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Editorial Team
08 Mar 2018

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Gender Pay Gap: Myth to Changed Conversations

gender pay gap

Some truths are more inconvenient and ugly than others. One such truth- gender pay parity is two centuries away. 

Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) publishes factsheets about gender pay gap every two years. Over the years, there is only a slight improvement in the numbers going by which 2059 is the year women can expect gender pay parity. Skin color brings its own disparities, 2233 would be the year for Hispanic women to achieve economic justice and 2124 for black women. 

The Washington Post exemplifies it even better. "Keeping all other factors constant, women start working for free from October 17 onwards every year."   

A Huge Blow brings an Empire Down 

Some truths are easily accorded a corner because it’s so inconvenient to address them. They are lulled and shushed into silence to be eventually broken by the crack of the glass ceiling. 

Lisa Wilkinson announced her swan song with The Today Show on Channel Nine after working for 10 years after failing to negotiate an equal salary with Karl Stefanovic, the male co-host. Being at $1.1 million against $2 million for Karl, Lisa, never short of opportunities, joined Channel Ten’s The Project

Hollywood isn’t untouched or unperturbed by the rising consciousness of getting paid less for the same amount of work. Spearheaded by Oscar-winning actresses Emma Stone and Jennifer Lawrence, the fight continues. When Sony Hack Scandal brought all buried skeletons walking in the daylight, it also brought to light a huge disparity which culminated into Jennifer Lawrence writing a thoughtful essay- Why do I make less than my male co-stars?- for Lena Dunham’s Lenny Letter.  

Christine Lagarde, MD, International Monetary Fund aptly put it up- “If a woman is doing it or saying it- it is just not as important.” 

Such cases are not new and individual. But they are nevertheless important. Until they become extinct as a species of inequality. 

Persistent Pay Disparity has its Economic Consequences.  

Where does pay gap leave women? Diminished earnings. Burgeoning reliability on public welfare systems. The superannuation balance for women remains abysmally low in times of increased longevity.  

IWPR’s regression analysis states pay parity decreases poverty for working women besides adding a huge moolah to the national economy.  

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) asserts women are being paid 80% of what men earn. PayScale research says by mid-career, men are more likely than women to work at higher job levels. Pay alone isn’t a factor that creates an abyss between half of the population and the rest half of the population. Opportunities are far less and fewer if a person is carrying an extra ‘X’. 

From other side of the Story: Lawsuits Filed. Reputation in the Doldrums.  

Saying- the reasons quoted for women being paid less goes from stereotypical to stupid- is an understatement. What else can be understood from the understanding of the world which claims women are bad at negotiating, they take too much time off for rearing babies, they don’t want to have high paying jobs, and some more? 

As talks become urgent, companies are searching for shelter. Oracle and Google have been sued by women for pay discrimination. 

Reportedly, employees are more likely than employers to identify issues of gender inequity and address them. The present workforce is always on the lunge to switch jobs if they don’t see discrimination being acknowledged and taken care of. Not to mention, women are more likely to call a spade a spade and talk about gender discrimination than men, research by Pew Research Center

What’s Future like for Females?  

Education doesn’t seem to be a solution for closing the gender pay disparity. Nor is the experience. They both account for only 15% of the gap, as a study by Glassdoor, states. 

The problem is reflected in what Amy Pascal, the co-chair of Sony who resigned after the hacking scandal broke out, said- “The truth is women don’t have to work for less money. People must not be so grateful for jobs. People must know what their worth is." 

Women must know their market price by checking with some salary surveys conducted by research and information companies. They must negotiate better as Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg asserts. Several salary negotiation workshops have come up to help women deal better. Employer actions as suggested by Harvard Business Review may include college recruitment programs and mentoring sessions for female employees. 

Diversity task force or the position of diversity manager, coming up in companies these days, ensure social accountability where social forces come to play their roles in ‘gendered’ version of job roles such as social assistance and healthcare. This has come to be known under a new umbrella of ‘industrial segregation’ as reported by WGEA (Workplace Gender Equality Agency) report. Releasing gender equity reports and conducting salary audits is another solution of the suites.  

Talking about the law- it takes its own course. It reflects social emancipation and vice-versa. In its bid to eliminate pay difference, New York City becomes the first in the world to ban interview questions about previous pay with a fine of $250,000 for those who fail to comply.                

Gender pay gap is more nuanced than thought. Corporate discrimination and personal choices are just tip of the iceberg that has complex variables deep down and are not visible. Not waiting for change to trickle-down the career funnel is no moot point. While the talk is still on, women may ask themselves- why are they settling for less?   

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