Men make more money than woman for numerous reasons. But it is not because of discrimination.

June O’Neill, an economics professor and former Congressional Budget Office director, has researched this issue and concluded that: “The gender gap largely stems from choices made by women and men concerning the amount of time and energy devoted to a career, as reflected in years of work experience, utilization of part-time work, and other workplace and job characteristics.”

Familial roles – such as who stays home with the kids when they are sick – tend to play a larger role in determining wages than does gender. As a result of such roles – most kids want mom to be the one to stay home – women often earn less than men. But in today’s labor market, gender discrimination is not the reason why.

Consider that:

  • “Over 60 percent of all bachelor’s degrees are awarded to women.
  • “More women than men continue to graduate school and more doctorates are awarded to women.
  • “Women now comprise just over half of those employed in management, professional, and related occupations.”

Indeed, a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report finds that “women working 35-39 hours per week last year earned 107% of men’s earnings for those weekly hours, i.e., there was a 7% gender earnings gap in favor of female workers.”

As the gender pay gap is being debunked nationwide, some in Mississippi are clamoring for a state law to address an issue that is no longer an issue.

But Mississippi, like every other state, must abide by federal wage and hour laws. These laws, among other things, prohibit discrimination based on gender. An employer in Mississippi cannot discriminate against women just because we don’t have a state law prohibiting it.

When controlling for hours worked and lifestyle choices, such as marriage, we get a clearer picture of earnings by gender.

Men work more hours than women

A review of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows:

  • 25.1 percent of men working full-time worked 41 or more hours per week, compared to only 14.3 percent of women. 5.8 percent of men worked 60 hours per week or more, compared to only 2.5 percent of women.
  • 10.9 percent of women who worked full-time worked between 35 and 39 hours per week, compared to only 4.3 percent of men who did so.
  • An estimation shows the average full-time man worked 43.2 hours per week compared to 41.5 hours for women, or 85 more hours a year.

Marital status also affects the earnings of women, as does many other factors.

  • Single women who have never been married earn 91.3 percent of men’s earning, representing a gender gap of only 8.7 percent, eliminating more than half of the raw earnings gap.
  • Full time women who are not married with no children under 18 earn 94.2 percent of men’s earnings, representing a gender gap of 5.8 percent, eliminating two-thirds of the raw gender gap.
  • But married women, with and without children, earn 79.2 percent and 78.5 percent, respectively, of what similar men earn.

As we see, being married has a negative impact on the earnings of women. But one could also presume that that is a personal choice, and women may place greater value on flexibility, commute time, child care, and other factors important to those with children at home.

In the end, there is no gender wage gap when we compare apples to apples: doing exactly the same work while working the exact same number of hours in the same occupation.