Are the wage gap/pink tax actual things or just misunderstandings?


I’ve heard both.

In: Economics

The specifics vary from nation to nation and from profession to profession, but yes, the average pay for women is lower than the average pay for men.

The wage gap most people are referring to is an aggregate average of all full-time employed men and women. But it does not differentiate between what job you have, or exactly how many hours you work, or your level of experience, etc. It just means that, on average, full-time employed men make more money than full-time employed women. But, even this isn’t necessarily true depending on what demographics you look at. For example, new data shows that on average, single childless women under 30 typically make more money than single childless men under 30. This kind of makes sense given that within the last couple decades women have become the majority of college graduates.

I can’t answer about the “pink tax” because I’m not really clear on what that refers to.

They’re actual things, but people commonly misunderstand what’s being claimed by them. It’s often pointed out that the wage gap is much smaller if you only compare men and women who are doing the same job for the same number of hours. This is true, but over-focusing on this fact may mean ignoring possibilities like:

– men could be more often offered better-paid jobs than women of equal competency, i.e. a ‘promotion gap’
– opportunities to develop job competency in the first place may not be equally available to boys and girls
– the number of hours women work could be more often compromised by socially-obligated work outside the workplace. (perhaps things like childcare and homemaking.)

These kinds of factors are included in the kind of sexism which people talking about the wage gap want to talk about, so excluding them might miss the point.

Women on average make less than men for several different reasons.

1. Women are more likely to be the parent that takes time off work to raise kids; this isn’t broadly expected of fathers and men rarely do it.

2. Fields where women work are often worse-paying than fields mostly occupied by men. One of the more concrete examples is computer programming, which used to be mostly women but became a much higher-paying profession after the field became overwhelmingly male.

3. Regular old sexism. Women walk a fine line when trying to negotiate for promotions or raises and are met with hostility when in a leadership position; there are studies which show that men think women are dominating a conversation when women are talking just 15% of the time, and men are more likely to see women as being aggressive than men behaving the same way. This adds up to explain why women make less than men even when they do the same work for the same amount of time.

4. Regular old sexism 2, electric boogaloo. Sexual harassment and misogynists are widespread in a lot of industry and that drives women out of male-dominated fields of work. This one is a bit more subjective but I can attest to this personally with certainty in a way that most people can’t; I know how people treated me when they thought I was a man and it is drastically different to how I’m treated now and what men will admit around me.

Edit: forgot to answer the second half

The pink tax is a bit more of a difficult one to quantify and I’m not aware of how much research has been done into it. There are certainly things designed for (or at least marketed towards) women that cost more than their equivalents for men. One could argue whether these things are actually different or not, some definitely are. Women’s health often requires specialist visits in ways that men’s health isn’t (there’s research on how much medical research just excludes women for *reasons* which lead to an incredibly male-centric understanding of health), which at least in the US is an additional expense women have to bear.

Wage gap is a thing. However there’s two wage gaps, and the distinction is a misunderstanding. Women make $0.72 (or something like that) for every $1 a man does, on national average. That discrepancy is caused largely by things like stay-at-home mothers and women choosing to go in to lower playing fields/men taking more in-demand/worse jobs. Society definitely influences those, but they are ultimately personal choices.

But when you account for experience and field differences, women on average make 5% less. So if a male 10-year engineer makes $100k on average, the average woman in the same job with the same experience will only make $95k. That one isn’t a personal choice, it’s what companies are offering. Both wage gaps are very real, and definitely problems; but the first is societal gender difference, and the other is much harder to pin down.

Pink tax; I’m less sure about, but there’s a hint of truth to it. Women definitely feel required by society to spend more. But I’m not convinced they’re being overcharged for the same products; which is what the pink tax usually refers to. They arguably get more/fancier clothes and personal care products, etc for their increased spending. It’s terrible that society has those pressures to spend more, but I’m not convinced that they aren’t getting what they pay for. As an example: hair care routines; from shower products to hair cuts, the average woman will spend much more, but also gets a significantly higher quality of hair care. It’s incredibly difficult to accurately compare “gendered” products apples-to-apples.

As far as I know the pink tax refers to items that cost more when marketed or made for women. Some examples are razors, body wash, and clothing. What I’ve mostly heard the pink tax attributed to is feminine products such as sanitary napkins, and tampons which are very expensive. In one month a woman can spend $15 or more on these products. I’m sure I’m missing more about this but I believe this is the gist of the pink tax issue.