A Feminist Needs Accurate Statistics Like a Fish Needs a Bicycle

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Over at Jezebel, Katie J. M. Baker has a response to my Bloomberg View column on the gender pay gap that is heavy on personal attacks and light on logic. The first four paragraphs consist of nothing but such attacks and misrepresentations of my argument; the fifth of an excerpt from the column; the sixth goes back to personal attacks. (My face is “smug,” and apparently arouses a desire to “smack” it, at least in feminists who are incapable of mustering actual arguments against what I have to say.)

Baker does get around to trying to refute me by citing what she describes (falsely) as a “study” that affirms the feminist conventional wisdom about the pay gap. That “study” lists ten bullet points in making its case. None of them proves what Baker thinks it proves. Thus, for example, the first bullet point notes that “[w]omen in science, technology, engineering and math are paid 86 percent of what their male counterparts are paid.” Follow the footnote, and you’ll see the cited source doesn’t correct for continuous employment history or seniority and lumps all “STEM” jobs together. The next sentence, about female business majors, does not appear to be supported by the source noted in the footnote. And so on.

According to the title of Baker’s post, I want “women” in general to “shut up” about the gender pay gap. Actually, I quote several women who have studied the issue in my column: June O’Neill, Diana Furchtgott-Roth, and Carrie Lukas. I will admit to thinking that people who don’t know what they’re talking about and substitute name-calling for rational argument would do the rest of the world a favor by being silent, whatever their sex.

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