Essay: Gender Gap Wages

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Public Administration

Gender Gap Wages

When economists talk about the gender gap nowadays, they usually are speaking about systematic differences in the outcomes that men and women attain in the labor market. These dissimilarities are seen in the percentages of men and women in the labor force, the kinds of professions they choose, and their relative incomes or hourly wages. The gender gap in U.S. labor force contribution has been wearing away progressively for at least 110 years. "In 1890, 15% of women in the United States aged twenty-five to forty-four (all marital statuses and races) reported an occupation outside the home. This figure increased to 30% by 1940, 47% by 1970, and 76% by 2000, when it was 93% for men in the same demographic groups" (Goldin, 2008). While the trend for women has been decidedly up, the trend for men has been slightly down. As a consequence, the gender gap in labor force contribution has greatly decreased. "In 2000, of all twenty- to sixty-four-year-olds, women made up 47% of the total labor force" (Goldin, 2008).

The wage gap is the consequence of a diversity of forms of sex discrimination in the workplace, including discrimination in hiring, promotion and pay, sexual harassment, occupational separation, partiality against mothers, and other ways in which women workers and women's work are underrated. First comes what most people think of as sex discrimination. It consists of the simple and straightforward rebuff to hire, promote, or fairly pay women who are just as competent as men. Few people comprehend that sexual harassment also comprises wage discrimination. After long and frequent sexual harassment, women leave or lose their jobs, possible raises, promotions, opportunities, emotional stability, ability to work, and sometimes their entire lives (Why Is There a Wage Gap, n.d.).

Many people believe that the wage gap exists because women choose to care for children. But in doing this should they also be choosing to be paid less for doing the same work? Too many women find themselves shunted unwillingly onto the mommy sidetrack. Frustrated women talk about how, once they came back from maternity leave, colleagues began to treat them as unreliable and un-promotable, almost willfully overlooking any evidence of productivity. Everyday, women workers suggestions are dismissed, only to be discussed seriously when made by a man. Or when employers turn to old boy networks rather than public postings to recruit new talent. Or when interviews or screening tests prize male strengths or deeper voices, even though women's strengths and communication styles could accomplish the job just as well (Why Is There a Wage Gap, n.d.).

Women still are not receiving equal pay for equal work, let alone equal pay for work of equal value. This disparity not only affects women's spending power, it penalizes their retirement security by creating gaps in Social Security and pensions. "In 2007, women's median annual pay checks reflected only 78 cents for every $1.00 earned by men. Specifically for women of color, the gap is even wider: In comparison to men's dollar, African-American women earn only 69 cents and Latinas just 59 cents" (Women Deserve Equal Pay, 2012). Women currently make approximately 80 cents for every dollar that men earn (Brunner, 2012).

Choice of occupation also plays an important role in earnings. While feminists suggest that women are forced into lower-paying job sectors, most women know that something else is often at work. Women gravitate toward jobs with fewer risks, more comfortable conditions, regular hours, more personal fulfillment and greater flexibility. Simply put, many women, but enough to have a big impact on the statistics, are willing to trade higher pay for other desirable job characteristics. Men, by contrast, often take on jobs that involve physical labor, outdoor work, overnight shifts and dangerous conditions which is also why men suffer the overwhelming majority of injuries and deaths at the workplace. They put up with these unpleasant factors so that they can earn more (Lukas, 2011).

Despite the obvious wage gap there are dome occupations that women out-earn men. One example is in that of construction jobs. Female construction workers, construction supervisors, maintenance painters, and aircraft and vehicle mechanics earn slightly above the median earnings for both sexes, in spite of only holding three percent of these jobs. Women also make more in a few female-dominated education and healthcare jobs. "Female teacher assistants earn 105% as much as male peers. Women are 92% of the field and earn a median of $474 a week, compared to men's $453. Women also earn more than men in higher paying jobs like occupational therapists, dieticians and nutritionists, and life, physical, social science and health technicians. Women also out-earned men in a few gender-balanced jobs. Although men are 48% of all dining room attendants and bartender helpers, women earn 111% more. Men in this job earn a median of $40 less than women each week, which adds up to a yearly loss of $2,000. It is thought that most of the difference here is due to women receiving bigger tips" (Goudreau, 2011).

Women comprise a very large portion of the healthcare workforce, and most medical jobs are great for women. However, there are still a few medical careers in which women are not compensated fairly, or where women haven't advanced as much as others. These careers listed below typically offer flexibility, career advancement, and fair pay in general, although of course it depends on the employer (Santiago, 2012). Technical occupations are also thought to be particularly promising for women because they are high-paying and require clear, objective qualifications (Goudreau, 2011).

In a list put out by Forbes Women the best paying jobs for women were physicians and surgeons. "These women earned a median of $1,618 per week, or about $84,000 a year, more than any other profession. Male doctors continue to earn more than female doctors, but the pay gap has narrowed each year; it's now at 29%" (Goudreau, 2011). The second best-paying job for women is pharmacist. "Female pharmacists make a median of $1,605 per week or about $83,500 annually, nearly as much as physicians and surgeons and more than chief executives, which came in at No. 3 on our list. Women comprise 48% of the pharmacy profession and earn 83% as much as male pharmacists. Meanwhile, only 26% of CEOs are women, and they earn just 72% as much as male peers" (Goudreau, 2011).

Overall three of the top 10 highest-paying jobs for women were in technology fields, which feature some of the narrowest gender pay gaps. "Female computer software engineers, who earn a median of $75,000 annually, and computer programmers comprise just 20% of their respective occupations but earn more than 90% as much as their male counterparts. Similarly, women computer and information systems managers make 82% as much as men" (Goudreau, 2011).

According to the U.S. Department of Labor the top 10 worst paying jobs for women include:

Combined food-preparation-and-serving workers -- people in these jobs are involved in getting food ready as well as serving food in fast food restaurants. The mean annual salary for women in this job is just over fifteen thousand.

Fast Food Cooks -- these people are involved in preparing food in a fast food restaurant which serves only select food items. The mean annual salary for the women working in this occupation is again just over fifteen thousand.

Dishwashers -- these people assist in cleaning dishes as well as food preparation equipment or utensils and the median annual salary for women is about fifteen and a half thousand. Women working in this occupation earn much less than most other jobs. They also infrequently get annual raises or any bonuses.

Dining Room Helpers -- these people earn a median annual salary of fifteen and a half thousand. In this job category food servers can also be incorporated who work for small restaurants and earn very little money. At times they might work as part time workers particularly some food outlets. These part time workers earn much lesser than those who are working full time.

Shampooers -- these people assist in beauty parlors by shampooing and washing hair of their customers earning a median annual salary of just over sixteen thousand.

Amusements and Recreation Attendants -- these people do an assortment of work associated with amusement or recreation facilities like the cleanliness or ticket collection and the median annual salary for women in this field is just over sixteen and a half thousand.

Cashiers -- these are people involved in collecting money from their consumers in places like malls, big shops, hotels or department stores and giving balance to the consumers. The salary is very paltry and most of the women cashiers are paid an annual median salary of just over seventeen thousand.

Bartender Helpers -- This job also comes under the collection of worst paid professionals and their median annual salary is about seventeen thousand. Their job profile includes serving and mixing drinks in bars. They also do not get ordinary increments, bonuses and… [END OF PREVIEW]

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