Women earn just 77 or 78 cents to the dollar that men earn.
That line is thrown around so often it must be true, right? As with most outrageous statistics, the shock disappears when you do even a bit of research into its background.
I first heard the claim when I was about 10 years old. My friend's mom told us, apropos of nothing, that men earn more than women simply for being men. I didn't think anything of it at the time, but looking back I see how absurd such a suggestion was. For that to be true, there would be no point to hiring men at all. Employers could just hire all women and cut salary costs by 25 percent...
I don't know how many times this myth has to be busted before people stop repeating it, but here we go again.
Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler has a great takedown of the myth, giving "two Pinocchios" to those who continue to push it as a means of telling women they're perpetual victims of discrimination. One important factor that Kessler points out is that women often choose lower-paying fields. He includes two lists, the first showing that nine of the 10 highest-paying fields are dominated by men (the second highest-paying profession, pharmaceutical sciences, has slightly more women than men). The second list shows that nine of the 10 lowest-paying fields are dominated by women (theology and religious vocations has vastly more men than women).
Proponents of the wage-gap myth like to claim that the patriarchy pushes women into those less lucrative careers. That's a sad commentary on their way of thinking — their notion that women are simply too dumb or weak to think for themselves and choose the career they actually want. I think the numbers show that women are choosing the careers they prefer but those careers just aren't as lucrative as those chosen by men. There's nothing wrong with that. Do what makes you happy.
You have to wonder what kind of person wants to believe this myth is true, and why they want it to be true.