A Dollar Is Not A Dollar For Everyone
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You might be vexed by the challenge to the validity of the wage gap, gratified that feminists’ cries are being heard, or unaware that such a dilemma exists. Regardless, is the wage gap a myth?
After a disturbing conversation about gender bias and the wage gap with a classmate, I began to realize the extent to which people thought progress was still necessary. The American Association of Working Women reports the most recent calculated wage gap as women are earning 79% of what a man does for the same amount of work. But the answer my classmate sought pertained to the process preceding this single rounded statistic that negates various variables: age, hours, job type, education, race, etc. It’s calculated by the government using average weekly salaries of both the sexes in different corporate sectors.
People who deny the wage gap argue that it’s not a product of discrimination but merely the ‘free’ choices that women make regarding their personal lifestyles. Sure, many women choose to stay home, but just like we can’t prove the wage gap without keeping certain factors constant, we can’t attest to this free choice without factors that contribute to making these choices so inherently free.
Research shows that even today 30% of Americans believe that it is the woman’s job to stay home to care for her children. The research also indicates that employer biases only increase when women have kids, lessening their chances of getting higher paying jobs or promotions whereas it increases the chances of men to do so. Furthermore, women still struggle with unfeasible childcare costs and a lack of employer flexibility towards women- noting a few of the ‘free choices’ women make. We live in a society where working moms are shamed for prioritizing work over their children, and stay-at-home dads conjure images of unsuccessful beta males. As long as all these factors exist, we can’t legitimize this “free choice” and blame women for the wage gap. Sexism still exists– whether it is in the form of unfair division of labor or the labeling of working mothers as bad moms. We still need change.
Why is it that someone, offering the same credentials, makes 21 cents more for every dollar that another makes? The truth is that there is no logical answer. What we do have is a figure. Where we go from it– as a nation- is contingent upon your take on the wage gap, and what you decide to do about it.