Boss Lady

Why is the pay gap for women increasing?


Women have had many obstacles to overcome in the workplace for a long time. With stereotypes ranging from the dim-witted, blonde, long-nailed secretary in the 1950s to the (still) heel-wearing bitch-of-a-boss, women have had to contend with it all.

And in a society where women can do anything they set their minds to, it is shockingto hear that women are still undervalued in the workplace.

Pay gap is growing

Nicole Mills, elaborates on statistics showing the gender pay gap has reached 18.2%; the highest it’s been in 20 years.

But why, in a time when everyone is free to pursue any career they choose, is the gender pay gap between men and women still growing and not decreasing. Particularly since tasks performed on the job are not reliant on which gender performs them.

Noted writer and social commentator Eva Cox, discusses why gender prejudices are still a concern in the workplace and how it might be related to the gender pay gap. “The problem is that despite nearly 40 years of equal pay legality, there is still evidence that the valuing of jobs is inequitable because there are still gender prejudices operating, in defining merit and the value of jobs”.

It is strange to think that the dollar value of someone’s job can come down to them being male or female and this can influence ideas about “whose job it is”.

Cox discussed this as well, saying, “Pay equity is going backwards for a range of reasons but a big one is that there is increasing numbers of the feminized jobs in education, care, health and personal services and increased particularly high paid often masculinized jobs in mining”.

The idea that the monetary value of a job can come down to gender or a work being a “woman’s job” or a “mans job” is ridiculous because both genders have equal opportunities to enter any field of work they choose.

The family disadvantage

And while the gender pay gap may be the tip of the iceberg for workplace inequality, it is only one (of many) that can make women feel undervalued or unappreciated in the workplace.

It is also common to find companies reluctant to hire or promote women because they may fall pregnant and leave work to start their family.

And, while women do leave work to start a family, it is unfair to disadvantage and stigmatise them. Employers need to remember that women are just as talented and deserving of any job or promotion as a similarly qualified male counterpart.

Doing more with less

These points are further supported by Christine Dickason, who presents further evidence on why the gender pay gap needs to end. “…A survey conducted by Prudential Financial in 2012 found that more than half of American women are breadwinners in their households, meaning these women are forced to provide for their families with smaller paychecks”.

And with many women these days being sole or part bread-winners of the house, it is astonishing that we are expected to get by on less, when we may be doing exactly the same work as our male counterparts.

Mills also wrote,

An 18.2 per cent pay gap means men earn an extra $282.20 per week or $14,726 each year on average. Women working in the female dominated health care and social assistance sectors have the largest gap at 30.7 per cent followed by financial and insurance services at 30 per cent.

But, whatever the reason for such a large gender pay gap and other unfair ideas about women in the workplace, the value of women in the workplacehas changed but hasn’t gone far enough yet.

About Rowena Nagy

Rowena Nagy is a Journalist at The Business Woman Media. A graduate in Journalism, Media and Communications, she is passionate about in writing, travel journalism, video journalism and Public Relations.

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