Now that I am 4 months into my new job and starting big kid living, I have been looking into the ins and outs of this big, bad world. Did you know, studies show that the average full-time woman is still earning only 77 cents for every dollar the average man makes. Seriously?! Still? But before we all grab the torches and pitchforks, let’s take a minute to examine this claim for ourselves.

The statistical numbers usually given have been calculated using information from the Census Bureau; they use the median income for women and the median income for men, which gives a wage gap of 23 cents. Um, I think I am seeing a red flag, how about you? I know it has been a while, but if you remember anything from middle school math class  (besides signing Mrs. Justin Timberlake with little hearts), you know that median is completely different than average (or mean). And using these different equations leads to varying results. The use of the median in the Census Bureau's statistic is misleading, but then again even taking the average of all women and comparing it to the average of all men would be misleading. Here is why.

Ignoring the flawed mathematics, let's look at other information that affects this statistic for the wage gap. The average man works 8.4 hours per day, while the average woman works 7.7 hours per day. I can be assumed that if men work 9% longer on average, that would mean they would earn more, too. Taking the number of hours worked into consideration drops the gap to 14%. Accounting for the difference in hours drops the wage gap by nearly half!

Occupation also plays an important role. While men and women are and should be equal, we are not the same; there is a difference. Women are physically, mentally and emotionally different than our male counterparts. And this is a great thing! Can you imagine a completely male world? Lacking in bright shades of pinks, always smelly and covered in sports fan gear. Studies show that most women would rather have a job that gives them more personal fulfillment, more flexibility and regular hours. Women are typically more willing to take less pay for better benefits, which are not included as a factor in the studies about wage gaps. Men are the overwhelming majority in jobs that involve manual labor, odd hours and dangerous conditions, which accounts for the fact that men make up a majority of all workplace injuries and deaths. These jobs usually pay more as incentive; otherwise, no one would do them. Of course, I know there are many women in these types of positions, but again we’re talking in averages here.

Now onto biology, women give up the most when deciding to have children and raise a family. Women must take time out of work for maternity leave at the very least, and in most cases, for raising children. Depending on the number of children they want to have, by the time they retire, women could have anywhere from 1 to 10 years less experience than men in the same profession.

Even the Bureau of Labor Statistics acknowledges that when all of these factors are taken into consideration, the true wage gap is less than 5%. This last 5% can probably be explained by negotiation. It’s recorded that only 30% of women negotiate salary with employers, whereas nearly 50% of men negotiate their salary. Men also ask for a raise 85% more often than women. When this factor is included, the wage gap completely disappears and possibly even reverses. In 2010, a research firm called Reach Advisors performed a study of single, childless men and women between the age of 22 and 30, and found that the women earned 8% more than the men. So what does all this mean? It means that the difference in wages is not in our genders, but in the way that we work.

But don't take my word for it. Check it out and see what you find!

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