In speaking against a bill aimed at closing the gender wage gap on Wednesday, New Hampshire State Rep. Will Infantine (R) said that men make more because they take on riskier and harder work.
“Men, by and large, make more because of some of the things they do,” he said. “Their jobs are, by and large, riskier, they don’t mind working nights and weekends, they don’t mind working overtime or outdoors.”
However, a recent paper found that most of the gender wage gap is caused by differences in pay when men and women work the exact same jobs, not different ones. In fact, out of the more than 100 job categories tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women make less in all but three. And even if one accepts the idea that female-dominated jobs tend to carry less risk, men earn more than women when they take those jobs. In male-dominated, “hard work” jobs like manufacturing, constructing, mining, and agriculture, women still earn less.
Not all of women’s work comes without risk or hardship, however, but they may not be rewarded for it with better pay. Take home health aides. Women make up more than 90 percent of these workers. More than 11 percent of them report having at least one work-related injury, while for all full-time workers, that figure is a little over 1 percent. Yet they make less than $21,000 a year at the median and many earn poverty wages. More than half have had to rely on public benefits to get by. Or take nursing assistants, who have one of the highest injury rates among occupations tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and are one of the most prevalent jobs for women. They make less than $25,000 a year.
Meanwhile, janitors and cleaners have high injury rates, but women tend to be maids working in homes making $19,570 a year at the median, while men tend to be building janitors and make $22,590 at the median.
Infantine also went on to say, “Men work on average more than six hours a week longer than women do,” and added that women pay themselves less when they own businesses “because of the flexibility of their work” and because “men are more motivated by money than women are.” It’s true that about 10 percent of the wage gap can be attributed to women having different work histories than men — having to go part-time, take on a flexible schedules, or drop out of a job altogether — often because they have to care for children. But there’s evidence that more women would stay in the workforce if we had policies like early childhood education and paid family leave that made it easier for them to do so. Providing such things would also boost women’s wages.
Infantine ended by saying, “My apologies if I got some people upset.”