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Yes, repeating something true to intentionally deceive is a lie. The case of the (missing) gender pay gap

15 Sep 2017

Saying something with an intent to deceive is hard not to call a lie.  Now perhaps we can forgive politicians (or the rest of us) who pick up too quickly an idea that we hear about without fully understanding its validity.  But if challenged on it, we should be willing to adjust our perspective when confronted with our error, if there is no doubt of the error.  But that’s not the approach of the progressive left.  Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, as well as the broader feminist movement, have pushed a story that because of sexism, females are paid only 77 cents on the dollar for what a male makes.  As Christina Hoff Summers says,

No matter how many times this wage gap claim is decisively refuted by economists, it always comes back. The bottom line: the 23-cent gender pay gap is simply the difference between the average earnings of all men and women working full-time. It does not account for differences in occupations, positions, education, job tenure or hours worked per week. When such relevant factors are considered, the wage gap narrows to the point of vanishing.

The best economic studies continue to show that while there are some wage discrepancies,  these numbers are small and decreasing.  That reality makes the case for government action small, yet beating the drum that those opposed to you have a war on women has been a progressive staple for years.  Further, as I have argued before, if there really were such a wage gap, there is a continuing profit opportunity that is not exploited.  We’re supposed to believe that employers refuse to hire a woman, but will pay a man 23% more pay for the same work.  Where is the employer that would take this reality and simply hire all women?  He or she could simply increase the pay by 10% and still have a sizable labor cost advantage over their sexist competitors.  The fact that we don’t see this speaks volumes.

So today’s focus is from the WSJ (gated) on the CEO of SAP NA, Jennifer Morgan, who went after the gender pay gap in her company:

Barely a year into her tenure as president of SAP SE’s North America division, Jennifer Morgan embarked on an initiative many companies remain skittish about taking on: erasing the pay gap between male and female employees.  But in the war for top talent, particularly in the tech industry, Ms. Morgan says doing nothing wasn’t an option. In late 2015, SAP hired the law firm Littler Mendelson PC to examine pay for its U.S. employees.  The company took into account factors such as years of experience, past performance reviews and employees’ locations. In cases where pay disparities among similar employees couldn’t be explained by those kinds of variables and fell outside a certain range, pay adjustments were to be made.

What do you think the results were?  Well, they certainly surprised Ms. Morgan.  Not 23%.  Not 5%.  1% was the difference.  And some of that difference was for males, not females.

One false assumption I had was that the inequity would be only around women. I had an unconscious bias, and this process really opened my eyes to that. What we found is that the inequalities existed, and 70% of it was for females—but 30% were with males. That was probably my biggest surprise. It was just eye opening because it’s a gender-equity issue, but many times it’s just an equality issue. I was also pleasantly surprised that the inequity was only within 1% of the employee population. But 1% is still 100% wrong.

Hard to disagree with her last comment and Bereans certainly applaud it.  But when you are down to the numbers that she was addressing, you’ve taken out the legs of the argument that women are systematically exploited over pay.  What’s the likelihood that the 77 (or 78) cents on the dollar myth won’t be coming back soon in an election near you?  What’s the likelihood that opponents of further legislation will be labeled haters of women?