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For a very long time, the wage gap between genders has been a problem in trying to promote equality in the workplace. The studies of economic and sociological issues of the problem have attempted to explain the differences in gender earnings. The research has proven that man actually earn more than women. With the number of women pursuing post-secondary education going up in the last three decades, one would expect that the wage gap will be bridged. Also, today’s American workforce is largely composed of women, and the number of women with education degrees has tremendously increased. Women have become breadwinners in their families, and they undertake much of the responsibilities as opposed to the men. Despite all these aspects, women have continued to earn less compared to men (Sonia Carreon, 2013). For instance, in 2013, it was found out that women on a full-time basis earned 78 cents for every dollar men did, and this represents a 22% gender wage gap (Hegewisch & Hartmann, 2013). Many women in almost all occupations continue to earn less compared to men. Thus the paper will make an attempt to explain the differences in male and female earnings and their causes.
- To critically analyze the men and women differences in wages;
- To explain the causes of the wage disparities between men and women.
- Does the difference in earnings cause inequality in American organizations if at all it exists?
- When are these earning differences going to come to an end?
Today, despite all the fights for equality by feminist movements, there still exist differences in earnings between women and men in many workplaces in America whether formal or informal. What is more, there exist theoretical and practical that touch upon the issue of earnings and wages of men and women. Despite a significant shrinking in terms of America’s gender wage gap, substantial wage disparities have remained obvious.
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Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that the country will experience a steady trend to wage parity in the nearest future. Results by CMI pay data show the differences in the earnings of 19 year managers, where female managers receive 12% less than male managers (Hegewisch & Hartmann, 2013). The figure falls to 6% between ages of 20 and 25, and then as they reach 26-35, the percentage gap raises to 8% (Hegewisch & Hartmann, 2013). The results show that in the same job occupations, female workers earn less than their male counterparts. Despite women putting efforts to be in the same standards as men through education, their efforts have gone unnoticed when it comes to pay and rewards.
As Farrell (2004) states it, despite the major rise in women’s labor force participation, the gap between the earnings of the two genders has remained constant for a long time. Women employed full-time earn about three-quarters of what men earn on average. Though the gap has narrowed over the last decade, with current estimates suggesting women earn about 72% of the rate of men, there have been concerns on when equality will be achieved (Hegewisch & Hartmann, 2013). The size of these earning gaps indicates that men have more purchasing power than women, and this also translates to their standards of living. This gap in pay has contributed to what is called a feminization of poverty. This means that families headed by women or single parent families have incomes below the poverty line. The earnings also prohibit women from social rewards like prestige and power, and this has greatly contributed to gender inequality.
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Explaining the Gender Wage Gap
Most employers do not intend to pay women less than men explicitly, but despite the good intentions and legislations, the wage gap between genders has persisted. Studies have revealed three strong explanations for this difference. They are overt discrimination, human capital theory, and dual labor market theory.
Overt discrimination means the practices that single out some groups for different and unequal treatment. Despite the women’s progress towards equality, overt and covert discrimination continue afflicting women in the workplace. Men by virtue of being dominant in the society have the incentive of preserving their advantages in the labor market. They have done so by establishing rules that unequally distribute rewards (Andersen & Taylor, 2008). Women have posed a threat to the traditional dominant white men privileges in America, and this has forced men to organize and preserve their power and advantage using wage disparity. This approach states that the dominant group representatives will use their position of power in an attempt to perpetuate their advantage.
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Human capital theory assumes that the economy is fair in terms of disparities in incomes of the two genders being brought about by the differences in what the employees give to the job. The theory applies factors like age, prior experience, working hours of the genders, marital status, and education being human capital variables. According to this theory, people differ in the above variables, and it greatly influences their labor market worth. An example is the many responsibilities given to women by nature like childbearing and looking after the houses and husbands, which usually interrupts their production in the workplace. They are likely to be more absent for maternity leaves as compared to men, and this greatly affects their earning power (Hartmann & Treiman, 2008). The fact and belief that men are more experienced as opposed to women has worked to the disadvantage of women. This stereotype has made men believe that they should earn more than their women.
The dual labor market theory provides a view that women and men have different incomes since they tend to work in different labor market segments. Women tend to work in jobs employing mostly females, and such jobs usually tend to have low wages with very few job benefits. Once earning structures are established, it is hard to untangle cause and effect in the relationship between devaluation of women’s work and certain jobs’ low wages. It means that, in principle, equal pay may exist, but it can be applied to a small number of individuals since, as a rule, most men and women are not engaged in equal work and have different opportunities.
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The dual labor market theory argues that the labor market has two markets; primary and secondary markets. In the primary labor market, there are jobs that are relatively stable. The wages are good, and there exist advancement opportunities. In addition, workers are afforded due process, and there is a likelihood of fringe benefits. In this market, jobs are available in the stable large corporations with good profits and rational systems of management (Farrell, 2004). On the other hand, jobs in the secondary labor market are characterized by low working conditions, no promotions and strict rules of work, low earnings, as well as many job turnovers. These jobs are the ones where many women are employed, and this is the reason why their earnings are less than that of men.
The difference between earning which has been growing is as a result of the unmeasured skills in men and women, which affects them as they age. Women as they age, spend much of their time out of labor as they must go to maternity leaves and attend to the domestic activities. It means that women are more likely to work on the part-time basis thus earning less. Also, it is hard for women to work overtime as they have to go home and take care of their families, which is not the case when it comes to men. If the trend remains unchanged, the differences in earnings will continue to exist.
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