The debate over the gender wage gap is ongoing and some believe it is justifiable. In case you find yourself in a heated keyboard battle in the comment section of a social media post, here are a few irrefutable rebuttals to sentiments commonly echoed throughout the interwebs.
“Women don’t negotiate their salary during the hiring process. That’s why they get paid less.” Plenty of woman negotiate their salary but that doesn’t guarantee they’ll get what they deserve or ask for.
“Just face it, women are less qualified.” In terms of work experience and education, women are equally as qualified as men. 75 percent of employed women work full-time and 57 percent of women in the U.S. have earned bachelor’s degrees. Compared that to the labor force participation rate of men having decreased since the 1950s, from 86.4% to 73% in 2003. And is projected to reach 70% by 2020. Not only have women exponentially populated the workforce over the years, they have also maintained their presence over time, creating for themselves a long history of work experience in increasingly higher level positions.
“Women get pregnant and therefore don’t contribute to the same labor-force participation rate over their life cycle.” It’s true that women bear children. Since the dawn of day, not one man has ever carried a child for 9 months and given birth. Should women be penalized for this? If anything, they should be recognize for contributing to the survival of the human race. A humanitarian triumph, in my opinion.
Literally populating the world, yet so little value is attributed to the ,sometimes, unpaid massive amount of “work” required to house and sustain human life inside one’s own body, and deliver it. A mental triathlon of an experience and for some women, a near brush with death.
The gap in women’s workforce participation due to maternity leave does not erase her work history. Nor does it erase her memory of how to work. She had a baby, not amnesia. When that woman goes back to work, she is able to perform and produce optimal results just as she did prior.
Furthermore, women typically spend time caring for a newborn. “But men can do that too!”, someone reading this is thinking. Then why don’t they? Give men the option for paternity leave while the women recover and go back to work.
“Women make choices that lead to smaller monetary gain because they need flexibility to account for caretaking responsibilities.” The responsibility of taking care of children is often times unequally weighted on women or mothers who need time off work to tend to the needs of the child, whether that be doctor’s appointments or school related. Maybe a compromised salary would not be optional, if a system that valued work-life balance existed. Perhaps companies would consider offering this balance rather than exploiting employees if they realized that having productive and healthy individuals would benefit the company overall. Instead of over-worked, overburdened individuals with little to no ability to created work-life balance or form successful personal relationships. Whose quality of life is diminished due to the greed of corporations profiting off the backs of desperation. This is a moral issue at its core. Bias exist when you perceive a potential female employee as a poor investment because she will get pregnant and not make you money. Sounds like companies should consider hiring a management consultant firm to get the best from their employees and operate efficiently.
In 1963, spearheaded by labor activist Esther Peterson, the Equal Pay Act was signed in to law and coined the phrase, “equal pay for equal work”, which meant, “jobs requiring equal skill, effort, responsibility, and performed under similar working conditions.” Congress decided to make the Equal Pay Act an amendment to the already existing Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA). At the time, President Kennedy acknowledged this was only a “first step” and “much remains to be done to achieve full equality of economic opportunity.”
“The following year, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 further strengthened laws for gender equality by making it illegal to discriminate not only on the basis of race, religion, and national origin, but also on the basis of sex.”-National Park Service.
“Both of these laws were very important in addressing some of the most overt forms of discrimination. But what people don’t understand is that they’re actually quite limited today in terms of addressing the gender wage gap. The Equal Pay Act was designed at a time when the jobs were more mechanical [manufacturing, production etc]. It does not work well for service related jobs or jobs with higher level responsibilities. The cases we see today often find that men and women do not perform the same job even though they are quite similar… so women who do Managerial work or Vice Presidents will find very little help from the Equal Pay Act.” Deborah Brake, professor of Law, University of Pittsburgh.