Wage Gap? What do YOU think?

Wage Gap? What do YOU think?

Depending on whether one looks at global statistics or American statistics, there is a significant difference in men and women’s typical earnings. The focus here will be solely on data collected for the United States. I became extremely interested in this after a conversation I had with someone on campus so I figured I would share what I learned. The numbers tell a story but, where the numbers come from is a much more interesting one.

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The gender wage gap in America has tremendously evolved over the past few decades. The economy is no longer a battle between the sexes but a comprehensive desire for equal opportunity. The market ultimately provides the opportunities to find satisfying employment conditions that fulfill individually unique needs and wants. The fact that there still remains a gap is a matter of opinion when taking into consideration different causes and effects of life associated with gender and the workforce. Education is an imperative factor when considering the wage gap. Logically, as the level of education increases, the level of earnings should increase as well. This must also take into account, the several different fields of study; a first-year female teacher’s salary cannot be compared to a senior level male engineer’s salary. The level of education, experience, and field of employment vary across the wide spectrum of careers and education far too drastically for a comparison of the sort to be considered rational. Exploring the gender differences between education/field of expertise, consumer differences, and familial obligations, can paint a comprehensive picture of the wage gap when comparatively examined.

Pursuit of higher education has always been viewed as crucial when discussing financial security but not all degrees provide equal foundations for the future. Women tend to earn more college and graduate degrees than men, but their objectives generally place them in occupations such as education, healthcare, and service industries. A study in 2010 of single, childless urban workers ages 22-30 conducted by the Reach Advisors Research Firm concluded that women actually earned an average of 8% more than their male counterparts since the economy increasingly gears itself towards knowledge-based jobs. The concurrent unemployment rates are consistently higher among men ages 16+ (9.3%) than they are among women ages 16+ (8.3%). Men are typically hit harder by recessions because they tend to work in fields like construction, manufacturing, and trucking, which are disproportionately affected by bad economic conditions. Similar fields of the workforce are comparatively even when accounting for field, education, demand, and levels of expertise.

Gender relations play a systematic role in the division of labor, work, income, wealth, education, productive inputs, publicly provided goods, etc. Men and women differ as consumers, risk-takers, and other aspects of economic behavior. Women, as a gender, tend to gravitate towards jobs with fewer risks, comfortable conditions, regular work hours, greater flexibility, and additional personal fulfillment. While the opposite sex tends to go for positions that involve physical labor, outdoor work, overnight shifts, and dangerous conditions, one of the main reasons for higher pay in comparison. Men, on the other hand, tend to spend an average of 8.75 hours per day at work while women spend an average of 8.01 hours per day. When it comes to describing the two genders as consumers, the two worlds differ immensely. Women play a key role in the economy because, even though they occupy approximately half of the workforce, they also own the roles of caregivers at home. As consumers, women live with a good deal of pressure on a daily basis and have to accept responsibility for the demands of a family if they are single parents or have an unemployed spouse. Men, as consumers, are seeing a rise in the markets because they are shopping more than ever. Gender roles have become muddled and families are doing what it takes to male ends meet.

Changing life patterns interact with women’s ability to fully participate in the labor market. Even though women are entitled more freedoms, choices are still constrained by the need to coordinate child raising with careers, balance spouses’ career aspirations with their own, and the need to fulfill other family roles such as caretakers for aging parents or sick/disabled relatives. The obligations women face as members of society often affect their career choices, causing another rift in the wage gap.

Familial obligations, consumer differences, and educational expertise explain the majority of the wage gap difference. The current gender wage gap has nothing to do with the sexes or discrimination but a shift in roles and responsibilities coupled with higher education standards. The gap can easily be closed once extenuating factors are accounted for and calculated.


3 thoughts on “Wage Gap? What do YOU think?

  1. I was attempting to give my historical perspective on some of today’s attitudes in this country. I am not very well practiced at giving a dissertation on subjects that I have definite opinions on. Maybe with practice I can get better at it.

  2. Interesting commentary, a lot of statistics are used, but in the end the facts are hard to pin down, it is way easy for studies and polls to be interpreted in any direction. So, what I have to rely on is my own person experiences, anecdotal evidence, and my interpretation of the studies and polls.

    What I have come up with is that the economy determines only a part of the ease or toughness of women getting into the market place. On the lower end of the salary scale the pay levels are about equal. While on the other end of the scale there seems to be [still] a few men who still have the 19th century notions that women have a specific medical condition and a place to be without foot attire and these men will do whatever it takes to send this message down the chain of command. This attitude is what has been called the “glass ceiling”.

    In World War 2 so many men were sent into the military service that it left a gap in the work force at home so that women were actually considered for these open positions. This is were, I believe, was the beginning of the notion that women can do a mans work. After the war most of the women were essentially returned back to their specific place, but the seed of the idea that women can do the job has been planted and has been growing ever since.

    Ever since that war the United States had become the “Golden Goose”, creating a middle class of men and women that were educated, owned a home and car, and could obtain things what would be considered unafordable today. The middle class folks worked hard, paid taxes, moved up the ladder of success and created the infrastructure of the economy and in the long run made the rich even richer.

    The wage gap is a very intentional mind set of a very powerful few, that can not [will not] comprehend the concept of “killing the golden goose”, and add in the notion of the “glass ceiling”, you have the attitude that keeps this damned conversation alive.

    In my humble opinion, the men who have everything, control everything and are miserable, do not understand or are jealous that there are other people that live in the middle class and are happy perpetuates this turmoil.

    [Note to the reader, please forgive my ramblings. I know my comments do not apply entirely to the topic of conversation. Sorry.]

    1. That’s an interesting perspective… My post was simply based on the facts and statistics of this country. I did not account for the rest of the world’s economies.

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