It has been a long accusation of the feminists that women are paid less compared to men for doing the same job because of sexism. Most of the men out there know it for a fact that we don’t have a secret pact amongst us men to pay women less wages, nor we actively discriminate against women in that regard. Yet statistically speaking women are paid less than men in many aspects.
As you can see above that women above 25 earn about 70-80% of the salaries of their male counterparts. Why do women earn lesser than men for supposedly doing the same job?
Before going into the reasons for that, let me explain you this logic. Lets say pawn broker had two slabs of gold for trade in front of you(as shown in the illustration below). According to the pawnbroker both the slabs weigh 100 oz(consider price of gold in market to be $1000/oz).
The slab 1 which is covered with a black sheet can be purchased for $100,000, and the slab 2 which is covered with a white sheet can be purchased for $85,000.
If I ask you which slab would you wanna buy, what will you say?
Clearly any profit seeking individual would perform the calculation and realize that if they buy the white slab, and if it really contains 100 oz it will sell it in the market and make $15,000 profit on it.
But then, if the slab covered with white cloth did have 100 oz of gold in it then it would also be sold for $100,000. This means that either the white slab did not have 100 oz, and had only 85 oz, or else there is an amazing business opportunity for anyone who buys the white slab.
Now lets say all the people who come to buy those slabs have an aversion towards the white color. They hate white color, so they keep on buying the black slab. Any individual who now buys the white slab will make $15,000 over every transaction, so soon he will be able to drive the discriminatory people out of the business.
Soon there will be so much demand for White color slab, that the prices will soon drive up to $100,000 per slab. This means that if women and men are doing the exact same job, and somehow women can be hired for less than men, then every profit-seeking individual will end up hiring women, and soon the wages will come up and both the wages will be equal. If the market was discriminatory against women and had some sort of conspiracy to pay women less because of their prejudices due to sexism, and was paying them less for the same work then soon the profit seeking non-discriminators would have ended up making more profit than sexist employers and kicked them out of business.
But since we know it for a fact that women are not paid as much as men are, what does that mean? In our black slab-white slab example, the white slab is continuously bought for $85,000, and the black leather covered slab is bought for $100,000, this means that the white cloth covered slab is actually having less gold than the black leather covered slab.
This means that the pawnbroker’s claim that both the slabs have same amount of gold is not true, the white cloth slab actually does have lesser gold than the black leather cover.
Similarly, if in the market women are paid less than men for the same job, then everybody would wanna hire women and make more profit off them than to hire men. The only logical explanation which makes sense on why women are continuously paid less than men is that they must provide lesser labor than men. The women do not work the same as men, and that explains the lesser wages.
Now I understand if someone told me that Indian men are paid lesser wages because they work less than White men, then I would get offended too. But there is nothing to be offended here for women, because there are perfectly valid reasons on why women work less than men.
First of all let me make it clear, women under 25 years of age are paid the same(or even more) wages than men. Similarly, never married women also are paid almost the same wages as never married men. But suddenly the difference between the wages of married women and married men is very high. Why is it that merely a change in status from never married to married causes such a big difference in wages(and henceforth their labor).
The answer lies in the concept of relative specialization. Michael Jordan(the Basketball Star), is not a very good pianist, because he is a basket ball player and he spent most of his time playing and specializing basketball. Now he could be very well a piano enthusiast, and may practice playing Piano in his free time as much as he can, yet his Piano skills will not come nowhere near to even a high school music teacher. In simple words Michael Jordan has to sacrifice Piano skills in order to achieve mastery in Basket Ball.
Similarly, women have to sacrifice the work output in order to be able to fulfill their marital and biological duties. Even in a marital setup where a guy takes care of the same amount of duties as his wife, he simply cannot bear the baby for 9 months, nor he can breast feed his kids. Biologically the women have to take more duties than men, and because of this they have to sacrifice their work output.
If women feel like the society has been setup to keep women at home and men into the work field, then there is a pretty good evolutionary reason for that too. Take for example during World War 2, Germany and Russia decimated each other’s population. There were almost no men left in Russia between the age of 15 to 65. Yet only after one generation the population ratio came back to normal. There were same amount of kids born as in a generation before. Reason is simple, you only require one male to impregnate thousands and thousands of females among mammals. Just like a farmer keep only one bull for 100s of cows, because that’s all he need. Consider if we sent women on a war front, side by side with men, or on all the hazardous work conditions as much as men. Our society would have been reduced and even extinct by now while hunting one Mammoth.
Professor Walter Block1 makes an amazing explanation for why the wages of men and women differ.