Mainstream Media Ignored the Harvard Wage Gap Study

Ellie McFarland | @El_farawayland

In late 2018, Harvard University published a study debunking the oft-propagated “wage gap” myth. They found that even in a unionized profession that mandates equal hourly pay and tenure-based promotions, women earn about 89% of what a man makes on average. The wage gap study shows that men and women making different choices is really what accounts for the gap.

The Harvard Wage Gap Study

Without a doubt, this wage discrepancy is not the result of intentional discrimination; rather, it arises due to the personal choices men and women make. Within the same job, men take fewer days off, work longer hours, and don’t value stability or time at home as much as women do. This study took extensive data from men and women in the same field from 2011 to 2017 and serves as a thorough dismissal of the wage gap myth.

Despite dealing with one of the most common statistics relating to women’s issues, this conclusive study was mysteriously brushed under the rug by the MSM (mainstream media). The only media organizations that covered the study (with the exception of The Wall Street Journal) were Harvard’s own news sources and small media outlets.

Meanwhile, there are thousands of articles continuing to propagate this egregious distortion of facts. There are dozens of organizations whose goal is saving women from the wage gap boogieman. It has been four months since Harvard published their study, which is more than enough time to correct decades of falsehood. But no MSM organization has bothered to step away from what can now only be called propaganda.

Further Evidence

The fact other studies have proven the wage gap false already is not relevant. The Harvard study set itself apart by applying an in-depth analysis of behavioral factors that influence the earnings gap. It is a fully unique piece of statistical literature contrasting the often hyperbolic and comedic refutations that already existed. The study was a detailed 86 page document which explained the real reasons behind the earnings gap. Instead of brushing off the cause to “the patriarchy” it examined both men and women’s behavior and choices in employment. In the conversation around gender politics, this is an important myth to dispel. The existence and belief in the gender wage gap impacts legislation, legal approach, and the way we talk about women in politics.

Google “Wage Gap” and you will find 83,600,000 results mostly diagnosing the earnings gap as an example of women’s oppression. This is a clear media bias towards a specific agenda. The lack of coverage on the Harvard study expresses the conformity to a specific narrative the media hasn’t escaped from in a very long time. The MSM push lies about the wage gap, but people also believe them. It has real impacts.

A Crisis of Ethics in Journalism

The way this lie has spread itself and the way people believe it should’ve been the only reason an ethical journalist needed to cover it. It would be like if the entire scientific community discovered the missing link but ignored it because they thought it looked ugly. Or it would be like if the theological community ignored proof of god because Jehovah Witnesses said it was sacrilege. Dispelling a widely believed myth that would rock people’s worldviews but would garner negative attention is not a compelling reason to ignore important information.

It isn’t as if the Harvard study only covered a small part of the earnings gap or was disproving something obvious like the Flat Earth Society. The MSM ignored this important development because they didn’t like it. Not because the researchers did the study poorly or because it wasn’t big enough news, but because it went against a decade’s established status quo.

Profit Motivations

MSM outlets are corporations, plain and simple. They have a base they need to keep happy to turn a profit. This isn’t new, this is just how capitalism operates. CNN is not going to rustle anyone’s feminist feathers. Panera Bread isn’t going to take any shots at privileged upper-class white moms. It is understandable, but when it comes to journalism, these types of profit-hungry lies by omission can only be called unethical. Being a journalist isn’t comparable to running a restaurant. Journalists have a public duty to fulfill.

Originally, TV news wasn’t designed to turn a profit for a network. Networks designed “The News” to inform people about what was happening in the world, with the real money coming from other avenues. Even now, most network profits do not come from the news. But even many explicitly journalistic organizations are guilty of this. They play into narratives, manipulate the facts, and do not hold truth or service as a top priority.

This is not only dishonest and damaging to journalistic organizations which do have integrity, but also dangerous. Falsely reporting riots, manipulating important statistics, misrepresenting public figures, and sensationalizing tragedy can get real people hurt. Misrepresenting the earnings gap, for instance, can discourage women from taking higher-paid positions. It can scare women out of high-paying fields and endorse needless quotas.

It is also, ironically, sexist. Pawning off the cause of the earnings gap onto the quality of women being women strips us of our agency. Pretending as if businesses pay women less “for the same exact work” discounts women’s own choices. Women make less in the realm of jobs because by and large, women and men have different priorities. As the Harvard study illustrated, men take more overtime and women take more time off– just to name two reasons.

Media Dishonesty on the Wage Gap Study

A smaller paycheck is the repercussion for the choices to take more vacation or to spend more time with the children at home. Women are perfectly intelligent enough to realize this. If a woman gets sick of the smaller paycheck, she can choose to pick up another shift or to take less vacation.

The MSM evasion of the Harvard wage gap study is only one example of the appeal most media has to maintain. It is sad that such an important profession as journalism is turning into a cash-grab in its most mammoth forms. We as a public cannot tolerate the abuse of a platform like this. The MSM cannot without challenge when people’s lives and the unity of nations are at stake. It isn’t difficult to see when the media lies, but we are not anywhere as good at boycotting the MSM as we are Chick-fil-a and Nike. To operate in a free market economy, we need to hold private organizations accountable.

But the MSM continues to publish articles promoting hollow assertions and ignores foundational statistical literature. However, there are ways to fact check the MSM. Always find primary sources, look at original video and documents, be a responsible consumer. Thinking all Muslims are evil is dangerous. Believing all conservatives are racists is dangerous. Thinking all liberals want to strip you of your freedoms is dangerous. Instead of the media quelling these fears by presenting facts, many companies exacerbate the problem to get views. We cannot, as a market, accept this manipulation and failure to perform.


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