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.