Wage and pay discrepancies between women and men is a real issue in the modern society. For instance in the United States, it is said that women earn just 77cents per every dollar made by their male counterparts. The wage discrepancies exist despite having the same academic qualifications and also working for the same time as the males. Nevertheless, conservatives have argued that the ever increasing wage gap is explained by various factors such as career paths, job choice and education among others (Andersen & Hill Collins, 2013). Although these are some of the factors contributing to the wage differences between men and women, there are still other factors that lead to the persistence of this problem. It is however prudent understanding that this is a real issue that should be addresses immediately.
The problem of wage gap between women and men is real and exists due to varied reasons. It is clear women are treated like second class citizens in most countries including the developed ones. Women comprise over two thirds of the country’s minimum wage. Despite the little earnings from their employers most of these women have disrupted careers to cater for their families and this also has major impact on their earnings. It is however essential to note that even when all this is put into account, the problem still persists thus making it essential to dig deeper into the underlying factors that contribute to the disparity in wages. It has been difficult to explain the concept but it could be down to the ever increasing discrimination on women and other minorities in their places of work.
It is essential noting that women even with greater experience and academic qualifications still earn less than men working in the same job group. It is however prudent to note that some of the wage disparities between men and women can be on the fact that women have to balance their career lives and their family responsibilities. Also, women are said to have a different work histories compared to their male counterparts and this to a great extent contribute to the ever increasing wage gap (Hill Collins, 2009). Unlike men, women are in most cases required to take time off or quit their jobs altogether to take care of their children. It has been noted that some women will prefer to reducing their schedules or stay off duty with their kids. In such instances, their fellow men are busy in work and thus escalating the problem of wage discrepancy. It is imperative to point out that most of the working environment favor men as compared to women. Women in a workforce will have a hard time as compared to men since they will always have to take maternal leave every time they have to get kids (Andersen & Hill Collins, 2013). Most of the employers fail to offer paid leaves and consequently the problem of increasing wage gap increases. Women will have to ensure that they offer necessary childcare to their children and may end up sacrificing their careers to ensure they cater for all the family needs.
Despite the difference job history and the tendency of women to take maternal leave or quitting their jobs to take care of their children, the problem could still be there even if both parties had equal responsibility on family matters. Even in cases where men and women have the same level of academic qualifications and job expertise, there is still a large wage gap between the two. For instance, the first years after college give both men and women a good opportunity to make comparable earnings (Lindgren, 2011). During these years, they are all childless and have the same level of job inexperience. This is however not the case since their wages at this time re also quite apart. This is even after considering other factors such as grades, majors and any other academic or job credentials. In most cases, women will experience lower wages than men no matter how they invest in education in their later years. In fact where a man has the same degree as a woman, the man will always earn more on average.
Conservatives have always cited that existence of different job fields give an explanation to the ever increasing gender wage gap. Although it’s true that women tend to cluster in certain job fields while their male counterparts are in others, even the ones where women dominate they usually get lower wages. In fact, according to the bureau of labor statistics, women earn less on average than men in all job clusters. There are only a few instances where the wages between men and women are comparable (Hill Collins, 2009). For instance, it is clear that even in jobs such as nursing, teaching and secretarial, that are women dominated; males in such fields earn more than women. It is also wise to point out that such fields are generally paid less. Even in the male dominated fields such as engineering, manufacturing, mining, construction, agriculture and finance, women will earn less compared to men working in the same field (Machová & Filipová, 2013). In essence, women earn less in virtually every job and hence the problem of wage gap persists.
Besides working in different occupations, women are also said to work for fewer hours than men. In fact some studies asserts that women work 35 minutes less per day compared to men both of them working full time. This has been used as an excuse by many employers to give smaller wages to women compared to men. This should however not be the case. Studies have also shown that most employed mothers with child under the age of six spend forty seven minutes more per day in child care and helping other members of the family than an employed father. The time spent in childcare however changes as children grow and hence women will be able to focus on their careers as their children grow. However is not taken into consideration by the employers (Hill Collins, 2009). Even if women spend all their career lives with small children and family to take care of, then the hours lost in job can be compensated by unpaid time spent in child and family care. Fathers should have responsibility like mothers to take care of the family.
On the same note, while working for a few hours by women working fulltime may contribute to lower wages, the penalty women pay for working fewer hours is not straightforward or purely on hourly basis. Studies indicates that even in some well-paid occupations such as finance and law, women working for long hours receive disproportionate increase in their wages. It has been proved that the wages paid and time taken in doing such jobs is not directly related. This therefore implies that punishing women simply because they work for few hours is unjustified. The reason for women working for fewer hours compared to men has been used to justify lower wages by critics of equal pay. It should however be noted that this reasoning purely rests upon a very abstract take on reality. In fact, women work the way they do for reasons that, for all but the most privileged, have very little to do with choosing purely between work and family life (Andersen & Hill Collins, 2013). It is imperative to note that the time spent in childcare is unaccounted for and child bearing and bringing up is necessary for generation continuity. This should therefore not be used as an excuse for not according equal pay for moth men and women.
From the above analysis, it is clear that the persistence of wage gap between men and women is basically as a result of discriminatory practices by employers and males in the work environment. Gender discrimination in workplaces has been a leading factor that has lead to increase of the gap between women and men even in the developing countries. The concept of gender discrimination in terms of wages has been in existence for long and this brought about the passing of the Equal Pay Act of 1963 that required all employers in the United States to pay equal wages for equal work. Although there was significant improvement in the reduction of the wage gap, it is essential to note that gender discrimination is still a major concern for most labor unions and workforce in the world. it should however be noted that there are always new initiatives that are being put in place to enhance equal pay between men and women. For instance, it is just the other day when president Obama signed into law legislation, Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which increased the opportunities for women to sue their employers if they find men in the same job cluster being paid more (Hill Collins, 2009). Such legislations are good indicators that gender wage gap is a real problem in the modern world and should be addressed immediately.
Gender discrimination against women by employers has been rampant in the modern business world. The number of lawsuits involving gender based discrimination against women has been on the rise and this indicates the seriousness of the matter. For instance, it is just the other day when sixteen women a class action suit against Sterling Jewelers which is a leading company in sale of jewelries (Hill Collins, 2009). From the suit, the women alleged widespread pay, promotional and other gender based discrimination at that range across the country in all the major states such as New York and California. Thirteen out of the sixteen involved in the suit alleged that they were paid less than men with the same or lower qualifications. Also it was alleged that promotions were doled out to less qualified men at the expense of more competent women. Besides the wage discrimination, there were also allegations of sexual harassment of female workers either by their bosses or by fellow male workers (Neumark, 2008).
From this case, it is clear that most women suffer from gender based discrimination from their places of work. For instance in this case, there was a woman who worked as a store manager with her husband but she earned only $35,000 while her husband took home a full $55,000 annually. This happened despite having the same work experience and also working in the similar industry. To make the matter worse, women also fails to get promotions in their places of work as compared to their fellow men. From the suit, it is clear that the employer is not fair in promoting female employees. It is also sad to note that despite all these financial tribulations, women employees in most organizations also suffer from sexual harassment from their employers either to get promotions or pay increases (Machová & Filipová, 2013). Such instance in work environment makes the life of women quite difficult to handle.
Wal-Mart is another example where gender discrimination against women is rampant. Although it falls in the category of the leading private employer, the company has been involved in several law suit cases with women where they allege discrimination simply because they are women. For instance, there was a case filed in Federal court in Francisco where there allegations that some women were discriminated. Although only six women were enjoined in the suit, the suit seeks class-action status to collect damages for over seven hundred current and former employees of the organization (Andersen & Hill Collins, 2013). The case could be the biggest suit ever against private employer and is a signal to the extent of wage discrimination against women in America. Besides allegations of women getting lower salaries than fellow men, the suit also includes allegations where men were favored in recruitment as opposed to women. In the case, Stephanie Odle, complains of how she spent several days and nights in search of a job that was later given to men. Also just like in the other case, the suit also alleged that female employees were denied equal job assignments, promotions, training and compensation.
Prior to this case, the same company also experienced another law suit in 2001 where six female employees sued the company for allegedly discriminating them against salary, training and bonuses. The case was later certified as a class action that should be on behalf of both current and former employees of the company. This was to confirm that discriminatory practices for Wal-Mart female employees has been a going on concern and it is just a fraction of the bigger picture of what happens with most private employers. The suit has been undergoing several twists, but currently, over 2000 female Wal-Mart employees have filed discriminatory charges against the company (Hill Collins, 2009). It is imperative to note that the charges are from women across all the American states that mean that the vice is widespread in the whole of America and other parts of the world.
Details of the Wal-Mart case and that of the jewelry retailer may sound like something of the madman era, but they are in fact all too common. Previous studies indicate that at least one in every five women in America alleges that they have been sexually abused by their bosses in their places of work. On the same note, over thirteen percent of American women claim that they have been denied pay rise or promotion simply because they are women. It is essential to point out that most of the American women and women in other parts of the world feel that they would be earning more if they were men (Hill Collins, 2009). So even if there are several factors that leading to acceleration of the wage gap such as occupational differences and interruption of career lives for family reasons, the concept of women discrimination by their employers is still alive and well.
What should be done to enhance inclusion and equity
It is now crystal clear that gender wage gap is a real problem in the modern society. It is also evident that the problem has persisted purely because of the discriminatory practices by the employers. Despite the tireless efforts from the conservatives about other reasons and factors that explain the persistence of the problem, gender discrimination takes a leading role. Having reached a consensus that this is a real issue in our society today, it is only wise if there are proactive measures that will promote equity and inclusion in employment matters. Although we have noted some efforts aimed at reducing the menace, there is still a lot to be done. For instance, the legislation of Equal Pay Act only reduced the wage gap by half but there is still a long way to go. On the same note, the latest signing into law of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act by president Obama has also not achieved much in terms of enhancing inclusion and equity in employment between men and women (Andersen & Hill Collins, 2013).
For instance, the passing of this legislation gives the offended women a chance to sue their employers in a court of law if they find that they get lesser wagers compared to men they work with. Although we appreciate presence of antidiscrimination law, it is also essential to note that having law is one step and having those laws implemented is another step. In most cases, most of the plaintiffs involved in such cases such as women in the Wal-Mart suit have found it very difficult to prove their allegations through the judicial process. In order for these cases to be successful, the plaintiffs are required to produce sustainable evidence. It is prudent to understand that the complainants should prove beyond reasonable doubts that men working in the organizations are paid more than women (Hill Collins, 2009). Nevertheless, it is difficult for an employee to establish the payments for other employees since such information is not always ready for public consumption. It is therefore wise to point out that female employees may not always have reliable information that can help enforce such laws.
It is therefore prudent that there are steps taken to ensure that such women have enough evidence that can help sustain charges in a court of law. For instance, it has been suggested that it should be made a legal requirement for all publicly traded organizations to disclose employment information such as the number of males and female employees as well as their minimum and maximum wages. Introduction of such policies would provide such women with essential information that can provide sustainable evidence in courts of law (Andersen & Hill Collins, 2013). It is essential that such information be made accessible to increase chances of conviction for violators of anti-discrimination laws.
In addition, the justice system should also take a leading role in ensuring that justice prevails. For instance, despite the numerous numbers of cases facing Wal-Mart due to its women employee discrimination, none of the cases have been concluded. Some of these cases have been in the process for over ten years without any conclusion thus leading to the persistence of this problem. It is imperative that the judiciary tries to hasten these cases and ensure that justice prevails. Also, it has been noted that most of the suits that have been filed as class has been watered down to individual cases thus making it difficult for a poor woman who has been discriminated by her employer to get justice (Hill Collins, 2009). It is therefore prudent that these courts must change their approach to discrimination cases to ensure that employers mistreating women learn a lesson to bring sanity in the labor force.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission also has a role to play to ensure that equity and inclusion in employment between men and women is restored. Despite the existence of several anti-discrimination laws in the country, most of the women employees hardly know of their existence. The few who knows of their existence find it difficult initiating legal suits against their offenders for fear of further humiliation (Hill Collins, 2009). As a result, most women employees have continued to suffer in the hands of selfish employers who want to exploit women for their own selfish interests. Having said that, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has a role of sensitizing the employees on their employment rights. In addition, the commission should take upon itself to handle cases on the victims of gender discrimination to ensure justice prevail. The commission can be able to bring together all the discrimination cases for easier prosecution. It is essential for the commission to have its lawyers and other legal necessities that can help women seek equal treatment like men in their work.
For instance, it is alleged that employees at the Sterling stores were barred from discussing their wages with their coworkers and hence most of the women in the firm weren’t for long time even aware that that they were being paid less. This is just a representation of what is happening to most women workers in the country. It is also essential to point out that managers are also given wide discretion in hiring for open positions and setting salaries which enhances chances of discrimination (Hill Collins, 2009). It is on this premises that the commission should work harder in promotion of policies and regulation that will enhance equity and inclusion in employment.
In addition, the commission should also be proactive in sensitizing women to take get involved in all fields even those dominated by men. By so doing, the social connotation that woman can only be involved in certain fields and not in others will come to an end. Employers will also stop viewing women as lesser citizens compared to women. Other international organizations such as Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development should also be proactive in promoting inclusion and equity in employment sector (Hill Collins, 2009). There should also be introduced policies that will apportion equal time for both men and women to provide child care. This will also help the employers get rid of the connotation that female employees will be distracted from their careers especially when they have children.
Gender wage gap is a real problem in the modern society. The persistence of this problem has been as a result of various factors such as occupational differences, balance between career and family, difference in hours and other unexplained factors (Neumark, 2008). Nevertheless, workplace discrimination against women by employers has been the leading cause the wage discrepancies experienced by such women. The numerous suits by leading organizations by women alleging bias in employment is a clear indication of the extent of the problem (Andersen & Hill Collins, 2013). Although there are numerous steps and initiatives to enhance inclusion and equity in wages, there is still a lot to be done. It should be a collective responsibility of the legislative, executive, judiciary and the civil society to act for the common goal of promoting equity.
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