VERIFY: Does the 'gender gap' exist?

We speak to experts about whether the gender gap is real or just a talking point.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - 10News is digging deeper into an issue some question as a myth; the wage gap between men and women.

There are bold claims women won’t catch up to men for another 42 years in equal pay, while others say, we are equal now. 

After 10News did a story on gender bias in the workplace, many focused on the specific issue of the wage gap.

10News set out to verify if the gap is real or just a political talking point.

Christina Hoff Sommers is a scholar for the American Enterprise Institute, which is a conservative think tank. Sommers talked about how she views the gap as a myth Prager University's YouTube page

"These calculations don’t reveal a gender wage injustice because they don’t take into account occupation, position, education or hours worked per week," Sommers said.

Lynn Hurtak disagrees with Sommers' contention. She’s with the more liberal National Organization for Women Florida chapter.

"When you talk about women’s careers, there’s never been a time that I can think of that women made the same amount as men," she said. 

10News looked at plenty of studies and here are the main issues that came up:

- Education and work experience

- Career Choice

- Lifestyle choices

- Ability to negotiate

- Discrimination

Watch: 10News reporter Garin Flowers hosts panel discussion on gender wage gap

10News found three studies from the United States General Accountability Office: an independent, nonpartisan agency that reports to Congress. These seemed to be the most credible since GAO is a neutral source. 

Through this, 10News can verify the pay gap is narrowing, but it is still pretty significant. These address studies address why there is one:

- The first study from 2003 shows women earned 80 percent of what men made in the early 2000s due to fewer years of experience and less hours on the job. However, it did say discrimination could be a factor.

- A 2009 study explains the gap gets smaller when you focus on federal employees because men and women have more similar in levels of experience, education and types of jobs.

- The last study focuses on less-educated works, those with a high school degree or lower. It favors those who believe there is a gap. Women in general have surpassed men in education the last 30 years. However, on average, women with a high school degree or less earned lower hourly wages than men with the same level of education.

But, it also says women as a group earned less in a typical week—in part, because they were more likely to work part-time.

To say the wage gap is a myth is going too far, that's not true.

10News verified both sides of the argument have a point. Research shows the wage gap includes "choices'" men and women make. However, discrimination can play a role in advancement, where women can work and how they are paid.

Help VERIFY

Help our journalists VERIFY the news. Do you know someone else we should interview for this story? Did we miss anything in our reporting? Is there another story you'd like us to VERIFY? Click here.

Garin Flowers is a reporter with 10News WTSP. Like him on Facebook and follow him on TwitterYou can also email him at gflowers@wtsp.com.

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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