Debunking the arguments favoring gender wage inequality

Critics of anti-wage discrimination laws often argue that women earn less than men because they are not as educated or work less hours. A recent TIME article suggests data proves otherwise.

Enormous strides have been made throughout the years when it comes to closing the gender wage gap in the United States. The Equal Pay Act is one such example. The EPA was originally passed in 1963 and it essentially bans wage discrimination between the sexes. Since then, various amendments to the Act have been enacted to close the wage gap, but the problem still remains.

Critics of the EPA and wage inequality often argue that, although data may indicate women are paid less than similarly-situated men today, it's typically because females do not possess similar educational degrees or work the same hours.

However, a recent TIME article on wage discrimination written by both the director and one senior economist with the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce disagree.

Educational levels

When it comes to educational degrees, Claudia Goldin, a Harvard economist featured in the TIME article, indicates that many females with similar positions as males today are in fact more educated.

In the past, most women did not possess college degrees, but this statistic gradually changed. By the mid 1990s, females actually surpassed males in college enrollment. And the most recent data shows that 45 percent of college enrollees today are women versus 38 percent who are men. And 36 percent of women today possess a bachelor's or graduate degree compared to 28 percent of males.

Yet today's workplace statistics show that many men today still earn more or the same as women with higher degrees.

Hours worked

Critics also argue that men often work longer hours than females who hold the same position-but the data seems to show otherwise.

Recently, President Obama executed two Executive Orders regarding the pay of federal contractors. The orders essentially stipulated greater transparency with federal jobs, requirements, and wages and revealed that inconsistent work hours were not the problem.

According to Goldin, gender is seemingly the only major reason behind the discrimination.

Future of equal pay

Today, women earn 81 cents for every dollar a man earns for the same job. But that gap may likely close in the years to come. Media outlets everywhere are relentless in their depiction of the gender wage gap in the United States.

Just recently, the media reported on the firing of Jill Abramson, executive editor of the New York Times. Her termination was allegedly due in large part to her disagreement about her pay compared to the salary of a previous male employee who held her job.

And if stories like this Abramson's continue to flood the spotlight, both the public and those in Congress may start to take real action to combat the problem.

Keywords: wage discrimination, gender discrimination