Since the second half of the 20th century, women’s labor force participation has grown significantly. We already know our impact in the industrial revolutions, the home fronts and such.
We as women are working longer hours and pursuing higher education in greater numbers.
Which is incredible, we know.
However, despite this progress, significant wage gaps between men and women
persist—particularly for women of color. So what exactly is the gender wage gap? What drives
it? And what does it mean for women and their families?
This International Women’s Day theme was to #breakthebias, and a few days later we had
Equality Pay Day. Which have gone and passed. The instagram moments have been and we have seen companies wax lyrical about the “greatness” of women.
But what changed?
We all went back to our dailies and didn’t really give it much thought.
Until our paycheck hit. And we really see the disparity in the figures.
These paycheck disparities reflect the ratio of earnings for women and men across all industries, all across the globe; they do not reflect a direct comparison of women and men doing identical work. This is purposeful. Mainly to diminish the argument that women and men perform differently in the workplace.
And while yes we can agree that societal and structural sexism often influences the jobs that women work in, we can also agree that those same forces mean that women most often take on the majority of the caregiving, housework, and other unpaid responsibilities that men do not. All whilst working the same job as men. Which further proves that the work does not end at home.
So while experts have attributed the estimated 38% of the wage gap that is not explained by traditional measurable factors—such as hours worked and years of experience—to the effects of discrimination, which likely affects more than just 38% of the wage gap. That stat is just too high.
The most logical way of explaining the wage gap, in terms of pounds and pence, may unintentionally obscure the real impact on working women and their families. For context, a woman working full time, year round earned £10,194 less than her male counterpart, on average in 2018.
If this wage gap were to remain unchanged, she would earn about £407,760 less than a man over the course of her 40-year career.
And again, these earnings gaps are larger for most women of colour.
So why are we sitting back and doing nothing?
Well mainly because it feels like a drop in the ocean. The gender wage gap will not close anytime soon without structured and meaningful action, well not until 2111!
Efforts to close the wage gap must address the varying factors of it as well as the multitude of gender biases that hold women—particularly women of colour, LGBTQ women, and women with other diverse identities—and their families face.
This is an issue of economic security, diversity and equality—and women and their families cannot afford to wait for this to sort itself out.
By Mollie Rose Houston blogger