The White House is pushing for an Equal Pay Act. They claim women earn 77 cents for every dollar made by their male counterparts. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver is helping draw attention to the gender pay gap by issuing women Ladybucks, colorful and scented monopoly money worth 83 cents (slightly more accurate). The bills feature fictional female presidents like Geena Davis, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Laura Roslin from Battlestar Galactica, who only became president after almost all mankind was destroyed.
Critics correctly point out that the disparity is largely due to career interruptions. There is virtual no gender pay gap among unmarried women, who make 96 cents for every dollar men make according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
“Even if 96 cents is the number, which it isn’t, it’s still terrible,” Oliver insisted. “Let me put this in terms that are perhaps easier to understand. If someone takes a dump on my desk, the size of the dump is not the issue.”
There was no mention of the fact that women actually out earn men in certain professions. Counselors and health technicians make 103 cents and 104 cents for every dollar men make according to BLS data. Women also make more than men in part-time positions. Of course, the analogy doesn’t apply to ladies because we all know they don’t take dumps.
Oliver cites a study by Yale University that found identical resumes were offered higher salaries based only on whether the name on the top was John or Jennifer. What he doesn’t mention is that this gender bias was found among both male and female faculty. In fact, the disparity in wages was greatest when it was a woman doing the hiring.
The host did acknowledge at least one statistic, if only for a punchline. A critic of the White House talking point noted that unmarried and childless women ages 35-43 made 108 cents for every dollar made by men.
“So there you have it, ladies,” Oliver smugly exclaimed. “If you can just remain single, not accidentally have children and never turn 44, you’re gonna be golden.”
If you want to see a real gap just look up. Studies show tall people make more money. Every inch equals an extra $789 annually according to the University of North Carolina. Another study by the Australian National University found an extra 2 inches in height resulted in $950 annually. Maybe what real need are some small bills.