Gender wage gap is defined as the difference between the median earnings of men and women relative to the median earnings of men. For decades women who are employed earn less than men. On average according to several and different surveys, working women are paid 79-80 cents for every dollar that working men are paid (Gould). This is in formal employment in high skill occupations. In the case of semi-skilled occupations, women on average are paid only 66 cents for every dollar that their male counterparts are paid(Gillespi pp4). This is practically demoralizing of the female workers while they deliver relatively equal and similar services like the male workers. The gender based wage is gap is a problem that require many people think the government and companies for created require that change within undivided companies actual offer the last chance to solve problem .
Based on a report on sex and race discrimination in places of employment, there is evidence of direct, actual and perceivable features of discrimination in pay, employment and promotions. For instance the African women and the Hispanics, their pay is even worse because on average they are paid less than 64 and 54 cents respectively (Aly pp5). According to projections, black women in America will have to wait until 2124 to obtain equal pay while the Hispanics will wait until 2233 according to a research by the Institute for women’s policy research (Aly pp5). The report is disheartening. Should employment agencies wait until the projected times to pay their female workers better wages? I do not think it is important. Women need economic empowerment and financial security to contribute to national economies and to take care of their children. Urgent actions are needed to address this crucial issue that will eradicate workplace discrimination of whatever kind essentially to women.
Gender wage gap is becoming louder and louder with time an observation that signifies the importance of this topic to the government, organization heads, policy makers and to the workers in general. In essence the government after enacting the Equal Pay Act in 1963probably believed that the act would solve the problem by prompting companies and employment institutions to pay both men and women equal amounts for equal task. However, gender based pay gap is still evident in private and public institutions and even in government employments (Gould). On the contrary there are many individuals who think that gender based wage gap is nothing but a fallacy. Particularly in America, gender based pay gap is a debatable topic in the political and social arenas which makes it an interesting area of study.
One very popular meme may be used to illustrate the significance and evidence of gender based wage gap. The meme contains two ladies in gray suits who appear to be professions. One of then carries a briefcase on one hand and they greet each other in what appears like a happy and victorious moment. The meme’s caption,” Women Like Men, Only Cheaper” might sound like an unreal but the truth of the matter is that the meme is unexpectedly popular (Rezvani). The reason for its popularity, might be explained by use of a study which is relatively current that indicates that 80% of women are willing to leave their jobs for a company that is striving for gender equality.
Within the same study, approximately 78% of the research participants pointed that gender equality is an important aspect that should be considered by organizations. Regardless of gender, sex, age, race, religions and even sexual orientation, gender equality in all aspects of economy is paramount. From analysis of research findings, approximately 56% and 52% of female and male workers who participated in the research pointed out clearly that their respective places of employment had the capacity to do more than they do to achieve gender equality and even diversity (Rezvani).
Gender wage gap is not an American- only burning and controversial topic. This is a global problem that is taking place all over the world. According to the world economic forum report, it might take 81- 102 years for the world to completely eliminate gender wage gap (Aly pp7). Of the world nations, United States has been ranked 65th in terms of wage equality. Surprisingly, nations such as Italy and Israel that have created greater opportunities for women have been ranked lower in gender equality due to wide wage gap (Aly pp7). For instance, women in Italy earn only 48% of what the men earn while in Israel they earn only 47% of the men’s salary.
Denmark has been ranked among the best in gender equality with women earning greater than men by 2%. This uniqueness in Denmark is because there are more women employed in better paying jobs than men. Principally gender pay gap is a significant issue requiring policy reform and multifaceted approaches to eliminate.
Gender wage gap is real in United States
According to a report by NCBC, early in 2018, Nike female employees disseminated an internal survey that sought to collect data on sexual harassment and discrimination. This activity captured the attention of the company CEO who resorted to carrying out an assessment of whether the company’s environment was rather hostile for the women based on the survey findings. After the investigation, more than 10 top managers were sacked from the company and over 7000 workers had they pay adjusted (Barry).
Another evidence of gender based wage gap is that only 26 out of 500 CEO at Fortune Companies are female as of 2013(Gillespi pp13).
The year 2018 has seen companies put under pressure to address and eliminate gender based wage gap. The companies were required to disclose their payments for assessment of gender pay gap and the findings clearly showed evidence of gender based wage gap in leading companies. According to Confederation of British Industry (CBI) the employment trend survey conducted in 2018 revealed that 93% of employers are trying to close the gender gap and also increasing diversity in their employees, this is an improvement from 2016 statistics which showed that only 62% of trying to close the gap (Guardian).
In April 2018, after companies were forced to disclose their payments, the policy revealed that eight in ten companies including public corporations paid men more than women. The data revealed that on average, women are paid on hourly basis 9.7% less than their male counterparts (Guardian). The topic on gender pay gap according to Helene Reardon –Bond who is a former head of gender and equality in the Government Equalities Office, employers are currently under greater pressure to close gender based wage gap which is originating from the workers and the competitors.
According to The Guardians report of January 1st 2019, about 1500 of British companies declined the order of disclosing their pay information while 10,000 did (Guardian). This shows therefore that the report findings can therefore be termed as reliable. The Guardian in the same report found that more than 80% of big employers agreed to close the gender gap because of the regulation and approximately 4 in every 5 employers supported the gender pay gap reporting requirement (Guardian). Attempts to close gender ay gap in the modern companies include shortlisting women for recruitment and promotion
There are two categories of people in US: those that believe that gender wage gap is real and those who believe that it is a fallacy (Gould). Of the people who believe that gender pay gap is a non-existent claim majority tend to use conservative factors to explain why women should be paid lower than men. Some explanations provided by them include career choices of men versus women, educational levels reached by both men and women.
On the other hand there are a number of individuals who strongly believe that gender based pay gap is still prevalent even after the enactment of the Equal Pay act. According to them there is irrefutable evidence to prove the same which makes it a serious policy problem that often undermines and impacts negatively on women based on their average daily income with comparison to what their male counterparts make. Among the arguments provided as basis for fighting against gender based wage gap include equal education attainment by both genders, and with equal experience.
For example, fresh graduates form colleges and universities comprising of male and female individuals, have both equal education and experience qualifications. For this reason there lacks basis for paying the female employee lower than the male employee. In addition, both candidates have equal family needs implying that in many cases, both male and female fresh graduates have no children because they are both young. In the same line a second argument is that the female gender are given little opportunities to learn while working and are discriminated financially while they try to balance family and career. Seen as a liability during the maternity leaves, female employees are less likely to be given the bonuses and dividends while they are on leave.
History of gender based wage gap
Gender based pay gap became evident as early as 1820 when women began to protest against unequal payment which they claimed it was unfair (Gillespi pp4). As a result of the protest a labor movement was created which was followed by Lowell Female Labor Reform Association by women who worked a mill. The work according to the women was dangerous and after such serious claims, an investigation was set to assess the safety. The step marked a great milestone in empowering women’s voices at such a critical period when women had no right to speak publicly.
Eventually during the civil war in America, great numbers of men died and the government decided to recruit women in the labor force (Gillespi pp5). Women leaders for fear of unfair treatment created a women’s bureau to protect their fellows and to ensure they were not assigned hostile duties in hostile environments.
In 1881, a major step was made by members of the Knights of Labor which is among the major labor organization was inclusion of women into the organization (Gillespi pp5). This was quite a brave step and the organization began to emphasize equal pay and equal treatment for all. The organization however did not last long and by 1890 it had already ceased to exist. The American federation of labor succeeded the Knights Labor that was quite successful in advocating for equal payment of female workers and was led by a prominent figure.
Despite the existence of these labor unions, women continued to be discriminated and their jobs stereotyped. However one major achievement and memorable time was in 1963/1964 when the Civil Rights Acts was enacted and implemented leading to the creation of the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) and the EPA (Equal Pay Act). By 1970 the US government enforced laws to protect women who by then could secure previously dominated and stereotyped to be male jobs (Gillespi pp5). Between the period of 1984 and 2009, the number of working women increased and almost doubled from 44 to 72 million (Gillespi pp5).
Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights
These two are the government’s commitments to ensure equal pay for substantially same tasks and work place discrimination. It is over fifty years since EPA enactment and gender based wage disparity continues to be a pernicious concern. According to EPA and Title VII it is illegal to discriminate on gender, race, ethnicity and sexual identity grounds at workplace (Cardman). The EPA was enacted as an amendment of the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1963 and it prohibits sexual discrimination on substantially equal jobs which are interpreted to mean jobs that require similar skills, efforts, responsibilities and performed under similar same conditions (Cardman).
EPA allows for wage inequality when wages are paid according to seniority, merit, quantity or quality of production and on any other factor apart from sex (Cardman). In case of legal suits the Defendant often invoke any of the above affirmative defenses to avoid taking liability for gender based wage gap. Failure to successfully provide evidence of any of the four affirmative defenses, the law requires that the plaintiff’s salary be raised and equaled to the salary of the opposite sex colleague and the employer pays the attorney fee.
EPA has failed to eliminate gender based wage gap due to some deficiencies: the EPA provides limited solutions to victims of Gender based wage gap and does not prevent employees from future similar violation. Secondly, the judicial interpretation of the EPA provisions tend to conflict with the law which has been found to weaken its efficiency in addressing wage gaps. The Class actions under EPA have been dismissed by the judicial systems which discourages groups of gender based wage gap victims from filing a class action law suit (Cardman). Lastly, EPA usually handles case by case complaints but does not address the actions that led to such violations. On this ground, companies develop policies that deter and discourage employees from disclosing their pay to colleagues. Thus detecting gender based wage gap is impossible in such organizations.
Title VII of the Civil Rights is a separate federal provision that prohibits any form of workplace discrimination whether of sex, race, sexual identity, ethnicity, nationality etc. (Cardman) The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act has also been in place together with the EPA and Title VII and together the acts have not efficiently eliminated gender based wage gap.
Steps That Can Be Taken To Reduce Gender Based Wage Gap
There are various steps that can be taken to ensure that gender based wage gap is reduced and gradually eliminated.
A. The first step is the enactment of Paycheck Fairness Act (NWLC pp5). This act was passed in the House of Representatives in January 2009. The act is primarily aimed at addressing the EPA deficiencies. This is necessary is achievement of the equal pay for substantially equal amount and type of work which been a promise since 1963. The Paycheck Fairness Act will eliminate the retaliation deficiency of the EPA (NWLC .pp5). In addition, the Paycheck Fairness Act will potentially promote the voices of women at work places without the fear of being sacked. The Paycheck Fairness Act provides clearer interpretation of law that concurs with the judicial system enhancing better outcomes of gender based wage gap lawsuits. Tougher penalties as provided by the Paycheck Fairness Act will potentially deter employers from engaging in similar future violations. In addition, the Paycheck Fairness Act will also update and revive class actions which will enhance the ability of groups of wage gap victims to seek legal redress.
B. Another strategy to eliminate gender based wage gap would be enactment of Equal Remedies Act. This act was passed also in January 2009 by the House of Representatives and is also aimed at strengthening the EPA provisions (NWLC. pp6). This act has been found to have the potential to enforce stronger equal pay laws by making it a legislative priority. The act also will address the interpretation of Title VII and EPA and enforce pay equity programs that are initiated by data collection of the current payment statistics. Secondly the Equal Remedies Act will direct the promotion and implementation of Equal Opportunity Survey to detect any loophole in wages and employment (NWLC. pp6). The act also provides for the need of salary negotiation skills training for all genders to promote access to better compensation and benefits packages at the point of recruitment.
C. The Equal Remedy Act emphasizes on research, training and education of workers to enable them detect and report any gender based wage gap in their places of work. In addition, the Equal Remedies act also aims at improving the collection of pay data and this prompts employers to pay their employees constantly better and without discrimination. The Equal Remedies Act is remarkably concerned with the provision of tough penalties for defendants found guilty of Gender based wage gap. This is by facilitating plaintiffs’ recovery of compensatory and punitive damages which have been limited in EPA (NWLC. pp7).
The third strategy is the enactment of the Fair Pay Act that was introduced by Senator Tom Harkin and aims at enforcing the laws on equal pay by addressing pay scale suppression in what was traditionally known as women’s work (NWLC pp7). The Fair Pay Act seeks to protect victims of wade discrimination, strengthen equal pay for equivalent jobs and ensure that employers keep clear records of pay levels and durations for pay rise and bass of promotion.
Basically, the US congress must be able to pass the three acts to be able to eradicate gender based wage gap for women. An observation that has been made is that laws governing pays have been getting weaker by day and are further weakened by the judicial systems at the detriment of employees. The tools available for use by employees have therefore been rendered insignificant and thus ineffective in addressing wage gap concerns.
Equal pay in the US and in many other countries is and will continue to be a decades old promise if the same laws that address Gender based wage gap are not amended. In the United States, EPA, Title VII and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act have been found ineffective tools to eliminate gender based wage gap and the nation through the congress is called upon to enact three new acts that have the potential to eliminate the deficiencies of the former. The new acts in this case are: the Paycheck Fairness Act, the Equal Remedies Act and the Fair Pay Act. In essence, women have the capacity to offer equally good services like men and there are no grounds for discriminating them by paying them less amounts. If nations are to grow in all aspects of the economy then women need to be finically empowered because they form part of labor force that pays tax which is directly proportional to the amount of income by an individual.
Aly, Yaveline. “The Gender Wage Gap: Causes, Consequencies and Remedies.” 21 December 2017. Bridge Waters University. 4 March 2019 <https://vc.bridgew.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1258&context=honors_proj>.
Barry, Errin. “Some companies are bridging the gender pay gap, but it still pays to do your homework.” 19 August 2018. CBNC. 4 March 2019 <https://www.cnbc.com/2018/08/19/some-companies-are-bridging-the-gender-pay-gap.html>.
Cardman, Denise A. “The Paycheck Fairness Act.” 2016. American Bar Association. 4 March 2019.
Gillespi, Kathleen M. “Unequal Pay: The Role of Gender.” University of New Hampshire Scholars’ Repository (2014): 1-35.
Gould, Jessica Schieder and Elise. ““Women’s work” and the gender pay gap:How discrimination, societal norms, and other forces affect women’s occupational choices—and their pay.” 20 July 2016. Economy Policy Institute.org. 4 March 2019 <https://www.epi.org/publication/womens-work-and-the-gender-pay-gap-how-discrimination-societal-norms-and-other-forces-affect-womens-occupational-choices-and-their-pay/>.
Guardian, The. “Gender pay gap: companies under pressure to act in 2019.” 1 January 2019. The Guardian. 4 March 2019 <https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jan/01/gender-pay-gap-2018-brought-transparency-will-2019-bring-change>.
NWLC. “CONGRESS MUST ACT TO CLOSE THE WAGE GAP FOR WOMEN:.” January 2010. National Women’s Law Centre. 4 March 2019.
Rezvani, Selena. “Six Companies Hacking The Gender Wage Gap.” 13 April 2018. Forbes. 4 March 2019 <https://www.forbes.com/sites/selenarezvani1/2018/04/13/six-companies-hacking-the-gender-wage-gap/#6e7debe37055>.