In 2014 full-time, year-round, working women only earned an average of 79% of what the average earnings of a man made(United States Department of Labor n.d.). Women who are just as qualified or more qualified for the same job a man occupies are only making roughly 78 cents for every dollar a man makes. This is one of the many forms of economic injustice in the United States today. The issue of gender equality has been an issue since the beginning of time. Under the United States Constitution all person were created equal and will have equal protection under the law. The gender wage gap has gained momentum in regards to awareness in the past few years. The feminist movement has also aided in raising awareness, especially in the United States. The wage gap has made significant progress each year until these most recent year where the closing gap has slowed to an agonizingly slow crawl forward (U.S. Department of Labor 2015).
The issue of the pay gap between genders affects not only women in the workforce, but also young adults and children. How are young women expected to strive for greatness if they are constantly being told that a man will always be more superior just because of his anatomy? Children are not dumb, they see and learn through examples set by adults. If girls are taught that it is just the way of the world that a man naturally earns more for the same position as a women, it will remain the "norm" and they will be less likely to push for change. It also affects single working mothers. If a single mother is fighting for custody of her children, but she makes less than the children's father, she cannot afford as good as a lawyer or "provide" for her children as well as their father according to the wage gap. Not only is gender inequality facing women, but the issue of race as well. The wage gap is greatest in the white population where there is a 24.6% wage gap(U.S. Department of Labor 2015). This raises even more flags of economic injustice. While the gender wage gap is less in Black, Asian, and Hispanic populations it seems to imply that men of those races earn less than the average white male, which is a whole different, but directly intertwined, issue of economic injustice. (U.S. Department of Labor 2015)
The gender wage gap is a prime example of the flaws of our Economic Justice System. In regards to Participative Justice, women who hold the same position as men within a company are expected to put the same amount of work in. They are also held to the same expectations as their male counterparts. However, in regards to Distributive Justice, there is a sizable imbalance. Women are expected to contribute just as much as men in their same position, and yet be grateful for the amount they receive, even if it is significantly less than what men receive. This is a severe economic injustice to all women, and an insult to their intelligence. Those who believe that women would be indifferent, or believe that the wage gap is "no big deal" grossly underestimate women in general. Women are equally as capable as men and are fighting for their economic rights and economic equality. Social Justice takes the form of organizations such as the National Women's Law Center, and the National Organization for Women in this situation. These foundations and organizations are pressuring the government to better enforce economic equality and the laws set in place to prevent economic inequality; such as the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. (National Organization for Women 2018)
This issue of the gender wage gap is extremely concerning. What lesson is this teaching future generations? Boys will grow up thinking it is acceptable to treat women as subordinates and that males are inherently better than females just because of their gender. Little girls will grow up thinking that no matter how hard they work and how intelligent they are they will never be seen as a man's equal in the work force. If the work, position, and expectations are the same for a male and female employee, how can the company justify the gap in pay? The company could argue that the man has been with the company longer than the woman, which is a valid point. However, that would not be the same as the issue of gender pay inequality. The man's seniority at the company elevates him above a newly hired woman occupying the same position. The issue comes into play when a man gets hired at a higher salary than a women also being hired, or the man having a higher starting salary than a woman who has the same position and been with that company for several years.
People make assumptions, it is a natural thing for humans to do. It is also these assumptions that can cause the most damage. One of the mistakes that companies and individuals make is the assumption that women are complacent, and do not desire to move forward or climb the cooperate ladder. They assume that all women are satisfied with their positions and have little to no ambition to improve and further their education in the workplace. This issue of gender pay wage is rooted in false assumptions and thinly veiled, deeply rooted prejudices. Some people unconsciously discriminate through stereotyping and society "norms" apparent within the company. The assumption of women's position in society's mindset is still vastly influenced by the "barefoot and pregnant" image as the model women should strive to achieve. While it is true that we see modern women as intelligent and independent, people still revert to the assumption that all women have the goal to get married and have children. While some do, others have many other goals they hope to achieve before that particular goal or may not even have the goal of starting their own family.
If the gender pay gap never closes or increases, then Americans have failed women and future generations. Women have always been seen by society as delicate and not as fit for the work force until just recently with the feminist movement pushing and helping redefine the standards the modern woman is held too. One specific positive that has arisen from this economic injustice is the unity it has brought to women nation and worldwide. Instead of fighting against one other like society inadvertently cultivates, women have bonded and fought together to resolve a violation to women's economic rights. Standing up, fighting, and demanding economic equality for women is teaching young girls that it is acceptable to speak their minds, stand up, and fight for justice when justice is due and being withheld. The determination of women fighting for equal pay sets the example of not accepting what society says is justice and not an injustice and it reaffirms how strong and capable women truly are. They are showing young girls that women do have a voice that can be heard and respected just as much as any man.
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