Gender Pay Gap as a Serious Social Issue

The Aim of Research

The purpose of current research is to analyse people’s awareness of and attitudes toward the issue of the gender pay gap. Although this phenomenon is present to some extent in many countries of the world, no unique approach to managing the problem has been offered. Thus, the aim of research is to identify whether the public’s knowledge level is sufficient and why, in people’s opinion, the gender pay gap exists.

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Research Objectives

To achieve the aim of research, the following objectives will be pursued:

  • to review the existing recent literature on the problem;
  • to analyse the current approaches to the gender pay gap;
  • to compare the gender pay gap in the EU countries and the US;
  • to prepare a survey focused on the investigation of the research purpose;
  • to find out the opinions of employees from different countries on the gender pay gap.

Statement of Research Questions

The following research questions will need to be answered:

  • what conclusions can be drawn from previous research on the problem analysed?
  • what are people’s perceptions of the gender pay gap?
  • is there a difference in viewing the gender pay gap by females and males?
  • are the attitudes of different age groups toward the gender pay gap considerably different?
  • what are employees’ expectations concerning the gender pay gap?

The Rationale for the Sociological Background to the Issue Investigated

The sociological approach underpinning the current study is the feminist theory. According to Tharenou (2013), it is not enough to approach the gender pay gap problem only on the basis of capital inputs. As the scholar remarks, psychological and social examinations should also be made in order to find answers to the questions associated with the issue researched. Placing the problem of the gender pay gap into the societal context, Tharenou (2013) analyses the question from the point of view of feminist theory.

The main effect of the gender pay gap on females is the uneven financial reward for their work in comparison with males. According to the UK Department of Health (2017), the mean gender pay gap in hourly pay in 2016-2017 was 14.2%, and the median gap constituted 13.3%. In the US, the gap was 64% in 2014 (Kottasova 2015). Whereas the rates differ between countries, one aspect remains the same: there is not a single country where women would earn as much as men. In two countries, female employees make less than half of what male workers do: the gender pay gap in Angola is 40%, and in Brazil, it is 48% (Kottasova 2015). Such a disparity is the result of the inequality existing between sexes in the society. Thus, as Tharenou (2013) argues, the feminist theory should be applied to resolve the problem.

One of the reasons why the chosen sociological approach is the most suitable is that inequality between sexes has a long history that has been impacting females all over the world in a negative way. For too long, women have been considered unable to do some kinds of work as well as men. For many employers, the status of being a potential mother has served as a reason to limit the responsibilities given to women in to save time on training employees who may leave the job soon. Although there is little evidence for gender stereotypes affecting women’s pay, Tharenou (2013) considers that this aspect should be thoroughly investigated because it may offer the potential explanation of the problem.

The issue of the gender pay gap is sometimes mistakenly explained as the equal pay. However, these two notions are different. The Equal Pay Act of 1970 states that irrespective of gender, employees should receive the same payment for performing the same duties (Jones 2018). The problem is that females are frequently deprived of the opportunity to obtain better positions and, as a result, better-paid jobs are often not available to them.

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Moreover, even though it is against the law, some women still have lower pay than men for doing the same job (Close the gender pay gap n.d.). Thus, Tharenou (2013) emphasises the need to approach the problem of job responsibilities division with the feminist approach.

The problem of access to particular levels of the workforce constitutes the major anti-feminist perspectives. In her research, Valenziano (n.d.) argues that male-female division of job opportunities is closely related to the identity that is partially established by the person’s roles. Explaining her point of view from the feminist perspective, the author notes that women have more of these roles than men. Furthermore, Valenziano (n.d.) remarks that many of these roles are informal and, as a result, not valued sufficiently. Thus, along with such identity components as sexual orientation and ethnicity, gender is a crucial constituent in shaping one’s job possibilities and opportunities.

One more view on the gender pay gap that might be employed in the present paper is a different perspective on the feminist approach – socialist feminism (Gordon 2013). This theory focuses not only on the inequality based on gender differences. In fact, socialist feminist approach investigates the relationship between the injustice to women and other types of discrimination in the society (Gordon 2013). One of the kinds of oppressions discussed by socialist feminists is the economic injustice, which is directly connected to the topic of current research.

The Description, Explanation and Justification of the Research Methodology

Taking into consideration the research aim and objectives, the most relevant design for this study is qualitative research. With the help of such an approach, the investigator can find out people’s opinions and attitudes, compare them, and make conclusions about specific social phenomena. The research method used in the study is a survey. This method is highly productive since it enables the researcher to collect much data within a short period of time. All that has to be done is to prepare a set of questions aimed at investigating the gender pay gap problem and distribute the questionnaires to the potential participants.

A difficulty that may arise when arranging a survey is the refusal of the invited individuals to cooperate. However, taking into account the seriousness of the issue under inspection, it was expected that many people would agree to express their opinions and fill out the survey. Another problem with this methodology is that it is not possible to evaluate the sincerity of the participants. Thus, the reliability of qualitative research cannot be regarded as the highest. Still, it is possible to increase it through a large number of participants.

One more reason why the survey was selected as the research method is that respondents can be invited via email and social platforms, which makes it easier and cheaper for the researcher to collect replies. The problem in this case is that participants may have difficulty understanding some of the questions and not answer them. To eliminate this possibility, the researcher’s email was attached at the end of the invitation so that any individual could contact the investigator and clarify the ambiguous issues.

The sample size was expected to be 300 employees from different companies primarily situated in the UK, the USA, Canada, France, Japan, and Germany. However, if someone from a different country expressed the willingness to fill out the survey, their participation would also be appreciated. The only requirement for the inclusion was being or having been employed for at least two years. As has been stated, the data collection method is a survey. The data will be analysed through evaluating the responses of the participants and comparing the results. The reliability and validity of data will be achieved through the number of participants and the relevance of questions to the issue investigated.

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Before asking people to answer the survey questions, the researcher informed them that all the information provided by them would be confidential. No names or any other data disclosing the personality were required. Thus, the agreement to answer the survey questions was regarded as informed consent.

The following questions were included in the survey:

  1. What is your gender?
    1. male.
    2. female.
  2. What is your age?
    1. 20-25.
    2. 26-35.
    3. 36-45.
    4. 46-55.
    5. 56-65.
    6. 66 and older.
  3. What country are you (have you been) employed in?
    1. the UK.
    2. the USA.
    3. Canada.
    4. France.
    5. Japan.
    6. Germany.
    7. other (please, specify).
  4. How many years of work experience do you have?
    1. 2.
    2. 3-7.
    3. 8-15.
    4. 16-25.
    5. 25 and more.
  5. Do you agree that the gender pay gap has a strong negative impact on women?
    1. strongly agree.
    2. agree.
    3. not sure.
    4. disagree.
    5. strongly disagree.
  6. Do you think that the pay gap is only limited to gender?
    1. yes.
    2. not sure.
    3. no.
  7. What do you think is the major contributing factor to the gender pay gap?
    1. discrimination.
    2. marital status.
    3. ethnicity.
    4. experience.
    5. education.
    6. other (please, specify).
  8. Do you agree that the coverage of the gender pay gap is sufficient?
    1. strongly agree.
    2. agree.
    3. not sure.
    4. disagree.
    5. strongly disagree.
  9. Have you ever experienced this problem?
    1. yes.
    2. no.
  10. Have any of your colleagues ever suffered from the gender pay gap?
    1. yes, I know many cases.
    2. yes, I can recollect several cases.
    3. yes, I have one colleague who has been affected by this problem.
    4. no, I have never noticed such an issue.
  11. At what levels, do you think, should the problem of the gender pay gap be dealt with?
    1. government.
    2. local authorities.
    3. organisation’s management.
    4. at all levels.
  12. Do you agree that the gender pay gap will affect the future employment situation?
    1. strongly agree.
    2. agree.
    3. not sure.
    4. disagree.
    5. strongly disagree.

The Analysis of the Data

The invitation to participate in the survey was sent via social platforms (Facebook and Twitter) and emails to job platforms in different countries. As many as 353 individuals agreed to provide their answers. However, after collecting surveys, it became apparent that 24 respondents selected “other” for questions 3 or 7 and did not specify the answer, and 29 participants missed one or a few questions. Such surveys were not accepted for the analysis. Thus, the final sample size constituted 300 people. The brief summary of the main results is offered further.

66% of participants were male and only 34% were female. 10% were aged 20-25, 33% – 26-35, 27% – 36-45, 14% – 46-55, 12% – 56-65, and 4% stated that they were 66 years old or more. 33% of respondents were or had been employed in the UK, 30% – in the USA, 10% – in Canada, 7% – in France, 9% – in Japan, 8% – in Germany, and 3% – in other countries (Russia, Brazil, and Italy).

The majority of respondents have 8-15 years of work experience (44%). 32% strongly agree that the gender pay gap has a powerful negative impact on women, 28% agree, 15% are unsure, 14% disagree, and 11% strongly disagree (out of these, most are men). 27% respondents admit witnessing several or many instances of pay inequality, 52% do not find the coverage of the problem sufficient, and 62% consider that the issue should be managed at all levels.

The following conclusions can be drawn from the work in relation to the aims. Currently, there is no single effective approach to the gender pay gap. The Equal Pay Act strives to provide even conditions for all employees, but its power is only spread on the same positions while the issue concerns all work environments and levels. The survey has revealed crucial data indicating that not all employees are aware of the problem or acknowledge it, which is supported by findings from previous studies (Blau & Kahn 2016; Boll et al. 2016; DeWolf 2017). The data obtained with the help of the survey testifies the significance and extent of the problem and indicates the necessity to search effective solutions for it.

The Evaluation of the Investigation, Limitations, and Possible Improvements for Future Work

The analysis of the gender pay gap performed in the study is substantial but not sufficient to answer all the research questions. The study was limited by the number of respondents and the amount of data obtained from them. In particular, it would be helpful to perform a similar study with the inclusion of the equal number of participants from different countries. Also, it would be good to include the even number of women and men in the study.

Another possible improvement might be the analysis of people’s opinions depending on the different work experience. The present study included the range from 2 to over 25 years of practice without the differentiation between these periods. Therefore, the general outcomes of research may be regarded as positive, but there are several areas for improvement that should be taken into consideration in the future work.

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Possible Ethical Considerations and Ways of Avoiding Them

Despite a large number of advantages of qualitative research, this type of investigation may also pose a serious threat due to ethical issues that may arise. The most detrimental impact of unethical approaches to the study may be the lack of reliability. Therefore, it is crucial to analyse the potential moral pitfalls and do everything possible to avoid them. The first possible ethical issue is the researcher’s personal biases.

If a person conducting the study has a strong opinion on some or all of the investigated questions, he or she will subconsciously try to influence the respondents’ answers. That is why it is of utmost importance for a researcher to avoid such an issue by choosing the topic of research that will not affect the study’s course.

Another ethical issue may be associated with anonymity and confidentiality. If participants are promised that their personal information will not be revealed, and then it becomes known somehow, the ethical issue is inevitable. To avoid such a problem, the researcher should do everything possible to allow any indications of personal data, photographs, emails, and other ways of disclosing the respondents’ identity. One more ethical problem may be related to consent. To prevent this problem, the researcher has to explain all the details of research to participants and obtain their written agreement to complete the survey.

Reference List

Blau, FD & Kahn, LM 2016, The gender wage gap: extent, trends, and explanations. Web.

Boll, C, Leppin, J, Rossen, A & Wolf, A 2016, Magnitude and impact factors of the gender pay gap EU countries. Web.

Close the gender pay gap n.d. Web.

Department of Health 2017, Gender pay gap report: 2016-2017. Web.

DeWolf, M 2017, ’12 stats about working women’, U.S. Department of Labor Blog. Web.

Gordon, L 2013, ‘Socialist feminism: the legacy of the “second wave”‘, New Labor Forum, vol. 22, no. 3, pp. 20-28.

Jones, L 2018, ‘What is the gender pay gap?‘, BBC. Web.

Kottasova, I 2015, ‘U.S. gender pay gap is getting worse‘, CNN. Web.

Tharenou, P 2013, ‘The work of feminists is not yet done: the gender pay gap – a stubborn anachronism’, Sex Roles, vol. 68, no. 3-4, pp. 198-206.

Valenziano, L n.d., Equity and access in the workplace: a feminist HRD perspective. Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, May 3). Gender Pay Gap as a Serious Social Issue. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/gender-pay-gap-as-a-serious-social-issue/

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"Gender Pay Gap as a Serious Social Issue." StudyCorgi, 3 May 2021, studycorgi.com/gender-pay-gap-as-a-serious-social-issue/.

1. StudyCorgi. "Gender Pay Gap as a Serious Social Issue." May 3, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/gender-pay-gap-as-a-serious-social-issue/.


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StudyCorgi. "Gender Pay Gap as a Serious Social Issue." May 3, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/gender-pay-gap-as-a-serious-social-issue/.

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StudyCorgi. 2021. "Gender Pay Gap as a Serious Social Issue." May 3, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/gender-pay-gap-as-a-serious-social-issue/.

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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Gender Pay Gap as a Serious Social Issue'. 3 May.

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