The Gender Pay Gap is defined as the difference in compensation that women earn compared to that of men. Generally, in the US, a woman only earns $0.83 for every dollar a man earns. In Wyoming, women earn $0.63 compared to $1 earned by men. This is the smallest earning of a woman compared to a man in any state in the US.
This pay gap is a result of years and years of systemic discrimination. Women have been conditioned to pursue a life of domesticity, as their role in society has been linked to care work that includes nurturing the family. Work associated with women has been considered of low economic value and the women as dispensable laborers. These perceptions influence the way women are viewed academically and professionally.
Penalties Widening the Gap
The 2022 report by PayScale indicates the various penalties that worsen the gender pay gap. These include motherhood, unemployment, and age. A growing body of research suggests that women experiencing these three also experience a wider pay gap.
In the report, motherhood is said to exacerbate the gender pay gap that women mothers earn $0.74 to a man’s dollar. Also, women who express the desire to have a family may experience not being considered for higher and more competitive positions.
This operates on the assumption that mothers cannot perform better at work as their attention and domestic responsibilities will heavily dominate work hours. Research shows that mothers remain capable and competent workers who can balance raising the next generation and being productive employees of their companies.
Meanwhile, the unemployment layer on the gender pay gap indicates that women are less likely to be properly compensated when they have been unemployed. The reasons for unemployment include providing care for children or other family members. On the other hand, men may still find work faster or be offered a higher compensation even after being unemployed.
In terms of age, women in their 30s to 40s are more likely to experience the gender pay gap compared to their male counterparts. Women in their 20s neither fare well as their gender pay gap is $0.86 for every $1 earned by men, and older women still earn less at $0.98 for every $1 earned by men.
Other factors that increase the gender pay gap are race, state, industry, and education. Women of color are more likely to have low-paying jobs. Only a few cities and locations are more likely to support closing the gender pay gap. Women are also likely to pursue jobs that cannot provide for the living cost because of the lesser opportunities available to them.
Overcoming the Gender Pay Gap
Decreasing the gender pay gap goes beyond the discussion on wages. It is the right of every employee to receive compensation and benefits commensurate with their skills and contributions to the company. The gender pay gap is not just a part of the present but also the foreseeable future. So, how can we combat and prevent the gender pay gap?
Pursue STEM industries and fields
Women in STEM have increased to 28 percent from the meager eight percent it was in 1970. Women are also becoming trailblazers in STEM industries, and there’s no age limit in pursuing STEM careers. Thus, pursuing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) industries can both provide a better, more stable income stream and help break barriers for others.
If you want to pursue a STEM career, you can learn skills like coding by taking online classes through Udemy for Python. Google also offers classes on various specializations such as IT Support through Coursera. Another massive open online course provider EDX offers various courses in STEM.
Influence the Younger Generation
STEM jobs are projected to increase to eight percent by 2029. Organizations such as the American Association of University Women (AAUW), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the UN itself are a few of the many institutions promoting more girls to pursue STEM fields. This year the United Nations celebrated the 7th International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
You can start influencing girls to have less fear in studying Math and the Sciences. You can even start at a much younger age by reading to them story books on girls pursuing STEM fields. Middle school girls can even be enrolled in programs to foster interest in STEM, such as NASA’s Girls in STEM.
Be Your Own Role Model
A 2020 study on having role models in STEM shows the positive impact it can have on girls’ perceptions of STEM fields and the negative impact on gender stereotypes. This means that it is more likely that girls who are introduced to female role models are more likely to want to pursue STEM careers. It can be very empowering to disprove stereotypes and move into paths hardly taken like STEM.
Advocate for Equal Pay for Equal Work
Ultimately, equal pay should be given for equal work. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 protects workers from discrimination on the basis of sex. There are ways to file a complaint for violations of this law, but it’s still a long way from overcoming the gender pay gap. The way forward is by increasing awareness of the issue and being active members in breaking industry barriers.
Moving Forward Away from the Gap
STEM workers earn 66 percent more than those working in non-STEM fields. Research shows that there are still much fewer women in the fields of engineering (15 percent), computer (25 percent), and physical science (40%). The challenge then is for more women and girls to manage their apprehensions and take the next step of mastering STEM on the job.
As the first African American female astronaut, Dr. Mae Jemison, once said, “Don’t let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It’s your place in the world. It’s your life.”
Agile Workplace Staffing and The Gender Pay Gap
Agile Workplace Staffing (Agile WPS) believes in equal pay for equal work. We believe that you deserve equal compensation for your contributions to the business of your employer. We will help you land the job you deserve with a company that reaffirms gender equality through equal pay.
Be part of a company that promotes your welfare as a professional and a woman. We will help you plan and achieve your career goals. We will help match you with a company that will honor your work and value you for your skills, irrespective of your gender. Contact us today.