Gender Pay Gap
According to a research by The University of North Carolina, in the United States (U.S) economy, almost half of the middle class working population is made up of females. Additionally, for the last two decades women have received more academic credentials than their male counterparts. However, full time working female earns an average of only 80 cents for every dollar earned by male consequently suggesting the gender pay gap in the US is currently 20%. Not only in the United Sates, but also on a global scale the wage gap has been a matter of heated discussion for a long time. Despite society being civilized as well as legislation against payment inequalities being established, studies show that trends in a gender pay gap have been uneven and the situation is still prevailing. This paper aims to provide an in-depth comprehension of the gender gap issues witnessed today in the US.
Background. The major concern in reference to the gender payment inequalities in the US as well as other economies has been to find a solution to reduce the gap that has existed for years. In 1963, the US president J.F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act bill into law, which was aimed at helping both female and male receive substantially equal payment for work done in the same establishment. Moreover, in 1964, the Civil Rights Act was passed and signed into law in order to protect individuals against any form of decimation, including prejudice against a person’s sex. Over the last five decades, the abovementioned legislations and many more other have aided in the reduction of the pay gap; however, women are still being paid less than their male counterparts. It is estimated that for every dollar earned by a man for a particular professional task woman only makes 80 cents on similar terms a gap of 20%.
Gender Pay Gap Trends
Currently the annual earnings of full time working woman are estimated at an average of 39,600$ dollars, with those of their counterpart estimated at 50,400$ highlighting an average annual gap of $10,800 (Beaudry and Ethan 14). This gap has substantially reduced since the 1960s-1970s when women began playing a larger role in the labour market, with statistics showing the gender pay gap then averaged 16,600$ (Beaudry and Ethan 15). However, this trend would imply that the gap would be closed not earlier than 2059. The current female population have much higher academic credentials than years before, which consequently allows them to start their careers with a smaller pay gap. According to Altonji and Charles, full time working women earn approximately 89% of what the male counterparts do; however, as time passes and they grow older with limited chances of a promotion, the gap gets bigger (44). Currently, women aged between 45 to 54 years earn about 70% of their male equals do.
Consequences of the Gender Pay Gap
The current economic trends in the US have taken a significant toll on a single parent providing for the needs of the family consequently making women take on large household financial obligations. However, this has become harder to fulfil, considering the wages earned. Addison, Orgul and Si state that middle-class families who have considerably higher than normal cost of issues such as health insurance, mortgages or other types of loans depend on women incomes in order to make ends meet (123). A research by the university of North Carolina revealed that an average US household with fulltime working mother depend 40% on the mother’s earnings. This case becomes even worse in low-earning families, with dependencies increasing to as high as 60%. These facts demonstrate that the wellbeing of a household is under the threat of poverty or bankruptcy due to the wage disparity.
To proceed, lower earnings have been known to result into larger disparity in retirement incomes. Beaudry and Ethan point out that the average income of a female employee aged 65 or older is $17,400, which is approximately 44% of what their male equals make annually ($31,200) (34). This suggests that on retirement females will receive lower retirement benefits than males, with statistics showing that after retirement older women are twice more likely to live in poverty than men.
A number of measures, including legislative policies, have been taken to reduce the wage gap, and some have been more effective than others. However, with the current trend predicting that the gap could be closed in 2059, there is a need for better mechanisms to be developed. In the UK and most parts of Europe, a pay grade system has worked more favorably helping to reduce the gender wage gap. In this system, issues such as work qualifications, quality of work produced as well as professionalism are used to determine an individual’s pay. The advantage of such scheme is that the abovementioned factors are not gender based but occupation based. By adopting such a mechanism, women with high academic accolades will earn just as much as their male counterparts. Additionally, the quality of work output by itself will prevent compensation discrimination. In other words, implementing such system will increase women earnings and reduce the gender gap.
For a considerable amount of time, most economies in the world have faced the issues of wage discrimination based on gender. In the U.S, laws in the mid-1960s were designed to reduce such inequalities and fashion a fair payment plan for both male and female workers. However, this did not have a desired profound effect. If the current trend persists, the gap in the U.S is expected to close in 2059, almost half a century from now. This is not an optimistic forecast taking into consideration the costs the U.S households should take care of. This calls for the introduction of a new payment mechanism — more specifically, a class based reimbursement plan. Such system presupposes that an individual is paid according to educational credentials, quality of work performed as well as professionalism.
In conclusion, women in the United States have overcome great challenges to scale the corporate ladder. However, they are still lowly paid compared to their male counterparts. This is despite the fact they are better educated than male employees. While significant efforts have been instituted especially constitutionally, there is still need improve on the current predicament of women. In order to reduce the gender pay gap and, as a result, facilitate economic development, a blend of measures – both locally and on the global scale – should be taken. Such measures should have constitutional grounding infused with political will to ensure they get equal pay for their input at the workplace.
Addison, John T., Orgul Ozturk, and Si Wang. “The Role of Gender and Sector in Promotion and Pay Over a Career.” Journal of Human Capital, vol. 8, no. 3, 2014, pp. 280-317.
Altonji, Joseph G., and Charles R. Pierret. “Employer Learning and Statistical Discrimination.” Quarterly Journal of Economics, vol. 116, no. 1, 2001, pp. 313-350.
Beaudry, Paul, and Ethan Lewis. “Do Male-Female Wage Differentials Reflect Differences in the Return to Skill? Cross-City Evidence from 1980-2000.” American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, vol. 6, no. 2, 2014, pp. 178-194.