“Breaking away from the status quo will allow us to become independent.”
– Mei-Jing Ang
Almost in every manifestation for gender pay equality, we can see that famous cipher showing the gap in earning ratio between women and men, which is around 80%, meaning that women make $0.80 for each dollar a man makes. Apparently, this is very unfair, and that’s why many people, especially women, have been fighting to close that gap, but the thing is, this cipher does not tell us about the reasons behind it and there’s a deeper explanation that could potentially make some feminist’s upset. This pay gap statistic is true, but what it doesn’t tell you is that it just measures the medium wages between men and women that work full time. It doesn’t explain to you how this gap plays out.
Here are a couple of things to consider when thinking of the “inequality” pay gap:
1. One of the main reasons for this wage gap is that women are concentrated in lower paying occupations, like secretaries, accountants, or school teachers, etc. And there is nothing wrong with that, but it’s just one of the reasons why women make less money than men.
2. There is another important reason that no one seems to consider on why women earn less on average and it is pretty obvious. A study conducted by economists from the University of Chicago in 2009, followed the career trajectory of 2500 people who graduated with MBA’s from the University between 1990 and 2006. The study showed indeed that men had higher salaries but the reason was because they had more experience when entering the workforce. So they generated more income than women right off the bat.
3. Also, men get to work more hours. The study showed that the gap increased as years went by getting into a difference as much as men earning 60% more than women.
4. Another study conducted by Harvard’s economist Claudia Goldin shows that disadvantages for women in the workplace are way more subtle than companies not wanting to hire women, it’s just that highly paid jobs disproportionately rewards those who can work for longer hours and the gap increases as women get to their 30’s and the pay gap decreases again after women turn 40. Why?
Women still continue to be the main caregivers and the ones in charge of taking care of the offspring, and there are good biological reasons why. In fact women who do not get married and have children earn 96 cents for every dollar a man makes. Which makes complete sense, since these women have the flexibility of time to devote their schedules to the demanding long hours of a corporate live.
5. Goldin mentions as well that the 9 to 5 work schedule needs to change, because many studies have been proven that long work hours backfires for companies and workers because productivity is lower. Studies also conducted by Claudia Goldin show that women do better in jobs that are flexible, that don’t require her to work a 9 to 5 day, where the importance falls into what she accomplishes and that she can adapt her work hours to balance them with her unpaid house responsibilities.
So, inequality is not as real as it is painted out to be.
Political measures will not help close this gap and deal with these issues, but as we grow more aware and we learn to balance home and work, we go for higher paying corporate jobs, while working flexible hours, this gap will start to shrink more and more.
At the end of the day, it all falls back on us as ladies to take action and decide, to either find a husband who is willing to balance the home life or not have children and work 80 hour corporate weeks like men at the top do in order to receive those high competitive wages. The research shows that we have the right soft skills to lead the top fortune 500 companies. We must decide if that is truly what we want and if it is, let’s start finding solutions to balancing work life because as of now, it is not playing in our favor.