Gender Wage Gap and Women’s Rights

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The Wage gap took many years to eradicate, through the efforts of brave men and women who had a sense of justice and wanted it to be seen in their society, no matter the backlash that they were faced with. The wage gap seemed to go on forever until the President John F. Kennedy made the decision to sign the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which sent ripples through society, and paved the path of equality in the work industry forever. The Gender Pay Act changed the treatment of women in any work industry and called for them to be viewed as equals as a female human being, and not a different species all together. The Gender Pay Act was backed up by many movies, shows, and political cartoons which tried their hardest to support the passing of the act, voicing their concerns through satire and sarcastic captions and eventually persuaded people of that time to join their cause and effort of justice.

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There were several hurdles that had to be overcome, and several back tracks that had been taken, to pass the Equal Pay Act. First it was given to Congress to look over and debate over it with their members. Instead, Congress stashed the bill with the other uninterested bills they had and never batted an eye to it again. Angered and annoyed, the Women Rights and the Labor Organization began to help and support the Equal Pay Act movement, but they did not bring a major change in the society. These efforts were all in vain until World War II began in 1942. It had taken a war in which millions of men had died, and the roads of countries were flooded with blood, to make the work place industry realize the need of women in factories and office jobs. The men were enlisted in the war, and the women became the bread providers of their households. Someone had to provide now that the men were serving for their country. Women had taken the work place head on proving they were just as capable as men were in the work industry, as it shows in the video “Women went from 24% of the US workforce to 37%” (Historychannel). Women’s Right activist such as Eleanor Roosevelt and Winfred C. Stanley helped to get the Equal Pay Act drafted. Admiring the efforts of the women during the war, the Equal Pay Act was signed on the 10th of June in 1963 by the President John F. Kennedy as a token of gratitude and a step toward equality.

There were many forms of media used to get the political message of the Equal Pay Act across. An example was the famous cartoon of 1942 titled “The Buck Stops Here” (Huck, 2). This cartoon shows a man and a woman both standing on identical lemonade stands, with signs for each stand. The man has a sign which says, “The Buck Stops Here” while the woman has a sign which reads “59c stops here.” The attitude of the man and women are clearly visible as different ends of the spectrum. The man is very much pleased in his stand, as he poses with a big smile and his chest out. The woman however is standing there with her face in her hands and leaning on her elbows, with a gloomy look on her face. This was an influential cartoon because discusses the pay disparity between different genders shown by the signs and how it affects them, hence the two different attitudes portrayed by each gender. Another way Wage Gap was disapproved through media was in a show called Mary Tyler Moore. Mary Tyler Moore is still one of the classic sitcoms that is watched by the average Americans. In season 3 episode 1 Mary talks briefly about the wage gap when she confronts it with her boss Lou Grant. There is a specific scene in the show when she receives her check, but she realizes that the check was $50 less than the what the male worker who had the same job with the same set of skill earned(Moore Show). Annoyed and confused, she asked her coworker “Would you say that I’m doing, you know, as good a job, as the guy who was the associate producer before me?” and they respond to her by saying “Better, much better, He was terrible”. This shows that in the eyes of arrogant men, no matter how skilled worker you are, if you’re a woman then you are not equal to a man. However, this is also a very powerful scene because it shows that no matter if you’re a male or female, the job can only be performed by those who are skilled and take the initiative to be the best at what they do. This was one of the many reasons that people believed why there should not be any wage gap based on gender. Gender is something that you cannot control, but your work ethic is, and you should be rewarded based on that and only that. Furthermore, the Mary Tyler show contains another scene that portrays the backwards thinking of ignorant people, whether it be in those days or today, about the wage gap. The scene begins with Mary coming in her boss’ office and questions him about why she is getting paid less for the same job she has performed better than the previous worker (Moore show). Mr. Grant answers her by saying that guys have a family to support. “You would have to pay the man with three ??¦children more than the man with two children. And the married man more than the bachelor” (). Mr. Grant must have forgotten that without women to give birth to these families, the men would have nothing to support. Therefore, presenting an argument which is biased against women with families and only supports men with families is not only unjust but also tyrannical, because that would be turning a blind eye against those who need help, whether it be male or female.

Some might argue that the sitcom is fictional and therefore must not be taken seriously, but everyone knows that every fictional work has a very real inspiration. That sitcom segment was inspired from true events that happen to not only one, but all women in the work industry who strive hard to help their family. The message of equality was not only portrayed through cartoons and movies but through unorthodox means such as bumper stickers. One that became famous in 1988 was “Women need raises not roses” (Wagner, 5). This shows that women were tired of the stereotypical treatment of the female gender at a time of necessity and modernization. Women want to be treated equally just like men, whether it came to pay, vote or treatment itself. The time of roses and chocolates were over, and the time of women paying for their own drinks and movie tickets had begun. President John F. Kennedy’s speech supports the claim made by the bumper sticker when he speaks about the wage gap and says, “the average woman worker earns only 60 percent of the average wage for men” (Kennedy, 1). This shows that the 40% gap should not be seen as “its only 40%” but rather “it’s 40%!”. therefore, instead of trying to make women feel better by giving them roses, give them raises and watch a smile automatically form on their face. A sarcastic use of comics to portray the message of inequality in the workplace effectively, is shown in the comedic and satirical cartoon “Oh! That explains the difference in our salaries” (Dame, 1). This cartoon shows a young boy and girl looking at their private parts and then saying the very caption. This therefore addresses many issues in the work force. The first of the points is that no one can choose their gender at birth, therefore treating one gender less than the other is unfair and a crime against humanity, no matter how dramatic that sounds. Another point it addresses is that pay is based on what genital part you are born with and not based off how effective, consistent, and efficient the work is done, no matter which gender it is done by. Even though Kennedy passed the act we still experience problems until today. Equal work should have equal pay and that’s what Kennedy had in mind. Women still suffer by being provided less money for their work which equal to man of same position. Even though society tried reinforce public opinion of Kennedy’s actions by using movies, shows, satire and political cartoons there is still more that needs to be work to fix the wage gap.

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Gender Wage Gap and Women's Rights. (2019, Dec 23). Retrieved June 26, 2022 , from
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