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A Smaller Slice of the American Pie

A Smaller Slice of the American Pie

The Gender Pay Gap Explained 

By Eli Haynal 

Around the time of Mother’s Day, many people are probably considering special ways to appreciate their mothers, some of the most important women in their lives—but there is one service every mother, indeed every woman, in this country could benefit from immensely: something could finally be done about the gender pay gap. 

The gender pay gap is a term used to refer to the disparity between the median earnings of working men and women. The controlled gender pay gap considers men and women working the same job, and the uncontrolled or “opportunity” gender pay gap includes all working men and women. For example, the controlled gender pay gap would consider men and women working in STEM separately from those working in the service industry, while the uncontrolled gender pay gap would consider them together. As of March 2021, the uncontrolled gender pay gap stated that women earn 82 cents for every dollar earned by men. [1] 

It should be noted that the controlled gender pay gap measured at the same time stated that women earn 98 cents for every dollar earned by men in the same profession. Although this value is much closer, any discrepancy is still puzzling. It is worth considering the two measurements of the gender pay gap separately, as the uncontrolled pay gap describes a difference in opportunity and the controlled pay gap a difference in treatment. [2] 

The fact that the uncontrolled gender pay gap is significantly lower than the controlled statistic means that women are not only being paid less than men working the same jobs, but that they are predominantly working at jobs that pay less than male jobs. The most probable explanation of this phenomenon is that it is the result of tradition. 

The tradition of separate spheres, of women as caretakers and homemakers and men as politicians and bread winners, rears its head today as job accessibility. Many employers are less likely to hire women for time-consuming jobs based on the assumption that women will need to raise children or care for a home. Women who do choose one of these paths are less likely to find a job in the future because employers will instead hire a candidate who was accruing job experience while their female counterpart was caring for her family. [3] 

There are many more additional causes of the uncontrolled wage gap, and these vestiges of conservative gender roles clash with developments in modern society. [4] Women who want to be employed in traditionally male jobs cannot simply choose to fill these roles. Tradition pushes back mercilessly against their aspirations. 

See Also

The controlled gender wage gap is indicative of increasing opportunities for women in many occupations. For example, STEM fields draw close to pay equality when considering men and women with the same qualifications in the same positions. However, most other fields do not demonstrate this equality, and the uncontrolled wage gap in every field continues to show the bias towards hiring women for less-prestigious positions. [5] 

These discrepancies persist in every level of education, and only worsen when considering women in racial groups that also experience wage gaps. For example, Hispanic or Latina women make only 54 cents for every dollar white men make. This problem persists despite gender-based pay discrimination being illegal since 1963. [6] 

Many workplaces discourage open discussion of salaries to avoid the exposure of unfair pay practices. In order to fight back against gender-based pay discrimination, men and women alike can stay alert for discrimination in their places of work, and they can propose and vote on measures to enforce equality legislation at varying levels of government. [7] The gender pay gap is deeply rooted in society and tradition, and will not go away without vigilance, activism, and action. 

References 

  1. (2021, March). The state of the gender pay gap in 2021. Payscale.  Retrieved from https://bit.ly/3erT3p6
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Bleiweis, Robin. (2020, March). Quick facts about the gender wage gap. Center for American Progress.  Retrieved from https://ampr.gs/3nVKshd
  1. Ibid. 
  1. (2021, March). The state of the gender pay gap in 2021. Payscale.  Retrieved from https://bit.ly/3erT3p6
  1. Bleiweis, Robin. (2020, March). Quick facts about the gender wage gap. Center for American Progress.  Retrieved from https://ampr.gs/3nVKshd
  2. Ibid. 
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