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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Breaking the glass ceiling

Women of Texas A&M be wary. Fox News, citing a recent Census Bureau report, declares that even when education is taken into account, women still make less money than men. Apparently, neither the feminist movement of the 1960s and 70s, nor the National Committee on Pay Equity’s annual “Equal Pay Day” — April 15 this year — has been able to close the gap. Currently, the Census Bureau report suggests that women generally make only 70 percent of what men make. However, during the last 40 years, these studies have misrepresented facts and oversimplified a vastly complex issue.
Among other things, studies such as this distort the facts by failing to account for specific educational differences. For example, studies have lumped together all majors as if each was worth the same in the marketplace. But college educations are not necessarily equal. One need only ask a student in the College of Education whether he believes that, upon graduation, he will command the same salary as a student in the College of Engineering. It should come as little surprise that a petroleum engineer is going to demand a higher salary than a high school teacher. Whether this is fair fails to change its validity.
But where the Census Bureau’s report erred, Daniel E. Heckler’s study compensated. Published in 1998, Heckler’s study surveyed the differences in incomes between men and women with the same college major. Overall, his study suggested that the 30 percent gap was indeed present between men and women. However, when individual majors were compared, Heckler found that half the women surveyed earned at least 87 percent of what men earned. Moreover, he found that the 13-percent discrepancy decreased even further when graduate level educations were compared. The study even went so far as to show, for instance, that women with a masters degree in the area of life sciences actually made about 27 percent more than men in the same field. Suddenly the infamous wage gap seems to be dwindling and looking more like a myth.
Yet a discrepancy between men and women’s earnings remains, and Dr. Patricia Hausman, behavioral scientist and member of the Independent Women’s Forum, offers up some reasoning. Citing the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, Hausman suggests that among childless women aged 27 to 33, the pay gap is only 2 percent. Clearly, this shows that there are differences between men and women that were not taken into account by the Census Bureau’s study, nor NCPE’s statistics.
Science, progressive as it is, has yet to successfully implant a uterus into a man — leaving mankind’s better half to bring life into the world. And as millions of young women decide to have children, they must decide between a full-time career and a full-time career raising their children. “Study after study,” writes Hausman, “finds that women with children work fewer hours, accumulate less experience, and take more extended leaves … all of which limits their advancement.” Many feminists would argue that taking absences for children is a sacrifice women should not make, yet why should it be viewed as a sacrifice at all?
Motherhood is a far more noble pursuit than climbing the corporate ladder, yet in today’s time, nobility seems to be measured more by one’s SoHo apartment or new BMW lease than one’s benefit to society. Hausman concurs, saying that “these are often choices gladly made by women who consider being with their children more important than maximizing earnings.”
However, careful scrutiny of the facts does reveal that, all things being equal with respect to family situations and educations, women make 2 percent less a year than men in the same field. Could this tiny percentage be a product of sex discrimination? Of course. But more likely it is the result of gender differences between men and women. Research has shown that men and women make career decisions based on different notions. Hausman makes note of this in her essay. While men and women have the ability to negotiate comparable salaries, women are more likely to settle for less — their decisions usually are not based on money. So, a minute discrepancy of 2 percent arises.
Though there may be other valid reasons for the inconsistency, sexual discrimination is difficult to believe given the circumstances.
So, female Aggies out there, rest assured that if you have the education and the drive to achieve monetarily what your male counterpart is achieving, it can be done — regardless of what one might hear on Fox News or see when perusing NOW’s Web site. “Equal Pay for Equal Work” is here so long as one is willing to make certain decisions about one’s career.

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