True women empowerment requires knowing all the facts and what to do with them. The gender wage gap is a thoroughly publicized but not well-understood phenomenon. Let’s explore where the gender wage gap comes from to examine whether or not it’s discriminatory.
Many sources suggest that the global gender wage gap is 23%, meaning women make $0.77 for every $1.00 a man makes. This gap does exist – but could discrimination be causing it?
Attributing the pay gap entirely to discrimination is an oversimplification of a nuanced problem.
Gender Wage Gap Causes
The American Association of University Women have a study that suggests that the wage gap exists due to the following four factors:
- Occupational choices
- Hours worked weekly
- Work tenure
- Work consistency
It shows that these factors actually account for all but 6% of the wage gap. Unexplainable factors make up the remaining 6%.
So why do women tend to choose lower-paying occupations, whereas men choose higher-paying ones? This phenomenon is “occupational segregation.” Occupational segregation is one of the highest contributing factors to the wage gap.
Across cultures, women often shift their career choices to accommodate unpaid positions like household management and child-rearing, contributing to lower earnings when we look at women as a whole, and this self-selection means they often earn less than their working male counterparts.
According to statistics compiled by Georgetown University, you’ll find that four out of five of the highest-paying occupations in the US are male-dominated fields. Pharmaceutical science is the only high-paying occupation where women have more representation than men.
The reality of these statistics points to the idea that women take on family responsibilities where men cannot or will not, and this often limits their career choices.
So we’ll leave the final verdict up to you: Is the wage gap discriminatory? If so, how would you solve the problem?