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Battle of the Sexes

A Commentary By John Stossel

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Women make only 77 cents per each dollar made by males. Outrageous! Sex discrimination!

So say advocates of government-enforced "equality."

But they are wrong. Women today are rarely victims of salary discrimination.

If they were, market competition would punish bosses who discriminate. A company that hired women who were "underpaid" by other companies would have a cost advantage, allowing them to lower prices, and they'd quickly take business away from the "sexist" competition. Since those female workers provide the same value for less, entrepreneurs who hired only women would get rich!

Warren Farrell, author of "Why Men Earn More," dug deeper into reasons why women are paid less and found that it's women who make discriminating choices. Women are more likely to choose a well-rounded life than their workaholic male peers.

"Many women say, what do I want? Do I want to make $200,000 a year, or do I want more personal time? Time with my children? More spiritual time?"

He found that even female business owners are more likely to favor flexibility and proximity to home. Men are more likely to chase higher earnings by working longer hours, traveling farther and taking dangerous assignments. They are paid accordingly, though they may not be happier.

In her recent book, "Lean In," the chief operating officer of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, urged women to put in the extra effort that enables workers to jockey for position in business.

She says: "At Facebook, we hosted a senior government official, and he had these two women traveling with him who were pretty senior in his department. And I said to them, sit at the table, come on, sit at the table. (But) they sat on the side of the room."

Sandberg's been criticized by feminists for this common-sense message. The critics claim she "blames the victim."  But most women are anything but victims. Making a different choice, choosing a less career-driven life, may be why women have more friends and live longer.

Many women don't want  "corporate success," though it's politically incorrect to admit it, says Sabrina Schaeffer, executive director of the Independent Women's Forum.

"I don't think that most women want what Sheryl Sandberg wants," Schaeffer told me. "In some recent studies, only 23 percent of women said that they would prefer to work full-time, let alone (have the) sort of CEO quality of life that Sheryl Sandberg is living."

Regardless of what many women prefer, America now is stuck with laws based on a feminist view that only discrimination accounts for differences between women and men -- and that government must use regulation to "correct" those differences: affirmative action, subsidies for female-owned businesses, Title IX rules that require equal money for women's college sports, etc.

Instead of trying to change sexist male institutions by force, Sandberg's book suggests that women change voluntarily.

"Sandberg picks up on some very sensitive gender differences," says Schaeffer. "She says, look, women don't negotiate their salaries. I was one of those women. My brother told me he negotiated every salary he had. The fact is, once you're aware of that, you can do things."

If they do, women might very well overtake men in business -- but they will have to give something up to do it.

Psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Amen, author of "The Power of the Female Brain," conducted the biggest brain-scan study ever done -- 46,000 scans -- and found that "female brains were dramatically more active. Women are really wired for leadership. ... If it wasn't for this thing called children that derails their careers ... they really make great CEOs."

Amen says women are "better with things like empathy, intuition, collaboration, self-control." Since leadership isn't all about bellowing and frightening people, those are useful corporate skills.

They are also useful skills for managing a household full of children and promoting family life. We should respect both choices.

Politicians and "equality" feminists should respect reality: Differing choices come with differing rewards -- and different salaries.

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed." 

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