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Importance of Closing the Wage Gap

2683 words (11 pages) Essay in Society

18/05/20 Society Reference this

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Closing the Wage Gap

Through many years, women’s education level has increased, but there still seems to be a wage gap. Even though the wage gap is becoming narrower, it is still prominent in the workforce. Boulding (2016) insinuates the wage gap is due to women not working as many hours, but through the research provided it has been determined to be false. From information collected, one will see the difference between men and women’s income and see the differences in each one’s compensation. Both group’s worth will be looked at, and it will be determined what each one’s level of education contributes to their value. Lastly, one will see how the equal pay for equal work should be put into action and some better solutions to solve the wage gap will be discussed. The wage gap is growing smaller, but by closing it, it will allow more women to excel in their field.

While men and women are working at different paying jobs, there will be a wage gap due to the different qualifications for the job. According to Boulding (2016), wages and salaries are income derived from human labor. This covers all work both physical and mental. Miller (2016), states that 80 is the big number when talking about the wage gap. Women in the workforce are paid only 80 percent of what men are. That leaves a wage gap of 20 percent. Research conducted by Miller shows that if the gap decrease is as slow as it has been, women will reach pay equity in the year 2152. This means that women are not going to be paid the same as men for 133 more years. Moreover, when the incomes of both men and women are compared, the wage gap is very prominent. For example, on average in Minnesota, men are getting paid $51,979 per year while women are getting paid $42,137. This is an 81 percent gap, and it is roughly $10,000 more that men are getting paid than women. As women are earning less, they are also accumulating more debt because of the income they are not receiving.

As one sees the income differences between men and women one will also see that men are offered more compensation and benefits than women. Research from Miller (2016), shows that women are given far less than men. According to the article “Workers’ Compensation” (2016), “workers’ compensation also called work injury compensation is a welfare program through which employer’s bear some of the cost of their employees work-related injuries.” While many employers give men and women the same amount of injury compensation, they are not given the same amount of fringe benefits. The article “Fringe Benefits” (2016), implies that these benefits are any non-wage payment or benefits. Some benefits include pension plans, paid leave, health insurance, and unemployment insurance. In the article, Fringe Benefits, it states, “they may be required by law, granted unilaterally by employers, or obtained through collective bargaining.” According to Oxford Dictionaries (2016), unilateral in the previous sentence means affecting only one person. This is where the company can choose and pick who gets what benefits. When women are given less paid leave, it forces them to take off work without pay, this is a contributor to the wage gap. With this evidence, it is unquestionable that men are getting more compensation and benefits than what women receive.

While women and men are getting paid different incomes, and getting different amounts of benefits, it is determined that companies don’t believe men and women are worth the same. According to the article “Comparable Worth” (2016), comparable worth, also known as sex equity, is the concept that women and men should be compensated equally for the work they put in. Both men and women should have comparable skills, responsibilities, and effort in their workplaces. Men and women may need the skills to operate machinery or the skills to keep the finances on the upside. They could also be in higher up positions where they are required to produce quality work, or they must finish a number of products in a certain amount of time. Employers look at how much effort their employers are putting in and from there it can be determined how valuable of an employee they are. When comparing the worth of men and women, they should each have the same qualities for there to be an accurate result. Comparable worth was introduced in the 1970s, after the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (Comparable Worth, 2016). The state of Washington was ordered to give raises to women that were earning 20 percent less than what men were. Although, on appeal, the state of Washington did not have to pay the women because the decision was overturned. This is another way women are being treated unequal (Comparable Worth, 2016).

Even though women are highly qualified to be paid as much as men, they still are being underpaid. According to Epstein (2015), before the 1970s, men were more likely to graduate from college than women were. Although, since the 1990s women have excelled and have a higher graduation rate than men. When women are just as qualified, or even more qualified than men, why is there still a wage gap? Yes, the employee must have the skills to do the job, but if they didn’t have those skills in the first place why would have they been hired? This example is just one of the excuses an employer could make. According to American Association of University Women (AAUW) (2012), women are more likely to take lower paying jobs, and men are more likely to take higher paying jobs. Although, in this article, it states that one year after graduation men and women who major in the same field experience the wage gap. The AAUW does account some of the wage gap to be women’s fault. On average, women work two hours less than men a week. One reason they could be working less is that they are checking on their sick children or an emergency occurred. It is commonly known that that is a women’s job. The AAUW wonders “Does discrimination play a role?” Yes, discrimination does play a role. Ultimately women are underestimated in the amount of quality work they can produce.

Even so, with all this evidence some believe that the wage gap is a myth. They believe that even with this research there is still a way to prove that the wage gap isn’t there because of the employers. Ketterer (2015) states, one way people believe that the wage gap is a myth is because California has introduced the Fair Pay Act. Governor Jerry Brown was expected to sign this in 2015. Ketterer (2015) states, “it is an aggressive attempt to eradicate the wage gap between men and women.” This wage gap has been found to be due to discrimination in the workplace. The Fair Pay Act was put in place to forbid employers from paying men and women different wages and salaries for the same amount and quality of work. Because of the Fair Pay Act, there should be no reason women are getting paid less than men. Although there is no punishment for the workplaces who don’t put the Fair Pay Act into action, so it is an act that isn’t doing its job.

Even with the Fair Pay Check bill passed, many people still see a gap between men and women. Ketterer (2015) found that there were three main reasons to why the gap exists. One of the reasons we see a wage gap is because of the career choices men and women make. It is proven that women usually drift toward lower paying jobs and they are more prone to get a degree in teaching or counseling. Men are more prone to major in high paying jobs where they drift toward engineering and computer science. So, maybe this is why there is a wage gap. Another reason is the number of hours both men and women work. Ketterer found that men are more likely to work longer hours than women. Therefore, they account for the gap being there because men work more so they earn more. The last reason could be because many women leave the workforce either when they get married or have children. Women are expected to be the ones going home and taking care of the children, cleaning the house, and cooking the food. Even if they don’t stay home with their children and still work, they must stop working while they are on maternity leave. This leaves them out of work for months. Due to these reasons, it may be why there is a gap between men and women.

Although, in both situations people that say there is a wage gap are not comparing these factors. People who are stating there is a wage gap are comparing men and women that work in the same field and work the same number of hours. That is why the wage gap is not a myth. Women are working at the same job and are working for the same amount of time. Even women who stop working while they are on maternity leave still shouldn’t be paid less. Maternity leave should be a fringe benefit. Many women get nowhere near enough time off for maternity leave, which forces them to take off work without pay. The article “Comparable Worth” (2016), shows that they are comparing men and women that have equal qualities. That goes to show women are not being treated as equal as men. Knowing that women are not being treated equally shows that the wage gap myth is not true whatsoever.

           Now that it is proven that there is a wage gap, the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) can be discussed. According to Fugiero (2016), this was an act passed by John F. Kennedy demanding equal pay for equal work. Fugiero states, “The act deals with men and women that are working in the same job with equal terms of skill, effort, responsibility, and working conditions.” If men and women work in the same environment performing the same tasks they should be paid the same. Equal work is determined by looking at a particular job and comparing what men and women do in that field of work. To determine that they are equal, each job must perform the same tasks at the same level of difficulty. Equal pay is when workers are paid at the same rate. If one worker puts in more hours, then they will make more in the end. This also means they should get the same amount of fringe benefits, but from earlier research, it was determined that men and women’s fringe benefits are not given out equally. In the 1950s there were laws against women forbidding them to work at night, and they also had restrictions on how much they could work. Another limitation women had was how much weight they could lift at once. By knowing these laws there is no doubt to why there is a wage gap. In the work environment, if one feels that she is being paid or treated unequally she may make a claim against the EPA. That person must show proof that she is being treated unequally (Fugiero, 2016).

 From the information provided about the Fair Pay Act and the Equal Pay Act of 1963 we would assume that these acts have solved the wage gap at hand, but that is not the case. The wage gap is a prominent issue that a stronger act will have to come about to solve the issue. One of the reasons these acts haven’t worked is because they are not being enforced as much as they should. Workplaces don’t get any penalty for not enforcing these acts which enables them to let the wage gap grow. When these acts aren’t enforced just once it allows for that to become the norm and it begins to happen everyday in the workplace.

Since the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Fair Pay Act haven’t done nearly enough to solve the wage gap and since there are many ways around enforcing them an article titled “Breaking Down the Wage Gap” gives some new solutions to solve the wage gap. Brown (2015) opens up about ways to move forward and escape the wage gap that is holding women down. The first solution Brown proposes is that women need to be taught better negotiation skills, so they are able to negotiate for higher wages and even more benefits such as more time for maternity leave. This would greatly affect the wage gap in a positive way by allowing women to start earning as much as men. Another solution Brown speaks of is to “create a workplace culture where women can thrive.” By creating this area where women can thrive they can open up and work to their full potential. Overall, the solutions proposed by Brown offer an easier solution to solve the wage gap than passing an act has done in the past.

           So why is there a wage gap? There is a wage gap because women are paid 20 percent less than men. Also, it is because women are not given the same number of fringe benefits and compensation than men are. There is also a wage gap because that the Equal Pay Act is not working how it should be. People who believe in the wage gap may not experience the repercussions of it. Many women are not receiving 20 percent of the income that they should be. They are having to take off work to take care of their children and they aren’t receiving enough time for maternity leave, which causes them to take off work without pay. Through the research provided it is proven that the wage gap exists, and it is not a myth like some people make it out to be. By making the wage gap smaller and attempting to close it, it will allow more women to excel in their field.                      

References

  • American Association of University Women. (2012). Graduating the pay gap. ERIC. Retrieved

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  • Boulding, K. (2016). Wage and salary. Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved from

    • http://school.eb.com/levels/high/article/106209v
  • Brown M. (2015). Breaking Down the Wage Gap: Myth, Realities, and a Way Forward.              Business NH Magazine. Retrieved from http://web.b.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/
  • Comparable Worth. (2016). Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved from

    • http://school.eb.com/levels/high/article/124951
  • Epstein, G. (2015). Even education has its limits: closing the wage gap. Encyclopedia

    • Britannica. Retrieved from://web.a.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail/detail?vid=8&
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  • Fringe Benefit. (2016). Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved from

    • http://school.eb.com/levels/high/article/35448
  • Fugiero, M. (2016). Equal pay act of 1963. Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved from   

    • http://school.eb.com/levels/high/article/606197
  • Ketterer, S. (2015). Wall Street Journal. Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved from

    • http://web.b.ebscohost.com/ehost/results
  • Miller. K. (2016). The simple truth about the gender pay gap. AAUW empowering women since

    • 1881. Retrieved from http://www.aauw.org/research/the-simple-truth-about-the-gender
    • pay-gap/
  • Oxford Dictionaries. (2016). Oxford dictionaries online. Retrieved from

    • https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/
  • Workers’ Compensation. (2016). Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved from

    • http://school.eb.com/levels/high/article/77476
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