It doesn’t make cents

As students move into the world of work, the harsh realities of gender pay gaps confronts them.


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Even in 2021, men still get paid more for equal work

The brilliant summer sun turned my neon green car into an oven as its shining rays penetrated the tinted windows of my vehicle. Even though I was only suffocating in this sauna for a couple of minutes, it felt like an eternity as I waited for my younger brother to fetch our paychecks like a dog retrieving a bone. Finally, when he returned, we opened our crisp white envelopes in unison. Working side-by-side with my immature brother is torturous, to say the least, and to make matters worse, I found out while investigating my paycheck that he gets paid more than me. Being salty over a few filthy pennies may seem petty to some, but the gender pay gap is promoting discrimination against women in the workplace. 

Men receive higher remuneration than their female counterparts in almost every profession. The wide gap in gender pay has existed since the beginning of time and even though it has slowly started to narrow over the years, women still only attain about 85% of what men make according to a 2018 report entitled “The Narrowing, but Persistent, Gender Gap in Pay.” by Graf, Brown, and Patten, associates and analysts for the Pew Research Center (Graf). Currently, the gap is shrinking at a painfully slow pace and “Pay Equity and Discrimination,” an article collaborated on by Hess, the chief operating officer at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Lacarte, a postdoctoral research fellow, and Hegewisch, the IWPR program director of employment and earnings, concluded that it will take roughly four decades or until 2060 for the gender pay gap to balance out (Hess). Closing this gap and reaching pay parity will be an arduous task, especially because the gap increases as women grow older and venture out into more complex professions.

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To explain, the difference in pay amongst teenage workers is negligible compared to the income variation amongst adults of the opposite gender. An essay written in 2016 by Gould, Schieder, and Geier, economic analysts from the Economic Policy Institute, informed that, “After around 40, women’s wage growth plateaus and then drops off earlier than men’s.” (Gould) The most absurd part of the gender pay gap is that it prevails even when women and men who have identical educational backgrounds perform the same jobs.

Jobs preponderantly done by men pay more than occupations that have a large population of female employees. Claire Cain Miller, a correspondent for The New York Times, explained in her article that “The median earnings of information technology managers (mostly men) are 27 percent higher than human resources managers (mostly women), according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.”(Miller) Professions that are similar in nature are being titled differently to help hide the faults of the gender pay gap. Logically, women and men should be getting paid equivalent ratios of money if they are doing similar jobs and putting the same amount of elbow grease into their work. 

While women have to invest more time just to compete with their male counterparts, higher pay rates tend to follow men around like puppies. When men enter careers influenced primarily by females, their income surpasses the pay of women who previously worked there. One example of this occurred when men started taking over computer programming, an industry formerly operated by females. As soon as they displayed interest in this occupation, their wages skyrocketed (Miller). Unfortunately, when the roles are reversed and women put their imprint on certain job fields, they do not receive the same recognition. Part of this discrimination in the workforce comes from the fact that women are physically able to bear children. 

The idea that women might miss work because of their children is negatively impacting their work atmosphere. On the other hanomic Forum, expressed that for every child that a woman has, her wages will be reduced by seven percent (Tyson). When a woman decides to start a familynd, men do not have to worry about the repercussions of having kids because in most cases it positively affects their careers. A report entitled “An Economist Explains Why Women Are Paid Less.” by Tyson and Parker, writers for the World Eco, she is more likely to take a short leave of absence after she gives birth. Although women are allowed to take this time off, their time spent at home can cause their wages to decrease when they return to work.

Women are constantly affected by the gender pay gap. They lose money every day because of this injustice, which severely affects them in the long run. Shahar Ziv, a Forbes personal finance associate, claimed in his article, “3 Ways The Gender Pay Gap Is Even Bigger Than You Think.,” that “In plain terms, if Social Security payouts are determined by a person’s previous earnings and those earnings were lower because of a gender pay gap, then the Social Security payments will also fall victim to the wage gap.” (Ziv) In his report, Ziv also added that women’s bonuses are tampered with because of the gender pay gap; on average, a woman’s bonus is only worth two-thirds of a man’s (Ziv). Sadly, the wide pay gap is causing women financial and emotional anguish and without a radical change, there is nothing that can stop it. 

Some critics of equal pay are concerned that leveling the playing field for men and women will cause an increase in taxes and lead to layoffs. The report, “What Are Common Arguments Against Pay Equity and How Can the Union Respond?,” from the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees addressed these concerns and explained that equal pay does not directly correlate to an increase in taxes (What). People who object to pay parity are often worried about their welfare instead of the well-being of the female population as a whole which accounts for roughly 50% of our society. 

When people argue that getting paid a handful of pennies less is not that big of a deal, they are disregarding the big picture. Singling women out by limiting their potential to make as much as men is sexist and destructive to their emotional and financial state. To this day, I am still frustrated that my little brother gets more money to his name than me because, in my world, pay should be based on merit rather than gender. Men are not better than women by default, so why should their pay be?