The Truth About the Gender Wage Gap

“Because in America, for every dollar a man makes, a woman only makes 77 cents” (Randall).

This is the claim made by the young girls selling cookies to raise awareness about the gender wage gap that exists throughout the world. However, there is more to this issue. The first important part of this issue is that the gender wage gap has been narrowing at various rates all over the world. This is due to the awareness of gender equality, the increase and equalization of each gender’s access to education, and the creation of policies that prohibit discrimination in wages.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APO75_9svCA

However, there is still a noticeable gap between the earnings of men and women. There are many reasons, according to economists, such as:

  • Women needing to take time off for pregnancy, which causes lost time, lost wages, lost seniority, and lost opportunities.
  • The tendency for women to go into people-friendly jobs and childcare, which are generally lower paying jobs.
    (Payequity.gov.on.ca)

    Many people tend to state these reasons as the woman’s own fault, and therefore try to prove that the gender wage gap is not truly a problem. But is it right to victim blame in this situation when women’s bodies are the ones that can create new life? Why is the culture pushing men and women to careers that fit socially constructed masculine and feminine traits respectively? Why are women still viewed as the primary caregiver, and suffer because they are forced to choose between raising their children and advancing in their career? These are trends which reappear over and over again.

    It is evident that stereotypical (characteristics ascribed to groups of people [and] tend to be oversimplifications) (Nittle) ) traits of women and men still transcend career choices in our society. Men are pushed towards hypermasculine (meaning exaggeration of stereotypical male behavior) careers, such as business and engineering. Women are viewed as trusting individuals and caregivers and are encouraged to choose jobs that involve child care and socialization, such as teaching, nursing and administration. However, these careers typically receive less pay overall then other careers, begging the question: Why does our society undervalue these careers?

    Furthermore, it is ignorant to attempt to explain away the entire pay gap between men and women. According to one source, “women are paid less than men in female-dominated, gender-balance and male-dominated occupations” (Worklifecanada.ca). Women’s career choices and maternal leaves only account for part of the pay gap. The Pay Equity Commission’s article on the Gender Wage Gap estimates that “as much as 10 to 15% of the gender wage gap is due to discrimination” (Payequity.gov.on.ca). 

    It is clear that there is a cultural issue in the way our society values men and women. Even though the wage gap is closing, why is 10-15% of the wage gap still due to pure discrimination? In order to really allow for equal pay for equal work—in order to really close the pay gap—our misogynistic (meaning deep-seated prejudice towards women) society must change in a drastic way, first. This cry for a change is a battle that has been fought by feminists since the First Wave of Feminism, and still continues today, even in the modern-day feminism.

    Finally, it is important to notice that it is young, white, presumably cis-gendered and middle to upper class women speaking up about this gender issue. There is no mention of the effect of the wage gap on the black community, and therefore no criticism of how white supremacy, the idea that white people are of a supreme race and have power over other oppressed racial communities, transcends this issue of pay inequality. There is an even larger wage gap between white women and black women (Catherine Hill), however this aspect of the pay gap is ignored in this instance. This issue is also looked at from a binary point of view, not taking into account the discrimination to non-binary gendered individuals, which refers to all individuals who identify with a gender other than male or female. It is vital to look at this issue and how it affects all people’s intersections, meaning “the crosscuttting inequalities that complicated gendered differences” (Aulette, Wittner, 528), of class, race, age and sexuality, rather than just gender. These trends of who is speaking out about this issue and who is not is incredibly important when analysing the systemic oppression of groups and the way it transcends all aspects of our society.

    However, the event of the bake sale does begin to scratch the surface of this historical and complex issue regarding wage gap between genders, races and classes. This event raised controversy which is often a good first step in creating a dialogue. In addition, creating this dialogue and controversy at a younger age begins the process of the analysis of white privilege (“an invisible package of unearned assets” available to white people (McIntosh) ) and marginalization, the separation and oppression of a group of people as ‘other’, sooner rather than later. This event did do an important job in the way that it began a discussion and started to break down barriers regarding this complex issue of the wage gap.

    As the young girls who created this controversy with a simple bake sale said, as a response to their peers’ uproar about the bake sale, “yeah, it’s not fair. That’s why we’re doing [the bake sale]” (Randall).

Sources

Aulette, Judy Root, Judith G Wittner. Gendered Worlds. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. Print.

Carlisle, Randall. ‘Gender Equality Bake Sale Causes Stir At Utah High School’. Good4Utah. N.p., 2015. Web. 5 Apr. 2015.

Catherine Hill, Ph.D. ‘The Simple Truth About The Gender Pay Gap (Spring 2015)’. AAUW: Empowering Women Since 1881. N.p., 2015. Web. 5 Apr. 2015.

McIntosh, Peggy. ‘White Priviledge: Unpacking The Invisible Knapsack’. N.p., 2015. Web. 8 Apr. 2015.

Nittle, Nadra Karem. ‘What is a Stereotype?’. racerelations.about.com. N.p., 2015. Web. 8 Apr. 2015.

Payequity.gov.on.ca,. ‘The Gender Wage Gap | Pay Equity Commission’. N.p., 2015. Web. 5 Apr. 2015.

Worklifecanada.ca,. ‘Centre For Families, Work And Well-Being | University Of Guelph’. N.p., 2013. Web. 5 Apr. 2015.

-rayofsunshine

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5 thoughts on “The Truth About the Gender Wage Gap

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed your review as you brought to light many of the existing issues society has with marginalizing entire groups of people and determining their worth in accordance to certain traits they are expected to have. I liked that you brought up the fact that the wage difference is a global issue and though it may have “gotten better” there are still long ways to go in order for a semblance of equality to be reached. You had many compelling arguments in your review that really showed me how this was not a singular, isolated event. What I found the most admirable about your review though was the way you addressed the issues within the entire movement toward remedying the pay gap and how entire minority groups are being disregarded. By examining the relationship between the unequal wages received by the vast majority of black women in comparison to white women we can see there are many problems within the efforts made to remedy the more general issue at hand. It’s interesting to note this because we’d like to think we’ve made strides since the first and second waves of feminism where considering the exclusion of other minority groups in efforts to achieve equality but this states otherwise and it is important to realize this so that we can make changes to our action plans and the movement in order to render it more inclusive.
    Fabulous job!!

    – MasalaCHICKen

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    1. I am so glad you enjoyed the review. It truly is such a complex issue, one that is hard to cover fully in one short blog. I hope you were able to learn something from my blog. If you want more information, there are tons of research online the provides awesome statistics and viewpoints on this topic. 🙂
      -rayofsunshine

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  2. Another wonderful review. I love your throughness when analyzing the societal and cultural factors that prevent women from receiving equal pay. Most people really do victim blame when it comes to wages and it’s so hypocritical that society forces the job of caregiving onto women but yet criticizes them for doing so. It’s great that you mention that we have come a long way in wage equality but still show that as a society we can’t reach equality because we follow the stereotyped roles that are designed for each gender. I’m glad you mention that while the bake is there to support equal pay for women there is almost no mention for the minorities (people of colour, class, trans etc.) this is a very 1st wave feminist approach to the issue. Once again great review.
    -Secretlybatman

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  3. Ah, a very classic masterpiece by rayofsunshine! I love that you identify the group that is predominantly spoken about when it comes tot he wage gap and recognize that middle-class white women are not the only ones facing this issue. Your blog brought up so many great points including societies efforts to blame women for their issues and the stereotypes men and women struggle against every day in out society. Loved this! Have a great summer! – NoSpeakAfricano

    Like

  4. I’ve come to enjoy how thorough you get while writing these reviews. You provide sufficient information for a reader who has not heard of or read the story. I find it bad how jobs such as nursing and teaching are seen more like a feminine field of work. Anybody should be able to work whatever type of job that they want without being criticized about it and should receive equal pay, no matter what your race, gender or sexuality is. It’s also good how you talked about the white supremacy that exists within these fields of work and how this is also becoming an issue of race as well. Excellent job and It was great to read your reviews!
    -mejicanluis

    Like

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