John Leo
Do men earn more money thanwomen in comparable jobs with comparable responsibility? Most people seem to think so. During one of the presidential debates, John Kerry complained that full-time working men made a dollar for every 76 cents paid to women for the same work. President Bush didn't challenge the statement, and reporters let it go by as well. "The average woman is cheated out of about $250,000 in wages over a lifetime," said an article in Ms. Magazine. The AFL-CIO estimates that working families lose $200 billion of income annually to the male-female wage gap.

Oh, really? The Census Bureau did find that women earned 76 cents for every dollar paid to a male (now up to 80 cents on the dollar), but that was a raw number, not adjusted for comparable jobs and responsibility. A new book, Why Men Earn More by Warren Farrell, goes further, examining a broad array of wage statistics. His conclusion: When reasonable adjustments are made, women earn just as much as men, and sometimes more.

Some of Farrell's findings: Women are 15 times as likely as men to become top executives in major corporations before the age of 40. Never-married, college-educated males who work full time make only 85 percent of what comparable women earn. Female pay exceeds male pay in more than 80 different fields, 39 of them large fields that offer good jobs, like financial analyst, engineering manager, sales engineer, statistician, surveying and mapping technicians, agricultural and food scientists, and aerospace engineers. A female investment banker's starting salary is 116 percent of a male's. Part-time female workers make $1.10 for every $1 earned by part-time males.

Surprisingly, Farrell argues that comparable males and females have been earning similar salaries for decades, though the press has yet to notice. As long ago as the early 1980s, he writes, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that companies paid men and women equal money when their titles and responsibilities were the same. In 1969, data from the American Council on Education showed that female professors who had never been married and had never published earned 145 percent of their male counterparts. Even during the 1950s, Farrell says, the gender pay gap for all never-married workers was less than 2 percent while never-married white women between 45 and 54 earned 106 percent of what their white male counterparts made.

John Leo

John Leo is editor of and a former contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report.

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