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Why We Need To Keep Talking About The Wage Gap

Between President Trump’s impeachment inquiry and major movements like #MeToo, the growing issue of global gender-based wage disparities often falls between the cracks. While some sources are silent about the issue, others are outright dismissive and refuse to take the issue seriously. However, one recent study suggests that now more than ever, we need to work towards paying all women the same as their male counterparts.

In 2019, based on uncontrolled raw data, women earn 79 cents for every dollar earned by men. This is only a one percent improvement from 2018, which means that even with the increasing popularity of feminist ideology, the pay gap is still barely improving.

However, when controlled for jobs and qualifications, the study found that women earn 98 cents for every dollar earned by men. While this may sound like a promising statistic, the difference between the controlled and uncontrolled reveals an even more troubling issue: the opportunity gap.

The opportunity gap, similar to the wage gap, is the phenomenon of unjust professional disparities between men and women, but the opportunity gap focuses on the types of jobs and positions held by each gender instead of pay. Women are far less likely to hold higher-level, high-paying jobs when compared to equally qualified men, and they have a much harder time moving up the career ladder.

Of course, the pay and opportunity gap impact women of color even more. In the past year, Latina women were only paid half of what the average white man was paid, with Native American and black women earning only slightly more at 58 and 61 cents per dollar. At the rate of pay gap improvement we are currently seeing, Latina women will not earn the same as white men until 2224.

In order to combat the wage gap (so that any woman is paid as much as a man equally as qualified as her), there are a few steps we need to take first. First, women need to be encouraged to develop negotiation skills–only seven percent of women negotiate their salaries compared to 57 percent of men. Women also need to build up their confidence, as many female professionals feel imposter syndrome, or the feeling they don’t belong or are not qualified for their positions. 

Finally, one thing that everyone can do regardless of gender is talk to coworkers about pay. This is especially valuable if a male employee tells his female coworkers how much he earns–if his pay is higher, women have a great bargaining chip for future salary negotiations. The pay gap won’t be solved by just legislation (which clearly isn’t working), men and women alike need to hold each other accountable to ensure women are getting paid what their labor is worth.

Featured Image by Damian Gadal on Flickr

Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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