Blog Post #2 Gender Pay Gap

Despite there have been a long way to address inequality between men and women, it still persists today. Pay gap is one of these inequality issues between women and men that refers to the difference in wages and salaries between them. The gender pay gap demonstrate how unfair access to opportunities maintains disparity between the genders, women earn less money than men. A well-known example of discrimination in pay between genders is Lilly Ledbetter, who had worked in at the Goodyear plant in Gadsden for almost 20 years. Ledbetter experienced sexual harassment at her work and her boss told her that he didn’t think a woman should be working in the factory. In the same time, her coworkers had bragged about their overtime pay even though it was not allowed for them to show off their pay. So, she did not know and did not receive the same payments likes other her male counterparts until a colleague left her “an anonymous note”, disclosed she has been making thousands of dollars less than three men in the same position. Ms. Ledbetter was complaining to be the subject of discrimination and her case went to trial. After that, the jury decided to give her back-pay and roughly $3.3 million in compensatory and punitive damages for pay discrimination. Less than two years after the Ledbetter decision both the House and Senate passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. The Act was the first piece of legislation signed by US President Barack Obama.

Payscale shows in its 2019 report on the state of the pay gap. The report is exploring issues indicated a pay gap in different positions among different genders. Even though, the difference between the earnings of women and men has decreased, considerable disparity between the earnings still remains. Based on the findings of this report, the median salary for men is about 21% higher than the median salary for women. According to the report, with controlled gender pay gap which takes the ratio of median earnings of all women to all men, women and men who have the same employment characteristics doing the similar jobs, the women earn $0.98 for every dollar earned by an equivalent man which is still there is a different. With uncontrolled gender pay gap, the report states that women still make only $0.79 for every dollar men’s counterpart make.

In general, keep in mind the data shows the uncontrolled gender pay gap does not take into account important reasons that may affect pay levels. Example of these reasons maternity leave, years of experience, job title, location, education levels of employees, etc.

Also, the report discusses other issues related to racial wage gap, women of color, women with advanced degrees. According to the report, women are not one homogenous group. There are women of color and women of different races. They face more challenges in getting fair pay and advancing in the workplace compared to white women. White women on average make more than black women and Hispanic women that suffer wider pay gaps who have started their jobs in lower paying positions.

Also, according to data from Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that women constitute the larger number of occupations in workforce such as healthcare, personal care & service, education, training, office & administrative support, and community & social services. On the other hand, the large majority of men occupied careers such as construction, installation and maintenance, architecture & engineering, computer science and transportation. However, there are a persistent difference pay gap between them in many areas.

The report concluded that despite employers try to advocate a meritocracy, the pay decisions making do not take into a consideration a merit-based culture. The employers do not appreciate education/degrees equally between men and women and that discrepancy in pay is clear even with controlling other compensable factors.

It’s not just paying that is unequal, it’s also the type of position that women have. According to Seltzer (2017) in her report (80 Cents on the Dollar), the percentage of women holding the leadership positions much less than men particularly in higher education and they also are paid less. The report shows that women are paid less in 12 executive positions and that in half of those positions, the difference is more than 10%.

In fact, the Payscale report (2019) mentioned that female workers are less commonly tend to hold high-level, high-paying jobs than men. There are some structural barriers that prevent female workers from growth in the workplace this is known as opportunity gap.

In conclusion, it is a sad reality that even with changing times, women remain behind in salary. I think gender discrimination or gender stereotypes about women’s abilities has still played a significant role in having this disparity. Consequentially, the gender pay gap has become another reason that hinders women from pursuing certain majors and positions. Even though some institutions have already taken steps in reducing gender wage gap, this will take a great amount of time to reform the system and there are certain institutions have not made any progress and there is still more work to be done.

In my opinion if women have higher positions this will increase the women power and authority to address the problem since as a mentioned above some women tend to choose to go into lower paying careers (for example, going into nursing instead of surgery, going into social science fields instead of tech and engineering which are male dominated). The problem will be solved when women go to study majors that lead to high-paying career.

Also, women should have enough skill to negotiate their salaries. They lack important skills to advocate for themselves when it is a time to negotiate about increase salaries.

Finally, women can discuss with employers about public policy such as The Paycheck Fairness Act that is a policy seeks to more effective reform to injured party of discrimination in the payment of wages on the basis of sex, and for other purposes. This policy protects women workers when asking about wage and salary.

References:

https://www.payscale.com/data/gender-pay-gap

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/02/15/gender-pay-gap-persists-higher-education-administrators

https://nwlc.org/resources/lilly-ledbetter-fair-pay-act/

https://www.nationalpartnership.org/our-work/resources/economic-justice/fair-pay/the-paycheck-fairness-act.pdf

6 Replies to “Blog Post #2 Gender Pay Gap”

  1. Blog #2 Comment #1

    Thank you for an insightful look into this topic your blog was very interesting! The pay gap is an unfortunate part of society that I wish was easier to get rid of. In practice solving the issue is simple – just ensure everyone is paid based off their personal merit; however, there are many factors that hinder women getting equal pay to men. I agree with a lot of your points, but I disagree that the problem will be solved once women study to go into careers with high pay. This is because there are already many women who do this that are not given the compensation they deserve compared to their male counterparts. I do agree that it will help the more women we have in positions of power, but this issue requires more than just that to ever be truly solved. I also agree that negotiating salaries needs to be taught to more people. It is a powerful skill that many people never develop because they feel weird doing it or think it is wrong, even if their skills warrant them asking for a higher salary. Also, many women are criticized when they attempt to negotiate or ask for more as they are labeled as difficult to work with or aggressive (even though their male counterparts ask for the same exact things and get them). Hopefully over time more legislation can be passed that will protect and aid women in getting equal compensation and more proponents for closing the wage gap will help make it a thing of the past.

  2. Blog #2, Comment #5

    As a woman, I am always interested to hear the latest on the gender pay gap so your blog post caught my eye. Interestingly, I was unaware of the Lilly Ledbetter case, but thank goodness that a fellow colleague was brave enough to bring the pay gap to her attention. Whatsmore, I have never heard of the Fair Pay Act of 2009 that was created during President Obama’s term. Hearing about this Fair Pay Act is encouraging, but it is frustrating to think that it is already 11 years old and that pay inequality is still a major issue today despite having an act like the Fair Pay Act in place in our legislation.

    I find it interesting later on in your blog that the data your provide indicates that no matter if it is controlled or uncontrolled, the pay gap is still not equal, with women earning less money than men. Furthermore, it is even more sad to know that women of race other than white are even more negatively affected when it comes to pay. There are many more examples besides race (like education and position) where women are constantly paid less then their male counterparts.

    All of this unfortunate information that you bring up begs a question, why is this the way that society is? I think it goes back to one of the first readings we had to do in this class where we learned that both men and even women have an innate bias to other women in the hiring process. The data you have shared makes it clear that there is a bias not only in hiring but also in the pay/salary process. I really like the ideas you mention as a means of what we can do to rid the gender pay gap. All of these things mentioned, like salary negotiation and discussions with employers about fair policies is going to require the woman to be vulnerable and bring up some really hard and potentially unsettling topics to the people above them. I am sure that is a limit for some women, they do not want any negative repercussions for speaking up but once again, if women never do speak up, we will keep having this same fight with unjust pay across genders.

  3. Thanks for sharing about the disparity in gender pay. It is always surprising to me whenever I hear about the discrimination women, like Lilly Ledbetter, face at work. It is so unbelievable to hear that she was making thousands of dollars less than men in the same position with her. The inequality in pay is almost in every sector. Your post reminds me of the U.S. Women National Team (USWNT) and their fight for equal pay. The USWNT won the female soccer world cup last summer and has won the tournament four times in total. While the team has made remarkable achievable in female soccer globally and are ranked as the best in the world, the players still earn much lower pay than their male counterparts. Last summer after winning the women’s world cup, the players were able to their victory to create awareness about pay disparity. Some of the evidences they provided for pay disparity include female players earning 89% of what a male player would receive under the same conditions https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/soccer/2019/07/10/breaking-down-pay-gap-between-uswnt-and-usmnt-players/1671361001/. A lawsuit filed by them raised concern on how male and female players were compensated differently by U.S. Soccer for previous world cup performances. For example, women received $1.7 million for winning the 2015 world cup while men received $5.4 million for only reaching the round of 16 in 2014. This pay disparity is also similar for many sports. Like you said in your post, it is a really sad reality that women are behind in pay and compensation. I hope that with increasing awareness and education, there can become equality between men and women’s pay.

  4. Blog #2, Comment #2
    Two thoughts came to mind when I read this article – which is a topic of irritation for me because it is so dumb (the topic, not your blog 😊). A few years ago, the Grad School at VT asked me to sit on a panel for women about to enter the workforce. It was an opportunity to discuss how we got where we are and the struggles that we faced. It was an interesting interaction, learning from female professors how they took off time to raise their children, putting their careers on hold. Or from other woman that left jobs because they were too uncomfortable to ask for promotions. When it was my turn, I talked about the struggles of working in male dominated industries, but also how surrounding myself with men, taught me how to be a more confident person. When one person in the crowd asked how I found out about maternity leave at VT, I told her that I directly asked my (now) supervisor. The shock from the crowd was incredible. How utterly ridiculous that asking something as simple as, do you have maternity leave, could be such a shocking thing. My male supervisor did not see a problem with the question (as I think many men don’t), in fact, I think sometimes we as women put the stigma on ourselves not to ask. That isn’t an “all the time” statement, but I think we don’t want to be portrayed as weak.

    My second thought was during the first round of hiring for my employee. During the interviews, people were asking what the salary range was. My boss later said that he hated when people asked that question. I told him I did not, particularly when women ask it, because we already do not see our self-worth and are often “afraid” to ask. Therefore, I saw it as an act of courage (which is a sad statement on its own) for a woman to directly ask what the pay range is. My boss went home to talk to his wife, and HR Director in her own right, and came back to talk to me. He is a self-proclaimed feminist, so he wanted to make his point. He openly stated he had never viewed that question from a feminist perspective, and that it really altered his outlook on people asking the question. In fact, he realized that most of the men we interviewed asked the question, but only one of the women did. From that day on, he has viewed the question as an empowering one, all because we had that discussion.

  5. Thank you for sharing your opinion about the pay gap between men and women. I agree with you that one of the essential reasons for this disparity is gender discrimination or gender stereotypes about women’s abilities. I have noticed that in the data you provided, even in occupations like ‘office & administration support’, ‘personal care & service’ and community & social service’ which are considered to be the jobs that women can do better than men in gender stereotypes, the gender gap still exist, although smaller than other occupations. Based on this, I want to provide another perspective to think about the reason for this pay disparity. There are employers that discriminate against women, but in a society where men and women are becoming more and more equal, if we interpret this unequal pay all by gender discrimination, it’s difficult to solve the problem totally. In China, we have the statistics shows that the gender gap between men and women is increasing with age. In other words, when newly graduated university students start at work, the difference is a lot less than the difference when people are in their forties for the same occupation and the same level. Data show that women disproportionately tend to look for jobs that reconcile with family responsibilities, even full-time jobs. By doing so, they can adjust their working hours and easily switch between jobs at home. Even though a large proportion of women do not need to take most of the responsibility for caring for the family, the recruiters are assuming them to be having that situation or in the future. Then women are actively or passively assigned to work which is usually more predictable, less on duty, and less accountable at night and on weekends. So one way to solve the problem is to improve the situation that the responsibility for caring children and other family members rests primarily with women. This process requires a lot of conceptual changes and has a long way to go.

  6. Poor Lilly, if women received a nickel for every time they were sexually harassed in the workplace we’d be arguing this subject in the opposite direction! I love how our society has tried to button this up for so long and they still do. I have always worked in either corporate America or private companies before coming to work at the University. It’s funny how they will put in policies where you can’t discuss your pay, or raises with other employees and negotiations of salary need to be done in person and not over email or in writing. Then when you’re in a state job, all of a sudden everything is up on the internet and free for everyone to know. Companies strategically keep these details private and when I worked for Perdue Farms, we were threatened with disciplinary action if we were to share any details of our salary. I realized that this was not for any reason other than so they could pay us all differently! Obviously, because we all broke the rules and shared with each other.
    One thing that always bothered me was that my husband made more than me. Granted he had graduated before me, but he came into Perdue at a lower paygrade than me but when he came to my department, he immediately made more than me, made more advances than me, and when we started dating, I was ushered out to another department very quickly with a bit of a raise, but not much. In that position, I discretely found that I was making much less than many of my male counterparts, and my direct supervisor told me specifically he would make sure I wouldn’t get another raise for a long time because he didn’t think I even deserved the one I got coming to their department. What the hell did that even mean?!
    Flash forward to now, where on top of my industry experience and my degree and managerial experience, I actually was awarded a higher salary than those male counterparts that had just been getting stale in their jobs around me, now I’m chastised for making money for only have a set of breasts. Isn’t that ironic? I’m afraid until corporate America is forced to make their salary information public, there won’t be any way for us to narrow this gap. There won’t be a way to structure the wage award either without us becoming a completely socialized country which you can tell by our current political climate we’re not headed for. Until we can take an honest look at what our merit is and be paid for that, we won’t be able to close this gap.

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