The gender pay gap affects all women in the workforce. With more and more businesswomen entering the workforce and having the same jobs as men, the difference between the pay is still 15-20 percent. Women have gained credibility in the workforce as they have assumed more managerial roles. However, despite women being allowed to hold these important jobs, they still earn significantly less than men.
Common sense would seem to dictate that women should be paid an amount equal to that earned by men who perform the same work. Therefore, it seems ethical to close and eventually eliminate the gender pay gap, but doing so may not be as easy as it seems.
Many people today argue that a gender pay gap is somewhat unavoidable. Because women have children and often have to leave their job for an extended period of time, it may be harder for these women to move into higher-paying executive jobs, resulting in lower pay for women.
The 2016 presidential candidates also differ in their opinions about the wage gap. The Democratic candidates each have plans they claim will begin to close this gap and eventually eliminate it. The Republican candidates have not made this issue a priority in their platforms. When asked about proposed legislation to help close the gender pay gap, Jeb Bush replied, “What’s the Paycheck Fairness Act?”
Carly Bermes, a senior here at CCSJ believes that having children shouldn’t affect a women’s pay. Studying elementary education, Bermes sees that there is a need for the subject she is teaching, and so isn’t worried about the wage gap affecting her personally. However, this issue is still in her thoughts, “I think that pay shouldn’t be decided on gender, if anything, it should be decided on the work ethic of the individual.” As it relates to the 2016 Presidential Election, Bermes said that having a plan to eliminate the wage gap would sway her vote.
Regardless of whether or not we accept the assumption that women are going have children and the assumption that it is easier for a man to reach the top jobs, women are still receiving less pay when they hold the same position as men. The White House website states that “women earn just 78 cents for every dollar a man earns.” In an article from Forbes, they explain that, according to a new report on gender pay gap, “Well-educated women in leadership roles earn a consistently lower salary than their male peers.” The Economic Policy Institute echoed these findings in their report from earlier this year.
A large percentage of Americans feel that the country needs to continue making changes to give men and women equality in this realm. Given that so many people want equality and believe that wage parity is a moral imperative, you would think that the gap would be smaller than it is.
However, the gulf between the men’s pay and the women’s is still wide. Michelle Budig and Irene Boeckmann researched the wage gap differences between women who have children versus women who do not in their paper, “Work-family policies and the effects of children on women’s employment hours and wages.” They found that women with children work 50 percent less than men in certain countries, and also that women with children earn less than not only men, but also childless women: “While gendered inequalities exist, the difference between mothers and childless women is even greater than the difference between childless men and women.” The essence of Budig and Boeckmann’s argument is that there are still obvious differences in the wages of men and women. However what is even more troubling is that a wage gap exists not only between men and women, but also between women with children and those without.
After learning about the depth of this wage gap, Carly Bermes said that she would delay having children to make sure she is financially stable enough to support her children: “I guess I would delay starting a family to make sure I can save more money and be completely and financially ready.” Bermes still conceives that the idea of having a gap between women and mothers is outrageous, “why would they penalize a woman who is only doing what we were made to do. Our bodies are designed to repopulate this world, and having the opportunity of having a child is a blessing, and the last thing we would want to be worrying about is being paid less because of it.”
Researchers have long assumed that the gender wage gap was always a battle between the men and the women. With this new study we now see that children have an effect on mother’s wages. This adds a new dimension to the wage gap debate and will inevitably prolong the time it will take to eliminate it.
As children can have a strong effect on certain mothers’ pay, this shouldn’t take away from all women. Many successful women have children at a young age and still reach the top of their careers. Although women can have high paying jobs, if a man was to hold the same job, he would still get paid a lot more than the women would.
This issue will continue for years, and many more studies will have to be done to discover more reasons for why there is a difference in wages between sexes. Children can have an effect on a mother’s wage, as the mother may have to give up opportunities for their children. If workplaces continue to assume that women cannot do an equal job to men, and that they will eventually have children and have to leave their jobs for a period of time, women will continually get paid significantly less than men. This will make it harder for women to advance in their careers and hesitate to start a family ultimately resulting in lower wage than men.
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Calumet College of St. Joseph
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