A girls’ soccer team in Burlington, Vermont was penalized on the field by referees after revealing white t-shirts that featured “#EqualPay,” as reported by NBC News. The girls were penalized in accordance with the rules of the league, which prohibits wearing uniforms tagged with slogans during official games. Because of this rule, I do agree that they should have been penalized. In this very visible protest, the team was trying to bring awareness to the gender pay gap in America. Although the gender pay gap is real, it is largely misrepresented by the left.
To me, the type of rhetoric from the left about the gender pay gap in America is mind-boggling. We constantly hear that women only earn 80 cents for every dollar earned by men. From this, most people infer that a man will be paid more than a woman for doing the same job and working the same number of hours. This is obviously the case with the girls on the soccer team, who have been told by politicians on the left that women face systemic sexism when going to work, as stated by a Forbes article. However, this logic is unfounded and must be challenged.
Many people have come to this false conclusion because studies will compare the annual median earnings of men and women. Upon finding that men generally earn more money than women, many reports automatically assume that the cause is rampant sexism, albeit these studies do not actually investigate the true causes. This logic is inherently flawed, as there is little to no factual basis for this argument. It’s also problematic because we shouldn’t always assume the worst of people in America. The true reason for this gap in earnings by gender is women’s choices, which is simply ignored by both politicians and researchers. This is not to say that women make worse choices than men, it’s that they make different choices. These different choices have clear effects on their salaries, just as one’s salary would be negatively affected if they made the choice to go on an unannounced vacation for a month.
A new study out of Harvard University explained by the Foundation for Economic Education affirms the aforementioned claim. The study examined salaries between men and women at the same job at the same place. In this case, the job that they examined was at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. This method of study is particularly logical because if the pay gap was based on sexism, we could clearly see it in a job that is specifically shared by men and women. As stated by the Foundation for Economic Education, the authors concluded that the pay gap they found at the MBTA can be entirely explained by different choices between men and women. For example, male train and bus drivers worked 83 percent more overtime than their female counterparts and twice as many women as men never took overtime hours. Therefore, the wage gap is more directly attributed to the difference in choice between men and women than sexism in the workplace.
I think it’s important to clarify that sometimes women must make choices that will put them at a disadvantage in their careers, such as skipping out on hours to care for their children. That’s not to say that they shouldn’t make those choices or that those choices are wrong; I’m merely saying that this is a prime cause of the gender pay gap. But to automatically attribute the gender pay gap to sexism in America is irresponsible, to say the least.