The Corner

What Miss Utah Should Have Said about the Gender Pay Gap

Like many girls, I grew up watching beauty pageants. During the interview portion I hung on the contestants’ every word. I confess: I still enjoy watching and listening.

In last night’s Miss USA pageant, judges asked Miss Utah, “A recent report shows that in 40 percent of American families with children, women are the primary earners, yet they continue to earn less than men. What does it say about society?”

The Beehive State delegate fumbled with an incoherent response, making her an overnight YouTube sensation. Tomorrow she’s booked on the Today show to clarify her nervous nonsense that included the phrase “create education better.”

If Miss Utah gets the chance to answer the question again — and let’s hope that she does — she should confront the fact-challenged question head on. Here’s what she should have said:

“Today American women have more opportunities than ever – in education, in the workplace, and in finding a comfortable work-life balance. But the percentage of breadwinners who are female is a poor way to measure women’s progress.

Forty percent of breadwinners are women, but about two-thirds of women in this category are actually sole breadwinners, meaning they are single parents. 

Similarly, the statistics we commonly hear about the male-female “wage gap” are a misrepresentation of the facts.

The difference in women’s and men’s wages almost completely disappears when we correct for choices that many women make, such as entering less lucrative professions, spending fewer hours in the office, or taking years out of work to raise children.

Thank God we have those choices. Our society is the best in human history to be a woman, where we live longer, richer, and freer lives than ever before. . . .”

Then again, Miss Utah only had 30 seconds. It might take a little longer to correct the trite and tired feminist tropes reflected in the politically charged question posed to her.

— Hadley Heath is senior policy analyst at the Independent Women’s Forum and a 2012–2013 National Review Institute Washington fellow.

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