Boobs don't make your poorer: The parent pay gap explored

For the first time in my professional career, I'm part of a business community group that has nothing to do with school or church. I get to interact with "real" business owners and professionals and I don't even have to grade anything they write. *Bonus.* So far, I enjoy these people and am navigating my way, as a naturally shy person, through the difficulties of speaking in favor of small businesses and the continued (re)vitalization of our small-ish downtown business sector. 

During our meeting last week, one of my counterparts on the committee, an old hippie whose adorable insolence about all things government really adds some flavor, threw out a gender description that I haven't encountered in a while. Luckily it wasn't toward me, because I'm still recovering from an earlier incident. He directed a good-natured and sincere question to two female real estate professionals across the table by saying this, "let me ask you real estate girls something." 

For the love, as Jen Hatmaker would say. 

I couldn't help but turn to my counterpart, a male banker, and grimace. He did the same. About ten minutes later hippie-business-owner finished his spiel, which is when I asked my follow up question to his original. I prefaced it this way, "let me ask the banker boys something about that. And the city boys, you too." People, these are professional bankers, a city planner and a non-profit director to whom I addressed my completely sarcastic and nonessential question, just to make a point.  

It sounded ridiculous, as intended. I think I sounded like an ass, but I just can't take it anymore. Here's my point: we're women with choices about what to do with our careers. Be it raising our children as our full-time career or choosing to work outside of the home to pursue a different career. I'm not a girl. I raise girls. There's a difference because they are 10 and 8 and can't yet reproduce. 

Mommmmm! Gross! <Emily
The Bureau of Labor Statistics must have released a new pay equity study recently, because I've heard/seen this statistic at least five times in the last two days between the radio, television and It always goes something like this: The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that women make 77% of what men make. That's 77 cents for every $1. <insert witty remark about women being treated unfairly or how society needs to wake up or what a shame or save us Hillary, blah, blah, blah.> Thanks for the interpretation, radio persona, because it seems we're not stupid enough already, us girls.

Right now you're thinking, oh great, this is a post about gender pay equity, feminism, Gloria Steinem, Hillary Clinton, and bra burning. Here we go. Where's that red x in the corner of the page?

No, just about the gender pay gap and how I think it's crap.  
What? OMG, she's lost her mind. 

Or rather, we're not getting the whole story. 

That's right. I'm going to say it. The gender pay gap is pretty much a myth. Really, it's the parent pay gap. Let's just stop right now perpetuating the mindset that a majority of women are paid less than men solely because they have different body parts. Boobs don't make you poorer. A vagina doesn't disqualify you from the executive ranks. Can I say that? <husband cringing upon reading this post, as usual>
Let me tell you what this does to the psyche of women about to graduate from college. Every single time this statistic is aired, in some similar fashion, they feel a little more discouraged. I'll have to fight harder, work longer, be stronger, delay having a family in order to prove myself worthy next to my male counterpart(s). I have to be better, look thinner, move faster, win more. 

You know what? They're right. And they're doing it. Mass media is not dolling out the details of the BLS findings to uncover other juicy tidbits that may make our young women understand why these statistics are trotted out every year. There's a lot more in that report that is favorable.  

This is why I think quantitative research is superficial. There's always a story behind the number that gets left in the shadows.

But I digress. Moving on.

That 77% number? If you add up all of the income, sort it by gender and hit "calculate", that's what's reported. It's sensationalism at its best. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics's October 2013 report highlighting the 2012 earnings of women, part-time work, education level, occupational distribution and age are important indicators of gender pay equity. And then I have my theory. I'll save that for later. 

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