The Gender Pay Gap: Myth Vs. Reality

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Image Credit: The Blue Diamond Gallery

The gender pay gap has become a divisive issue in many societies. One side argues that there is a systemic wage gap between men and women and the other side argues that the gap is created by lifestyle differences and not by being paid differently for the same job. What’s the truth?

What Is The Gender Pay Gap?

Most commonly, “gender pay gap” refers to the median annual pay of all women who work full time and year-round, compared to the pay of a similar cohort of men. Other estimates of the gender pay gap are based on weekly or hourly earnings, or are specific to a particular group of women.

Both Sides Are Partly Right

The gender pay gap is real in the sense that overall judged as a total amount women make less money than men in many Western countries. Judged as the average yearly pay of all men compared to that of all women, men make more as a lump sum. That said, the gender pay gap is increasingly uncommon and against the law in terms of paying women less for the same work as men.

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Indeed, paying men and women different amounts for the same work is illegal in many developed countries, including in the United States where The Equal Pay Act was passed by Congress in 1963. Nonetheless, up to 20% of American women still report being paid less for the same work as men, so the law does not seem to be as vigorously enforced as it is in some countries such as Iceland, so those complaining about the gender pay gap do have a point in many cases.

Right Vs. Left

The right argues that the gender pay gap is “largely a myth,” perpetuated in order to make women feel like victims and take advantage of them as an identity group, while the left, broadly speaking, argues that the gender pay gap is very much real even as a median wage gap and is reinforced, on average, by giving women less promotions, penalizing them for having children and the fact that women often work in industries that pay less.

Reasons Women Make Less Than Men As A Whole

There are many reasons women make less than men as a whole, including in some cases literal pay discrimination based on gender. Many secondary factors can also be brought in that are not gender-related but can still apply such as race, disability, educational status and age, which complicates analyzing the issue purely from a gender lens. Considered from a wider view, women often work in different jobs than men, often lower paid jobs. This is a cause for concern, as it could reflect sexist views of the role of women in a professional setting, relegating them to secondary roles as secretaries, assistants, etc. which are generally paid less than managerial and male-dominated positions. In this sense, then, the gender pay gap is more of a job gap issue that leads to a wage gap issue.

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