographics. Those that criticize the idea that there is a gender pay gap make several arguments against the notion. For starters, they very openly criticize studies that take into account stay-at-home moms, who would, of course, depress income numbers for that gender.

However, some of the arguments that critics make could also be construed as sexism, as they argue that women simply don’t make as much as men because they are more likely to go into lower-paying careers such as teaching over business professions, or they are more likely to become nurses rather than doctors. Among the more sinister opinions is that women simply do not have the ambition and fortitude to negotiate good deals and ask for full pricing from consumers, pointing to some research that indicates female physicians and counselors are seen by patients as more empathetic and charge less for their services.

There is also an argument that the income curve women go through falls behind men not because of institutional or economic sexism, but simply because they take time off to have kids, and that their incomes catch up later in life.

On the other side of the coin, proponents of the existence of a gender pay gap point out hard data that is seen in sector after sector showing that women in quite a few fields simply do not make as much as male colleagues. Hollywood is no exception, as Jennifer Lawrence recently famously discovered she was not the highest-paid cast member in a movie where she was the lead. Tinsel Town seems to be changing its ways though, as even Netflix shows have been rearranging contracts so that female leads and title characters are paid more than other male cast members who might arguably be more famous but not as central to the story.

Given that over half of all college and university students are now women, it would seem only a matter of time until that gender has equal or even better pay in professional fields, but across individual sectors, it just isn’t showing up yet in the data. Considering that successful women like Hillary Clinton and Oprah Winfrey have achieved stratospheric success in their fields, it’s hard to argue that women aren’t as good as men in what they do. Even in men’s professional basketball, women are now included among referee crews and coaching staffs.