Mad Men actress Christina Hendricks gets political in a Funny or Die skit about the gender pay gap. Hendricks reprises her secretarial role in a modern office. She has difficulty dealing with modern conveniences like computers, fax machines and cellphones, not to mention the no smoking policy. When a coworker asks her why she’s so out of touch, Hendricks cites the recent White House claim that women make 77 percent of their male counterparts.
“If we’re going to run our businesses like the 1960s, I’m going to act like it,” the old-fashioned secretary explains.
Before you start smoking in solidarity, ladies, you should know the figures are greatly exaggerated. In fact, there are several professions when women make more than men and not just ‘those kind of jobs.’ Counselors and health technicians make 103 cents and 104 cents for every dollar men make according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Women also make more than men in part-time positions.
The problem with the White House statistics is that there’s no context. It’s apples and oranges. It compares different professions and annual wages, which has a larger disparity than comparing hourly wages because female dominated jobs like teaching aren’t year-round positions. Women tend to gravitate to positions that allow more flexibility for mothers. A Pew research poll found mothers are significantly more likely than fathers to experience career interruptions such as reduced work hours, take time significant time off, turn down a promotion and quit a job. BLS data shows that unmarried women earn 96 cents for every dollar a man makes.
Hendricks’ character is indeed married with children, which is more likely the cause for any pay disparity than sexism. Of course, if you were expecting truth in advertising then clearly you don’t watch Mad Men.