Is there hard data we might examine in order to determine what's causing the gender wage gap he thinks is so misleading? In fact, there is. A GAO report tried to account for the difference in earnings between men and women and found that factors like work patterns (experience or time in the workforce, for example), industry, occupation, race, marital status, and job tenure do come into play. However, it then stripped all of those factors out, and it still found that women make 80 percent of what men earn. It concluded, "[W]e were not able to explain the remaining earnings difference." One of the possibilities, it said, is discrimination, pure and simple.
The wage gap also holds true no matter what industry or occupation women enter. In the Bureau of Labor Statistic's list of nearly 600 occupations, women make more than men in only seven of them, and in those the difference can be as slight as a couple of dollars a week. Plus women make less than men in every single one of the BLS's 13 industry categories. Women will be paid less no matter what career choices they make.
Nemko is also worried that more women than men are getting college degrees, pointing out that 60 women graduate from college for every 40 men. But when they move into the workforce, are they rewarded for that educational attainment? Far from it. The Census Bureau looked through data on higher education and found that women make less than similarly educated men at every level. Worse, the gap widens the more education a woman takes on. While overall men with post-high school education make more than $800 more per month than women with the same level of education, men with a B.A. in business make $1,000 more and men with advanced degrees in business make $1,400.
The "anti-men practices" he says are "routinely imposed by employers" -- chief among them, flexible work schedules and family leave -- can actually benefit men. After all, while women are expected to be the default caretakers, men are parents too. Zemko points out that a major cause of men dying earlier than women is stress-related illnesses. So work policies that support those who want to work and care for kids benefit both men and women. Far from "diverting money" from men and "costing jobs," these policies should help everyone.
A rising tide should lift all boats. The steps the country needs to take to close the wage gap should also improve men's wages. Giving men access to better work schedules that allow them to be fathers as well as workers helps everyone. But we're not there yet, and calling the economy in favor of women just doesn't hold up against the data.
Standing Up for Equality
-- Mike Otterman, social media manager, Catalyst, and Jeanine Prime, PhD, vice president of research, Catalyst
Most guys get that equality programs -- things like flexible work arrangements, mentoring programs, on-site childcare, and legislative solutions for equal pay -- are good for women and men. They support equality, not just because they care about women, but because they recognize it's in their own interests.