Closing the Wage Gap: What can you do?
Updated: Dec 4, 2020
In today’s progressive society, it is imperative that businesses acknowledge and find solutions for the existing wage-gap for women and minorities. Since the Equal Pay Act was signed in 1963, the wage-gap has been diminishing at a very slow rate of approximately 1% every two years. In 1963, women, who worked full-time and the same hours as men, earned 59 cents for every dollar earned by men. In 2020, women now still only make approximately 80 cents for every dollar earned by men. It is important for us to acknowledge that this growth is extremely slow, and that companies need to strive towards wage equality on an individual level. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research estimates that women will not receive equal pay until the year 2059. It is up to us to alter the course of this trend for the betterment of our societal values.
Wage gaps are calculated based on median earnings data from the U.S. Census Bureau and as a result likely do not accurately represent each woman’s experience. Larger wage gaps for most women of color reflect the negative effects of gender bias as well as racial or ethnic bias on their earnings. There are plenty of stereotypes, that are oftentimes false, that contribute to the gender wage gap.
1. Differences in industries or jobs worked.
We can see the adverse effects of placing men and women into different industries based on gender norms. “Women’s jobs” such as home health supporters and child care workers tend to have lower pay and fewer benefits than “men’s jobs” such as building and construction. However, when women show interest in working “typical men’s jobs” and vice versa, they are often ridiculed or not taken seriously, which in turn makes it difficult for these gender norms to dissipate.
2. Differences in experience.
Women are constantly driven out of the workforce because employers assume that they have more home-based obligations and thus, have less time to focus on work. In order to combat this issue, it is crucial for companies to provide ample maternal and paternal leave for their employees.
3. Differences in hours worked.
Women are typically thought of as “tending to work fewer hours than men” to accommodate for caregiving and other obligations. This results in lower wages and fewer benefits for women. However, according to the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women are actually outnumbering men in the US workforce. Women currently make up 50.04% of payroll jobs in the US, proving that women are able to maintain their jobs, while also tending to their outside obligations.
Gender discrimination is widespread throughout the workforce and discourages open discussion of wages. Employers may discriminate against women based on prior salary history and wage decisions, as well as all of the stereotypes mentioned above. The wage-gap is definitely a nuanced and complex issue; however, it is something that needs to be discussed. Companies can take a variety of actions towards establishing a moral and ethical code to strongly oppose the wage-gap and ensure that women receive equal pay for their work.
1. Understand equal pay legislation, such as the Paycheck Fairness Act.
Knowledge of pre-existing laws that promote wage equality can help strengthen existing positions at jobs and help fight discriminatory practices.
2. Employ work-family policies to incentivize economic security.
Many women are treated unfairly due to care-giving responsibilities. Companies should give these individuals access to paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave. These actions would help minimize job loss and increase the financial security of all workers in the field. Nowadays, we see plenty of organizations pushing towards paid maternal and paternal leave, which is a great first step towards normalizing these stigmas.
3. Work to confront societal cultural biases.
In today’s societal culture, there are plenty of cultural biases that continue to affect women, particularly women of color. We must all work together to value their work and stop confining them to specific gender roles. Only by enacting specific policies can we begin to dismantle the structures that oppress women in the job environment.
Although the gap between women’s and men’s earnings closes slightly each year, it is not improving at the rate that it should. We need to take significant steps towards rectifying these issues. All human beings, regardless of their gender, race, and identity, have the right to receive equal pay for equal work.