The first thing to notice is that the “77 cents on the dollar” metric isn’t comparing apples to apples. It is a comparison of gross income. That is, it compares the income of all women to that of all men. It fails to take into account important factors—like education, experience, or even just comparing people in the same career. You wouldn’t compare the incomes of elementary school teachers with Bachelor’s degrees to those of individuals with PhDs in physics and complain that there is a “teacher-physicist wage gap” —but this is precisely what this statistic does.
When you take these characteristics into account, the purported “gap” all but disappears.
The gender wage gap falls completely apart if one thinks of it from the perspective of an employer. Suppose you own an accounting firm. Further suppose that the gender wage gap is real—women and men do the exact same work, but you can pay the women in your firm 77 cents for every $1 you pay your male employees.
You need to hire five new accountants. What are your options?
What would you do? Hire the women, of course! In fact, you’d be foolish to hire any men at all! You’d get the same work from either group of employees, but by hiring women you’d save $57,500 every year.