by Kay Hymowitz
It’s still a man’s world: that’s the idea that connects the three responses to my essay “What’s Happening to Men?” Bennett, Hess, and Miedzian point to two related facts to support their position: women continue to earn less than men and to be MIA at the highest levels of business and politics.
But by failing to grapple with one of the major reasons for the wage gap and the glass ceiling, and by downplaying men’s problems in the knowledge economy, they are telling half truths that don’t do women any favors. That’ s because of this simple formula: fewer competent and successful young men equals more single mothers. More single mothers? Well, that means more wage gap.
The two main sources of the wage gap are 1) occupational choices (high-paying STEM fields, for instance, are more likely to be male and lower-paying jobs in education, female), and 2) hours of work. Simply put, women work fewer hours than men. Complaints about the wage gap almost always ignore this fact, and I’m sorry to say that my respondents continue the tradition. Amanda Hess cites a chart showing that “a woman must earn a Ph.D. in order to earn the same as a man with a bachelor’s degree.” The chart in question not only doesn’t take occupation into account. It also groups together all “full time year-round” workers, meaning, according to the Department of Labor’s definition, people working 35 hours a week or more. That “or more” is crucial. Women are far more likely to be closer to the 35-hour end of the spectrum than men, who are disproportionately represented at higher end. So yes, because they work more hours and in higher-paying fields, men with fewer education credentials earn more than women with more.