By: Julia L., seventh grade, Krieger Schechter Day School of Chizuk Amuno Congregation
The gender pay gap is a pressing issue in the United States. Many studies have been conducted that prove that the pay gap is real, and women are being discriminated against when it comes to their salaries.
According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, women receive more college and graduate degrees than men. Women are almost half of the workforce. They are the sole or co-breadwinners in half of American families with children. Yet, on average, women continue to earn considerably less than men. In 2018, female full-time, year-round workers made only 82 cents for every dollar earned by men, a gender wage gap of 18 percent.”
Although the gender pay gap is declining, the rate at which it is shrinking is much too slow. If the rate of progress stays the same, women will have to wait for years until they have an equal salary. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research reports that white women will make the same as men by 2059; Hispanic women will earn equal pay by 2224, and black women will reach the milestone by 2130. We must do something about this now so that our generation and future generations can see change.
In 2009, a study conducted by Marianne Bertrand, Claudia Goldin, and Lawrence F. Katz and published by Harvard University determined a $15,000 annual salary difference based on gender for graduates of the University of Chicago Business School. Male graduates earned an average of $130,000 per year, while female graduates received approximately $115,000 annually. However, the bigger disparities come later in life. Nine years into their careers, the average salary for male graduates was $400,000, whereas the female graduates averaged $250,000.
The study concluded that women were making less than men, but no company posts signs that say: “We do not hire women.” So why are women making less than men?
The answer, according to Vox, a news and media website, is “the highest-paying jobs disproportionately reward those who can work the longest, least flexible hours. These types of jobs penalize workers who have caregiving responsibilities outside the workplace. Those workers tend to be women.” A survey conducted by Vox found that in 54 percent of families, the mother assumes greater responsibility for housework, childcare, and family errands.
Tremendous progress has been made by women. Women have taken jobs that have previously been almost exclusively done by men. However, in the last two decades, there has been very little additional progress in the gender integration of work. “In some industries and occupations, like construction, there has been no progress in 40 years. This persistent occupational segregation is a primary contributor to the lack of significant progress in closing the wage gap,” according to the Vox study.
How do we address the issue of the gender wage gap? First, our country should raise the minimum wage. This would help close the wage gap because, according to American Progress, an independent nonpartisan policy institute that is dedicated to improving the lives of all Americans, “Women make up a disproportionate share of low-wage workers, and estimates show that differences between women’s and men’s occupations could account for nearly one-half of the gender wage gap.” Also, according to American Progress, in 2012 women made up two-thirds of all minimum-wage workers. The current federal minimum wage is only $7.25 an hour, which is $15,080 annually, well below the poverty line for families with children. “Increasing the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would boost wages for about 15 million women and help close the gender wage gap.”
There are many more ways to help close the pay gap. Some examples include supporting fair scheduling practices and pay transparency, investing in affordable, high-quality child care and early childhood education, and passing a national paid family and medical leave insurance program. According to American Progress, women are more likely to have unpredictable schedules. This makes it difficult for working parents, especially mothers, to anticipate their schedules and make arrangements for childcare. This puts mothers in danger of losing their jobs if their child is sick.
Legislation has passed in Vermont and San Francisco that provides workers with a “right to request,” allowing them to ask for greater flexibility or schedule predictability from their employer without jeopardizing their job. In addition, a bill that is on the floor of the House of Representatives in Washington is the “Paycheck Fairness Act [which] would reduce pay secrecy, give women better tools to address pay discrimination and make it more difficult for companies to pay male workers more than female workers.” According to American Progress, 11 million children spend time in the care of someone other than a parent. For children under age six, 65 percent either live with a single parent who works or two parents who both work. Child care costs more than median rent in every state in 2012.
In conclusion, the effects of the gender pay gap have put women in hard situations, but we can change that. The pay gap is a real issue, made up of many different aspects, the largest of all being childcare.
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