The “gender pay gap” is one of the most persistent myths put about by feminists and social justice warriors. It has been comprehensively debunked: in the UK and US, women in their 30s are actually paid more than men for the same work.
But it’s still repeated endlessly by journalists, activists and even presidents. Even though it’s not true, should it be? Is there an argument that we ought to pay women less?
Some people think there is a case for purposefully remunerating women less generously. They say it’s like any financial incentive: designed to nudge people into happier and more productive lifestyles. With the rise of the comically absurd #GiveWomenYourMoney hashtag on Twitter, I thought the idea deserved closer inspection.
Supporters of what I am sure will come to be called #PayWomenLess correctly point to social incentives built into the tax systems of most western countries designed to encourage, or discourage, certain life choices – such as tax breaks for married couples. They say: “If it’s being done already anyway, why can’t we make the case for our vision of the good life?”
A variety of statistics and scientific observations, some of them quite compelling, are used to make the case that incentivising women to stay home by introducing a gender pay gap is better for everyone in the long run. Here are a few arguments I’ve come across for reversing pay equality.
1. Women like it
Why do women get a kick out of bagging a man who earns a lot more than they do? Because it frees them up to focus on the home, on children and on other hobbies. Women usually strive for a more balanced life than men, which is why they work fewer hours, take longer holidays and earn less for their companies, so being given the freedom to raise a family is a chance most women would jump at.
2. Men pay more throughout relationships
From that first date to who pays the most off the mortgage to the shared American Express, men pay more throughout their relationships. Shouldn’t pay packets recognise the fact?
3. Actually, men pay more for everything
The so-called “Pole Tax” is something all men have to live with. Men pay more, not only for insurance. In the US, men pay nearly 60 per cent more into Medicare and other state medical benefits programmes despite women using services more.
Women’s insurance premiums used to be higher to reflect their higher usage of resources, but that was outlawed by Obamacare, so whether using public or private healthcare, men now subsidise women significantly when it comes to health.
Men pay far more into retirement and pension plans but die earlier than women, so they subsidise the fairer sex there, too. (On average American women live 4.8 years longer than men.)
When you factor in higher educational costs and all the other financial penalties for having a penis, it can be over 10 per cent more expensive to be a man.
4. Men need to save for ‘divorce rape’
It’s a silly name, but a real problem: when marriage breaks down, it’s men who get taken to the cleaners. Their wealth, reputations and access to their children are all on the line. Women can walk away with a fortune, having in many cases done very little to contribute to savings or equity in the family home. Child support payments can be crippling.
5. It’s insurance against unfair criminal sentences
Here’s a male privilege men could learn to do without: controlling for all relevant variables, men receive 63 per cent longer sentences for the same crimes as women. Women are twice as likely to avoid incarceration when convicted. If we are sending men to prison more frequently and for longer periods of time, its only right they have an economic edge to pay for lawyers… and other prison necessities, like soap on a rope.
97.1 per cent of death penalty executions take male lives even though women commit 10 per cent of murders. Actually they might be responsible for more, but women often use methods like poison that can be difficult or impossible to trace after the fact and leave less evidence at the scene.
6. Women refuse to do the nasty jobs
Out of college, on of the the top-paying fields is petroleum engineer. But women stubbornly refuse to apply for highly paid but grubby jobs. Why all this focus on the software industry and “women in tech”? Don’t we need more female coal miners, lumberjacks, truck drivers (not you, Rosie O’Donnell!), slaughterhouse operatives and steeplejacks?
“I learned programmable logic controller development in a slaughtering and packing facilities too,” says one critic. “Women want IT jobs, start there!”
7. Men stick with their jobs and earn more for their companies
Men are more likely to stick with their careers and be a long-term benefit to their companies. Men on average make more money for the companies they work for, they take shorter holidays and they work much longer hours.
8. Men are constantly discovering new and imaginative ways to die at work
Mentally disabled and physically challenged men can be put on the front line, but women aren’t, so even though the Armed Forces is 15 per cent female, 97 per cent of combat deaths and casualties since the Gulf War have been male. And men make up pretty much all the workplace deaths back home, too: at least 93 per cent of workplace deaths are male.
9. … and at home
79 per cent of suicides are men. No one knows why and no one seems particularly keen to find out, but male suicide is four times higher than female. It is a national scandal in many western countries. 83 men kill themselves every day in the United States; that’s 30,000 a year. Why not use the money saved on lower female wages to subsidise research into this silent killer?
10. Men need the help, frankly
More women go to college. By a significant margin. Should men be subsidising all these state-funded gender studies courses? Most people would say no. 57.7 per cent of college places now go to women, but even that doesn’t tell the whole story, because for some reason men are now dropping out of school, at unprecedented rates. For 4-year college degrees, 1.35 women graduate for every male. Men make up only 44 per cent of college applicants.
Women are now routinely hired over men with the same qualifications, just for having boobs.
11. Paying women less would incentivise them to stay home, protecting the nuclear family and reducing single motherhood
Growing economies understand the importance of the nuclear family. There’s no clamour for gay marriage in China or India, where governments recognise that families are the cohesive glue that binds society together. Having a mum and dad at home is better for children: all the studies agree. The breakdown of the nuclear family, especially in ethnic minority communities, has been a disaster for community cohesion and has driven crime rates through the roof.
Now look, ladies. I’m not saying if you work like a man, take risks like a man, and negotiate like a man that you’re not due a man’s wage. What I’m saying is: it’s fairly clear by the numbers that most women don’t, and they make that choice willingly and consciously.
The #GiveYourMoneyToWomen crowd want a wage that is inconsistent with the level of actual labour that they contribute to the workforce (sorry girls, but tweeting isn’t “work”) and the value they generate in the economy.
There’s no reason men and women should be paid the same, when they don’t work the same. Food for thought.