Good Example Of Essay On Gender Pay Gap And Its Existence Despite The Equal Pay Act
Following the release of the ‘Women in America’ report published by the white house council of women and girls, President Barak Obama gave the following statement regarding the subject: In his own words, “Women still earn an average of 77 cents for every dollar that a man earns.” The statement picked up hype soon after and vigorous debate followed and still goes on to-date. In the spirit of the debate and with the problem in view, April 8th is celebrated as the ‘Equal pay day’ worldwide. This paper intends to analyze and justify the reasons for the gap between the pay of the two genders and attempts to suggest solutions and possible remedies to the predicament.
Before understanding the issue and the reasons, it is important that we first establish the meanings of a few important terms relating to the problem. Firstly, what is gender pay gap? Gender pay gap is defined as the difference between the sums paid to women for performing a task as opposed to the pay earned by a man when doing the same work. Gender pay gap is a form of sexual discrimination. How do we define sexual or gender discrimination then? Sexual discrimination is the unfair treatment of an individual because of his/her sex.
The problem of difference in pay of the genders persists in every part of the world except the rate of the gender gap is asymmetrical across the globe. The percentage of the gap is highest in Korea and Belgium falls somewhere near the end of the list. When comparing the difference in gap of men and women’s wages as a percentage of the male median wages, Korea revealed a gap of 36.6 percent, Belgium of 6.41 percent and the percentages for UK and USA fell at 17.84 and 17.91 respectively. Even within the United States community, the gender wage gap varies from one state to another. The Best place for women in the United States is Washington DC where the gap is at 93 percent meaning, every woman earns 93 cents against a dollar of a man’s income. On the flip side of the coin, the state of Louisiana is at the sour end of the crisis where the gap falls at an abysmal 66 percent.
Analyzing the problem
Despite the constant efforts directed towards bridging of the gender gap in earnings, the breach remains at nearly the same level since the past decade. The statistics of 2013 revealed the earnings of a woman at an average of 78 percent of a man’s income. The disparity also shows non-uniformity in women of varying races. In Asian-American women, the difference is the lowest at 90 percent and on analysis, the salaries of Hispanic women show the widest gap at 54 percent.
The problems with discrimination
The women today earn for the very same reasons as their male counterparts do; to support their families, and many of these women are also the sole bread-earners in their families. Struggling to maintain the balance between their children and their career, women face discrimination in every role that they set out for. Regardless of their education and the field of work, these women get less for the same amount and quality of work that a man might be paid more to perform. These women are essentially half of the country’s labor force and the problem is that the discrimination against them not only impinges on the women themselves but also influences the lives of their family-members, especially their children.
The concept of women leaving homes for work started following the outbreak of the Second World War after which, the men set out to defend the country while the women took their places in the labor market. Upon their return, the men replaced the women who were fulfilling the requirements of labor in the US. The few women who still remained in the market worked at extremely low wages because according to social beliefs of the time, women didn’t really need the money. Today, women are the sole bread-winners for 40% of the families in United States, and therefore the theory that women do not need money like men do is no longer valid and passable. Even then the discrimination carries on. These women struggle all through their professional lives in order to make ends meet and at the conclusion of their career, retire with virtually non-existent benefits. With the little money that they have, they cannot buy houses or to support their own health and living costs and resultantly, most women live in poverty after their retirement.
Another problem that women have to encounter due to the prevalent discrimination is that they face greater hardships in repaying their student loans. Even though women and men pay the same amount of tuition when at college and despite the fact that their burdens form the loans after graduation are equally sturdy, they are not provided with uniform opportunities of being able to relieve themselves of that encumber.
Why the discrimination in remunerations?
There are a number of reasons why the women usually lag behind the men in the working sector. A few of them are explained in the following paragraphs.
The responsibility of women as care-givers:
The greatest factor that most people find to blame towards the gender discrimination gap is the role of mothers as care givers as well as child bearers. As soon as she decides on starting a family, a woman has to take a break from her career to pay greater attention to the new-coming children in her life and look after them. This takes the women away from the job market for a considerable period and once they return, they do not hold as much experience as men their age do, and for the same reason are not very likely to be delegated higher-level jobs.
United States is one of the very few countries in the world where the women cannot benefit from paid maternity leaves after the arrival of a new member to the family, and this right here is another reason that creates gap in their employment history and leaves them susceptible to low-paid jobs in the future. Also, women who have a family to support work fewer hours compared to men, because when a child gets sick at home, the woman is more likely to stay back and care for the family then a father may be expected to. Another factor that holds women back is their responsibility towards the unpaid domestic work. A research conducted by the Oxford University revealed that even though men might be taking up more of the domestic work come the past few decades; women still perform two-third of the domestic responsibilities that remain unaccounted for in terms of remuneration.
Occupations held by the women
Another problem that we see when studying the reasons for the gap in wages of men and women is the women’s choice of career. Either due to the stereo-types circulating within the society or in anticipation of their future roles and investments towards the imminence of a family, women generally tend to be drawn towards occupations that are popular amongst most women, and as a result, they are more likely to be bunched upon fewer professions compared to men. According to recent studies and reports, nearly 44.4 percent of all the population of working women is employed in just 20 occupations that include secretaries, nurses, administrative assistants and school teachers.
Also, amongst nearly 534 occupations listed with the Bureau of Labor Statistics, exactly seven professions provide women with an opportunity to earn more than men. The problem however is that the composition of women in these occupations is around 1.5 million which accounts for only 3 percent of the full time female labor force. The remaining 97 percent of the full time working female population earn less than their male counterparts.
Women are seen to be working less number of hours a day when compared with the working hours of men. The reason for this is also children that require attention. Women who have younger children at home work even shorter hours in comparison to women whose children are older, but despite the age of the children, the working hours of women are bound to be less in number due to responsibilities of a house-hold.
In the opinion of Claudia Goldin, a Harvard economist, women who have children spare 24 percent less time towards their jobs in contrast to men and women without children. Money is another factor that determines the working hours of women in the labor force. Mom’s who have high-earning spouses work 18.5 percent less than women whose spouses earn not as much.
Differences due to gender discrimination
Another factor that plays its part in the salary gap is the sexual discrimination in the workplace. Sexual discrimination could take several different forms from women getting lower preference when selecting a candidate for a job to treating both sexes differently even though they may be involved in the performance of the same level of work, to underestimating the capabilities of women in general. Many individuals may see women in the roles of care-giver and a mother and may have aversion to them working right by their side.
Even after accounting for all of the aspects that contribute to discrimination in gender pay, a large part of the problem still remains unaccounted for, and this part we classify under unexplained differences. These could be a range of different reasons from wage discrimination to the various factors in the market that are difficult to account for. The unexplained difference category also embraces all of the variables in the market as well as the lives of women that cannot be measure or put a figure to.
The Equal Pay Act
There have been efforts in the past towards bringing together of the gap between the salaries of the sexes and the most prominent effort that stands out is the Equal pay act. This Act prohibits any discrimination in compensating employees for services performed on the basis of their gender. It calls for the payment of even sums to all individuals working in a particular position. The pay extends to not only the employee’s salary but to all the benefits inclusive of Salary, bonus, vacations and holiday benefits and various other benefits provided under the employment agreement. The law also prohibits the seniors from taking actions against the employees who retaliate against unfair compensation amongst individuals.
The Paycheck Fairness Act
On April 20, 2013, Senator Hilary Clinton proposed the paycheck fairness Act which aimed towards increasing the penalty towards unfairness in distribution of paychecks and also suggested a more severe punishment for those who took action against the whistle-blowers of discrimination. This was a revision of the Equal pay Act and was passed in efforts to further reduce the gap in wages.
The current state of the gender wage gap
It’s been forty years since the equal pay act was enacted and even today, the difference in pay stands at 78 percent. The gap had significantly reduced between the 1960’s and 1990’s but it has remained steady for the past ten years and has seen no noteworthy decline. Also, since the organizations promote the confidentiality in salaries of different employees, many do not even realize that they are being treated unduly. What’s more is that the gap widens for women of other races while some have advantage over the others. How can we talk about gender equality when the job market is hardly successful in keeping the racist practices at bay?
What could be done?
The gaping hole in our gender pay is a problem that concerns us at a hefty scale and may even have long-lasting consequences. Many mothers are the only support in the family and any discrimination against them is going to raise individuals who have access to basic necessities to a very limited extent. Reducing this gap is therefore an action that could benefit present as well as future generations and the issue therefore deserves our exclusive attention. There are many changes that could take care of the problem like:
Raising the minimum wage
The women of our nation make up a very momentous portion of the low-paid workers and taking care of the rights of these low-paid workers is an effort that could go the extra mile. The current minimum wage in the Unites States is $7.25 an hour which adds up to an annual income of $15,080 for a person who works full time. The income however is still below the poverty threshold and not ample to support a family on.
Support fair scheduling practices
Employers should facilitate flexibility in the working hours and durations of women who take care of their children, especially in jobs that are part-time and low-paid. Since a woman is the person who primarily makes sacrifices for the sake of her children, her role of as a mother should be supported rather than taken advantage of.
Re-introduce paid maternity leaves
Just because the responsibilities of child care fall upon a woman does not necessarily mean that she has to suffer during the time she is away taking care of her little one. And even when not at work, a woman still needs money to support her own and her family’s needs and not being paid when on maternity leave is a bias that can and should be eliminated.
Support pay transparency
Policies that require the secrecy of an employee’s wages should not be encouraged. Employees should be aware of what each of them is earning and the women especially should be encouraged to make demand for their rights including raises and promotions. This way, the companies would also not be able to show favoritism in the salaries for the same position exclusively on the basis of sex or race.
Give more benefits by way of sick-pays
Workers should be able to claim sick-leaves and should not have to surrender their pay just because they are in no position to come for work. It is also not fair for the job of a person to be in jeopardy on account of sickness of the employee himself/herself or of the child.
Dignity at work can be imposed by enforcing punishments on questionable behavior and communicating expectations of ethical behavior in the workplace.
The trade unions act as the attorneys for employees and intervene on their behalf in case of any incidents affecting the rights of the employees in the workplace.
Diverse workforce is a spin-off of globalization, and when taken proper advantage of, a diverse workforce could derive many benefits in favor of the organization.
AAUW. (2014, September 8). By the Numbers: A Look at the Gender Pay Gap. Retrieved from aauw.org: http://www.aauw.org/2014/09/18/gender-pay-gap/
AAUW. (2015, Spring). The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap (Spring 2015). Retrieved from aauw.org: http://www.aauw.org/research/the-simple-truth-about-the-gender-pay-gap/
Advisers, T. C. (1998, June). Explaining the trends in the Gender gap. Retrieved from The White House: http://clinton4.nara.gov/WH/EOP/CEA/html/gendergap.html
Cambridge Dictionaries Online. (n.d.). English definition of “gender discrimination”. Retrieved from Cambridge Dictionary: http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/gender-discrimination
Cambridge Dictionary Online. (n.d.). English definition of “gender pay gap”. Retrieved from Cambridge Dictionary: http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/business-english/gender-pay-gap
Covert, B. (2014, September 16). The Gender Wage Gap Didn’t Budge Last Year. Retrieved from Think Progress: http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2014/09/16/3568060/gender-wage-gap-2013/
Fawcett. (n.d.). The Gender pay gap. Retrieved from Faucett Society: http://www.fawcettsociety.org.uk/our-work/campaigns/gender-pay-gap/
Glynn, S. J. (2014, May 19). Explaining the Gender Wage Gap. Retrieved from Centre for American Progress: https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/economy/report/2014/05/19/90039/explaining-the-gender-wage-gap/
Glynn, S. J. (2013, April 09). The Gender Wage Gap Differs by Occupation. Retrieved from Centre for American Progress: https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/labor/news/2013/04/09/59698/the-gender-wage-gap-differs-by-occupation/
Hymoitz, K. S. (2011, Summer). Why the Gender pay gap won't go away. Ever. Retrieved from City Journal: http://www.city-journal.org/2011/21_3_gender-gap.html
Kramer, A. (n.d.). Everything You Need to Know about the Equal Pay Act. Retrieved from Re:gender: http://regender.org/EqualPayAct1
Laura Riley, P. (2014, November 05). Half a Million Dollar Rip-Off: Unequal Pay Every Day. Retrieved from Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/laura-riley-phd/half-a-million-dollar-rip-off_b_6088394.html
Maatz, L. M. (2014, April 07). The Awful Truth Behind The Gender Pay Gap. Retrieved from Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/sites/forbeswomanfiles/2014/04/07/the-awful-truth-of-the-gender-pay-gap-it-gets-worse-as-women-age/
Natalie Kitroeff, J. R. (2014, November 14). Women's Career Choices Don't Explain the Gender Pay Gap. Retrieved from Bloomsberg Business: http://www.bloomberg.com/bw/articles/2014-11-14/women-make-less-than-men-even-when-they-are-equally-qualified-mbas
Organization for Economic Cooperarion and Development. (2014). Gender wage gap. Retrieved from OECD.org: http://www.oecd.org/gender/data/genderwagegap.htm
Sarah Jane Glynn, M. F. (2014, September 18). 7 Actions that Could Shrink the Gender Wage Gap. Retrieved from Centre for American Progress: https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/women/report/2014/09/18/97421/7-actions-that-could-shrink-the-gender-wage-gap/
Striking Women. (n.d.). The impact of WWII on women's work . Retrieved from Striking Women: http://www.striking-women.org/module/women-and-work/world-war-ii-1939-1945#top
The White House. (n.d.). Understand the Basics. Retrieved from whitehouse.gov: https://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/equal-pay
Thompson, D. (2014, March 04). How to End the Gender Pay Gap Once and for All. Retrieved from The Atlantic: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/03/how-to-end-the-gender-pay-gap-once-and-for-all/284208/
Wall, H. J. (n.d.). The Gender Wage Gap And Wage Discrimination: Illusion or Reality? Retrieved from Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis: https://www.stlouisfed.org/publications/regional-economist/october-2000/the-gender-wage-gap-and-wage-discrimination-illusion-or-reality