Rachel Bondi

Article Summary:

A look at the wage gap between Men and Women, and the issues which influence it.

The Wage Gap Between Men and Women: Understanding the Issues

We hear about the wage gap and the studies in that have found women only make seventy five cents to each dollar a man earns. Even more shocking is to learn that back in 2002 it was seventy seven cents! Are things really getting worse?

It's been argued lately that if anyone could be paid 25% less for the same job, wouldn't companies in a capitalist economy hire all women? It's on this premise that the wage gap is being called a hoax. If it is a hoax, it's a waste of time to put in place programs that help women. Some authors have even suggested that men have an unfair advantage because women are hired into all of the lower paying jobs, leaving no room for men in these careers. Others have said that women are only victims of their own poor choices, and if they would choose better careers, they would close the wage gap.

Two Different Subjects: Wage Gap and Career Choice
The first issue is an issue of wage gap discrimination for total annual pay for work done in similar positions. The second is earning less wages overall because men choose higher paying careers. Lately people seem to be confusing the two issues by saying that women choose to be paid less by picking low paying careers. No woman I know would choose to be paid less for the same work.

Wage Gap Issue
First, the wage gap statistics track both the career choices, and they track how much is made in each position. They are not incorrect. Women are paid less for exactly the same positions. This is even compensating for seniority and flex time. Saying that the average full time male works more than the average full time female cannot be substantiated. Even if it could be, more time at work has nothing to do with performance, effectiveness or contribution of deliverables.

Career Choice Issue
Second, it's possible you can blame women for choosing careers that pay less. For example, nursing (health care) and elementary teacher positions (education) pay less than x-ray technician and professorship positions. The first two categories are over 90% women while the second positions are over 90% men. All of these positions are hard work but also offer flexibility. Still the positions dominated by men pay more.

The interesting fact is that even in these two traditionally female positions, nurse and elementary teacher, men still earn more. The US Census Bureau shows that women only earn 82% of what men earned in these same positions.

Women Actually Paid More?
The other assertion that keeps coming up is that there are many careers where women are paid more, and this is unfair to men. One of the examples given is technical sales, another was modeling. Well, technical sales are paid by performance, so that isn't surprising. Even with lower base pay women can often bridge the gap with commissions. As for modeling, not to put out male models, but they don't attract the same volume of attention and sales as females do, so the females are compensated for bringing in sales.

Another rumor is that part time women earn more per hour than full time men. This may be the case, but is anyone taking a look at the cost of perks and benefits that full time employees get that part timers miss out on entirely?

The Truth About Equality
It would be really easy to fuel the women who accuse men of sexism or to fuel the men who are tired of being blamed. The truth is they have both been wrong.

A closer look at the statistics reveals that the wage gap occurs when women have children. Single, childless men and women earn about the same amount in any career choice. What the census shows is that there is a correlation to pay increase for men and decrease for women each child that they have.

Feminism may have provided choices about birth control, but it never provided an answer for the fact that women are biologically different than men. In society, men have become so alienated and defensive that they never picked up their share of child and elder care. Even though women are increasingly the primary household earners, the misperception of the man as breadwinner still persists, and men are compensated by increased salaries.

It is only when we look closer at solving issues around the needs of the business in the context of the needs of our families that we can close the gap and solve the problem. The wage gap is a parenting issue. Women and men should stop blaming each other and begin to work toward joint solutions for the sake of our children.

Rachel Bondi founded Earning Power after researching and consulting privately on the topic of women's equality in business since 1994. Through research and personal experience she realized that women had fallen into a common feminist misconception, believing that men were not needed to help them advance. She is a technology professional and corporate anthropologist who rose through the ranks at FORTUNE 100 companies only to find herself as the sole woman at the top surrounded by male executives. For more information, visit www.earningpower.org

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