Op-ed: The Wage Gap in America: Not a Myth, in Fact it’s all Too Real

This piece was originally published in March 2019.

Whether one follows the news or has any form of social media it has become blindingly clear that gender inequality and blatant sexism is still present, especially in the workforce. Even though women are rightfully becoming more present in various fields they are still not getting paid enough. The wage gap is present throughout the country as women are getting paid a significant amount less than men. Not to mention that women of minorities are getting paid even less than white women. According to the New York Times Hispanic women are the least paid women minority only making 53 cents compared to a white male’s dollar. That is virtually half. And the mean for all women is only 80 cents to a white male’s dollar. 

On Monday, March 18th, guest speaker, a Republican economist by the name of Romina Boccia declared that the wage gap in America is a myth. 

Her justification began with trying to say that men pick more dangerous, hands on jobs that they need to get paid more for as a form of compensation. She quickly then also acclaimed that men choose to work more hours a week than women. That being because women are interested in going home to take care of their children. In giving reason on why the wage gap is a myth Boccia said that based on the amount of hours women work compared to men, if they were equated the wage gap would disappear. 

This mindset set the room back to an age in which women were forced to stay home with children or be primary school teachers. It seems we should be moving progressively forward from that way of thinking. Boccia’s reasonings did not seem accurate at this point just barely being ten minutes in. 

She then went on to try and push on women that they should be comfortable choosing to stay home with their children over a job. That they should be able to survive on their husband’s salary. 

There are a lot of issue with this assumption. What if the woman wants the best of both worlds? What if she is a single parent and does not have a partner’s salary to rely on? Here she seemed to be saying women can’t have it all. 

Boccia made it evident that once women go on maternity leave their future career is impacted in terms of salary. Claiming that that’s why in life long careers women make less. That is just not true as, according to the New York Times women make 93% of what men do right out of college. This is even if they have a similar GPA and are working in the same field. 

The biggest point that Boccia kept coming back to was that the wage gap in America is in occurrence because of our freedom of choice. Phrasing this as if it was our greatest gift, for women to choose to have low paying jobs.

It was relieving to hear that Boccia agreed that women are not worse at subjects like math and science but equivalent if not better than men. However, this took a turn when she then started saying that even though that’s true men choose the jobs where those skills are necessary and not women. According to her that is because men are more interested in making money than women. However, even if that’s true that should not be a reason women do not make as much as men. Just because men like money more. Here it became fairly confusing in the way that Boccia continuously went back and forth from saying the wage gap was a myth and was not actually there. As well as, trying to justify that it’s okay that women get paid less because it is their choice or just the path they happen to follow. 

Another factor into the myth according to Boccia is that women tend to pick jobs that have better health insurance than men. As once again men are just more focused on the salary. Okay, maybe women do look into health benefits a little more. However, Boccia took a wrong turn when she said if you take the value of the benefits women recieve and equate them into money that the wage gap would only turn to ninety five cents to the dollar of men. First, that five cents makes a difference when talking about a yearly salary. Second, health benefits should not be a factor in the wage gap. That is an issue with our healthcare system and insurance not with unequal pay. This is deemed to be a faulty reason, however, Boccia’s number one means of persuasion on the myth.
Boccia rounded off her points with saying something along the lines of, should a nurse be paid as much as a surgeon? No matter your gender, race, sexual orientation, or political views it is understandable why this question is completely invalid. It is recognized that a nurse does not do the same work as a surgeon and that they should not be paid the same, that is not the point. Pay should be based on level of education and job position. The wage gap is about people who work the same job but still the men get paid more than the women. According to the New York Times in terms of food preparers as a job, the women in the job get paid only 87% of what the men do. That’s not a myth.

Mary Pociask is the Editor-in-Chief of The Hub. She can be contacted at pociaskm@emmanuel.edu.