Stossel: It is a "myth" that "women earn less" than men "for doing the same work"

››› ››› JULIE MILLICAN

On ABC's Good Morning America, John Stossel, co-host of ABC's 20/20, claimed that it is a "myth" that "women earn less" than men for "doing the same work." Stossel acknowledged that women "earn less" than men overall, and concluded that "[t]he truth is" that "men are more willing to take lousy jobs" and "work longer," and that is why they yield higher wages. In fact, contrary to Stossel's suggestion that men earn more because they take "lousy jobs," numerous studies and data indicate that, on average, men earn more than women regardless of occupation.

During an appearance on the May 12 broadcast of ABC's Good Morning America, John Stossel, co-host of ABC's20/20, claimed that it is a "myth" that "women earn less" than men for "doing the same work." Stossel, who was promoting his new book, Myths, Lies & Downright Stupidity: Get Out the Shovel -- Why Everything You Know is Wrong (Hyperion, May 2006), argued that "if that were true ... employers would hire only women," adding that "all the employers that hired men would go out of business, because they'd be paying their workforce too much." Acknowledging that women "earn less" than men overall, Stossel concluded that "[t]he truth is" that "men are more willing to take lousy jobs" and "work longer," and that is why they yield higher wages. In fact, contrary to Stossel's suggestion that men earn more because they take "lousy jobs," numerous studies and data indicate that, even in the same jobs, men earn more than women. Further, while it is unclear whether Stossel, in suggesting that men "work longer," was referring to hours worked per week or total time in the workforce, controlling for those differences, men still earn more than women.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) 2004 wage data for full-time wage and salary workers aged 16 and older, women earned on average 80.4 percent of men's weekly median earnings. In virtually every occupation listed, men earned a higher median wage than women, regardless of job title. For example:

Job category

Median weekly earnings -- Men

Median weekly earnings --Women

Management

$1,098

$780

Professional and related

$1,049

$756

Art, design, sports, entertainment, and media

$862

$688

Heath care practitioners and technicians

$1,062

$808

Service

$476

$374

Sales and office occupations

$669

$512

Natural resources, construction and maintenance

$626

$453

* For more detailed information measured by specific job function, please refer to BLS' "Median usual weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers by detailed occupation and sex."

Undercutting the theory that men earn more than women because they simply work longer hours, the nonpartisan Economic Policy Institute's (EPI) analysis of average hourly wages by gender found that, in addition to earning higher salaries, men earned more than women on an hourly basis. For instance, in 2003, most men earned between $7.46 and $43.48 an hour, compared with women's hourly earnings, which ranged from $6.67 to $33.40.

Hourly wages by gender and income percentile

Percentile

Men

Women

10th

$7.46

$6.67

20th

$9.22

$7.94

30th

$10.90

$9.22

40th

$12.84

$10.56

50th

$15.04

$12.18

60th

$17.79

$14.29

70th

$20.99

$16.87

80th

$25.50

$20.20

90th

$34.05

$26.61

95th

$43.48

$33.40

Additionally, government wage data also indicate that the gender gap in wages still persists when work experience is taken into account. The March 2001 Current Population Survey (CPS) shows that regardless of work experience, men still consistently earn more than women.

Mean full-time employment salaries by work experience and gender, 2001

Work Experience

Men

Women

26 weeks or less

$11,814

$8,939

27-49 weeks or less

$29,075

$23,941

50 weeks or more

$50,521

$32,321

Further, the National Association for Female Executives (NAFE), using data compiled "from surveys by private organizations, federal agencies, and consulting companies," detailed the wage gap between men and women professionals in select industries in its 2005 Annual Salary Survey. The association found that women consistently earned less than men. For instance, as illustrated below, females in the accounting industry earned less than their male counterparts, regardless of work experience.

Job Experience

Average total compensation, including salary and bonus: Women

Average total compensation, including salary and bonus: Men

1-5 years

$66,957

$115,024

6-10 years

$70,512

$93,896

11-15 years

$80,986

$99,631

16-20 years

$100, 879

$114,037

More than 20 years

$95,544

$118,282

From the May 12 broadcast of ABC's Good Morning America, featuring co-host Charles Gibson:

GIBSON: Myth: Women earn less doing the same work.

STOSSEL: Women earn less, but not doing the same work. There's this myth that women earn 78.5 cents for every buck a man makes for the same job, but if that were true, think about it, employers would hire only women. And, all the employers that hired men would go out of business because they'd be paying their workforce too much. The truth is, men are more willing to take lousy jobs, work longer, be away from our families. Women make good choices for their families and happiness, they live the best life, and that's why they earn less.

GIBSON: Send your mail to John.

Posted In
Diversity & Discrimination, Gender, Economy, Jobs, Wages, & Unemployment
Network/Outlet
ABC
Person
John Stossel
Show/Publication
20/20, Good Morning America
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