The Wage Gap is Real and It’s Affecting You

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The Wage Gap is Real and It’s Affecting You

Leila Harper, Staff writer

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Yes, the wage gap is real. If you are uninformed, the gender wage gap means that men get paid more money than women when doing the same job.

In 1942, women started to become a powerful force in the world of work but, until the 1960’s, women and men had separate job listings. In the 60’s, white women earned 59–64 cents for every dollar a white man made. Of course, since then, things have changed.

On June 11, 1964, the Equal Pay Act went into effect, making it illegal to pay women less than men for doing the same job. Since then, the wage gap has shrunk. Roughly, up until the mid-1990’s, women made 60% of a man’s earnings. By the early 2000’s, it was up to 70%. Today, a white woman makes 80 cents to a man’s dollar. Lamentably, a woman of color has an even smaller percentage. In 2016, studies showed that African-American women make 63%, and Hispanic women make 54%, of what a white man makes. A transgender woman’s salary is dropped one-third after her transition. Comparably, after his transition, a transgender man’s salary is slightly increased.

Other than the Equal Pay Act, there was another law put in place to protect people affected by the wage gap. In 2009, President Barack Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act. This Act allows victims of the discrimination wage gap to file a complaint within 180 days of their paycheck.

So, why do people think that the gender wage gap is a myth? The most common answer is that sometimes women make different choices than men. And, yes, sometimes people make better choices than others in the workplace. But, this is not the case with the gender wage gap. “Just because the explanation of the gender wage gap is multi-faceted does not make it a lie.” (Hartmann, Hegewisch, Gault, Chirillo, & Clark, 2016).

Those so-called “life-choices” are often not choices, but an obligation. For example, motherhood. Sometimes mothers have to take time off because they need to take care of their children; most likely because they can’t afford childcare, or can’t find a full-time job that gives them any flexible schedule. To make matters worse, being a parent makes finding a job harder for a woman, but easier for a man. A 2016 study by Francine Blau and Lawrence Kahn estimated that 38% of the gross wage gap remains unexplained, even after taking the above factors into account. Yes, discrimination is still a plausible component of the gender wage gap.

The gender wage gap affects women everywhere. From AAUW: Gender Pay Gap, “Wage discrimination also limits women’s choices and has real consequences. It impairs their ability to buy homes and pay for a college education and limits their lifetime earnings”. A 22% difference in pay is still a gap; the inequality is still there.

Some places are better than others when keeping the gap minimal. New York, for example, has women making 89% of a man’s dollar. In California, that figure is 88%. However, in Louisiana, women make 70 cents to a man’s dollar. In California, there are laws in place to report any sign of a gender wage gap. The Gender Pay Gay Transparency makes sure of that. A recently passed law in California, states that employers cannot ask how much a potential employee is making in his or her current (or previous) job. That is because it could influence the decision of the employer, and possibly affect the salary offered.

The gender wage gap has been on its way to closing for a long time now. Ever since the 1960’s, the gap has been diminishing (wages are rising by about half a penny a year). Ways to close the wage gap include speaking out, encouraging all genders to speak out, and erasing imposter syndrome. With our voices, we can raise the federal minimum wage, pass more wage equality legislation, and pass paid family leave policies (Alanna Vagianos, 2015). Obliterating the gender wage gap is one step closer to smashing the patriarchy in the never-ending fight for equality.

Sources:

Rowan, B. (n.d.). The Equal Pay Act. Retrieved February 16, 2018, from https://www.infoplease.com/equal-pay-act

Miller, K. (2016). The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap. Retrieved February 16, 2018, from https://www.aauw.org/research/the-simple-truth-about-the-gender-pay-gap/

Burns, C. (2013, January 30). The Gay and Transgender Wage Gap. Retrieved February 16, 2018, from https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/lgbt/news/2012/04/16/11494/the-gay-and-transgender-wage-gap/

Hartmann, Heidi, et al. “Five Ways to Win an Argument about the Gender Wage Gap (Updated 2017).” Institute for Women’s Policy Research, 16 Sept. 2016, iwpr.org/publications/five-ways-to-win-an-argument-about-the-gender-wage-gap/.

Pearson, C. (2016, December 13). No, The Gender Pay Gap Isn’t A Myth — And Here’s Why. Retrieved February 16, 2018, from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/no-the-gender-pay-gap-isnt-a-myth-and-heres-why_us_5703cb8de4b0a06d5806e03f

AAUW Issues: Gender Pay Gap. (n.d.). Retrieved February 16, 2018, from https://www.aauw.org/what-we-do/public-policy/aauw-issues/gender-pay-gap/

Staff, M. (2017, October 5). California legislation aims to narrow the gender pay gap. Retrieved February 16, 2018, from https://www.marketplace.org/2017/10/05/economy/california-legislation-aims-

narrow-gender-pay-gap

Vagianos, A. (2015, April 14). 10 Things We Need To Do To Close The Wage Gap. Retrieved February 17, 2018, from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/14/things-we-need-to-do-to-close-wage-gap_n_7056322.html

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