Gender wage gap is real

80% – 90% of executive jobs are occupied by men in the UK, France and Germany, as stated in the Economist.

gender wage gap

Talking about gender wage gap is certainly not overrated, since it exists in different ways in different countries. It is worth examining all the factors that contribute to the enlargement of this issue.

Undoubtedly, the world is full of inequalities; gender inequality, racial inequality, political inequality and of course, economic inequality. The capitalist mode of production with the process of globalisation and international trade has engendered a strong sense of accepting these imbalances to the point where we have normalised and justified it.

So above all, it is consequential to address the two main types of inequality: wealth inequality and income inequality.

income inequality feminsim

Looking at income inequality, it is worth asking: why are women being paid less? There are continuous studies and surveys taking place worldwide that provide empirical evidence to support this claim. Here is one recent study that examines the wage gap during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The end of income inequality will be an accelerator in eradicating world poverty.

Gender discrimination only elucidates a part of the gender pay gap. So to fully comprehend this injustice, it is essential to explore all the components that persist in magnifying the disparity between men and women.

Gender wage gap exists because women choose fields with low earnings

Numerous studies have been conducted in order to explain why gender wage gap still exists. It seems that women choose fields of study with lower earnings, such as arts, social sciences and education.

Being their decision, this doesn’t seem to concern economists, since it’s women who choose fields that lead to low earnings. Also, universities do not have explicit barriers for female students for other professions, like STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).

Actually, in many cases undergraduate and postgraduate programmes are more than willing to recruit women.

So why aren’t more women entering these fields? And when they do, why aren’t they in high positions like their male colleagues? Women obtain qualities that are highly significant for businesses, research centers and science. Their ability to multitask, more attention to details, a whole different perspective that is prodigiously valuable to companies.

This can partially be explained by the fact that certain professions have been normalised to be performed solely by females.

In the US 80% of educators consist of women, and this is a field with lower income earnings. It is time to deconstruct social ideologies that base occupations upon genders and do not provide equal opportunities to men and women.

Women are more likely to have unpaid family responsibilities

An additional argument for the gender wage gap according to studies is the moment when women choose to have children or when they need to take care of a family member.

This simply denotes that many women today put their career on hold due to family obligations. Raising a family has short term and long term effects on their work performance. This results in women voluntarily working less hours than men, who can stay at work longer or even show up on the weekends.

Here is where political economists interfere and state that unpaid care should cease to exist. Feminist political economists have clearly demonstrated how much work goes in taking care of a family. They have also shown how much personal time women worldwide dedicate to completing household tasks.

This highlights how the gender wage gap is further enhanced by men being free from family duties and having the opportunity to put more hours into their work, which eventually leads them to promotions and higher earnings. This phenomenon is intensified after the age of 30, where both genders create a family and have children.

The devil’s advocate in this case would simply claim that no one is forcing women to be committed at home and become the primary caretaker, therefore why should this be a problem?

In order to fully cover the issue, it is essential to dig in deeper and analyse the external factors that lead women to stay at home and how men are socially allowed to alienate themselves from family obligations, without eventually having the sense of guilt.

So, it is worth asking why do we shame women when they choose not to stay at home? Why do we congratulate men when they perform basic acts lof cleaning the house or feeding a baby? Why is it more impressive to us when a man wakes up in the middle of the night to put the children back to sleep?

These behaviours contribute to the continuation of traditional gender norms and consequently, men do not feel obligated to help with taking care of the household. As a result, they have the time and the energy to dedicate themselves completely to their career and gain additional promotions compared to women.

Family obligations should not be a penalty for women.

A solution to this would be for corporations to stop demanding independent work outside of office hours and transform their workers to individuals whose only purpose is excellent work performance.

Women are less likely to negotiate salaries

Various studies and experiments have shown that during the interviewing process, men are more likely to negotiate their salaries, while women accept the initial offer. In addition to this, throughout their career, women do not tend to ask for a raise or chase promotions the same way men do.

Some economists have argued that in order to resolve the problem of gender pay gap, companies need to establish transparency.

Specifically, it is considered impolite to ask colleagues about their income; in order to avoid these discussions, companies should be transparent by presenting how much every employee makes. This way, women would be more motivated to negotiate salaries and ask for a raise.

Again, it is worth examining why situations like this occur in work environments. Why do women avoid negotiating?

It is fair to say that women are quickly portrayed as too demanding, too harsh, too strict when they speak up and demand to be compensated for their work or when they address an unfair incident.

Gender discrimination as the final gender wage gap factor

Technically speaking, there is not a formal, institutional bias against women but there’s clearly and unspoken unconscious bias that keeps women from getting certain positions and earning higher incomes.

This study investigates how academic science persists in excluding women from the field. It uses university students that applied to a laboratory manager position. It is shown how female applicants were viewed as less competent and were not given equal opportunities to show their skills and knowledge.

Let’s keep in mind that it is challenging to evaluate how much discrimination intensifies the gender wage gap issue we face today. Discrimination might not be omnipresent but it does exist and perpetuates the social exclusion of women in certain positions.

Women are just as ambitious as men. They are just as capable. They work and study hard to earn the same universities degrees.

It is only fair that they are paid just as much and appreciated the same way men are. Finally, under no circmustances should we let motherhood become an obstacle in their career ladder. Income inequality is huge part of the feminist movement and it is time we pay more attention to it so it can come to an end.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is dedicated to eradicate the gender pay gap. This was one of her strong commitments for her political guidelines, since the wage gap seems to be at 16% with big differences between the European countries. Let’s not forget about the female pension schemes, which remain 40% lower compared to men.

Inequality comes down to individual preferences; in the end economists struggle to support these biased economic decisions on theories and institutional laws or regulations. This is why the feminist approach of political economy plays a signifact role; it provides another perspective to the way we perceive labour.

What else can we do to close the wage gap?

Share this post:

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp
Share on reddit

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *