The Corner

Equal Pay Day’s Misleading Math

Earlier today, I wrote about the false premise of Equal Pay Day.  Feminists championing this pseudo holiday imply that the wage gap statistic compares two coworkers, one man and one woman. But that’s just not the case. Men work longer hours on average, work in different industries and in more dangerous and unpleasant conditions, spend more years on the job, and commute longer to work – all of which help explain why they tend to have higher earnings than women.

But this year, feminists are abusing statistics even more than usual. Take this column at CNN, which cites statistics provided by the liberal AAUW.  The numbers are meant to dramatize the wage gap, by highlighting not just how much less woman earn overall, but by breaking it down further by race.  CNN’s Dana Ford writes:

Women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s earnings vary a lot depending on race.

Asian American women, for example, earn 90% of what white men do, the American Association of University Women reports.

African American women are paid 63% of what white men are, while Hispanic or Latina women earn just 54% of what white men do, AAUW says.

But why is the AAUW comparing all these groups of women to white men?  If the point is really to identify the role that sex plays in earnings, then it makes no sense to compare across races. 

Presumably, they made this choice because comparing men and women of the same race undermines their narrative that sexism is what drives differences in earnings. According to this 2015 Department of Labor data, the difference between average earnings is most pronounced among whites and Asians (with women earning 80 percent of what men earn in both these groups). The difference is less among Hispanics (with women earning 84 percent) and far less among African Americans (with women earning 92 percent). 

This data isn’t surprising.  We know that education impacts earnings and that African American women are more likely than African American men to graduate from high school and college. Factors like these – educational backgrounds, choice of industry, years of experience – play the biggest role in determining earnings. 

The data on the differences in earnings by race certainly speak to other issues we have in our society – particularly the need to improve educational opportunities for African-Americans and Hispanics so that they can have the opportunity to earn more. These issues deserve more attention; misleading statistics like those coming out of the AAUW don’t.  

Carrie Lukas is the president of the Independent Women’s Forum.

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