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'Equal Pay Day' and Other Meaningless Tropes

Today is Equal Pay Day. According to the National Committee on Pay Equity, “This date symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year.”
The NCPE created Equal Pay Day in 1996 “as a public awareness event to illustrate the gap between men's and women's wages.”
Since then it has become a mantra of the left, highlighting the pay disparity between men and women in the hope of expanding victimhood.
How wide is the gender pay gap? The Pew Research Center says 15 cents, but shrinking. “The estimated 15-cent gender pay gap among all workers in 2018 has narrowed from 36 cents in 1980.”
While the gender pay gap tells us something, it tells us almost nothing about pay discrimination based on gender.
To be sure, when one compares the incomes of all male workers to all female workers, there is a pay gap. But wouldn’t it be important to know, for example, the kinds of jobs people have?
There is a significant pay gap between medical doctors and public school teachers. If more men were medical doctors than women, and more women were public school teachers than men, the gender pay gap between men and women restricted to those two professions would be significant. But that would tell us nothing about discrimination.
There is likewise a significant pay gap between engineers and social workers. More men choose the former and more women the latter. If we compare the gender pay gap between men and women limited to those two professions, it would again be significant.
Yet the gender pay gap makes no adjustment for job differences. NONE. It simply compares the median earnings of all men to all women, regardless of education, experience or type of work.
Pew goes on to say, “Much of the gap has been explained by measurable factors such as educational attainment, occupational segregation and work experience. The narrowing of the gap is attributable in large part to gains women have made in each of these dimensions.”
It would have been more accurate, and more in line with economic studies, if Pew had said “most of the gap” rather than “much of the gap.”
Pew also hints at the only real benefit of looking at the gender pay gap: It indicates that women are making significant gains in education and experience. They are finding ways to balance working careers with parenting, rather than leaving the workforce for long periods of time. And they are increasingly gravitating toward higher paying careers in engineering, health care and the sciences.
Yes, women used to face significant educational and professional barriers. But legislation—e.g., the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964—outlawed pay discrimination based on gender. And social mores have advanced significantly.
The gender pay gap is shrinking because women are making different educational and career choices. The left ignores those changes because it needs victims, not success stories.