We’ve all heard the recycled arguments: Women face a “gender gap” in pay. Women face a “glass ceiling” keeping them from professional achievement. But one female economist and author is busting those myths.
Diana Furchtgott-Roth serves as a bold, bright and encouraging truth teller in a culture that is drenched in ideologies surrounding women in gender studies. Furchtgott-Roth, a happily married mother of six children, has served in three White Houses and is currently a Senior Fellow with the Manhattan Institute and a columnist for The Examiner. She is the author of five books.
In her book Women’s Figures: An Illustrated Guide to the Economic Progress of Women, Furchtgott-Roth exposes these falsehoods and loose statements, asserting that women don’t need special treatment to be equally competitive in the American workforce. The myth that a woman makes 78 cents on a man’s dollar is a typical refrain used in mass media and a basis for affirmative action for women. Furchtgott-Roth explains, however, why this refrain as well as the “wage gap” and “glass ceiling” are in fact myths.
The statement that women get less pay for equal work is a false assertion that comes from comparing the earnings of men and women. First, Furchtgott-Roth says, the comparison lumps together men and women who work different numbers of hours. Often, a woman may choose to work fewer hours than a full-time man because she prefers a flexible schedule. Second, the gap claim puts each gender’s earnings from varied vocations on the same level. Men often choose more dangerous and physically demanding lines of work, which can affect pay scales, yet the gap claim averages types of professions together.
The discriminatory “glass ceiling” claim persists, indicating that women are restricted to lower-paying jobs and careers and kept out of senior management positions. Yet many women, even those with stellar academic records, actually prefer to work part-time to combine their work life with family life, Furchtgott-Roth says. If a woman wants to put in the hours to be in senior management, she will. But she often chooses not to, because that means missed dance recitals, hockey games, and birthday parties.
Saying that women are discouraged from taking on higher-paying fields is also not true—there is no one preventing a woman from taking the set of courses she prefers to get ahead. More women are choosing to take English and philosophy rather than enrolling in engineering and physics. Here lies one divergence, because graduates in more socially related studies may be paid less than in the sciences.
In a recent discussion at Heritage in partnership with the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute, Furchtgott-Roth asserted that what women really want is for both themselves and their families “to be economically secure.” Rather than helping women, today’s politically correct agendas are questioning the worth of women’s hard-earned achievements and damaging America’s social system.
Furchtgott-Roth’s newest book, Regulating to Disaster: How Green Jobs Policies Are Damaging America’s Economy, comes out next week.