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Response to an Angry Critic

Dear Ms. ___________:

Thanks very much for writing.  I appreciate your thoughts.

I assure you, though, that you’re mistaken in your conclusion that I am “a disgusting typical conservative corporate mouth piece.”  First, I truly am not conservative.  Second, I very often speak out against policies that benefit corporations.  (Whether or not I am disgusting is not for me to say.)

Contrary to your accusation, to recognize (as I do in my offending blog-post) that statistical differences in the pay of men and women might well be the result of perfectly reasonable differences in the patterns of career choices typically made by men from the patterns of career choices typically made by women is not at all, as you describe it, “to tow [sic]…  [an] ignorant conservative line.”  For example, here’s philosopher Peter Singer, who is no one’s idea of a conservative or of an economic libertarian!:

While Darwinian thought has no impact on the priority we give to equality as a moral or political ideal, it gives us grounds for believing that since men and women play different roles in reproduction, they may also differ in their inclinations or temperaments, in ways that best promote the reproductive prospects of each sex.  Since women are limited in the number of children they can have, they are likely to be selective in their choice of mate.  Men, on the other hand, are limited in the number of children they can have only by the number of women they can have sex with.  If achieving high status increases access to women, then we can expect men to have a stronger drive for status than women.  This means that we cannot use the fact that there is a disproportionately large number of men in high status positions in business and politics as a reason for concluding that there has been discrimination against women.  For example, the fact that there are fewer women chief executives of major corporations than men may be due to men being more willing to subordinate their personal lives and other interests to their career goals, and biological differences between men and women may be a factor in that greater readiness to sacrifice everything for the sake of getting to the top.*

Correct or not, people can – and do – without being mouthpieces of corporate America, or even favorably disposed toward free markets, believe that statistical differences in men’s and women’s pay are explained by factors having nothing to do with ill-intent, discrimination, or, as you say, “men/male power/domination over women/female subservience/exploitation.”

Thanks again for writing.

Donald J. Boudreaux

* Peter Singer, A Darwinian Left: Politics, Evolution, and Cooperation (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000), pp. 17-18.

Ms. __________ should read some of the economics literature on this topic.  She can begin with J.R. Shackleton’s Should We Mind the Gap?: Gender Pay Differentials and Public Policy (2008).