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article imageOp-Ed: In defense of John Tory's gender income disparity comments

By Andrew Moran     Feb 5, 2014 in Politics
Toronto - Former Ontario Progressive Conservative party leader and possible 2014 Toronto mayoral candidate John Tory is in hot water over comments he made regarding gender income disparity. He said women should have negotiated better and play golf.
“The women don’t come as often to complain. The men do, so my experience is a little different in that I do think that more men put a fuss up about their money,” he told CP24 host Stephen LeDrew. He added that his career advice for women would be to learn how to play golf.
Income disparity between men and women has been known for decades and no one ever disputes it. However, the debate and political discourse has been dumbed-down because people are terrified to be politically incorrect, afraid to potentially alienate a particular voting base or prefer use emotions rather than facts.
Do women earn less than men in the labor force? Absolutely, but the question is: so what?
Politicians, unions and human rights groups make the case that the reason why women are not earning as much as men in today’s business world is because of discrimination. Men, according to these groups, feel superior to women and want them to head back into the kitchen. This is a false and dangerous premise.
Governments have enacted legislation in order to make the workforce more equal, while educational institutions attempt to balance their acceptance of students based on gender and race, otherwise known as affirmative action. Heck, even Ontario Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne has endorsed the Ontario Public Service internship program’s availability to black females only.
Most don’t speak out against these fallacies for fears that they’ll be accused of hating women — similar to opposition against affirmative action or President Obama will be retorted with allegations of racism. But come on, who can hate women, especially when I have a wife like mine? I’ll admit it right now that most women can do what men do and vice versa, but there certainly are limitations: a 185-lb female football player can’t go head to head with a male 450-lb defensive tackle. It’s not feasible.
Why do women earn less than men? Well, an array of data compiled by economists and studies conducted by universities and think tanks suggest a wide variety of reasons. They certainly don’t indicate a nefarious plot by male executives. But in this day and age of political correctness and heightened sensitivity, it’s not a surprise that people are making a mountain out of a molehill.
First off, let’s defend John Tory here (I certainly would not vote for him in the upcoming mayoral race). A University of Chicago study found that men were much more likely to negotiate starting salaries and pay than their female counterparts. The study also found that more than twice as many women than women admitted they felt “a great deal of apprehension” about negotiating pay.
Other studies have indicated the same thing: men were more aggressive when it came to negotiating their salaries than women. It’s not a critique of women, but just the difference between men and women.
No gender discrimination.
Occupational Choices
It’s quite rare to see female truck drivers, movers or construction workers. Meanwhile, it’s also quite rare to see male secretaries, administrative clerks and childcare specialists. Both industries are dominated by one gender, but it’s simply choice as opposed to discrimination by either gender.
Men veer towards heavy labor and masculine industries that come with very long hours, while women choose jobs that aren’t so heavy-duty and provide workplace flexibility and specified hours. This is called danger wage premium, which essentially means men will take on physically dangerous and demanding jobs.
No gender discrimination.
Hours & Flexibility
Women will work fewer hours in their lifetime due to a variety of reasons (perhaps they realize that life’s meaning isn’t all about money and working, which would then show they are smarter than men!) Therefore, perhaps they would work at a job that doesn’t lead to immense hours — studies have found this actually leads to increased productivity.
In addition, flexibility in the workforce, as mentioned above, is also important to women. One of the identifying variables, according to researchers, is that they want to have a proper work-life balance and want to make time for their husbands or children (again, another reason women are smarter than men!) This means women would work at companies that provide opportunities to leave early to care for an ill child, take an extended period of time off to look after a child or a moderate number of sick days.
No gender discrimination.
Parenthood & Marital Status
When it comes to becoming a mother, women take maternity leave or exit the workforce entirely for a few years. This can contribute to the data showing women earn less than men because they aren’t generating a salary. Also, if they’re out of the labor force for, let’s say, five years then they may fall behind and not have the required skills, which would lead to a smaller role and less pay.
In fact, according to research completed by economist Thomas Sowell, much of the pay gap is based on marital status. He argued that if you look at the data comparing men and women with the same education, career, hours worked and marital status then the pay is quite equal and the wage disparity argument is thrown out the window.
No gender discrimination.
If companies, governments and universities are hiring individuals based on their gender, race or religion rather than merit or character then that’s quite dangerous. In the words of Jerry Seinfeld recently, “Who cares?”
In the end, John Tory wasn’t necessarily wrong in his remarks. In fact, if he’s considering running for mayor then he’s more wrong on that account than anything else he could have said on the topic.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about John Tory, income disparity, Thomas Sowell, gender inequality, Toronto politics
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