Each of the statistics highlighted above points to the who, what, and even why of the gender gap in employment and compensation in the United States. The first statistic establishes just how present women are in the workforce in the United States. Not only that, but it points to the fact that women are almost just as likely to contribute to the labor force as men are. This is an important first piece of information moving forward with this discussion, as it shows that it is not just a trivial number of women that this issue affects – it is nearly half the labor force of the United States. The second statistic may not appear relevant at first, but it again points to the fact that women have just as much of a role in the United States economy as men — and are not any more likely to be unemployed.
The third statistic presented above is the crux of the gender gap argument – that is, for equal employment, women are paid over one-fifth less than their male counterparts. This is an important statistic if a subsequent argument about what we can do about this gap is to be made. The fourth statistic, about the gender gap in other countries, is important to the argument since it points to the fact that this is not merely a problem that will slowly – and naturally – be fixed within a democratic welfare state.
It is something that must be addressed now. Finally, the last statistic points to the fact that, while women in equal jobs as men may be compensated less, an equally important issue to address is that women are often underemployed and therefore underrepresented in many industries. Overall, these statistics work together to paint a picture of what the gender gap in employment and wage compensation is – and how important it is to be addressed.
There is a wide range of opinions surrounding the main causes of the pay differential in gender, depending on who one asks. Conservatives may say that the “79 cents on the dollar” statistic misrepresents the real issue, while liberals point to rampant sexism in both education and employment. However, the two most convincing reasons for the gender gap in compensation that I’ve found are as follows: first, occupational differences and, second, true sexism in the workplace. First of all, as one Vox article states, “Occupations dominated by women also pay substantially less than occupations dominated by men” (Crockett, 2016, n.p.). This is self-explanatory. The second convincing reason is a general favoring of male employees over females, as women still engage in most of the care work for both children and spouses (Crockett, 2016, n.p.). This translates into more (unpaid) time off, more career gaps, and even unfavorable interviewing positions.
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