The Truth About the Gender Wage Gap

Fathmath Eafa Rameez. 11A
Iyaadh Ahmadh Raihaan Shah, 11A

The “glass ceiling” is an invisible barrier that prevents women from advancing up the ranks in their profession. It exists in many organizations and businesses, and most of the time, people are unaware of what is actually taking place. This phenomenon is experienced by women across the world and it is very prevalent in many societies today. Some people refuse to believe that women get paid less than men for doing the same amount of work. However, this may not necessarily be the case.

It has become common in society to refer to certain jobs as ‘women’s work’ or pink collar jobs. These include being a nurse, receptionist or florist. A pink collar worker doesn’t require as much professional training as a white collar worker as they don’t work in offices, and in addition to that, they do not get equal wages. It is common to see job advertisements looking for women in pink collar jobs such as these. This perpetuates the image that certain lower class jobs are specifically designed for women.

The gender wage gap is the average difference between a man and a woman’s income or salary. On average, women earn 79 cents for every dollar a man makes with an equal amount of work done. However, there are countries across the globe with equal pay between genders and countries with an even larger pay gap. Countries such as Estonia and Austria have a pay gap of around 20%, while countries such as Malta and Slovenia have a pay gap of 4%. In countries such as Hong Kong, more men work at executive and management levels while women are still perceived as homemakers. Such attitudes have prevented many women from being treated equally at work. A more unbelievable fact is that pay decreases when you’re a woman of colour. A study proves this, showing that a Hispanic woman earned 54 cents to a Caucasian man’s dollar, while an Asian-American woman earned 87 cents (National Women’s Law Center, 2017).

Additionally, some women have to deal with the responsibility of working while dealing with household chores. Ann Oakley, a Marxist feminist, coined the terms ‘Double Burden’ and ‘Triple

Shift,’ saying that women have to work at their normal 9 to 5 jobs and then also take care of the house work as well as care for the children. What’s strange is that a lot of people refuse to believe the fact that a lot of this wage gap comes from the housework that they do. Women carry out this unpaid labor, and this only worsens their economic situation because they are already get paid less compared to what men earn.

It gets extremely difficult for women who have children and are married, because not only do they have to do unpaid labour, they also need to find jobs with flexible working hours as they need to find the time to do housework. They are unable to spend time with their family because of this ‘Long Hours culture.’ Women who have to look after kids or their families usually opt to do part-time jobs, as finding full-time jobs with flexible working hours often have extremely high requirements and lots of prior training. This in turn worsens the issue due to part-time jobs having low pay. Studies show that the wage gap is twice as large for women with kids compared to women without kids. The pay gap is smaller for younger women than older women, but it begins right when women enter the labour force.

What these problems have in common is the lack of government intervention. If authorities do not take the action necessary to solve them, nothing would change. Governments could take the initiative to carry out programmes and campaigns to encourage men to do more unpaid labour and housework. Domestic and household chores could be taught to boys at a young age. Incentives could be given to men in order to make them work more hours if they are not being the ones to look after their kids at home. The Equal Pay Day was a step in the right direction. It is a symbolic day marked in April that is dedicated to raising awareness on the gender pay gap.

All in all, the gender pay gap is a serious issue that still is not being addressed by many nations. Of course, in some, it has decreased. However, it still exists and that is a problem that needs to be faced. It is everyone’s responsibility to make an effort to raise awareness on this matter, be it making simple posters and drawings or even writing poems and articles; we could all play our part. This can in turn bring about a tremendous change in societal attitudes, leading to the eventual changes in laws. This can ensure women get adequate paid family and medical leave or increase the availability of high quality, affordable child care. The pay of women working in low paid jobs can be lifted through the increase in minimum wage and barriers to male dominated jobs can be broken to make them more accessible for working women.

 

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