Good  critically Evaluate Why The Gender Pay Gap Still Exists Over 40 Years Since The Introduction Of The Equal Pay Act? Essay Example

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Women, Workplace, Gender, Gap, Labor, Social Issues, Discrimination, Market

Pages: 10

Words: 2750

Published: 2020/12/22

Part 1.

The gender pay gap is a complex issue that has been around for many years. It gave rise to the legislative action of introducing the Equal Pay Act that is considered to be the solution in reducing the gap between genders in terms of the differences in pay received by men and women. The Equal Pay Act was introduced with the purpose of putting an end to the gender-based discrimination in pay received by both sexes. The legislative mandate prohibits paying male and female employees different wage rates when their jobs require the same skills, responsibility and effort under the same working condition (Meiners, Ringleb and Edwards, 2015). The legislation of the Equal Pay Act aims to uphold the principle of pay equity where women deserve to be treated equally as men, and be given the same opportunity to meaningfully participate in the labor industry and be paid accordingly without using gender as an influencing factor in the remuneration given (Macdonald and Charlesworth, 2013). The determination of the inequality in pay between men and women in the workplace requires that the pay discrimination must involve substantially equal work performed by men and women, with the women receiving less than what men earn for the same work (Walsh, 2010). There are various determinants that are used for measuring gender pay gap. This includes the systematic process of using compensable factors in the job evaluation, such as the skills, effort, responsibility. In order to measure inequality in pay, both men and women must be performing at least similar terms of work conditions.
After 40 years of the enactment of the Equal Pay Act, gender pay gap remains to be prevalent. Gender pay gap is measured by calculating the woman’s average earnings as a percentage from a man’s earnings (Scott, Dex and Joshi, 2008). There are varied theories that postulate the continued existence of the gender pay gap despite the governmental policies that prohibit gender discrimination at the workplace. Discrimination against women does not have its roots solely from the lack of law that protects the women’s right in labor, but it may also emanate from social and cultural practices. Moreover, there is also the dominance on the women’s role in nurturing the family and raising children with less participation in the economic activity, or labor industry, such as those seen in some countries like Spain and Italy. Within this sociocultural environment, women will find some difficulty in overcoming patriarchal dominance.
Chen (2009) provides three sociological theories that attempt to explain the gender pay gap, namely the human capital theory, dual market theory and the reserve army theory. The human capital theory provides that women are less likely to spend time participating in the labor market because they do not invest more on education and training as men do, thus they are expected not to reap the same earnings as men receive from the labor market (Andersen and Taylor, 2008). The dual market theory consists of two sectors. The first is the primary market that involves high paying jobs, work benefits and the opportunity towards career advancement. The second is the secondary market which comprises the majority of women workers and is characterized by low paying jobs with no or less benefits and no room for career advancements. What this theory implies is that it is not the individual characteristics of the workers that affects the gender pay gap, but it is the structure of the labor market itself (Brzuzy and Lind, 2008). Under the reserved army theory, women are considered to be reserved army of labor which was defined by Baiman, Boushey, and Saunders (2000) as those as not participating in the labor force, but the market may induce or force into paid employment. As a result, women have no ability to find their own choice of employment and are only called upon to work when exigencies require them to.
Parry and Tyson (2014) cited the reports from the Office of the National Statistics suggesting that there remains about 10 percent of gender pay gap in the UK despite the increasing pay given to the women workers by virtue of the Equal Pay Act. Moreover, they also report that in the US, full time working women earn an average of 82 percent of what men earn, which was cited by the American Association of University Women in its 2012 report. It can be noted that most literature reviews indicate that since the legislation of the Equal Pay Act, the gender pay gap remains to be an issue as a gender-based discrimination in terms of wages in many countries today. To date, there remains doubt with regards to the success of the Equal Pay Act in eradicating pay difference between men and women in the labor market.
The coercive pressure of legislation alone is not sufficient in bringing change in the gender based pay discrimination practice in many countries. There are varied factors that influence the continuous existence of the gender pay gap in today’s labor market. An understanding on these determinant factors is crucial in framing a more effective legislative policy that will best address the current causation why gender pay gap still exists. One of these factors affecting the occurrence of gender pay gap is occupational segregation. This pertains to the labor industry where higher paying positions are predominantly occupied by men, while women mostly occupy positions with lower salaries. According to Trauth (2006), occupational segregation accounts to 18% of the major cause of gender pay gap in the UK after the enactment of the Equal Pay Act. The Act is only among the number of legislative movements introduced in an attempt to reduce the impact of occupational segregation to gender pay gap. Granting that males occupy the majority of the high paying positions, government policies introducing an increase in the minimum wage has been granted by law in an effort to narrow the gap of pay received between males and females in the labor market, with the grant of additional benefits that can augment the need for an increase in pay among women engaged in low paying employment.
Another cause for the gender pay gap existence in the modern society is the stereotyping theory where women are considered to be undervalued members of the work forces in the labor industry. Women are underpaid and tend to work on less paying jobs, such as dish washing and cleaning as compared to men who earn better from high paying occupations that are male dominated, such as in the construction and transportation industries. Gender role in the labor market is influenced by environmental demands, whereby a society with a growing population will likely increase the need for women to work on the labor industry where they are recognized to have a valuable role to perform. Thus, an increased demand in the women workforce will provide better opportunities for them to explore other available jobs with a better access to the job market (Allan, 2011). Moreover, the demand for the women workforce will also depend on the sex ratio changes. The ratio between men and women changes in times of war and migration. Therefore, if there are more women than men, women are likely be given the opportunity to occupy higher paying positions that are male dominant before.
The work requirement of a specific job will also dictate the existence of gender pay gap in the labor market today. Companies are willing to pay males who are physically stronger than women in handling the carrying of heavy equipment, for instance. Women are made to assume job responsibilities that do not involved physical exertion and are paid according to the difficulty of their job requirements. Women are also likely to choose part time or casual employment that can significantly affect the amount of possible pay that they can earn. Part time workers usually suffer a lower pay as compared to regular workers and they are often denied with service related benefits and pro rata benefits (IDS Employment Law Handbook, 2011). It can be critically hypothesized that it is customary to find more women taking part time jobs and any discrimination involving the pay received by part time workers is tantamount to an indirect discrimination against women in the labor workforce. Because more females engage in part time employment than males, there is a gender pay gap. This hypothesis may also be linked to the stereotyping theory that requires women to take the nurturing role in taking care of the family that they should spend less hours working and more time at home.
Women discrimination also contributes to the gender pay gap issue, which may occur either directly or indirectly. Remuneration discrimination is direct when it involves similar jobs and it is indirect when it involves different jobs, but with the same value (International Labor Office, 2007). In certain countries, the residual part of the gender pay gap increases with age where the remuneration discrimination against women doubles as they reach the age of 25. Other forms of inequality and gender discrimination practices in employment were cited by Schultz and Shaw (2003) that involves the process of hiring, promotion, career advancement, access to clients, and assignment of job responsibilities that can result in gender pay gap. Efforts were exercised in order to provide an effective counter measure against the resulting inequality to pay between men and women that the Equal Pay Act may not cover in preventing the occurrence of gender pay gap. Additional legislative actions such as the application of the labor law and the diligent and strong enforcement of the pay equity law are also viewed as a valuable approach towards narrowing the gender pay gap.
The individual characteristics of men and women can also contribute to the gender pay gap. It can be critically assessed that males tend to pursue higher education than females and they tend to have more work experience that entitle men to receive a higher pay and promotion. While in certain cases, both males and females manifest similar career goals, the males have the educational qualification advantage with high chance to promotion because of their earned skills and work experience than their female counterparts (Matlin, 2012). The lower participation of women in the labor market can be explained by the higher demand of household responsibilities from them. They tend to discontinue pursuing higher education because of the anticipated responsibilities ascribed to their gender role with resulting discontinued labor services (Grimshaw and Rubery, 2002). Altman (2012) also added some socialization perspective with respect to the practice of discrimination in gender role of women as one who should be taking low paying jobs in maintaining the existence of gender pay gap. As long as women perceive themselves as being inferior to men and customarily expected to take low paying job, they are less likely motivated to pursue higher education in preparation of a higher career level. Thus, it can be assumed that this societal discrimination against women in the labor market can influence their preferential career choices.
The work of women is also considered to be under valued. This is particularly true especially among business organizations where the female employees have no union representation. As a consequence, women tend to work on low paying employment with an unequal division of work. And there is no guarantee that their right to equal pay will be upheld. Within the concept of discrimination theory, the residual gender pay gap should be smallest in the more competitive environment. According to Hersch (2006), there were research findings showing that an increase in the trade competition has an impact in narrowing the residual wage gap. In the presence of competitive pressures, administrative policies on wage category in males and females may become laxed in order to address the competitive demands for productivity within an organization. Females may be allowed to assume a position that used to be occupied by male employees only thereby reducing the gender pay gap between sexes. At some point, the discrimination theory also hypothesizes that the workplace can also be a source of discriminatory practice that promotes the gender pay gap in the labor market. As a result of discriminatory practices, bias assessment is observed, which can adversely affect the woman employee’s opportunity to earn a raise or be offered a career advancement opportunity after the result of her performance evaluation. It can be noted that about 41% of the gender pay gap is caused by unexplained sources, one of which is gender discrimination. The other causes are identified as due to individual characteristics that may pertain to one’s experience, skills, race, union status and educational qualifications.
Blau and Khan (n.d.) indicated the economists’ view point regarding the existence of the gender pay gap where it has been noted that women, during the World War II, usually permanently leaves the labor market when they get married or bear a child. Although few years later, when their child has grown, they come back to start working again, there is already a marginal gap on the experience and skills acquired by their male counterparts during those times that they stop working in the labor workforce. As a result, female workers remain to be working in the low paying positions while males have already acquired a series of promotion that entitled them to a higher pay. This partakes to the concept of the human capital theory cited above that provides for the qualification factor that affects the gender pay gap in the wordplace. These qualification factors include the person’s educational qualification, work experience, training, and work history (Beham, Straub, and Schwalbach, 2012). These are considered to be important parameters in the determination of the pay of workers.
Other identified factors that helped narrow down the gap in the pay difference between the male and female after the legislative action introduced the Equal Pay Act was cited by Chant (2010). He stated that in the 1990’s women became a highly represented sector than men in the higher education. Thus, women can easily recover from the lost time of acquiring educational qualification and skills. In addition, women are described to have a higher educational training and learning in the current times that allow them to qualify for promotion and pursue career advancements equally with men. Moreover, the influx of foreign investment firms also supports the more liberalization approach in giving pay to women. With the occurrence of market reforms, there will be stronger competitions that will drive down the gender pay gap. The introduction of a dynamic working environment also helps in developing better pay among women where bias assessment is removed with a regulated business environment. O’Reilly, Smith, Deakin and Burchell (2015) recommend that future studies on the most effective and dynamic approach in policy reforms must be implemented to consistently monitor the gender pay gap which constantly evolve as new factors arise in the dynamic world of business that can stimulate the occurrence of gender pay gap.


Considering that there was a gradual transition in the gender pay gap after the introduction of the Equal Pay Act, the issue remains although it does becomes a narrowed issue 40 years after its legislative enactment. It can be gleaned from literature reviews and research studies that the Equal Pay Act is not sufficient in addressing the substantial pay difference between men and women. After 40 years of its enactment, the law will not suffice in giving adequate protection to the equal rights of women to access equal pay rates as their male counterparts. Owing to the complexities involved with variable factors affecting the occurrence of the gender pay gap, it will take more than a single law to sufficiently address the persistent widening in the pay difference between both sexes. As the historical introduction of legislative acts supporting equality in pay unfolds, the Equal Pay Act is only one among the numerous compelling legislative policies supporting the drive against gender discrimination. The Equal Pay Act is complemented by the Labor Law, Sex Discrimination Act, Employment Protection Act and other administrative policies within an organization that discourage bias assessment to female employees. It usually takes political, social and cultural changes in order to introduce a complete change in the gender pay gap in the labor market today. The business environment is another important factor that needs attention to help eradicate the organizational culture involved in the practice of pay difference between male and female employees. Equal opportunity for promotion or career advancement must also be observed within the business environment. Moreover, the autonomous behavior of women can also contribute in helping improve the gender pay gap in the labor market. They can easily upgrade their educational qualifications and skills by pursuing higher education and going through skill improvement process. Women perception about themselves must embrace the modern role of women as a part of the major workforce in the labor market in order to change the cultural system that creates women the stereotypical role of pursuing low paying jobs when they can qualify for a higher paying employment.

Part 2.

1. Analyze the role that Trade Unions play in reducing discrimination in the workplace?#TradeUnions implement anti-discrimination and anti-diversity campaign by using structural changes for a better working environment for all.
2. If an employer introduces a dignity at work policy, how do they ensure that negative behaviors are addressed? #Negativebehaviors at the workplace should be subjected to administrative sanction when necessary with a written warning for first offense.
3. Evaluate the main debates around global diversity management?
The #globaldiversitymanagement main debate involves whether the same should be within the functional or operational level at the workplace.


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Andersen, M. and Taylor, H. (2008). Sociology: Understanding a diverse society. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.
Baiman, R., Boushey, H. and Saunders, D. (2000). Political economy and contemporary capitalism: Radical perspectives on economic theory and policy. New York: M.E. Sharpe.
Beham, B., Straub, C., and Schwalbach, J. (2012). Managing diversity in organizations. Berlin, Germany: Gabler Verlag.
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