“This issue of parity is not a women’s issue. It’s a societal issue that needs to be resolved by men and women.” (Washington Post, 2014) This can be seen in the debate on the gender pay gap that has been an underlying issue within jobs in various backgrounds, featuring heavily in media and political debates. The growing interest in the pay of women and men increased when it was brought to the attention of the public, that women did not receive the same pay as their male counterparts. This was revealed in a few cases, which led to public concern over whether discrimination between genders was at an individual level, or whether it was embedded within the practices of companies. There are various reasons as to why the wage gap still exists within various jobs. Firstly, women and men tend to work different jobs, meaning the pay gap is being reinforced by segregation in the labour market. Secondly, segregation is heavily associated to stereotypes and traditions, which may reflect personal choices, but also reflects different educational choices. Thirdly, women’s competences are undervalued when compared to men in the labour market. Furthermore, the direct discrimination which women face in the workplace will be analysed. Finally, women experience greater difficulties than men when it comes to balancing work and private life.
Within the labour market, the gender pay gap is being reinforced by segregation. Women and men work in different types of jobs, on one hand they work in different sectors. For example, women often work in sectors such as education and health and dominate these positions, however these jobs are lower valued and paid lower than other sectors which are dominated by men such as engineering. This is supported by the fact that “women make up 80% of health care workers – but just 40% of executives.” (Advisory, 2014) This further emphasises how women are underrepresented in executive positions. However, women and men can also work in the same sector or company which consists predominantly of women working in lower valued and lower paid occupations. This is re-enforced by the fact that women are underrepresented in senior positions. This is shown by women only holding 19% of senior positions in companies, which was a 2% fall in positions since last year over 5500 companies. (City A.M. , 2017) So, segregation in the labour market can lead to a wage gap because women tend to lead different career paths than those of men, and these tend to be lower paid jobs.
Another cause of the pay gap in the world, which is heavily linked to segregation is the idea of traditions and stereotypes amongst men and women. In some cases, this can reflect personal choices, where traditions and stereotypes can dictate to women the educational path they choose, which would consequently decide what careers women would go into. This can be shown by the number of graduates from university who have degrees in specific fields, the number of women going to university is up to over a third (The Guardian, 2017) however women are graduating from university in minorities in fields such as computing and engineering. This results in women working in less technical jobs, consequently women then work in sectors of the economy which are not as profitable as others. Furthermore, as they are not working in as profitable sectors of the economy, they are expected by tradition to either reduce their working hours or exit the labour market to raise children or care for elderly. So, traditions and stereotypes amongst men and women can lead to a pay gap because it can lead to women following career paths which they did not necessarily choose to follow.
When we look at the gender related pay gap there are many reasons as to why it exists, however feminists disagree with each other as to what is the root cause. This has been shown by the radical feminists and the liberal feminists, the radical feminists believe that there is a gender pay gap because of men. Whereas the liberal feminists believe that there is a gender pay because men are superior and in society discrimination between different people are inevitable. This is supported by Marx where he explains that women are actually a marginalised group and are therefore exploited which causes them to earn less money. Therefore, this emphasises what feminists argue that the gender pay gap is a problem created by the social structure in the west which is capitalism, where capitalism reduces people to roles such as genders. The liberal feminists do have a point here as there is direct discrimination in the workplace and therefore some women are paid less than men for doing the same job. This is shown by the “male software developer median, annual salary is $65,700, which is 4 percent more than the median female value of $63,300.” (Payscale, 2011) However, radical feminists see the gender pay gap being caused by men, this stems from the idea of workplace discrimination. Where the term “glass ceiling” is used to demonstrate an invisible barrier, which prevents women from climbing the ranks to an executive level as they are given to men. They are also referred to as the “old boys network.” (The Balance, 2017) Therefore there is a gender pay gap over the world as according to feminists it is either down to men or social discrimination within the workplace.
The gender pay gap can be attributed to a few reasons, one of these is a neoliberal argument put forth that women experience an increased difficulty compared to men when trying to balance work and their private life. Generally, within homes the duty of family care and domestic responsibilities are still not being equally shared. This is because family members who need care are mainly cared for by women, this is supported by the fact that more women than men choose to take parental leave. This is further emphasised by women in the US, with 26% of women choosing not to work (CNN money, 2013) . Furthermore, the reason for women choosing this option is coupled with the lack of facilities for childcare and elderly care, which leads to women being forced out of the labour market. This leads to women taking up part time work to facilitate their family responsibilities. Although this may be a personal choice, there is no other option for women with family responsibilities, which leads to employers taking advantage of this by paying less in hourly earnings to the part time workers than the full-time workers. This is shown by 41% of the part time workforce being made up of women with 12% made up of men (BBC, 2016). A consequence of this is that women work shorter hours compared to men, but also have more career interruptions leading to a negative impact on their career development and prospects. Therefore, with the closing of the pay gap this would promote equal opportunities and social justice, as it would allow men and women to share the domestic responsibilities as they are paid the same.
A reason why there is a gender pay gap over the world is that the work which is done by women is continually undervalued. When women do jobs of equal value to those of men they tend to be underpaid. When jobs require similar skills, experience or qualifications, and the profession is dominated by women they tend to be paid poorly whereas a male dominated profession is paid better. This is shown by cashiers in supermarkets which is diversified with different jobs which require different skills, for example the cashiers are mainly female as this requires less strenuous work. Whereas men tend to occupy jobs which require heavy lifting such as moving stock or restocking shelves, or other physical tasks. This is shown by Chevron in the USA, where the cashiers are paid on average $9.30 an hour, where gas attendants are paid on average $10.40 an hour, enforcing the idea of jobs requiring different skills (Indeed, 2017). Therefore, this shows how in this case the pay gap was biased in favour of men due to physical attributes which were out of the hands of women, however although this can be seen as an efficient way of increasing productivity it can be seen as undervaluing the work done by women which is vital.
The gender pay gap over the world is due to both men and women, mainly because there is segregation in the labour market, where men and women take different jobs at opposite ends of the pay scale resulting in them having different wages. These result from traditions and stereotypes about certain professions which lead to women making different life choices, therefore having different education paths. However, women also face direct discrimination in the workforce shown by the glass ceiling, so they cannot reach senior positions as they are held for men. As they cannot reach these positions it can be due to women finding it difficult to balance their work and private life, as the responsibilities domestically are not shared therefore the women looks after children and elderly. This shows how there is direct discrimination in the workplace where men are favoured over women for positions, as the work women do is undervalued. In the future, for the pay gap to become non-existent these causes need to be analysed as well as traditions and stereotypes being challenged.