The gender pay gap keeps widening despite more attention and studies on the issue of equal pay for men and women. Census Bureau statistics reveal that women made 82 percent of what men earned in 2016, but that's not the entire story. Although some cases of less pay for women does come from discriminatory practices, the overall gap in wages is much more complicated than just equal rights.
The figure for 2016 is higher than previous years, but the gender pay gap continues to make headlines in 2018. Economists who study this facet of society try to make comparisons between men's and women's jobs as equal as possible. They take into account education levels, skill sets and labor force participation. Findings show that the gap in pay comes from factors other than flat-out discrimination.
Out of 469 occupations in the United States, women were disproportionately represented in just 25 percent of them. In the other 75 percent of occupations, women generally receive less compensation than men. The reasons for the gender pay gap are mostly due to choosing to work fewer hours.
Time Off for Caregiving
Perhaps the biggest factor in the gender pay gap debate revolves around women taking time off to become caregivers of children. Women may decide to find jobs with flexible work arrangements, such as working from home or spending less time at the office, to accommodate raising children. As such, women start out earning less than men in entry-level positions because men may seek higher-paying jobs that traditionally have 9-to-5 schedules at a physical office.
Women simply accept lower-paying jobs as a trade-off for flexibility, according to studies conducted by notable employment expert and Harvard professor Claudia Goldin. Lower pay at the start of a career leads to less money over the long term. Women make less money, cumulatively over several decades, because their promotions and bumps in pay started at lower levels than men's. This issue becomes even more apparent as salaries reach $60,000 or more in business, finance, tech and health care occupations.
Salary negotiations are one solution to the gender pay gap. Women are less likely to negotiate for higher pay, as only one-eighth of women ask for a higher salary compared to one half of men. Companies can solve this problem by simply being more transparent about their compensation and hiring practices and take the stigma out of salary negotiations.
Another solution comes from technology. Mobile technology, cloud computing and IT solutions make home-based offices more like an actual corporate office. Technology also makes it easier for employees to hand off customers, patients and clients to other workers if they need to take some quick time off for caregiving.
The culture in Silicon Valley firms in 2018 is turning towards helping employees achieve work-life balance. As more workers demand better work environments that let them spend time with family while allowing them to be productive, companies follow suit to offer this type of perk in order to recruit top talent.
The gender pay gap is less and less about equal rights and more about women choosing to apply for jobs that fit their personal and professional goals. There are plenty of high-powered jobs out there. Unfortunately, many employers might not convey that properly.
Photo courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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