Despite the fact that in the past several decades millions of women have entered the workforce, and have made huge gains in their academic attainment, women still earn less than men. According to studies, a woman makes around 80 cents for every dollar a man makes and the gap widens for women of color (Hegewisch). Although America has taken strides into minimizing the gap, the wage gap still exists today. However, there are claims that the gender wage gap is a myth caused my career choices and nothing to do with discrimination. In contrast to this belief, instead of blaming the gap on women, the economy should terminate the gap by adjusting the structure of labor markets and eliminating inequality of genders and races, resulting in many benefits.
An example of one of these claims is that women choose lower pay by entering stereotypically female professions or by seeking out lower-paid positions. But even when men and women work in the same occupation men make more, on average, than women. A 2015 study shows that men were paid an average of $35.23 per hour with a college degree, while women were paid $26.51 per hour with a similar degree. The same results applied when data was collected for high school level of education and an advanced degree (Schieder). Furthermore, men make more than women on almost all education levels. When women select higher paying jobs, they experience a considerably larger gender pay gap than lower-paid women (Schieder). A research done by Wayne University studied 1,598 newly hired chief financial officers at U.S. public companies from 1994 to 2007. During the first year of being hired, both men and women were paid the equivalent amount. However, after the first two years, the men’s salary was 4.5 to 5 percent ahead of women’s (Datta). This is due to the fact that hours of work in most high-paying occupations are worth more when given at particular moments and when the hours are highly continuous. For example, if both men and women were to be equally as productive per hour, individuals (more than likely men) who obtain a more flexible schedule to work excessive hours on their off-days are paid more (Schieder).
Contrast to what skeptics believe, discrimination does play a role in the gender wage gap. Take, for example, what is known as the “Motherhood Penalty,” where women with children are less likely to achieve a promotion and it may even cause a decline in their pay. This is because women with children are seen as less competent and committed to their work compared to women without children. Married mothers with children receive 4.4 percent less than married women without children. However, studies show that women with children are actually as equality motivated, persistent, and driven as women without children (Glauber). Another reason for the motherhood penalty would be the fact that many women may take time off of work for childbearing, reducing their senioritis and attendance at work. Unlike mothers, fathers essentially will receive an earning bump after their first child. According to data collected by Glauber, fathers with high incomes tend to see a 10 percent increase in their pay. The discrimination towards certain races equally takes a factor in the wage gap. For minorities the wage gap is even wider: African American women earn 61 cents and Hispanic women receive 53 cents for every dollar a Caucasian man makes (Hegewisch). That means it requires women who are minorities 19 months to be paid what the average Caucasian man takes home in 12 months. According to data collected in 2017 by Hegewisch, the average weekly earnings for Hispanic women are $603. This is only 62.2 percent of Caucasian men’s weekly earning but 87.4 percent in comparison to Hispanic men. African American women’s weekly earnings were $657, only 67.7 percent of Caucasian men’s weekly earning, but 92.5 percent in comparison to African American men. However, Asian women’s weekly earnings represent 93.0 percent of a Caucasian men’s weekly earning, but 74.8 percent in comparison to Asian men. This is because Asians make more on average than Caucasian, African Americans, or Hispanic workers because of more significant rates of education levels.
Closing the gender wage gap will bring many benefits to families and the economy. According to the 2017 U.S. Census Bureau, four out of about 12 million single-parent families with children under the age of 18, more than 80 percent were headed by single mothers (Miller). Since single mothers are paid less, they cannot support their family to a sufficient extent because, it impacts their ability to buy groceries, pay for childcare, and afford rent. This cost impacts women who are minorities more. If African American women were to be paid equally, they would almost earn $870,000 more in the course of their career. This means each woman’s extra annual earnings would pay for more than 3 years of groceries. Likewise, the average Hispanic woman would earn over $1 million more over the course of her career if she was to be paid fairly. As a result, each woman’s extra annual earnings would pay for nearly 4 years of groceries (Miller). Furthermore, not only will families experience growth but so will the economy. “Providing equal pay to women would increase the wages paid into the economy by $513 billion, which represents 3 percent of the 2016 gross domestic product” (Miller).
The gender wage gap is oppressing women of various races and education levels. Mothers and women all over America are discriminated and are having to work almost twice as hard to make the equivalent amount as men. However, instead of blaming the gap on women by saying it is their “choice,” the economy should find out where it lacks equal opportunities for women. Furthermore, altering how jobs are structured in the labor market will enhance flexibility allowing for the gap to lessen. Compensating all workers fairly means more wage earners can support themselves and their families while also contributing to and more significantly improving the economy.
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