When many try to answer that question, many answers it by claiming it's because discrimination still plays the main role within the pay gap. Meaning that women are paid less for doing the same amount of work compared to men, that's why many fight for equal pay for equal work. But if you really consider all the factors that play a big role in the pay gap, you realize that discrimination against females in the workplace is actually only a small fraction on why women do not get paid the same as men. Then what's the real reason why this gap exist? In the 1950s and 60s, women didn't really work, many factors played into why women just stayed at home. Typically around that time, women weren't receiving the same education as men, they didn't finish nor attend college, or weren't even allowed to earn the proper credentials from the college they were attending. The women that were working, which was only about 70%, were only doing manual jobs, such as assembly lines or working in offices. Actual careers such as doctors, lawyers, etc., were out of the norm during the time for women, because discrimination was actually legal during that time. Meaning companies were permitted to only seek and hire male employees, causing women only to make $0.60 to the dollar compared to men. Factors that affected this insane pay gap during that time were; women weren't educated compared to men, few women actually wanted to work, only "feminine" jobs were made available for a woman that did want to work. Another core reason was the actuality to let employers legally discriminate women. Not to mention other social roles that were forced during that time on women; like they can't handle power, must be a homemaker/mother, they are less bright compared to men, which is actually true since they didn't have the same amount of education is men did. But then something happened, in the early 1960s, another wave of women's rights hit America. This wave actually lasted around two decades, where women took opportunities in schools, jobs, and actually created careers for themselves compared to previous women. But one factor that was hard to change to make the pay gap equal was women were staying at home to become moms. Since females are the only ones that can birth children, society forced the notion that moms have to be the primary caretakers when raising a child. The United States still believe that women should only work part-time when raising children, while men are still expected to work full-time. Forcing women to be the primary caregiver, the main person maintaining the household, while still maintaining a part-time job/career. Meaning that the average mom in the United States literally has three part-time jobs. If we consider a male and a female with the same degree, same work experience, and in the same job position, they will roughly make about the same, where the female would be making 96% compared to the male. But that ratio changes if the female decides to have children. When a female gives birth it is expected for her to take some time off to fully recover and to care for her child, but while she is at home she is missing opportunities at her job which can further lead her to a higher position and a higher wage. So when men typically become fathers they're still going to work, so they never miss any opportunities at work, leading them to get a higher position and a higher salary. But women are only affected if they have children, so non-female caretakers do end up making $0.96 to the dollar compared to their male employees, so in other words, motherhood is to blame.
Closing the pay gap is achievable, two examples are Iceland and Rwanda. Starting with Rwanda, who was known as one of the poorest countries in the world, and somehow managed to find success. In 1994 when Rwanda was hit with genocide, about 800 thousand people were murdered, leaving about 60 to 70% of the population be females. So out of necessity, woman stepped up and took a hold over the workforce. Which was highly unusual a few years before, since discrimination against women was extremely embedded in the country. Meaning women weren't allowed to open a bank account without men, or go to school, let alone work, but when disaster hit the country change was done immediately. The government of Rwanda immediately change its policies and legislation. Such as equal rights to men and women, and open up policies to where 30% of the workforce must be represented by women. Now in Rwanda, 60% of the seats in Parliament are women, which is the highest in the world. They also monitor very closely to companies so they follow the gender protocols, where now women earn $0.86 to the dollar compared to men. In 1975, Iceland women stop working and rally together to protest about the gender pay Gap. This led to the immense amount of businesses closing since they couldn't run without their female employees. Forcing everyone to listen to the women and what they had to say. This event created a ripple effect, wherein 1980 the world's first Democratic female president was elected, and the number of women in Parliament rose up. Going to 1981, Iceland passed a law to allow moms 3 months of paid leave, where it was extended to six months in 1988, this was called guaranteed maternity leave. But this shift still didn't close the pay Gap, so the government came up with a new solution. They forced men to take paternity leave in the year 2000, where if they did not take the opportunity for a paid leave, they would lose the privilege. This created a big social change within the Iceland community, younger generations now expect both parents to be the primary caregiver. The pay Gap in 2004 was $0.81 to a dollar, compared to now, its $0.90 to the dollar. These actions created a balance within Iceland between jobs and the financial market. But everything that shines isn't gold. By granting both parents paternity leave, small businesses tend to suffer. In 2016, the United States job market consisted of 5.6 billion small businesses, were 99.7% of those businesses consisted of 500 workers or less. When running a small business it's very difficult to find someone else to replace an individual when they take a leave of absence, putting a strain on the employer. Hence why within the United States, not every business is required to guarantee parental leave. Still leaving the pay Gap within the US to be about 78% to 83% compared to the yearly income of a man. We have seen that the gender wage gap (technically the mother wage gap) can be closed. But without any social change that allows us to dismiss the notion that women are the ones that need to stay home and raise children, there can never be equal pay equal work for both genders. the idea of having both parents stay at home and raise a child does seem out of the ordinary, if you really think about it. we have these gender stereotypes so embedded within our society, making it difficult for change to really happen. And I believe women shouldn't have to choose between a career or motherhood. we have the right to have it all. when men decide to participate and take responsibility in raising a family, that's when we will see a slight closure in the gender wage gap.
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