Higher Math

Is the common stereotype true that women can't do math? Well, most of the women I know are pretty good at it. But there's one group of women who just can't seem to handle math: feminists. A few days ago feminists observed Pay Equity Day, a day when feminists focus on the pay gap between men and women. Feminists claim that women still make only 74 cents for every dollar men make. But a little mathematical calculation shows that feminists have their math all wrong. In a recent book called Women's Figures, Diana Furchtgott-Ross says that feminists grossly exaggerate the pay gap between men and women. Take the claim that the ratio of women's median weekly earnings to men's is 74 percent. That number is technically correct, but it fails to factor in such things as age, experience, education, and years on the job. Once you factor all these in, the wage gap virtually disappears. For example, among workers aged 27 to 33 who have never had a child, women's earnings approach 98 percent of men's earnings. Among married women it's 99 percent. And a recent survey by Business Week of America's top 25 business schools revealed that men and women in the class of 1998 received the same median starting salaries. But what about the so-called "pink ghetto"—those low-paying, pink-collar jobs feminists claim women are locked into? According to Women's Figures, many mothers choose these jobs because they offer flexibility. Job skills are less likely to deteriorate in these positions, which means women can leave the work force to have children and still retain the skills they need to return to their jobs. In the final analysis, it turns out that most of the differences in pay come about, not through discrimination, but through the choices women themselves make. They're choosing to leave the work force to raise children, or to work part-time when their kids are small. So, naturally, when they rejoin the work force full-time, they probably won't make as much money as men who have not interrupted their careers. The math isn't that complicated—so why do feminists keep insisting that women only make 74 cents for every dollar men make? Danielle Crittenden, former editor of The Women's Quarterly, says that the truth about pay equity runs up against the feminist agenda: As she puts it, "Feminists want women and men to have identical roles in society." They want mothers to put their kids in day care so they can work full-time without a break. If they take time off to rear their children, it means they have to rely on their husbands for support—something totally contrary to the feminist ideal of independence. In effect, the very feminists who celebrate choice don't like the choices most real women are making. Well, I for one think families ought to be congratulated for being willing to sacrifice a second full-time income in order to create a nurturing environment for their children—children who are a trust from God for just a few short years. So if a feminist tries to tell you that women make only 74 cents for every dollar men make, give her a little math lesson. Then tell her that no price tag can be put on the time mothers spend outside the workforce, raising godly children.


Chuck Colson



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