Gender Bias, or Biased Reporting?

Chronicle business writer Chris Tomlinson tells us, “Our society, and our businesses, simply don’t want mothers to work.” As evidence, he cites “hundreds of other studies that have proven, time and again, that women are paid less than men for the same work.”

Replying to a claim that “Since similar results were found all over the country and in all [medical] specialties there must be some reason other than misogyny. Surely, not everyone who hires doctors shares the same prejudice,” Tomlinson writes, “Yes they do, grasshopper. Oh, how they do.”

Tomlinson and his ilk would have us believe that millions of Americans–men and women alike–arbitrarily pay women lower wages than men. They would have us believe that the only explanation is mysogyny.

If this were true, then businesses would stop hiring men. If they can save 20 percent or more on wages by hiring women rather than men, then why would they ever hire a man?

Statistics are funny things. They can be used to “prove” almost anything, particularly when used selectively and out of context. For example, 100 percent of those who ate a pickle in the 18th century are dead. Viewed out of context, we could conclude that pickles are deadly.

The “equal pay for equal work” crowd likes to cite statistics, and they particularly like to cite averages. In doing so, they treat both men and women solely as members of a group. However, taking the average of a group tells us nothing about particular individuals.

Tomlinson claims that businesses pay women less simply because they are women. But he also inadvertently tells us that this isn’t true: “Women… get paid more than men until they have children. After that, they get paid less.” In other words, some women get paid less than men, but some women get paid more. This is conveniently ignored, and all women are lumped together in one group.

If childless women are paid more than men, then there is clearly no bias against women per se. Discrepancies in pay aren’t based on their sex, but on some factor or factors that Tomlinson and his cronies haven’t or won’t identify. But rather than dig deeper, they seize upon the politically popular explanation–sexism. That isn’t objective reporting. It’s biased reporting.

Comments are closed.