The Myths and Realities of the Gender Pay Gap

by Josh Biggs in Finance on 27th February 2021

As is true of most instances of societal injustice, deniers tend to cloak fallacies within truths in their efforts to disprove realities to which they take exception. With that in mind, let’s take a look the myths and realities of the gender pay gap to see where the truth really lies. 

Women are Poor Negotiators

This one holds women are paid less because they simply accept it. In other words, they leave money on the table after salary talks because they don’t negotiate as vigorously as their male counterparts. 

However, a study conducted by and McKinsey & Company found Latinas in particular tend to negotiate for pay increases and promotions quite vigorously. In fact, they do so more often than both white men and white women. And yet, they’re both promoted and granted raises far less often than both groups.  

Pay transparency would eliminate the need for negotiations, as would a shift away from considering salary histories as a means of establishing pay for new jobs. Publish salary ranges tied to years of experience, with added bonuses for superior performance, and there’d be no need for negotiation at all. 

Women Work Fewer Hours

By and large, it’s true; the majority of part-time workers are female. However, credible research is careful to compare male full-time workers to female full-time workers to ensure accuracy when citing the gender pay gap.

And, while it might — at face value — look like men work more hours than women, nobody’s keeping track of, nor assigning a dollar value to, the unpaid efforts women put in at home. The problem here is the work of men and women is valued according to fallacious gender “norms”. 

Women Leave Work to Have Children

Yes, it’s rather difficult to give birth while simultaneously arguing a case in court, however men have children too and they aren’t penalized in the same fashion as women. Americans expect women to stay home with the children, but not their fathers. 

Meanwhile, Iceland has introduced an approach within which men and women are granted equal time off work upon the birth of a child. They each get three months successively and they’re afforded an additional three months, which can be divided between the two of them as they deem necessary. Plus, the government subsidizes childcare; so starting a family does not necessitate career sacrifice on the part of women. 

Women Choose Lower Paying Careers

Yes, it’s true more women become nurses than men and more men become engineers than women. However, women are paid less than their male colleagues when they do become engineers. And, men are paid more than their female co-workers when they become nurses. 

Beyond that, many of the people in higher-paying professions currently dominated by men make it very uncomfortable for women who aspire to join their ranks. This serves to reduce the number of women entering those fields of endeavor because they don’t want to have to deal with the slings and arrows they’ll face in those workplaces. 

The Truth

Women, on average, are paid approximately 20 percent less than men when the myths and realities of the gender pay gap are considered objectively. 

Additionally, women have endured questions of their fitness for work for as long as they have held jobs. Further, the more inroads they make into traditionally male dominated fields, the more prejudice and discrimination they are forced to endure and overcome. Meanwhile, that discrimination and those prejudices directly affect their ability to earn. It’s past time to drop the myths, embrace the realities and make the American workplace an egalitarian environment. 

Categories: Finance