As college students, most of us have just entered the job market, and concerns over equal pay for women have become more relevant. According to a July article in Fortune Magazine, just four years after graduation, men make an average of $9,000 more than women.
We’ve all heard the talking points on equal pay. Politicians at every rank, up to Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama, have cited that women today make 77 cents for every dollar that men make. This has been a huge rallying point for modern feminism.
But there’s a problem with the 77 cents figure: It’s wrong.
This number gets brought up when talking about pay discrimination, which describes the situation where one man and one woman work the exact same job, but the woman is paid less.
However, the 77 cents figure wasn’t created by surveying salaries of men and women working the same job. Rather, it takes the average salary of every working woman and compares it to the average salary of every working man. The difference between men and women working in the same profession is actually closer to 95 cents for every dollar.
We should not be using data out of context. When my political opponents misuse facts, I discount their arguments and call them out. It’s embarrassing when my side makes the same mistake. Politicians don’t need to take information out of context to rally the public. The facts are on our side.
The reason many claim that women earn less than men is that more women enter lower paying fields. Unfortunately, this isn’t by choice. Women aren’t being hired for well paying jobs.
For blue-collar work, a woman is more likely to work in the food service, where by law they don’t have to be paid minimum wage. A man is more likely to work in manufacturing, for example, where the labor is unionized and pay is decent.
For white-collar work, women aren’t given the advancement and leadership opportunities because of sexism and the confidence gap. Young girls are also steered away from high-paying STEM fields.
Employment discrimination is what this figure should be about. Concealing the truth and taking facts out of context only brings in negative media coverage. Keep it in context, and the truth can be even more powerful.
Annie Cappetta is a freshman majoring in political science.