Pay gap looms over women

Good news: the pay gap between women and men in today’s workforce is the lowest on record.

Wait, there is a pay gap? Within the first half of 2010, women earned roughly 81 percent of what men earned, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This is the smallest pay gap recorded. Yet, this pay gap is still causing women to earn almost 20 cents less per dollar than men. It’s ridiculous.

Although I have to applaud the fact that the pay gap is getting smaller, it still is not equal pay between the sexes.

Harry Holzer, an economist at Georgetown University, told The Cleveland Plain Dealer “big progress has been made, but a 20 percent pay gap remains significant.”

This decrease of the pay gap is caused by many factors, one of which is women making up 65 percent of liberal arts schools’ students and majors. Until recently, this area of study was dominated by men.

In recent years, women have begun a slow takeover in the workforce, however, they are still hindered by unequal pay.

According to Heidi Hartmann, president of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, “No progress on the wage ratio
has been made since 2001, and women actually lost ground this year. Falling real wages for women indicate a decline in the quality of their jobs. The economic recovery continues to disadvantage women by failing to provide strong job growth at all wage levels.”

The current state of the economy is not helping women either.

With job availability going downhill, the opportunity for women to become involved in desired job fields is decreasing.

While some job fields may be steadily growing as the economy works to get back on its feet, other job fields are remaining idle and offering no potential for women entering the workforce. Due to a lack of jobs, women are forced into
poverty or living without health insurance.

Over 17 million women have no health insurance. Our systems for ensuring health care and economic security are
failing America’s women. The workplace is becoming less female-friendly.

With men dominating a large portion of available jobs, women are forced to stay at home or accept minimum wage

This is causing female-headed household poverty rates to soar. “The poverty rate for female-headed households increased to 28 percent in 2003, and poverty among adult women rose to 12.4 percent,” according to the insitute’s study director Vicky Lovell.

Even if women are lucky enough to find jobs, they are not guaranteed equal pay to their male counterparts. They are guaranteed a measly 81 cents on every dollar that men earn.

But men are not to blame for the pay gap.

Warren Farrell, author of the book “Why Men Earn More: the Startling Truth Behind the Pay Gap and What Women Can Do About It,” argues that women make less than men due to the jobs that they choose based on their responsibilities
at home.

The higher paying jobs generally require long hours at the office, frequent travel and longer commuting times.

Women are less likely to choose these more time consuming options than men are, Farrell said.

Another reason a pay gap exists is because women are better at balancing the work life and the home life.

I feel that men generally just work nonstop and count on their wives to take care of issues within the home. Why is this the normal stereotype though? Why are women expected to choose between a career and motherhood?

This pay gap is an atrocity considering the fact that in 2010, women only make a fraction of what men earn. More men should be staying at home so that women are afforded the opportunity to chase after their dreams.

The Equal Pay Act, signed into law June 10, 1963, by President John F. Kennedy, says that there is to be no discrimination within the workplace. It is supposed to keep situations such as this, from occuring.

Although there is no outward discrimination towards women, there are more subtle forms, such as the difference in
earnings between men and women. It is speculated that during a lifetime worth of work, that women suffer a wage loss equivalent to $2 million for a professional school graduate.

Women can work for 47 years and still lose $2 million worth of their earnings.

How is it that 47 years have passed since the Equal Pay Act went into effect, yet there is a pay gap substantial enough to rob women of their earnings, up to $2 million?

The only way to truly solve this problem is for not only women, but people everywhere to be proactive about abolishing the pay gap so that everyone in the working class has the right to the pay that they deserve.

Although the pay gap between men and women may not be an issue at the forefront for most Americans, it needs to be.

After 47 years of injustice, knowledge and action are the only weapons that can dismantle this machine of inequality.


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