Though work is usually the cause of greatest stress, not many women would go back to being housewives, as in earlier times. Regardless of the negative aspects of working outside of the home and spending long hours away from family, women feel more empowered and liberated knowing they don’t have to depend on anyone.
It’s been a very long struggle for women to earn the same rights as men in many different departments: work, education, right to vote, etc. Though human rights movements have considerably improved the general situation concerning women’s rights at work, there’s still a burning question of disproportionate pay for women and men working the same amount of time and occupying the same position.
Different studies show that the difference in pay for men and women has significantly decreased over the years, but it still exists.
The problem with researching discrimination concerning men’s and women’s salaries is that people’s salaries are usually top secret. Even if a man is getting paid more than a women occupying the same position, that can only be found out via secret, “illegal”, unofficial channels. A lot of research conducted on this issue includes anonymous polls and interviews, and this way of obtaining data is not the most reliable.
The most obvious reasons for unequal pay
People usually cite women’s commitment to having babies, their inability to work as long hours as men (because of family) and their poor salary negotiation skills as some of the main reasons for gender inequality in this field.
[Ginger’s note: I wonder if some women accept a lower salary in exchange for more other perks like flexibility, shorter hours, time off etc because they may indeed have family commitments. The reality is that as women we are the primary caregivers so I often wonder if we’re missing the fact that some of us are OK with lower pay in exchange for flexing the work life balance which men rarely have to do – food for thought. And, to be clear, it’s ok if we do, but I wonder if we’re missing that this may actually be one of the contributing factors to our pay wage gap. ]
It is actually difficult to capture the exact reasons for pay inequality between the sexes, but most researchers agree that discrimination still exists here. The good news is that workers unions, women’s rights movements and other organizations are working hard to balance pay between men and women.
There are some other things that could be done as well. Companies could start offering a slightly longer paid period for mothers, as well as offering attractive paternal leaves that would encourage fathers to get more involved with family matters. That way women and men could take turns being absent from work and not only women would need some catching up to do upon return. Something similar to this idea of paternal leave is already an option in Scandinavian countries.
A general advice to women encountering problems with pay inequality is to 1) work on their negotiation skills and to 2) plan intentionally for success. Perhaps easier said than done, but still a valuable piece of advice. There’s objectively no reason for women to be inferior in any way compared to their male colleagues. We just need to work on overcoming the mind frame that it’s a rightfully male-dominated world out there.
Allison Moody is currently working as a freelance ghostwriter and a promoter of her online application Labeley, that allows users to easily create labels online for FREE. She also blogs about food, fitness, books, entrepreneurship and other fun things.