Christina Hoff Summers of the American Enterprise Institute does a masterful job debunking the feminist notion that discrimination is responsible for wage differences between male and female workers. I’ll just add one observation, which is that genuine discrimination is very costly. If an employer wanted to discriminate against women (or any other group), that would mean deliberately making inefficient choices. This, in turn, would reduce the competitiveness of firms with discriminatory hiring practices. In other words, the market penalizes people who do the wrong thing. This doesn’t mean there is no discrimination. It does suggest, however, that market forces are the right solution, not coercive intervention by government:
Today is Equal Pay Day. Feminist groups and political leaders have set aside this day to protest the fact that women’s wages are, on average, 78 percent of men’s wages. …The American Association of University Women (AAUW) has enlisted supporters to wear red “to represent the way the pay gap puts women ‘in the red.’” There will be rallies, speak outs, mass mailings of equity e-cards, and even bake sales featuring cookies with a “bite” taken out to represent women’s losses to men. …this holiday has no basis in reality. Even feminist economists acknowledge that today’s pay disparities are almost entirely the result of women’s different life choices—what they study in school, where they work, and how they balance home and career. …In January 2009, the Labor Department posted a study prepared by the CONSAD Research Corporation, “An Analysis of the Reasons for the Disparity in Wages Between Men and Women.” It analyzed more than 50 peer-reviewed papers. Labor Department official Charles E. James Sr. summed up the results in his foreword: “This study leads to the unambiguous conclusion that the differences in the compensation of men and women are the result of a multitude of factors and that the raw wage gap should not be used as the basis to justify corrective action. Indeed, there may be nothing to correct. The differences in raw wages may be almost entirely the result of the individual choices being made by both male and female workers.” …Women are not as ready to sacrifice their deep interests in, say, history, psychology, or public policy—“all in order to fix, sell, or distribute widgets” or “to spend the best years of [their lives] planning air conditioning ductwork for luxury condos.” Men also work longer hours and are more willing than women to take dangerous but well-paid jobs as truck drivers, loggers, coal miners, or oil riggers. …And of course women are much more involved with babies than men. According to a 2009 Pew Survey, “A strong majority of all working mothers (62%) say they would prefer to work part time . . . An overwhelming majority [of working fathers] (79%) say they prefer full-time work. …American women are among the freest, best educated, and most self-determining people in the world. It seems unsisterly for NOW or the AAUW to suggest that they are being hoodwinked into college majors, professions, or part-time work so they can spend more time with their children.