Gender Wage Gap: Why We Should Care
The current male and female gender wage gap in the United States of America continues to raise litigious debates among people. Some parties argue that the wage gap is a discrimination of the female gender, whereas others argue that women are reaping the results of the life choices they make, hence, no wage gap exists. However, statistics show that in 2014, a woman earned 79 cents for every dollar a man earned; creating a 21% wage gap between the two genders. Effective from 1963, The Equal Pay Act was meant to ensure that for their work, men and women received equal or fair pay. However, 53 years later, the main objective of the Act is yet to be a reality. Women are paid lower wages even when they take jobs that are male-dominated. As such, there is a need for employers and the government should all work towards addressing the wage gap issue. The wage gap between the male and female gender should be closed because it is a hindrance to achieving gender equality.
Contrary to one’s expectations of the 21st century, women in America continue face chauvinism, stereotyping and discrimination in different areas of their life on daily basis. America has made progressive steps in the last two decades. As a result, some of the policies and actions that have been enacted by the government have focused on promoting equality among both sexes, including the elevation of women status in the nation. Regardless, inequality is yet to be fully achieved, especially because women are still discriminated against regarding salaries and wages. Women’s efforts and hard work has continued to be undermined and lacks full appreciation. This is evidenced by the fact that they are not only underpaid but in most cases, they have limited chances to make it to top positions in organizations. The discrimination is so rampant that even in cases where a woman works her way diligently to a position that is male-dominated; they end up being paid lesser wages for doing the same work as a man does. It has been noted, further, that this discrimination is evident even at the basic levels of a family. Sandberg notes that growing up, boys were paid more allowances than girls for completing the same household chores. The wage gap discrimination is thus evident from all areas. As such, if women have to achieve the same pay as a man, they have to work for four extra months. To women, therefore, the Equal Pay Day remains their weapon towards being paid fairly for the work they do. If the wage gap is not addressed, equality will never be achieved. Gone are the days when women were seen as effective only in raising and taking care of their families. Regardless of the numerous obstacles they face, they have worked towards occupying top positions in billion dollar companies. However, employers have continued to look down upon them by underpaying them, or by determining the worth of their salary based on their gender. The government has further failed to pass policies and regulations that would help ensure that equality propagated in the form of wage gap discrimination is addressed. Sandberg argues that “Men are continually applauded for being ambitious and powerful and successful, but women who display these same traits often pay a social penalty. Female accomplishments come at a cost”. The cost for their ambition is a wage gap separating them from men. If the gap is not addressed today, then inequality will continue to characterize the lives of women.
If wage gap discrimination creates gender inequality, why should we care? There are countless reasons why all people, from employees, family members, and the government should be concerned about this hot button issue. One most pertinent reason is that arguably, the wage gap form of discrimination that tarnishes the image of America. Many developing countries look up to America as the superpower with laws and policies that uphold the well-being of all people. The American Dream has continuously drawn people from their native countries to America, the land of opportunity. However, most have realized that the issue of all being equal, to an extent, remains an illusion as women continue to be discriminated against regarding wages and salaries. In particular, women of color find it less rosy than their white counterparts. The 21% gap is even higher for Black Africans, Latinos, and Hispanics. As such, the continuous discrimination of women when it comes to fair wage presents a picture of a country that has not done the best for its women. Women put the effort to study while still taking care of their families. They study at odd hours and make sacrifices to be away from their families to ensure the necessary academic levels that hone their employability skills. They do this to ensure that even as they play their mother and wife role, they advance in their careers. As Sandberg asserts, managing a career and motherhood is incredibly challenging. When they finally apply for positions that they are qualified for, their wages are based on their gender and not their qualifications. In the first part of her book, Sandberg tells of her friend Summers. When she was hired, Summers’ boss expressed that “I am so glad to have you. I figure I am getting the same brain for less money”. The position that Summers had landed was previously occupied by a man and her boss demonstrated that Summers was paid less because she was a woman, even though she was to do the same job as a man would do. This should not be happening in a country that is a leader of the world.
America purports to be the country where equality, respect for all and fight against discrimination are observed every day. America’s observance on equality has earned it a befitting reputation from other countries. However, if people do not care about the issue of the wage gap, the situation is likely to go unresolved for years to come. Therefore, as women in their countries shall be making milestones in their careers, women in America shall be left behind, and the tradition shall continue. This tarnishes the image of America greatly and hence, the government and the employees should ensure that both sexes are paid equal wages for similar work. The Woman’s soccer team in U.S is a practical example of discrimination against gender. The team filed a lawsuit against the soccer federation for being paid significantly lower wages than their male counterparts. In 2015, not only had this team won the World Cup but further generated over $20 million worth of revenue for the country. However, they were paid bonuses and allowances lower than that of the male colleagues by over a quarter. This is regardless of the fact that they all work equally hard and are in the same profession. This is an indication of discrimination against women which tarnishes the image of America. Only when people care enough will women in America be given the same treatment as men, especially when the jobs under consideration are similar in all dimensions. Failure to address the wage gap issue translates to robbing women of their dreams based on their gender.
However, there are critics who argue that the wage gap is a myth and that there is no inequality based on the wage values received by men and women. They argue that the salaries that women receive are based on the choices they make. For example, they argue that women chose to have children and hence, they have to choose flexible jobs which will allow them to be both a mother and a career woman. Most of these jobs pay poorly. They further assert that women chose traditional jobs such as teaching and nursing. They also opt for jobs which are not masculine, requiring less physical effort. As a result, the critics argue that what America is faced with is not a wage gap inequality. Instead, it is a war by feminists who want to earn the same pay for unequal work. There is thus no inequality in terms of the wages paid to women, whether in private or public sectors of employment. However, this is not entirely true. In some cases, women choose the jobs they do for lack of better alternatives. The system, as well as the demands of being a mother and working, avail them little to no chances. What makes less or no sense at all is the fact that in some cases, women work hard to land in jobs that men dominate, but they are paid lesser wages because of their gender. Surprisingly, the age gap has been seen even among female college graduates who do not have families and are just beginning their career life. An example is seen in health institutions which are dominated by females, but they still earn lesser amounts compared to the males in the same facilities. Therefore, critics who argue that there is no wage gap and that no inequality results from this do not consider all statistics. Women are not appreciated for their efforts to scale the professional ladder just because they are women. The employees and the government can help to reverse the situation.
In conclusion, therefore, wage gap needs to be addressed because this discrimination creates inequality between men and women. All people should care about the age gap mostly because it tarnishes the image of America, the land of opportunities. The gap presents America as a land that does not give equal opportunities to women as they are underpaid. The gap has been said to be narrowing, but it has continued to do so at a rate slower than that of women’s academic achievements. With the current trend, equality in wages will only be achieved by 2059. However, this is reliant on many other factors and can thus, it can be a while longer before the wage parity is closed. Inequality on pay further eliminates women from holding high positions in organizations. Sandberg notes that “the educated workforce is chock-full with women, but by the time that pipeline is filling leadership positions, it is stocked with men”. The 21% wage gap currently being experienced is also bad enough to deny some women a comfortable retirement. Therefore, it is important for all to care about this wage gap so as to reduce the inequality between the two sexes.