[This was initially one of my research papers from Government class. Just copied it here!]
The shocking fact is that, being the present day superpower of the world, United States’ women are only being paid 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. Beyond being an insult to the whole womanhood, this is totally a worldwide embarrassment for the country too. Isn’t this an intelligible context of sexual discrimination? Yes, this is a clear-cut attempt to bring all women down from empowering to make them undertake the idea of being homemakers. It’s hardly surprising that United States has never had a female President (which definitely adds insult to the injury)!
Numerous factors contribute to the pay gap in gender wages; which include: occupational ghettoization of women into low paying jobs; lower levels of unionization for women and attitudinal barriers that have kept women from achieving equality in the workplace and undervaluation for women’s work. Though in 1963, President Kennedy drafted this act of unequal pay illegal through The Equal Pay Act, it could only narrow down the gap by just 15 cents. “The motherhood penalty” would be the next reason to rationalize this affair. Conspicuously, becoming a mother would compel women to take up more days off concerning the illness and disabilities for children and other family members. In a recent article from the New York Times, Eduardo Porter states that, “There are policies in place that could help diminish women’s pay deficit by increasing flexibility in the workplace and easing a woman’s family burden.” In other words, women might accept less pay to have a more flexible schedule. The traditional stereotypes and media portrayal also have a significant impact on the pay inequality. Recurrent depiction of women as a dependent and vulnerable being, proves how society as well as women see themselves. Choice of job is another big reason for the wage gap. According to a study done by the American Association of University Women, women only account for 18% of engineering majors; whereas they account for 79% of education majors. Also, there’s a tendency that some women would rather stay away from “dangerous” jobs (Surgeons, Police Inspectors, etc.) that are highly paid. This is fairly changing as young girls are now inspired to take up unconventional positions.
In last year’s presidential election, both candidates addressed the issue of women’s pay equality. The two campaigns presented many diverse views on the subject. Mitt Romney seemed, for the most part, on the defensive when discussing this topic. Once, he unwittingly stated that he had “binders full of women”, when referring to the fact that he has the resources to hire a countless number of women. At a post-debate rally in Chesapeake, Virginia he claimed that “This president has failed America’s women.” However, my opinion is different.
Recently president Obama stated “I’ve got two daughters, I don’t want them paid less than a man for doing the same job.” His actions during his presidency prove this statement. Particularly in supporting the Lilly Ledbetter Act, a recent attempt to “close the gap between women’s and men’s wages,” that statement was taken from the Act’s website. The Lilly Ledbetter Act is one of the most recent attempts to close the gap, however, it is not the first.
There have been quite a few efforts to close the wage gap over the years. One of the first was the Equal Pay Act of 1963, and according to the Society for Human Resource Management’s website, “The Equal Pay Act requires that men and women be given equal pay for equal work in the same establishment.” Shortly After the Equal Pay Act was passed, the United States government created the U.S. Equal Employment Agency to enforce “…federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee…” This is according to an article on their website. Earlier I mentioned the Lilly Ledbetter Act which was passed in 2009 and, according to the act’s website, was the first new law of Obama’s presidency. The act was created by Lilly Ledbetter who is very passionate about getting equal pay for woman. All of these actions have contributed to closing the gap between men and women’s wages, but there still is no solution.
On my research, it’s undoubtedly true that I have learned so many stuffs that I didn’t know before. I never would have thought that the media would affect pay equality! Now I know that there are a lot of different opinions on the wage gap, and I have begun to understand why it has been a reality for so long. There is hope for more equality as America continues to search for an answer. One thing is clear though, we are on the road to a solution. I just hope we reach it before I have to start hunting for a job.