Let's talk about pay inequality / by Kailee Haong


I have collected some comments from a post on a Facebook page regarding pay inequality. For privacy, I blocked out their names, but I would like you to know that each of the six comments above were posted by males.

According to a large population of male Facebook users (on this post, at least), we can conclude that:

1.     The gender pay gap is a myth

2.      Male privilege does not exist

3.     Women are essentially lazy

4.     Women choose to be paid less

5.     Taking care of children means you should be paid less

6.     We live in some kind of crazy world, where someone would compare the salary of a convenience store worker to that of a doctor to try and make a point about the gender pay gap

Have we really become that ignorant and uninformed of a country that when we disagree with a fact, we dismiss it as a myth and go about our days? Remember that search engines exist. News sources exist. Statistics and data exist. I’m not certain at what point we decided that assuming information was better than actually seeking it out, but it is a bit disheartening (not to mention incredibly difficult to formulate an argument).  For the sake of it, and because I like to argue, I’ll just break down each of the above six points with six better points.

1.     It is true that the gender pay gap is becoming smaller; HOWEVER, it still exists. In 1963, women made 59 cents to every dollar a man made. In 2013, women made 78 cents to every dollar a man made. Yes, this is progress, but we have begun to stagnate over the past two years, and are not making as much progress as we should be (which is making a dollar to every dollar, simple, right?).

2.     Someone at UC Irvine put together a “male privilege checklist,” which mimics the famous “white privilege” essay written by Peggy McIntosh (who I had the incredible opportunity of meeting last year at Gonzaga). You can access the document above, and I think that is all I will say for this point. Privilege is very alive today.

3.     A while ago, I stumbled upon this brilliant New York Times article that highlighted what unemployed Americans did with their days. Check out this graphic that was put together, highlighting what 147 individuals, male and female, do every day. Fascinatingly enough, men spend about twice as much time sitting around watching TV and movies while women spend about twice as much time doing housework and caring for others. Does that seem lazy to you? I’m going to go ahead and assume not.

4.     I honestly do not know how to even approach this point, because it is so absurd and ridiculous. Women do not elect jobs because they know they will be paid less. Jillian Berman of Huffington Post, however, does understand how this came to be. She notes:

a.     “High-paying, traditionally male-dominated fields, like engineering and computer science, tend to be hostile places for women.”

b.     Women are driven away or discouraged from those fields as early as elementary school due to sexism.

c.      Fields that women gravitate toward are more often lower paying simply because they are seen as women’s work.

She continues, if you like, you can finish reading the article at the link above.

5.     Yes, it is a fact that women take time off of work due to pregnancy or the need to take care of children. What are the other options, though? The men certainly aren’t doing it. Women are ten times more likely than men to skip work in order to take care of their ill child. Let’s be reminded that the United States is the only industrialized nation that has not mandated paid maternity leave.

6.     The person making this statement clearly misunderstood what the pay gap means. In the simplest terms possible, you cannot compare a female convenience store employee to a male doctor. Obviously a doctor who has had many, many years of schooling will make more than a clerk at a gas station. Anyone can understand that. What you need to do is compare a female doctor to a male doctor. Here is an excerpt from a Forbes article: “Researchers from the University of Michigan Health System and Duke University found that among 800 physicians who received a highly competitive early career research grant, women earned an average of $12,194 less than men a year, when all other factors remained the same.” How do we explain that?

If by some crazy means, the people who posted the above comments on Facebook stumble upon this blog post, I hope they rescind their uneducated comments, especially the folks who claim “the statistics have been proven wrong over and over again.” I’m not certain what statistics they are looking at, but I’m going to go ahead and keep believing the New York Times, Huffington Post, Forbes… reputable news sources, so to say.

Now, this isn’t a ploy against men, some post aimed at docking all men’s pay or condemning them simply for being male—no. This is an outcry for the equality that, unfortunately, is still not present today, in 2015. This isn’t the Great Depression, this isn’t World War II era—this isn’t like any other era ever before in history. Face it: women have jobs. Women work. Women contribute to society. I think it’s about due time to acknowledge that. Ignorance will only carry you so far.

I’ll leave you with a quote.

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” – Desmond Tutu