It is necessary to find out which factors provoke the current situation of a gender pay gap. Understanding if this difference might be the consequence of discrepancies in the qualities and characteristics of male and female workers can help to address the issue and select the methods of making change. Thus, it will be first analyzed whether men get higher wages than women because they have observable characteristics or traits associated with higher labor productivity, such as better education.
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The characteristics of the labor market are the so-called characteristics of human capital, and the most common ones are age, experience, and education. Other parameters characterizing the workplace, such as the industrial sector, geographical location, and other factors, also play a role in labor market definition. Thus, it will be checked whether men have higher professional and educational levels justifying their higher wages.
Despite significant differences between countries, such factors as education, and other characteristics of the labor market explain only a relatively small section of gender difference in salaries. An almost entirely unexplained wage gap between men and women generally prevails in nearly all countries, regardless of income level. In high-income countries, education has an average of less than one percentage point in the wage gap between men and women; therefore, a lower educational level cannot explain the gender pay gap. Moreover, women get less for work of equal value, which proves the necessity to raise this issue.
The situation of social injustice being detected, the essay explores what citizens can do to gradually reduce the pay gap for men and women with the conscious effort of society. An increasing number of countries are paying attention to national legislation prohibiting discrimination against women in workplaces. Although they take measures to promote equal pay for women and men, there is still a long way to go, and the strategies of nonviolent civil disobedience introduced by King and Chavez can help in addressing the problem.
Both activists were advocates of the struggle against injustice and oppression, and their methods can be applied to bridge the gender pay gap. In 1963, King was imprisoned in Birmingham because of the demonstrations; and he used his case to attract public attention to racial discrimination and raise public awareness. The letter he wrote in prison became a programmatic text; thus, the strategy to apply is to use every opportunity to talk about the cases of oppression. Following King’s approach, it is necessary to gather evidence of inequality and to proceed with negotiation to improve the situation. The final steps are self-purification and direct action (King 12), and all these steps are still relevant in any civic struggle. Chavez claims that nonviolence is more potent than violence because it attracts more support (28). Thus, nonviolent disobedience and manifestations can serve not only to secure higher wages for women but also with a strategic goal to attract public attention and raise awareness.
The example of the educational level’s role proves that women are often subject to discrimination regardless of their qualifications and other achievements. In many countries, women have a higher education level than men within the same professional category but receive lower wages in their occupational group. This evidence refutes the assumption that women receive lower fees because of their insufficient educational level. Further civic action is to follow four steps suggested by King and to secure fair policies for women.
Chavez, Cesar. “He Showed Us the Way,” Civil Disobedience. Module Texts.
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King, Martin Luther, Jr. “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” Civil Disobedience. Module Texts.