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A Woman’s Place

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September 29, 2023 No Comments

Although “a woman’s place is in the home” is an outdated concept, unfortunately, this ideology is sometimes reflected in the inequality for women’s pay. There is still a significant difference between men and women while employed in the same position. This is commonly referred to as the gender/wage gap. This is calculated in many ways but primarily based on a consensus. And it has shown that men consistently make more money than women, especially women of color.

However, these numbers are not personalized within the subgroups, for example, although Filipino women fall under the category of Asian women, they actually only earned 83 cents per dollar compared to their white male counterparts. It is important to note that the gender wage gap is shown primarily in women of color based not only on gender bias but also race and/or ethnic bias.

Gender-based pay discrimination became illegal in 1963, but it still exists and is very wide-spread, so we need to identify the ongoing causes for this.

One cause is the difference in occupations or jobs worked. A lot of jobs are based on what are stereotypically considered either a “man’s or woman’s” job. For example, so-called women’s jobs include child-care workers and health aides, both jobs have lower salaries and less benefits. Comparatively speaking, a typical “man’s” job in construction, makes higher pay.

The second reason could be due to the fact the majority of women  have less job experience or less hours worked. Although this is rapidly-changing, it is still prevalent due to the fact that women are driven to take off additional time off, more than men, simply in their care-taker roles, i.e., as a new mother or to otherwise fulfill unpaid familial obligations. 

There are other factors that narrow the gap between women/men pay inequality.

One of the largest factors in narrowing the gap is the increase in women’s education. Women who have a higher level of education do receive higher pay than their uneducated female counterparts. Also, unionization helps narrow the gap between unequal pay for men and women due to the collective bargaining tool employees have to fight discriminatory practices within the workplace.

With all this data, you might be asking, what can be done? To make the necessary changes to bridge the gender wage gap, we need to have comprehensive equal pay legislation, such as the Paycheck Fairness Act. All family members should be given access to paid sick days and a comprehensive paid family and medical leave program. This is essential to minimize job loss. In larger corporations here in the US, women and men are now offered paternity leave for four months after the birth of their child. This has been a common practice in Europe for many years.

We need to address cultural biases that harm our women. We need to change cultural attitudes and rewrite the policies in order for the United States to begin to rebuild the structures that will uplift women and their families.

At an individual level, in your career search, when requesting your desired salary amount, search for the same job description in your area and the expected salary for that position. Do not provide an amount based on your prior salary, as that might have already been gender-biased. Strive to obtain equal pay in all of your endeavors. As a hiring manager, make sure that your employees receive equal pay based on their qualifications, not their gender or race.

This is an issue of equality that affects all of us.

Statistics quoted from: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Women in the labor force: a databook” (Washington: U.S. Department of Labor, 2018)

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