The New York Times published an article, As Women Take Over a Male-Dominated Field, the Pay Drops. The title conveys its message. That women are paid less than men for the same work is true. But is it as the article strains to imply that it is due to a gender bias? Buried deep in the piece is this statement: pure discrimination may account for 9 percent of the gender pay gap. But is even this small difference an indication of gender bias?

When you try to explain the pay differential between men and women you must first seek other factors which may account for this difference before concluding that women are paid less purely because they are female. There could be other biases at work. The demands of family life which fall disproportionately on women could be part of the explanation. The best way to remove these confounding variables is to look at the remuneration of never married white woman. We have known for about a century that there is no pay differential between never married white women and men who perform the same job. But let’s look at some data. I examined this issue in 2010 looking at the Life Sciences. I made use of the Department of Labor’s Highlights of Women’s Earnings in 2008. Their report for 2013 is available and is given below as a pdf file. The table immediately below shows the income of never married women compared to men. The key data are in red boxes. Click on the table to enlarge it.

never married women

As you can see these women earn more than 95% of men doing the same job. If the data were further broken down to separate never married white women, the difference would almost certainly completely vanish or even reverse. Differences in what women earn due solely to their gender have vanished. You must look elsewhere to explain the real difference that exists. These factors include other forms of bias, the care of children and a spouse, voluntarily working less hours or less than a whole year, and taking sabbaticals from work to meet the other demands on their time that married women must handle. The New York Times had the same access to the appropriate data as does everyone else with an internet connection, but did not choose to exercise this use. Simply put, the so called gender gap is not due to gender. But it is not in the interest of many groups to present this issue as it really is. You’ll have to work the rest out for yourself.

Highlights of women’s earnings 2013

As Women Take Over a Male-Dominated Field, the Pay Drops