Wage inequality remains problem in U.S.

Published by adviser, Author: Victoria Davis - Commentary, Date: April 16, 2015
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This past Tuesday was national Equal Pay Day: a day that brings awareness to the differences in pay between men and women, where a woman earns approximately 78 cents to every man’s dollar. While I love that we have an entire day devoted to pay equity, I’m still a little confused on why we need to have one. Didn’t JFK sign the Equal Pay Act over 50 years ago? Still women are earning about 22 cents less than men, and that isn’t accounting for the race wage gap, which can increase the disparity to over 40 cents. While 22 cents may not seem like a lot, in the big picture that means women earn over 11 thousand dollars less than men every year, and that is problem.

My concern is not only with the disparity in pay but also the fact that I have heard more anger on campus about a bake sale promoting Equal Pay Day than anger about women making thousands dollars less a year than men. As I have been promoting the issue on campus this past week I have gotten several responses from students saying that if women want more money they should just work harder, but the idea that women do not work as hard as men is outdated, wrong, and at the very core: misogynistic. 

There are two main reasons for the gender wage gap. The first is that men simply have higher paying jobs. While it is easy for some to assume this is simply because men are harder workers, this just isn’t the case. From the start, women are typically offered less money when they start a job, putting them at an immediate disadvantage. Furthermore, many women do not ask for raises or promotions because they are conditioned to think that they do not deserve them. When a man asks for a raise or promotion he is seen as ambitious or confident, whereas a woman asking for a raise or promotion is seen as pushy and aggressive. This all can be traced back to gender roles that make up the core of our patriarchal culture.

 Even popular culture and media plays a part in this: the pushy female boss is a common stereotype in sitcoms across networks. The idea that women who know what they are worth and demand that to be expressed in their paycheck are pushy is an idea that is holding women back socially, emotionally, and economically. 

The second main reason for the gender wage gap is that even when women have jobs in the same positions or industries as male peers they are still paid less. Only 3 percent of the CEOs of the top 500 American companies are women, and even they are being paid less than their peers. Recently women like Jill Abramson, former executive editor of The New York Times, have been making headlines as they rightfully call attention to the fact that they make less than their male predecessors. In the case of Abramson, she claims she was even making less than a man who worked under her. Women like Abramson across the country are no longer putting up with being valued less because of their gender: a trend I hope to see continue to every industry. 

While this year’s Equal Pay Day has passed, don’t forget to keep in mind that wage inequality is still affecting women everywhere. Check your privilege and check the facts because this doesn’t get better until we all insist it does.

1 COMMENT

  1. This explains why there is a wage gap:

    “Equal Work Day – May 7, 2015” http://www.work-equity.org/

    No doubt most pay-equity advocates think employers are greedy profiteers who’d hire only illegal immigrants for their lower labor cost if they could get away with it. Or who’d move their business to a cheap-labor country to save money. Or replace old workers with young ones for the same reason. So why do these same advocates think employers would NOT hire only women if, as they say, employers DO get away with paying females at a lower rate than males for the same work?

    Here are two telling examples showing that some of America’s most sophisticated women choose to earn less than their male counterparts:

    “In 2011, 22% of male physicians and 44% of female physicians worked less than full time, up from 7% of men and 29% of women from Cejka’s 2005 survey.” ama-assn.org/amednews/2012/03/26/bil10326.htm (See also “Female Docs See Fewer Patients, Earn $55,000 Less Than Men” http://finance.yahoo.com/news/female-docs-see-fewer-patients-172100718.html)

    “…[O]nly 35 percent of women who have earned MBAs after getting a bachelor’s degree from a top school are working full time.” It “is not surprising that women are not showing up more often in corporations’ top ranks.” http://malemattersusa.wordpress.com/2014/04/25/why-women-are-leaving-the-workforce-in-record-numbers/

    “A study of students graduating from Carnegie Mellon found that 57% of males negotiated for a higher starting salary than had been offered, compared to just 7% of females. As a result, starting salaries of men were 7.6% (almost $4,000) higher than those of women.”

    A thousand laws won’t close such gaps.

    In fact, the following efforts have failed over the last half century:

    -The 1963 Equal Pay for Equal Work Act
    -Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act
    -The 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act
    -Affirmative action (which has benefited mostly white women, the group most vocal about the wage gap – tinyurl.com/74cooen)
    -The 1991 amendments to Title VII
    -The 1991 Glass Ceiling Commission created by the Civil Rights Act
    -The 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act
    -The Age Discrimination in Employment Act
    -The Americans with Disability Act (Title I)
    -Workplace diversity
    -The countless state and local laws and regulations
    -The thousands of company mentors for women
    -The horde of overseers at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
    -TV’s and movies’ last three decades of casting women as thoroughly integrated into the world of work (even in the macho world of spying, James Bond’s boss is a woman)
    -The National Labor Relations Act
    -The Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

    That’s because women’s pay-equity advocates, who always insist one more law is needed, continue to overlook the female AND male behavior that is influenced by marriage or the anticipation of it:

    Despite the 40-year-old demand for women’s equal pay, millions of wives still choose to have no pay at all. In fact, according to Dr. Scott Haltzman, author of “The Secrets of Happily Married Women,” stay-at-home wives, including the childless who represent an estimated 10 percent, constitute a growing niche. “In the past few years,” he says in a CNN report at tinyurl.com/6reowj, “many women who are well educated and trained for career tracks have decided instead to stay at home.” (See also “More Women are Quitting the Workforce,” Oct. 3, ’14, http://www.marketwatch.com/story/more-women-are-quitting-the-workforce-2014-10-03 If indeed a higher percentage of women is staying home, perhaps it’s because feminists have told women for years that female workers are paid less than men in the same jobs — so why bother working if they’re going to be penalized and humiliated for being a woman, as illustrated by such titles as this: “Gender wage gap sees women spend 7 weeks working for nothing” http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/cwgbaueysnsn/rss2/.)

    As full-time mothers or homemakers, stay-at-home wives earn zero. How can they afford to do this while in many cases living in luxury? Answer: Because they’re supported by their husband, an “employer” who pays them to stay at home. (Far more wives are supported by a spouse than are husbands.)

    The implication of this is probably obvious to most 12-year-olds but seems incomprehensible to, or is wrongly dismissed as irrelevant by, feminists and the liberal media: If millions of wives are able to accept NO wages, millions of other wives, whose husbands’ incomes vary, are more often able than husbands to:

    -accept low wages
    -refuse overtime and promotions
    -choose jobs based on interest first, wages second — the reverse of what men tend to do (The leading job for American women as of 2010 is — has been for over 40 years — secretary or administrative assistant. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/11/gender-wage-gap_n_3424084.html)
    -take more unpaid days off
    -avoid uncomfortable wage-bargaining (tinyurl.com/3a5nlay)
    -work fewer hours on average than men (http://www.bls.gov/news.release/atus.nr0.htm), or work less than full-time more often than their male counterparts (as in the above example regarding physicians)
    -have less interest in being the boss http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/12/11/on-pay-gap-millennial-women-near-parity-for-now/

    Any one of these job choices lowers women’s median pay relative to men’s. And when a wife makes one of the choices, her husband often must take up the slack, thereby increasing HIS pay — as he decreases his freedom.

    Women who make these choices are generally able to do so because they are supported — or, if unmarried, anticipate being supported — by a husband who feels pressured to earn more than if he’d chosen never to marry. (Married men earn more than single men, but even many men who shun marriage, unlike their female counterparts, feel their self worth is tied to their net worth.) This is how MEN help create the wage gap: as a group they tend more than women to pass up jobs that interest them for ones that pay well.

    Despite all this, are women as a group oppressed, as many feminists and others insist?

    Consider:

    In general, women don’t just live longer than men (that longevity gap has more than doubled since 1900) and enjoy better health than men, who on average die sooner and at a higher rate of the 12 leading causes of death. They as a group also control most of the consumer spending — consumer spending is about 70% of all economic activity in the US — and most of the nation’s wealth. Soon they will control even more.

    “Over the next decade, women will control two thirds of consumer wealth in the United States and be the beneficiaries of the largest transference of wealth in our country’s history. Estimates range from $12 to $40 trillion. Many Boomer women will experience a double inheritance windfall, from both parents and husband.” -http://www.she-conomy.com/facts-on-women

    The typical wife is younger than her husband by 2.5 years and she outlives him by five. Thus she enjoys her and her husband’s wealth 7.5 years longer than the husband, who much more often than she created their wealth alone.

    To put these statements in the proper gender perspective, reverse the sexes in them:

    In general, men don’t just live longer than women (that longevity gap has more than doubled since 1900) and enjoy better health than women, who on average die sooner and at a higher rate of the 12 leading causes of death. They as a group also control most of the consumer spending and most of the nation’s wealth. Soon they will control even more.

    Just by themselves, the statements would signify enough unfair male power, privilege, and advantage that feminists would explode out onto the streets in visceral, thunderous protest.

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