Wage gap between men and women still exists despite decades of equal-pay laws that proves that there are still a lot of things to be realized for this issue.
You have definitely heard that men are paid more than women over their lifetimes. But probably it has aroused a lot of questions for you such as is it because women choose lower-paying jobs? Or are women paid less because women have more domestic and caregiving responsibilities?
To put some clarity, let’s give the definition of the wage gap between men and women. Generally speaking, it is the ratio of female-to-male median yearly earnings among full-time workers.
In other words, it is the demand for equal pay for equal work that will exclude any kind of discrimination against woman. But now let’s have a closer look at this topic and find out some interesting things that we should all know about the wage gap between men and women.
Is the Wage Gap Between Men and Women Real? Who is Paid Less?
Despite the fact that over 54 years have passed since the US adopted the Equal Pay Act, women still face a considerable gender wage gap across the spectrum.
o be more precise, on average, a woman earns 79 cents for every dollar a man earns. Moreover, women’s median annual earnings are $10,800 less than men’s. According to some data, the average wage gap between men and women in the United States is around 21%, that is to say, a woman earns 21% less than a man.
According to the statistics held in 2016, women working full time in the USA were paid just 80 percent of what men were paid. And this gap of 20 percent has narrowed since the 1970s thanks to women’s progress in education and active participation in their workplaces.
But the fact still remains that equal pay for equal work won’t come on its own. According to some calculations, women are expected to reach pay equity in 2059 but if the progress continues at the slower rate women will not reach that equality with men until 2119.
Some studies have found direct evidence of pay differences and discrimination. To bring an example, more jobs went to women when the applicant’s sex was unknown during the hiring process.
What’s more important to mention is that the wage gap between men and women affects women at all ages, of all levels of educational achievement and from all backgrounds. Nevertheless, the wage gap between men and women may vary depending on a woman’s individual situation.
Factors that Boost Wage Gap Between Men and Women
In fact, Black and Hispanic women are most affected by the gender pay gap, especially when compared to white men. By the way, white men make up the largest demographic segment of the workforce.
In 2016, among full-time workers black, African American, Hispanic, Latina, American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian women on average had lower annual earnings compared with non-Hispanic white and Asian women. However, within ethnic groups, those women experienced a smaller pay gap in contrast with men in the same group than did non-Hispanic white and Asian women.
Earnings for both women and men tend to increase with age. However, we should also note that earnings increase more slowly after 45, furthermore, their wage even starts to decrease after age 55.
So, we can surely say that the wage gap between men and women also grows with age as differences among older workers are fairly larger than gaps among younger workers. By the way, 55–64 years old women are paid only 74% of what men of the same age are paid.
According to some statistics in 2014 women over the age of 65 collectively earned $641 million, while men over 65 earned $965 million, meaning that women earned 66% of what their male counterparts made.
Normally, earnings of both men and women increase as years of education increase. Nonetheless, education is not an effective tool against the wage gap between men and women. In fact, women’s median earnings are less compared to men’s median earnings at every level of academic achievement.
Can Education and Maternity Be an Issue?
Furthermore, in some cases, the wage gap between men and women is larger at higher levels of education. This comes to prove that even though education improves earnings for women of all races, the fact still remains that earnings are affected by race and ethnicity as well as gender.
To illustrate, white women are paid more compared to Hispanic and black women at all education levels.
It would not be a surprise to you if we say that women suffer a ‘mommy penalty’ after they have children. This means that they earn 3 percent less than women who do not have children. Nonetheless, we can say the opposite thing for fathers, who earn on average 15 percent more than men without children.
The thing is that many employers view motherhood as an “alarm of lower levels of dedication and professional competence.” On the other hand, working fathers are mostly viewed as having “increased work stability, commitment, and competence.”
An interesting research held in Canada compared reactions to advertisements for the same jobs that used stereotypically masculine words such as leader, competitive and feminine ones, like support, interpersonal, understand and so on.
It turned out that women considered the “masculine” jobs less promising. However, that was not because they felt they couldn’t do them but rather they perceived the words as a signal of a male-dominated workplace, where they generally don’t belong.
Gender Stereotypes are Standing Behind the Wage Gap Between Men and Women!
As a matter of fact, there are some specific gender stereotypes that have a bad effect on establishing equal pay for equal work. According to widely shared cultural beliefs, men are mainly more socially valued and more competent than women.
It also includes some specific assumptions that men are better at some particular tasks like math, mechanical tasks while women are better at others such as nurturing tasks.
Researchers found that specific stereotypes like women have lower mathematical ability affect women’s perceptions of their abilities in math and science. Unfortunately, these assessments shape men’s and women’s educational and career decisions.
Generally speaking, women’s labor market is greatly influenced by learned cultural and social values that may discriminate against women and men by stereotyping certain works as ‘male’ or ‘female’.
Furthermore, women’s educational choices are mainly dictated by their assumptions and gender stereotypes that are prevalent in society that some types of employment opportunities are not available to them.
Reactions of Public Figures on This Issue
COO of Facebook Sheryl Sandberg is a strong advocate of solving the wage gap between men and women and establishing equal pay for equal work. She urges professional women to pursue their careers and negotiate for higher salaries.
Famous and beloved American actress Jennifer Lawrence has also brought international attention to the wage gap between men and women with an essay.
Here she addresses the fact that she was paid less than her American Hustle co-stars. In her essay, she blamed herself for having “failed as a negotiator” as she was more focused on being liked.
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