When women succeed, America succeed
What are the primary cause of the gender wage gap in America how can we as individuals help close it?
The gender wage gap is much more complex than, women being paid 80 cents to every dollar men are paid. The wage gap has a lifelong financial effect on women because it directly affects women’s poverty. The wage gap follows women into retirement as they receive less money from social security, smaller pensions and less benefits over all since they are all tied to income. The wage gap affects minority groups at a higher rate, as Hispanic women make 54 cents for every dollar a white male makes and Asian women 90 cents to every dollar. The gender wage gap is also affected by age almost no exciting in the women 20–24. Some would like to argue that this is a sign the gap is closing, but experts like economists Limor Golan said,” As they get older, women are more likely than men to work fewer hours outside the home and have breaks in their labor force participation” (Golan 2), the wage gap has simply always manifested itself later in women’s career. Lastly, it is commonly known that education increases income, women are not seeing their incomes increase at the same rate as mean.
Closing the wage gap could mean allowing families to cross the poverty line, access healthcare and higher education. Secondly, Guillain B. White from the Atlantic Explains that closing the wage gap could give the U. S. an economic boom, “represented equally in every sector — could result in an additional $4.3 trillion being added to the U.S. “(Guillain 2), this would represent 10% increase in the over GDP. This growth would benefit both other companies and the government as they would have extra revenue to spend on other issues. Now it is important to understand that the wage gap does not affect all demographics evenly.
While there are multiple causes for the gender wage gap in America three stand out as the most prominent; occupation segregation, motherhood penalty, and gender discrimination. Although the gender wage gap is a complex issue you can still make a difference, by pursuing higher education, knowing your rights, and by spreading awareness.
The first factor affecting the gender wage gap are the choices in career men and women make, as it greatly affects wages. As explained by David Beede’s in his report for the U.S Department of Commerce, women continue to occupied lower playing fields, and have avoided the higher paying STEM jobs, “Today women make up 48% of the workforce, but only 24% of the STEM workforce” (Beede 1), of this 24%, the majority 27%, belong to the medical field. Proving that women remain almost none executing in math and computer programming, at only .024 of the total workforce.
Jessica Schieder and Elise attempt to explain this choice in their Economic Policy Institute publication, “women’s work”, where they link the gender wage gap to occupation segregation. This is the notion that an occupation can be unevenly represented by one gender. Schneider explains that while the traditional barriers of entry like education have been replaced with parental expectations and cultural norms. They go on to share a study where 4th grader’s grated how competent they felt with their math skills, “girls rated their math competency scores much lower than boys, even when these girls’ performance did not lag behind that of their male counterparts” (Schieder 1), this demonstrates how women can be steered away from certain careers at a very young age, and how parental expectations can influence a child’s future by influencing their self-confidence. This lack of confidence follows them through school, and results in them pursuing other fields in which they feel more culturally accepted.
The Second factor affecting the gender wage gap is parenting, more specifically the time off women require during pregnancy. It is no surprise that becoming a parent can affect a person’s career, but it causes greater damage to a woman’s career. This can be seen through the eyes of Maureen Sherry a former managing director at Bear Stearns as she explains what she found on her desk after returning from her maternity leave,” I returned to find a curly-haired stranger sitting at my desk, his feet propped on a cardboard box with my client account list packed inside. I had to re-earn the contents of that box, starting that morning.” (Sherry 1), Sherry’s experience shows that highly competitive industries like finance and management a maternity leave can cause a downwards shift that can lead to the women eventually leaving the workforce. A survey published by the American Association of University Women followed the career path of a sample of women and men and after ten years it found, “10 years after college graduation, 23% of mothers were out of the workforce… Among fathers, only 1% where out of the workforce” (AAUW 21), this party due to business using the traditional work week that uses long work hours. While on the other hand men receive higher wager after having a child, this is known as the fatherhood bonus. Since women receive a penalty for giving birth and men receive a bonus, it is very common that women retire from the work-force after birth and just support their carrier. Lastly not all factors of the gender wage gap can be explained using of clear actions like major, occupation, or availability. Discrimination and gender biased against women can also affect the wage gap.
Discrimination can be seen in the form of gender stereotypes and harassment. Hostile work environments can push women into leaving the workforce or pursuing a lower paying job. As was the example with Maureen Sherry when she left her Wall Street job due to harassment by her co-works. Stories like this made sound outlandish, but in reality they are happening all the time. The reason that you are not hearing them is due to arbitration agreements, this force all employees to settle all legal disputes behind closed doors instead of in the courtroom, and silencing the wage gap. Cases like this has also lead in large settlement in favor of women, and as a result some employer now do not want to promote women to executive positions. For fear that if they fire the women, they will face a sexual discrimination claim. Secondly, women are being discriminated by gender bias, it is the notion that society values work based on gender. Claire Cain Miler’s article, “As Women Take Over a Male Dominated Field, the Pay Drops”, where he reports that some factors of the wage gap our due to our values. Miller explains that women pursuing high paying careers and receiving the same education and experience as men,” but women are still earning 20 cents less than men” (Miler 1). He points out that as field begins to be dominated by women the wages to drop. An example of this the biology field, which was dominated by men from 1950 to 2000 saw an 18% drop as soon as it switched over to women. While the opposite happened in computer programming traditionally a done by women and in recent time became a male job and shortly the job began to pay more and gained prestige. Lastly, women are discriminated by cultural fit, the idea that if an employee has the same personality and values as a company they are more likely to stay longer and work harder. However, recently cultural fit has morphed into judgments made by employers about who they would rather hang out with, “would I want to be stuck in an airport in Minneapolis in a snowstorm with them?” (Rivera. 2), this kind of requirement has stopped women from entering high paying jobs, simply because they didn’t have similar life experiences as their managers.
How To Make A Difference: The gender wage gap is unlikely to solve itself, fortunately they’re many ways you can take action. The first at the individual level by pursuing a college degree in a STEM field or other high paying majors. This will ensure a higher starting salary, and set the stage for greater earnings through a career. Since benefits and raises are generally based on starting salaries. Secondly, when offered a job always try to negotiate, you lose nothing if it doesn’t work out. Know what your skills are worth, make clear what you bring to the table, and maintain a positive attitude while doing so. Thirdly, if you are an employer you should ensure that all your employees are being paid fairly. This is not also part of the law, but it will also help your bottom line, as work performance has been linked to perception of a company. If your works believe they are more likely to bring their best effort. Lastly, can also make an influence on employers and governments, by writing to your local representative, local newspaper, blogging or simply just through social media.
Conclusion: The Gender wage gap is made up of multiple factors the most important being career path, time away from work, and discrimination. First, women often pick career paths that tend to lead to less Competitive jobs that result in lower wages. Secondly, having to take off to raise a family, which also tend to hold women wages down. Last not all of the wage gap can be explained thought specific factors, some of it is due simple decimation. Now with that in mind I now urge you to write a letter to your local congress man explain what you have learned, and why he needs to work on improving the Equal Pay Act.
ola, Limor. “Breaking Down the Gender Wage Gap by Age and by Hours Worked.” Breaking Down the Gender Wage Gap by Age and by Hours Worked. N.p., Oct. 2016. Web. 19 May 2017.
Lam, Bourree. “How Do We Close the Wage Gap in the U.S.?” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 08 Mar. 2016. Web. 19 May 2017.
Miller, Claire Cain. “As Women Take Over a Male-Dominated Field, the Pay Drops.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 18 Mar. 2016. Web. 19 May 2017.
Rivera, Lauren A. “Opinion | Guess Who Doesn’t Fit In at Work.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 30 May 2015. Web. 19 May 2017.
Schieder, Jesica. ““Women’s Work” and the Gender Pay Gap: How Discrimination, Societal Norms, and Other Forces Affect Women’s Occupational Choices — and Their Pay.” Economic Policy Institute. N.p., 20 July 2016. Web. 19 May 2017.
Sherry, Maureen. “A Colleague Drank My Breast Milk and Other Wall Street Tales.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 23 Jan. 2016. Web. 19 May 2017.
“The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap (Spring 2017).” AAUW: Empowering Women Since 1881. AAUW, Mar.-Apr. 2017. Web. 19 May 2017.
White, Gillian B. “Paying Women Equally Would Be a Boon for ‘Everyone Else,’ Too.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 11 Apr. 2016. Web. 19 May 2017.