Despite easy and repeated deconstruction, the “gender wage gap” narrative remains a popular talking point among the synthetically aggrieved and the cynically partisan. Its simplicity, “women get paid 78 cents for every dollar men get paid,” along with the confirmation bias and desirability as a talking point, hardens many to the rational and fact-ful rebuttals put forth by countless reliable sources.

Once various factors (skills, experience, personal preferences, et al) are considered, the gap shrinks down to 5% or less. This smaller gap is still problematic in the eyes of some, because they presume the part that can’t be explained away by non-gender factors is de-facto proof of gender discrimination. They believe that this discrimination isn’t necessarily on the part of employers, but societally systemic. There’s supposedly a combination of involuntary “occupational sorting,” inculcated gender roles, and consumer bigotries at play.

One aspect of the gender pay gap I rarely see discussed, however, lies in men’s greater willingness to take higher risk jobs. Normalizing wage data would presume to judge whether a man and a woman of the same skill and experience level are getting paid the same money, and would also consider disparate preferences in careers, but the latter will typically be governed as much by supply-and-demand factors as by “mens work” and “womens work” social presumptions. People rarely talk about how much more frequently men die on the job than women do, perhaps out of a residual notion that men are supposed to take greater risks than women. But, if we are talking about true equality, then that notion should absolutely be removed from consideration. You can’t purport to equality in positives without taking on equality in negatives as well.

How much more frequently? 93% of those killed on the job are men. What are the riskiest jobs? Commercial fishermen, loggers, aircraft pilots, garbage collectors, roofers, iron workers, farmers/ranchers, commercial drivers, electrical linesmen, and livery drivers.

How many of those jobs are, by gut check, “men’s” jobs? How often do we hear of women complaining about under-representation in those occupational fields?

There are certainly reasons that at least some of these jobs naturally draw more men than women. Some of them are physical, and despite post-modernist and politically-correct narratives that discount biological differences between men and women, it is a simple fact that men are, on average, stronger and more physical than women. Some of these jobs also appeal more to innate male nature. While it’s certainly arguable that the predominance of men in aircraft piloting is the result of societal gender biases, it’s also true that a significant (but steadily decreasing) fraction of pilots are former military, and the percentage of female pilots in the military runs in the mid-low single digits. Why that is, is open for serious discussion, but given pilots’ ranking amongst other high-fatality-rate jobs, perhaps we might want to actually contemplate the possibility that women are innately more death-averse than men are as a factor.

Statistics beyond employment demonstrate, rather clearly, that men’s lives are valued more “cheaply” than women’s. 97% of war dead are male. 70% of murder victims are male. 3 of 4 suicides are male. 7 of 8 homeless are male. Cultural attitudes reflect this as well. We react far more strongly to the idea of a female soldier being captured or killed in combat than a male soldier, and the murder of a college girl is far more likely to draw national media attention and scrutiny than that of a boy.

If there remains a gender wage gap, even after the usual differentiating factors are normalized out, those who insist on parsing such things should consider the effect of a “death premium” earned by men. Those who’d apply government force to equalize pay should give some thought, first, to the greater existential risk that men assume in service to our society.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.


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