Gender Based Pay Gap is a very real and very serious problem in today’s world. Men are made a higher amount of salaries or wages than their female counterparts for executing the very same tasks at the very same position within the job they have. It is norm that has persisted through time and does not seem to be going away any time soon. However, if enough awareness if created about this pay gap, we will fasten the process of change which is already underway. There are many reasons why one may believe as to why women are paid lesser for the exact same job. It might be because women choose jobs which pay lesser, or because they work part time, or even because women generally choose not to work in order to take care of the household. It can even be that it is gender bias which directly affects the income gap between men and women.
The 20 Per Cent Gap
According to a Study which took place in 2015, women in the United States of America are paid 20 per cent lesser than their male counterparts at jobs. As per the rate of change between the wage gap, women will only receive equal pay in the year 2059, which means FORTY TWO YEARS from now. This news is simply upsetting. The wage gap increases or decreases as per each country, but in general, the income gap exists within every country across the world.
Factors Leading To Pay Gap
There are many factors which lead to a pay gap between men and women worldwide. These factors include –
Women and Men Work in Different Industries and Different Jobs– Various industries were in the past and remain to this day very gender-specific. Historically, the female-dominated industries and jobs had a lower amount of pay as compared to male dominated industries.
Lack of Women in Leadership Positions – As compared to men, there are very few women who command a leadership position in any industry. This leads to increase in pay gap due to a male dominated environment.
Non-Flexible Working Hours – Since women still assume most of the responsibility in maintaining the household and taking care of the children, they are unable to take up challenging roles within their industry as there are no flexible working hours accustomed to meet the needs of females.
A Matter of Choice – For Women, being a part of the labor force is a matter of choice since society deems it as an unnecessary addition. It is perceived that women only take up work to keep themselves moderately engaged.
Difference in Education Level – The Education system is primarily tailored according to the needs of a male student especially in STEM-related fields of study. This leads to lack of qualified female workers.
Gender Bias – This one of the more important reasons why pay gap exists. Bias works implicitly or explicitly, but it always exists. For example, before hiring a woman, it is often taken into consideration whether she is married or not, or whether she is at a stage where she may have children, resulting in an “unnecessary burden” on the company.
Pay Gaps are worse for Minority Women
If you think that a 20 per cent gap between the salaries of men and women for performing the exact same task is too much, wait till you hear that pay gaps between men and women are even worse when the women is of minority category. This includes women of color, of regional areas and women who belong to the LGBTQ community.
It Gets Worse With Age
The gender pay gap not only persists, but grows as you grow older. A woman is typically paid 10-20 per cent lesser as compared to her male counterpart with the same job title when she is below 35 years of age. But after that, the woman can get paid lesser than 30 per cent of what her male counterpart is getting paid, for executing the same tasks and having the same job.
The Education Level Is No Indicator of Pay Gap Persistence
A recent study on medical professionals revealed that male ophthalmologists make an incredible 36% more than their female counterparts, and make cardiologists make 29% more. Even fields with the narrowest gaps still revealed major disparities—male anesthesiologists make 12% more than female anesthesiologists, male radiologists make 13% more, and male family practitioners make 14% more.
This means that the amount of education you receive can make no difference to the amount you receive as compared to your male counterpart, if you are a woman. Hence, a woman with a master’s degree will still earn less than a man with a master’s degree. Moreover, a woman with a post-doctoral degree will still get paid less than a man with a bachelor’s degree! This means that the level of education a girl or woman receives seems to make no difference to the income-wage gap which persists between men and women.
Women Do Not Negotiate
One example corroborating the fact that women do not negotiate their job salaries, was mentioned in an article by the Harvard Business Review titled ‘Nice Girls Don’t Ask’ wherein research showed that while 57% men negotiate their salaries for a better amount, whereas only 7% of women do the same. This reflects the lack of self-esteem that women hold as a result of decades of patriarchy and social conditioning. It is time that women empower themselves enough to know their worth and identify and address the problem right in their face. Until it is proved that women are less competent to carry out a job or less intelligent, we should demand the right to be paid exactly what we are meant to earn for the tasks we execute.
Laws Mentioning Anti-Discrimination between Women and Men
Most countries around the world have established laws which do not allow for any form of discrimination to take place on the basis of gender. However, there are fundamental flaws in these laws. In most cases, it is the victim, that is, women, who have to report instances of discrimination such as no equal pay to the government. This becomes increasingly difficult as many women are not aware of their legal and fundamental rights. Effective mechanisms should be in place to ensure that women are not paid the 80 per cent of their male counterparts.
How to Fix the Problem?
Even though this seems like a problem which can only go away with time, there are many steps that can be taken by companies, individuals and policy makers to ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work.
For companies, it is advised that regular gender audits take place comparing the salaries between men and women to ensure that no gap persists. This can be great for business as well. For individuals, women should better negotiate their pay. Be it by taking training workshops or increasing self-esteem, it is essential that women ask for a higher salary than what they are being offered. For law makers, a strengthened system which can ensure monitoring and punishment for unequal pay for equal work should be put in place to ensure that gender gap becomes extinct.
Aarushi is a 19-year-old Law Student based in New Delhi, India. She is the founder of a student-led initiative for educating girls called SDG5. She is passionate about working for gender equality and for a better world.