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Gender Pay Gap for Women: The Main Causes

The gender pay gap is the analysis of wages earned by women compared to men without including positions. Despite several ways to calculate the pay gap, all the results point to the fact that women are paid less than men. The gap has been perceived to be wider for women of color. The pay gap in the labor industry is a pertinent issue because diversity is becoming part and parcel of every organization and every nation; therefore, dealing with this backlash is a challenge to many. There is a fight for inclusivity in employment as more women are empowered and educated globally. Some multinationals employ people from all backgrounds, and compensation has to be harmonized. Pay Gap is, therefore, the elephant in the room that needs to be addressed to understand its root causes and the parties that need to spring to action to bridge the gap.

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Statistics of the global gender pay gap

Several countries have different gender pay gaps as developed nations harmonize the issue through labor policies while developing countries still suffer at large. In Australia, the average weekly wages for men are $1837, while women earn $1575.50 (Workplace Gender Equality Agency, 2021). These statistics iterate that women make less than men by $261.50 every week. This is just a general overview of what the gap in Australia means and how women are affected. Further statistics on the various labor sectors for either public servants or the private sector might create revelations worth a lawsuit. When factored in by region, Western Australia has the highest gender pay gap of 21.9% compared to Eastern Australia’s 7% (Workplace Gender Equality Agency, 2021). However, the public service has tried to harmonize this gap with a 7.3% variation compared to the private sector’s 23.5% (Workplace Gender Equality Agency, 2021). Other nations might be worse than what Australia has portrayed.

One of the places where the gender pay gap has been reported in the US is the higher learning institutions. Women have held most low-paying jobs in the higher education sectors, with men being offered high-paying jobs. In a study on the representation of women in institutions of higher learning, it was reported that the position most women are offered is that of the human resource manager (Bichsel &McChesney, 2017). There has so far been no woman by 2017 to be given the post of chief officer in any top university; this means that women still earned less than men. Despite women being outnumbered 9:1 in the top positions, they made far better than their male counterparts (Bichsel &McChesney, 2017). This begs for the question, are only women who are paid less? Men are also subject to the gender pay gap debate and should not be left out of the discussion.

It appears that closing the gender pay gap looks like a lifetime effort. The world economic forum suggests that the gap can only be completed in the 52 years in Europe even if all the countries embark on sustainable development goal of equal pay with sanctions (World Economic Forum, 2021). The forum further suggests taking the US 62 years and the Latin America and the Caribbean 69 years. In all other regions that have been reported to have human rights issues, it is estimated that it would take over a century. For example, it would take the middle east and northern Africa 142 years to close the gap. Only in south Asia, it is believed that the gap would be completed in close to two centuries to come. In sub-Saharan Africa, where the countries are the third world, it will take 122 years for women’s pay to be at the same level as men’s.

Causes of the gender pay gap

Culture

With such a disparity witnessed in different regions with different economic and cultural setups, the causes of the gender pay gap can be narrowed to cultural and racial diversity. To further highlight this, women are underrepresented in most positions; hence they naturally earn lower than men. Culture plays a more significant role than any other cause for the increasing gender pay gap. To begin with, some industries are male-dominated while others are female-dominated; this disparity can be linked with culture. Men do not want to associate themselves with ‘women industries’ while women do not associate themselves with ‘male industries.’ The female-dominated industries and jobs perceived to be female attract lower pay (Workplace Gender Equality Agency, 2021). This is part of the cultural divide between gender roles where women are below men in society and should be submissive.

Gender-defined roles are also disadvantageous on the part of women as they take more time away from work. Take the example of a woman who is eight months pregnant; she is considered disabled because pregnancy comes with many limitations (Equal Employment Opportunity, 2021). Taking time away from the workplace means that it is difficult for women to advance their careers. They would be primarily concentrating on the welfare of their newborns, which is also a gender-defined role. If women do not grow their careers, their pay will stagnate while men who have a one-month paternity leave rise. Therefore, women are still held to the confines of gender-defined roles where they look after their families as men march out to provide and advance their careers. It is, therefore, difficult to find women in the comfort of their homes taking care of their families while sitting at the top of the food chain in the labor industry.

The issue of stagnated careers for women brings to light the empowerment of women. There are few women in top positions, thus showing a lack of charge. Empowerment spans the sectors of education caused by a cultural divide and lack of economic development that results in a lack of resources for financing education (Barroso & Brown, 2021). With little or no empowerment for women in society, their pay would still be less. They will be forced to work part-time jobs with fewer hours of duty hence low income. In reality, it would be challenging to employ a woman with little education to positions that enumerate handsomely; the employer’s hands, in this case, are tied. Therefore, women will still be behind men in pay since men are more educated than females. Bridging this gap would thus help reduce the pay gap that exists for women in most workplaces.

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Racial Disparity

Today, Black women work in an assortment of occupations and enterprises at every unique level. However, many Black ladies stand up to the very misperceptions about their work that have been framed at the convergence of racial and sexual orientation inclinations for quite a long time (Reese, 2018). Therefore, Black ladies face unreasonable assumptions, unique difficulties, and one-sided presumptions concerning where they fit in the working environment that contrasts with the insights held regarding ladies from other racial and ethnic gatherings just as men. Individuals of color have needed to explore and now and again face contending, imperfect, or fragmented stories about their hard-working attitude, family obligations, and general esteem that impact choices regarding what they ought to acquire (Frye, 2019). At the point when sexism and bigotry cross in the working environment, the impact is obliterating.

A further look at the racial disparities in the gender wage gap brings to light the plight of immigrant workers and how they are paid in the US. Every year several immigrants come into the US for greener pastures with the promise of better work opportunities. These immigrants come from different places, including but not limited to the Latino from Mexico, Chinese, and Indians. These employment opportunities they are promised make them believe they would be paid better. It has been reported that 5.4 million immigrant women living in America are undocumented out of the total 23.2 million immigrants (American Immigration Council, 2020). Because these women are undocumented and would do anything to make ends meet, employers take advantage of this to pay them below the minimum wage, which is better than their countries of origin. Therefore, undocumented women have no choice but to work with the bit of low-paying jobs they get.

Bridging the gender pay gap; a public policy perspective

The gender pay gap is an issue of public policy because reducing it is suitable for the general public. Policies, therefore, have to be developed to ensure that the sustainable goal of gender equality in pay is achieved by 2030. One of the policies that can help bridge the wage gap is the Paycheck Fairness Act which prohibits discrimination on compensation based on sex (United States Congress, 2021). The Act also bans workplace policies where employers direct employees not to reveal their salaries to colleagues. Employers often did these to ensure there were no protests on how employees were paid. There is a high likelihood that employees would abandon their tools if they conversed about their salaries and realized there are a lot of discrepancies. The ActAct, therefore, infringes privacy while protecting the fundamental right of discrimination that causes the gender wage gap.

During recent debates, one thing that has come when the gender pay topic arises is women’s empowerment in society—empowering women spans the economy, education, and cultural sectors. Economic empowerment of women makes them realize the strength of their gender and rights. Having the financial means to create jobs gives women power over several other things. Women can now set the enumeration standards in the market that other businesses can emulate. Economic empowerment also gives the female gender a seat in the room where economic policies are formulated. Where women are leaders or are placed in top positions, junior employees, especially their fellow women, are rewarded handsomely (UN Women, 2018). Therefore, it would be difficult for women who are economically empowered to subject their fellow women to the same awful experience they went through when they did not.

Educationally when women are empowered, they are provided with the knowledge to decide between right and wrong and make policies for a better future for the girl child. Being educated refers to a lot of things; first, it means getting the required academic qualifications. Secondly, it means creating awareness about the gender pay gap and situations that cause it, including how to reduce the gap. Educating women will ensure that they are more qualified to apply for the top positions that have for a long time been a preserve for men. Their salaries would thus be higher due to the competition they create for such posts. Informing women about their rights, such as maternity leaves, can help a lot. In 2018, there was a campaign by Bill and Melinda Gates that aimed at providing income for women having parental leaves (Clifford, 2019). This helped them remain in financial control even during their leaves, thus earning them economic empowerment.

The next step in ensuring the gender pay gap for women is reduced is to open up opportunities for women to allow for a diverse representation. The possibilities for women should start with political seats where several women are encouraged to apply for public office. The current vice president for America is a woman, Kamala Harris, who was chosen as a running mate to the surprise of many. An excellent example of where opportunities should open up for women is in the Supreme Court, where out of nine justices, only three are women (Supreme Court of the United States, 2021). The pay cannot, however, be complained about as the justices are paid based on experience. Junior associates are paid less than chief justices regardless of gender. This means that Jr., Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, is paid less than Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Lastly, the government should thump up its efforts to reduce the gender pay gap by introducing several policies aimed at doing so. One of the policies that can be introduced allows women on maternity leaves to work from home for up to a year. Usually, when women are given maternity leaves, they are not expected to work until the maternity leave expires. Some employers often fire their employees during such leaves, while some deny them essential services. Enabling the employees to work from home allows them to continue with the employment and gain more experience until they are ready to return to the office. Cultural interventions for this issue include defining the traditional gender roles that have kept women behind the curtains, thereby derailing their progress in the career world. Once through with maternity leave, a woman should go back to work and not be forced to stay at home to take care of the child.

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In conclusion, the gender pay gap for women is a public policy issue because it affects the general public. The gender pay gap for women is also an issue that cannot be dealt with immediately; instead, gradual efforts should be implied from a collective responsibility perspective. The disparity existing for women’s pay is mainly caused by racism, discrimination by sex, and cultural norms. It can, however, be reduced by empowering women economically, education-wise and helping them define the cultural norms that have led to the disparity. Racism and discrimination by sex can be handled by introducing public policies directed towards curbing the said vices. With the said efforts put in place, society’s women will almost be equal to men, and at least, the efforts made to empower them will not be in vain.

References

American Immigration Council. (2020). Immigrant women and girls in the United States. Web.

Barroso, A., & Brown, A. (2021). Gender pay gap in U.S. held steady in 2020. Pew Research Center. Web.

Bichsel, J., & McChesney, J. (2017). The gender pay gap and the representation of women in higher education administrative positions: the century so far. Research Report. College and University Professional Association for Human Resources. Web.

Clifford, C. (2019). Bill Gates’ Foundation says 52-week paid leave isn’t doable after all, but will give new parents $20,000. CNBC. Web.

Equal Employment Opportunity. (2021). Is pregnancy covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act? SHRM. Web.

Frye, J. (2019). Racism and sexism combine to shortchange working Black women. Center for American Progress. Web.

Reese, C. C. (2018). The status of public sector pay equity for women of color in the United States. Review of Public Personnel Administration, 39(4), 594-610. Web.

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Supreme Court of the United States. (2021). Justices. Web.

UN Women. (2018). Facts and figures: economic empowerment. Web.

United States Congress. (2021). H.R.7 – 117th Congress (2021-2022): Paycheck fairness act. Congress.gov | Library of Congress. Web.

Workplace Gender Equality Agency. (2021). Australia’s gender pay gap statistics 2021. Welcome | WGEA. Web.

World Economic Forum. (2021). Global gender gap report 2021. Web.

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