It may be hard to believe, but there is still an evident wage gap between males and females today. There is a different pay gap between white, black, and latina women. Even though people know this pay gap exists, and efforts have been made to close the gap, it is still a difficult issue to solve.
There are a variety of reasons that contribute to why the difference in pay exists. Women in general have a hard time gaining equality in the workplace. There are even more struggles for women of different ethnic or racial backgrounds.
We can look at women’s history and see occupational segregation. Stereotypes exist about what jobs girls and women should be performing -- they’re often told or expected to become teachers, nurses, day care specialists and more. The positions often do not pay well compared to other jobs and we see more women in these jobs than we do men. 1
We see wage gaps between men and women with Bachelor’s degrees. There are differences in pay between degrees in education, engineering, business, pharmacy and other areas. Men and women with the same education can still encounter this gap. A man and woman can graduate with the same degree and educational experience and when they enter into the workforce, the males will still be paid higher.
When a man and woman use the same words to ask for a raise in the workplace, the man is more likely to get the raise over the woman. Women are often more passive and less likely to step up and negotiate for the raise they deserve. 2 Women who decide to step up in workplace situations regarding pay are seen as aggressive and disrespectful. These are the social norms, but that doesn’t mean they should stay that way.
Another reason for the wage gap is family responsibilities women face. Although this is changing and men are stepping up in the home, women tend to take charge of childcare and household responsibilities. 3 This can make it hard for women to get or keep a job because many jobs do not have flexible hours to accommodate the needs of a mother such as picking up their children or watching them before school.
When women are right out of school and do not have a family, their pay is closest to men’s pay. 4 At this point, a woman is able to work the hours required or even work more hours if necessary. As soon as a woman starts a family the wage gap grows. We can advocate for more flexible hours and sick day options so this does not continue to widen the age gap.
The biggest way that we, as a community, can work toward closing the wage gap is advocating for the cause. We need to advocate for more flexibility within the workforce including more flexible work hours. Some bigger companies are beginning to do this. The implementation of more flexible hours would allow women to adjust when they start their work day.
We can also advocate for family leave for women in the workplace. This would allow women to gain paid time off while working. This time off could be used if a woman has a sick kid and has to stay home with them. This would allow a women to take off without losing time at work. If you want more information on equal pay and what you can do to close the gap you can find it at aauw.org.