Despite great gains made for gender equality since the mid-20th century, there is still wage disparity in the workplace with men earning higher wages than women for the same job. The Pew Research Center recently found that a gender-biased pay gap continues to plague the American workforce, despite there being more women with bachelor’s degrees than men.
The Pew study indicated that female workers ages 25 to 34 earned 93 percent of their male counterparts income despite 38 percent of women having a college degree compared to 31 percent of men. The study found a larger gap in younger-age cohorts. Females ages 16 to 24 earned 84 percent of what males did in the same age group.
No doubt that wage equality has come a long way since 1980, when women earned 36 percent less than men, but many people surveyed say that more progression in needed. The belief that progression is needed has a strong gender slant. When Pew Research polled a group of 810 Millennials, those born from 1981 to 1988, 75 percent of women say that “More changes are needed to give men and women equality in the workplace.” Fifty-seven percent of men shared the same sentiment.
But where does this lack of wage parity come from? Many groups that have asked that question usually agree on the same reason. Pew mentioned that women bearing children is damning for them from the very beginning, noting that “when they [women] have children, it will be harder for them to advance in their careers.”
Half of women with children under 18 have taken “a significant amount of time off” work for their kids. Companies recognize this and, sadly, may use this fact as an excuse to pay women less. Sixty-three percent of women are wary of even having children for fear of an adverse impact on their career path.
According to The New York Times, a large part of wage disparity is attributed to “the greater likelihood that women would interrupt their careers to have children.” Naturally, women who want to pursue motherhood need more flexibility in their schedule for doctor visits during pregnancy and maternity leave.
But because lots of companies see these accommodations as a burdening expense, women are paid less or simply bypassed for a man. Such unfair actions have come to the attention of lawmakers in Washington D.C. as many politicians have been pushing legislation to combat this sexist treatment of women in the workplace.
There have been numerous attempts to pass The Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill intended to close the wage gap. The bill would force employers to base pay off of job performance instead of gender and allow workers to openly share their pay information with coworkers.
“The Paycheck Fairness Act will help the Equal Pay Act fulfill its intended objective, offer real protections to ensure equal pay for equal work and see that women are paid the same as the other half of our workforce for the same job,” said bill sponsor Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.).
Unfortunately, all attempts have been unsuccessful. DeLauro and fellow bill sponsor Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) have taken loss after loss as GOP Congress members block the bill. The most recent time being this past April. After introducing the bill to eight consecutive Congresses, Republicans have been successful in stalling the effort, calling it a “liberal plot.”
“This bill isn’t a liberal plot,” said DeLauro. “We have enough statistical information to demonstrate that no matter what the job is, whether you’re waitress or bus driver or civil engineer, women are paid less money.”