The Wall Street Journal is one of my very favorite, must-read publications, but every so often they'll open up their op-ed pages to contributors with some kind of agenda so far removed from reality that it makes you wonder if the WSJ just ran the thing to generate feedback. The headline alone probably accomplished what the newspaper wanted controversy.
In a recent op-ed piece titled, "There Is No Male-Female Wage Gap," Carrie Lukas, executive director of the Independent Women's Forum (which has earned a reputation as being an anti-feminist organization), attempts to explain how the fact that women typically earn less than men doesn't really mean that women earn less. It's all a mirage, she suggests, because actually more men than women are unemployed, you see.
Plus, she says, "women gravitate toward jobs with fewer risks, more comfortable conditions, regular hours, more personal fulfillment and greater flexibility." It's left to the men, she notes, to take those jobs that require physical labor, outdoor work, and other big-tough-guy type stuff that require them to get their hands dirty and their hair messed up. So it's really no wonder why a construction worker pulling down an overnight shift makes more than a part-time shelf-stocker.
What Lukas never addresses, though, is the disparity in salaries between men and women working in the same profession at the same job. Although she tries to utilize the Bureau of Labor Statistics on her behalf, in fact the BLS points unambiguously and unmistakably to the existence of a gender gap, to wit: "In 2009, women who were full-time wage and salary workers had median weekly earnings that were about 80 percent of the earnings of their male counterparts." And so does every industry salary survey I've come across over the past 25 years. Every apples-to-apples comparison I've ever seen says the same thing: Men generally make more than women.
Here are a few industry-specific studies that bear out the existence of a gender gap:
material handling and logistics professionals
So the question really becomes: Since it's ridiculously easy to prove the existence of a gender-wage gap, what would have motivated Lukas to attempt to disprove? It didn't take me very long to figure out the answer to that question all I had to do was visit the IWF website, and lo and behold, I came across a post from our old friend, Mark Perry, who famously dismissed the loss of millions of manufacturing jobs by claiming those laid-off workers could now instead become financial managers and medical doctors. Prof. Perry, as it turns out, also scoffs at the idea of a gender gap to what end, I'm not quite sure, but apparently, there are political oats to be sown by deriding the very idea of a gender gap.
Hmmmm, I wonder if there's such a thing as a pundit gap?