Conservative Media Attempts To Disprove The Wage Inequality Between Men And Women Fall Flat

As Democrats push for the Paycheck Fairness Act to address wage inequality between men and women, conservative media figures have claimed that there is no real wage inequality because men work more hours than women and thus earn more. But studies have shown that an earnings discrepancy between men and women persists, even when accounting for a variety of factors, including hours worked.

Census Bureau Finds Wage Inequality Exists Between Men And Women

U.S. Census: “In 2010, The Female-To-Male Earnings Ratio Was 0.77.” From a September 2010 Census report titled “Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010”:

Changes between 2009 and 2010 in the real median earnings of men and women, aged 15 and older who worked full time, year round, were not statistically significant. In 2010, the female to-male earnings ratio was 0.77, not statistically different from the 2009 ratio


Neither men nor women who worked full time, year round experienced a change in real median earnings between 2009 and 2010. In 2010, the median earnings for men was $47,715 and for women $36,931. In 2010, the female-to-male earnings ratio of full-time, year-round workers was 0.77, not statistically different from the 2009 ratio

[U.S. Census Bureau, September 2011]

Democrats Push For Paycheck Fairness Act To Address Gender Wage Inequality. On April 27, The Washington Post reported: “Senate Democrats will soon hold a vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would update and strengthen the Equal Pay Act of 1963.” [The Washington Post, 4/27/12]

But The Right-Wing Media Claim A Difference In Hours Worked Explains Gender Wage Inequality

CNN's Castellanos: Women Make Less Than Men Because On Average “Men Work 44 Hours A Week, Women Work 41 Hours A Week.” On the April 29 edition of MSNBC's Meet The Press, CNN contributor and Republican strategist Alex Castallenos suggested that the wage gap exists because “men work 44 hours a week, women work 41 hours a week,” and “women want more flexible professions” than men do:

RACHEL MADDOW (MSNBC host): The Romney campaign wants to talk about women in the economy. The women in this country still make 77 cents on the dollars for what men make, so if--

CASTELLANOS: Not exactly

MADDOW: Women don't make less than men?

CASTELLANOS: Actually if you start looking at the numbers Rachel, there are lots of reasons for that --

MADDOW: Wait, wait, wait. No. Don't tell me the reasons part. Do women make less than men for doing the same work?

CASTELLANOS: Actually, no.

MADDOW: Wow. OK. We're working from different --


CASTELLANOS: Because for example, men work 44 hours a week, women work 41 hours a week. Men go into professions like engineering, science and math that earn more. Women want more flexible professions.


MADDOW: [S]ome of us believe that women are getting paid less than men for doing the same work. There's something called the Fair Pay Act. There was a court ruling that said the statute of limitations, if you're getting paid less than a man, if you're subject to discrimination, starts before you know that discrimination is happening, effectively cutting off your recourse to the courts. You didn't know you were being discriminated against, you can't go.

The first law passed by this administration is the Fair Pay Act to remedy that court ruling.


CASTELLANOS: It's policy and I love how passionate you are. I wish you were as right about what you're saying as you are passionate about it. I really do. [MSNBC, Meet The Press, 4/29/12]

Wall Street Journal: “Women Earn Less Because They Work Fewer Hours.” An April 26 op-ed in the Wall Street Journal titled “Why Women Make Less Than Men” suggested that gender-wage inequality is “to a considerable degree a gender-hours gap”:

One stubborn fact of the labor market argues against the idea. That is the gender-hours gap, close cousin of the gender-wage gap. Most people have heard that full-time working American women earn only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. Yet these numbers don't take into account the actual number of hours worked. And it turns out that women work fewer hours than men.

The main reason that women spend less time at work than men -- and that women are unlikely to be the richer sex -- is obvious: children. Today, childless 20-something women do earn more than their male peers. But most are likely to cut back their hours after they have kids, giving men the hours, and income, advantage. [The Wall Street Journal, 4/26/12]

Independent Women's Forum: “It's Hardly A Surprise That Someone Who Works More Also Earns More.” From an April 2012 newsletter by the Independent Women's Forum (IWF), titled “Policy Focus--The 'Equal Pay Day' Myth”:

This month, feminist groups celebrate Equal Pay Day, a pseudo-holiday based on the idea that women are systematically underpaid, making only about three-quarters of every dollar a man makes for the same work. Women, they claim, have to work until April to make up for last year's “wage gap.”


Fortunately, however, this commonly repeated claim is false. There is no evidence that women are routinely paid a fraction of what men make for the same work, or that discrimination drives statistical differences between men and women's earnings.

The Department of Labor statistic underlying the “wage gap” claim simply compares a full-time working man's median wages with those of a full-time working woman, ignoring the many factors that affect earnings, including number of hours worked, industry, years of experience, and education, to name but a few. When such information is taken into account, the wage gap shrinks, and in some cases even reverses.


The Department of Labor's 2011 Time Use Survey shows that fulltime working men work about 5 percent more time at work each day on the job. Both are “fulltime” workers for wage gap calculations, but it's hardly a surprise that someone who works more also earns more. [Independent Women's Forum, April 2012]

Study Finds That Even Accounting For Hours Worked, Wage Inequality Persists

AAUW: One Year After Graduation, “A 5 Percent Pay Gap Between Women And Men Remains After Accounting For All Variables Known To Affect Earnings.” An April 2007 report by the American Association for University Women (AAUW) titled “Behind the Pay Gap” conducted a regressive analysis of full-time earnings for men and women one year after graduation, and discovered a 5 percent pay gap between men and women. From the report:

Overall, the regression analysis of earnings one year after graduation suggests that a 5 percent pay gap between women and men remains after accounting for all variables known to affect earnings. Women who choose male-dominated occupations appear to earn more than do other women. Undergraduate majors in business and management, engineering, health professions, or public affairs and social services enhance both women's and men's earnings. [AAUW, April, 2007]

  • AAUW's Study Took Into Account Numerous Factors, Including Hours Worked Per Week, Occupation, Industry, And Workplace Flexibility. AAUW listed the following “key variables used in [its] regression analysis”:

[AAUW, April, 2007]

Even A Bush Administration Report Found That Otherwise Unexplained Wage Inequality Exists

Bush Labor Department: The “Adjusted Gender Wage Gap ... Is Between 4.8 And 7.1 Percent.” In January 2009, the Bush administration's Department of Labor published a report written for the department by CONSAD Research Corporation. While downplaying the existence of wage inequality, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor Charles E. James stated in a foreword to the CONSAD report that after controlling for several variables, there was “an adjusted gender wage gap that is between 4.8 and 7.1 percent.” [CONSAD Research Corp, 1/12/09]

The Report Took Into Account Occupation, Career Interruption, Industry Sector, And Other Factors. The report looked at the following factors in determining an adjusted gender wage gap: “occupation, human capital development, work experience, career interruption, motherhood, and industry sector.” The full list of factors consists of the following:

[CONSAD Research Corp, 1/12/09]