Members of the mainstream media, including at Vox media, are helping progressive politicians this week to push a narrative about an “Equal Pay Day,” e.g. the amount of time since January 1 that women would have to work to make up for the gap in their incomes for the same work that men did last year.
This narrative is dangerous and misleading to women, and I wrote about why in an op-ed for CNN: “around this time of a year, a cloud of misleading coverage about gender pay equality (like this one from Vox: ‘You’ve heard that women make 80 cents to men’s dollar. It’s much worse than that. More like 49 cents”) which, while conveying information about the fact that women (and their pay) are not a monolith, also ultimately diminishes the true strides women have made in the workplace and beyond. These stories can leave us feeling as victims rather than victors.”
I explained the methodological flaws the media often use in approaching this issue: “When it comes to the issue of equal pay, headlines like Vox’s, so common in mainstream media and social media, are often based on misleading interpretations of wage data. Most of these top line wage gap statistics don’t take into account the multiple combined variables among workers like profession, education, experience, benefits, work conditions or hours worked.”
I further wrote about how the mainstream media frequently engages in this apples-to-oranges comparisons in women’s income: “They are calling something a ‘wage gap’ when in reality it is an ‘earnings gap’ resulting largely from women’s life choices.
“They also don’t give the complete picture of men and women with the same or similar jobs, experience, training or hours — some women are often more interested than men in flexible or reduced work schedules in exchange for more family time and women tend to select majors in college that prepare them for lower-paying professions (studying liberal arts in college vs. finance or engineering, for example).”