Discrimination has existed in all forms since mankind existed. There are many inequalities people face these days because of their color, race, age, class, and other such differentiating factors. But one of the most important problem the working people, specifically the women, have to face is the Gender Wage Gap : unequal pay for equal work. The Gender Wage Gap is the difference between what men and women are paid. Basically, it refers to the median annual pay of all women compared to all men. Gender wage gap is caused by factors such as racial bias, disability, age and also bias against working mothers. This Gender Wage Gap is not fair to women, has many disadvantages, affects the economy negatively, and needs to be minimized as soon as possible. If this Gender Wage Gap is removed, it will be extremely beneficial for the people, the economy, and the country. So what can be done to minimize this Gender Wage Gap?
Gender Gap is the ratio of women’s median earnings to men’s median earnings. If looked into the history, this inequality in pay has been going on since a long time. Since the beginning, women have been paid less compared to men. According to the Income in the United States of America, women these days are paid 80 cents for every dollar paid to men. There are many reasons behind the existence of Gender Wage Gap. One of the reasons is motherhood. People say that women take up and quit a job more often than men do. It is a fact that employers prioritize permanent workers over temporary workers. Employers prefer fixed long working hours over flexible schedules. This puts women with children at disadvantage (Goldin, 2014). Women, after giving birth to a child become busy in taking care of the child the whole time, which is why they take maternal leaves. When it comes to household chores, there was a study which found out that in 47% of the families, the woman handles majority of the household chores. This makes the employers think that women would not be able to be as productive and focused as men, and that makes the employers partial.
One more reason which causes gender wage gap is occupational segregation. Occupational segregation is the distribution of workers across all the occupations based upon characteristics such as gender. Out of 160 million full-time and part-time employees, 53% were men and 47% were women. Here, it was observed that women took more jobs such as education, office and administrative support, and health care occupations. And men took jobs in construction, maintenance and repair, and production and transportation (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018). This set a mindset for the employers that many jobs suit men more than they suit women, and this resulted in biasness towards men, which contributed to women being less paid.
Motherhood is one of the most important reasons too. There are experimental studies which have shown that employers are less likely to hire women with children than they are to hire women without children, or employers offer low salary jobs or part-time jobs to women with children (Correll and Benard, 2007; Kricheli-Katz, 2012). This is termed as “motherhood penalty”. The motherhood penalty has remained constant over the past few decades. Whereas at the same time, men with children do not face any such problem. Instead, they receive higher wages which is known as the “fatherhood bonus” (Killewald, 2103). This is extremely unfair from the employers’ side. There are many countries which give paid leave to new mothers, and sometimes to new fathers as well; but in the U.S., new parents are not granted any such helping aids, and only 15% of employees receive paid parental leave. Because of this, new parents in the U.S. struggle and suffer, they cooperate with each other and take shorter leaves, and return to work as soon as they can.
Another factor that makes it difficult for women (mothers) is the expectation by the employers. Employers think that women will be primary caretakers, and they will focus more on their children than work, which is true. Women do not only have to take care of the child during the first year, but this goes on till the child is grown. And it is not possible for all women to put their children in child care as child care services are very expensive, costing around $9000 to $11000 a year. Women are already paid less, and with such a huge expense, they cannot afford it. Hence, women who choose to work might lose a large amount of their salary and savings, and this makes them prefer to stay at home and take care of their children instead of putting them in child care.
How does race and ethnicity play a role in the Gender Wage Gap? Logically, it does not make sense for race to play a role, because all women face the same problems when being selected by employers. But a study shows surprising results, where women’s earning as a percentage of White Men’s earnings varied a lot. It was found out that Hispanic women earned 53% of what White men earned, where as Black women, American Indian women, White women and Asian women earned 61%, 58%, 77%, and 85% respectively. In this example, there is a big difference in what Hispanic women earn, and what Asian women earn.
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