Women and their historic battle for equal pay

March 23, 2018

The Women’s and Gender Studies (W&GS) department has been hard at work this Women’s History Month. Dr. Hilary M. Lips was the 2018 keynote speaker for this calendar of events, and the gender pay gap was the topic of discussion.  

 

Gender is the characteristics that define what it is to be masculine or feminine. According to Lips, it influences pay because of a foundational pro-male bias in society, and the association of masculinity with competence and success.  

 

Lips contributes these factors to teaching women to value their work less than men’s, which convinces them of their entitlement of less pay. Women are also afraid to aim too high even though women statistically invest more hours in overtime when compared to men for the same job. 

 

The classification of a career as more feminine or masculine also affects the amount of pay one receives. One of the examples Lips utilized was a comparison between the annual income of caregivers and janitors.  

Salary.com analyzes data collected from thousands of HR departments to compile an accurate range of annual salaries for different careers in the United States. According to this site, as of Mar. 1, 2018, a janitor’s annual income is $28,332. 

 

Glassdoor is another site that collects data from employees regarding their pay, but also their overall opinion on the atmosphere of the company they work for. This site combines job listings, reviews of the company and how much one could earn. According to this site, caregivers earn $24,395 a year. 

Therefore, janitors have a higher pay than caregivers. Lips contributes this inconsistency to the majority of male workers in the field. 

 

The gender pay gap is also seen in other countries such as New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada with the U.S. leading with the biggest pay difference. Lips had a bounty of graphs used to depict the gap. Most graphs utilized annual mean, annual median, hourly median and weekly median.  

 

The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce conducts research in the link between education, career qualifications and workforce demands in hopes of better aligning education and training with workforce and labor market demand. Their research in 2017 illustrated that women averagely earn 81 cents to every man’s dollar. When controlling for education, college major and occupation, women still only earn 92 cents for every dollar paid to men. 

 

There are only four occupations where women earn the same amount of pay or more: counselors; teacher’s assistants; combined food preparation and serving workers such as fast food; and sewing machine operators. 

 

Race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and motherhood can also affect one’s pay. Lips specifically addressed motherhood in her seminar – explaining how it can hinder a woman’s advancement because of the opportunities mothers miss out on due to her child being sick or needing care.  

 

This is not a new concept. Mothers’ rights in the workforce has been a current topic for years with paid leave as well as other legislation combating discriminatory actions at the core of it. 

 

Other colleges have received violent retaliation when discussing the gender pay gap.  

 

At a college campus in Australia in 2016, what is now labelled as the Gender Pay Gap Bake Sale, students hosted a bake sale with the purpose of illustrating the pay gap by charging men a dollar per bake good, and women only a portion per good. Men responded violently by harassing the women with threats of death and rape. 

 

There were no bursts of denial during the keynote address, but there are still those who deny the existence of the pay gap.  

 

Female students should educate themselves on the gap for when they begin their career search either during or after graduation. 

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