Gender Pay Gap

Gender Pay Gap


Gender pay parity refers to the difference between gross monthly earnings paid to female employees and that paid to male employees represented as a percentage.  Women have for a long time been mistreated at work places to a point of being underpaid even though they perform the same tasks as men.  Recent researches suggest that most working women in the world are disillusioned with their work.  Female employees still get approximately 70 percent of what their male employees get at the same work place doing the  same work, a problem that remains unchanged especially in the developed countries like the USA.  In the past, in Britain, pay scales for the people working in farms and industries were based on gender.  Women workers in these farms were paid lower than that of their men.

In places like North America, female teachers were paid lower than men until the late sixties.  The gender pay disparity has not changed much regardless of the implementation of legislated history aimed at curbing this menace.  The persistence of this menace is now a worldwide concern.  Suppose this problem persists then it implies that it will take the whole world a minimum of 500 years for the gender parity between men and women to be equal.  Female gender continues to work regardless of this parity.

Regardless of more than forty years of equal payment legislation, aimed at reducing the disparity, the gap between women and men remains significantly persistent and is experienced across the whole world.  Gender economic empowerment is a world problem, though many nations have made considerable strides towards liberation of this problem.

Causes of gender pay parity

Numerous researches have been conducted to examine and explain the parity in pay, often basing their argument on the economic theories illustrated below.  In both the results conducted on the parity, reveals a presence of variability.

The theories

Most economic theories that are used to explain parity on the pay between men and women include theories of the dual labor market, human capital and reserve theory of capital.

The human capital theory explains that the pay gap is attributed to the experience earned, the commitment to the workforce and level of education.  On the other hand the dual labor theory argues that labor is subdivided into secondary and primary sectors.  It goes further to suggest that the primary sector is composed of stable, unionized and skilled jobs and secondary are composed of low paying jobs that are always temporary with little or no benefits. The reserve army of labor theory argues that the structure of capitalism heavily relies on the renewable, cheap and expandable pool of workers.  Thus the believers of this theory say that women are the ones who belong to this especially in the western society.

The three theories go further to totally agree that the other reason for the women pay gap is attributed to discrimination.  The persistence of pay parity between men and women is due to quite a number of factors. Among the many factors is the inequality that is always based on the social inequality.  Despite the fact that women have worked for a long time and they continue to do so, their jobs have traditionally been given less value and respect than that of men.  This is because at the point women started working, most of them were given and directed to work that replicated the chores that they were doing at home. This heavily facilitates the women devaluation of their working capacity; this is due to the fact that their job qualities in work performance were always assumed to be more natural rather than acquired skills.  This assumption of natural ability or talent seriously came to affect and influence the way work was examined and evaluated at the time equality legislation and policies were being put in place.  A most recent research in America describes the propensity to undermine women’s work in relation to the skills and talent: the manual skills and psychological skills in the work environment are often associated with women.

Another reason that results in the pay gap is attributed to the fact that only limited jobs are deemed feasible by women, therefore women are clustered in low paying and undervalued occupations.  Furthermore, women are generally assumed to be doing jobs that supplement their wages or rather some pocket money.  This stereotype of assuming that women are paid less since they are seen as doing women’s work further increases the parity in gender pay.  This stereotype is based on the belief that women worked at home and they were not paid at all therefore most employers justified  their low payment to women on these assumptions.  This makes the evaluation mechanisms set in place to remove the gender parity to be ignored and untreated.

Labor discrimination at work place for men is still experienced up to date.  It is apparent that most women in the USA are mainly concentrated in the low paying jobs such as nursing teaching, sales and clerical work.  It is no wonder that women are mostly employed as secretaries.

Other studies attribute the resulting discrimination of women in workplaces to choices that women themselves make.  It is important to note that societal choices do not recognize that society itself discriminates against scenario for equality.  The patterns that women choose are major contributors of pay gaps.

On the other hand, women cannot be blamed entirely for this mess since it is hard for people to choose the kind of job description they want.  This is because as occupational discrimination continues, it remains unclear the extent to which choice hinders the qualification of women for required jobs.   Despite the fact that female students occasionally perform better in the same subject as male students, women still remain to be socially discriminated both in higher education fields and final occupations.  I believe that choices to some extent lead to poor pay by women.

Another contributor to the discrimination to women pay is the traditional hierarchical structures in the family setting that conspire at work situations.  This is due to women continuing to hold the traditional responsibilities at home together with their increased work responsibilities.  Female workers still remain with the responsibility of rearing children and general housework coupled with their full-time job.  The other problem that the studies infer is the fact that women and men begin to considerably same pay, but as they progress the disparity widens since that of women remain static and that of male progress with them being given management responsibilities.

Another reason for the continued disparity between men and women workers is marital status.  Researches in the state of California show that mostly unmarried women and men earn considerably the same pay, which is lower compared to that of married men.  A pattern come out clearly that show still married women still earn way below compared to that of married men.  This implies that at work places, married men earn more compared to the other groups.  The theory of the education economy suggests that higher education level correlates with the earnings that one receives whether a woman or a man.  Female employees that have higher education earn higher than that of unskilled women, but still fall short of their male counterparts.  Some people argue that this is brought about by the choice of careers that women take.  Women mostly choose careers that are considered simple as opposed to that of men that are technical and complex like engineering.  This thus implies that men should be paid higher than women due to the complexity of chores they perform.

Massive shifts and changes in labor force participation by women are yet to be accompanied by equal changes in societal expectations and women’s personal lives. This also contributes immensely to the pay gap that exists between men and women.  The economy of the world could be boosted to a greater extent with the contribution of the unemployed women. This lack of changes in dynamics of society has direct influence to the world power dynamics, in which women have little influence therefore getting low paying jobs compared to that of men.  This is not surprising at all that the progress of women in society remains way below the standards of the UN.  It is worth noting that people could change their perception towards women if the contributions of the unpaid women were to be considered.  Fully appreciating the economic contribution of women could possibly completely change all the premises upon which gender pay disparity lies.

Another reason for the pay gap is sectoral and occupational discrimination against women across different job descriptions.  Whereas strict legislation will rule out the effect of direct discrimination, when men and women are employed in different occupations and sectors there are higher chances of a remuneration gap to expand.  This problem exists due to the fact that women and men are not evenly distributed in low and higher paying sectors and occupations.  As long as women and men are often found in different job departments, gender pay gap will continue to expand.

The discrimination of job descriptions into females and males, leads to disadvantages in the labor market.  This is because the rewards of the different sectors are different.  This is made worse by the fact that women are given caring responsibilities that are often undermined and undervalued therefore having little pay.

It is evident that even in situations where women have been given more opportunities; men always hold higher positions, meaning that they earn more. The dominance of men in higher positions leads to the average earnings of men to be more than that of women. Here the effect of women undervaluation is seen.  There is less representation of women employees in the decision making positions that further widens the gap of pay.

Legislation to curb pay gap and case laws

The European Union commission has in the recent years been critical in facilitating the reduction of the pay gap through consistent legislation.  Legislations like the Lisbon Treaty that provides for equal pay for both male and female workers and they insist that the member states comply with this requirement.  Under this law there has been a considerable utilization of female workers both in Europe and the other parts of the world.  Consequently the legislation has seen and highlighted the gains made in regards to gender disparity.  The commission worked closely with member countries to provide data on pay and job description thereby necessitating measure of pay inequality and adequate revaluation.  The commission under the legislate Lisbon treaty acknowledged the priority of the pay gap and hence kept it high on its change agenda.  This has seen the gender pay gap reduce considerably though it remains minimal.

Another legislation that aimed at reducing the gender pay gap is the Women’s Charter 2010.   This was set in place to reduce the pay gap through non legislative and legislative measures.   The charter reaffirms what researchers have pointed out that pay gap is so big and the world cannot afford to let be.  The charter came up with new and hardened policies aimed at promoting gender pay equality.  This is significant as the new report shows a significant implementation of such policies especially in the European countries.  In addition the legislation implemented one of their strategies of reducing the pay gap through public awareness.  This was done so that there is a world equal gender pay day.  This reaffirms the need for women to be paid the same as that of their male counterparts across the world.   This awareness raising campaign is quite critical in ensuring that employers and all stakeholders in the workplace recognize the need to reduce the gap.  This has paid off but though at low rate.

Legislation is that of the OECD countries that mandated the legislation of laws that aimed at combating discrimination based on gender at work place.  It is important to note that the prohibition of segregation behavior by employers based upon gender can only be realized through effective implementation.  The fact that this legislation depended much on the willingness of the affected victims to assert claims for them to enforce, meant that the efforts were not effective.  A concern of this legislation is that most people do not know the existence of their right to getting equal pay (Parbudyal & Ping, 575).

The process of claiming right to equal pay is a tedious one and costly therefore most people choose not to pursue this measure in case they are discriminated against due to their gender, further complicating the gap issue.  All these factors make the implementation of the gap reduction legislation difficult.  Moreover, even though these countries have put measures in place for curbing pay gap including the anti discrimination agencies, some are not well equipped to deal with these issues.

The USA set up the equal employment opportunity commission so that they could deal with discrimination in pay in the workplace on the basis of gender.  This commission was mandated to periodically monitor gender pay discrimination claims and streamline the labor force. They also had to evaluate and correct the specific discriminatory areas.  All these efforts did not change the patterns as such due to lack of effective and strict monitoring guidelines.

In some countries, the core principle of equality in pay at workplaces for equal value for women and men at parliament acts.  The common law countries such as the United Kingdom have further made legislation to that effect.  In France, Poland and Hungary, the equal pay principle is strictly laid down in labor codes and civil codes.  This act and codes define elaborately the extent of equal work value so that the clause is not misinterpreted and abused.  These acts are in line with the requirements of the EU commission for equal pay.  According to research, this act has substantially increased the participation of women in the labor force thereby reducing the gender pay gap.

The USA constitution has the equal pay act of 1963 that discourages the unequal payment for the same job.  The civil rights act of 11961 was also legislated to promote equal employment opportunity regardless of gender, color or religion.  Although this legislation has in place data still shown a disparity in female representation in the work force and pay.

Equal act of 1963

The congress amended the Fair labor law so that it prohibits segregation on the basis of sex and gender.  This came to remedy the problems that women were experiencing in the workplace.  Women were paid lower than the male employees though they did the same work.  This was made possible so that the women earn the respect they lost due to the traditional stereotype that women were emotionally unstable and needed poor paying chores.  The act emanated from the situation where the plaintiff was paid lower than her male colleagues in the workplace.

Therefore, it is evident that gender discrimination at workplace still persists regardless of numerous legislations.  Firstly, same jobs have different pay being awarded, for instance a female teacher with the same experience and qualification earns less than that of the male teacher.  In addition, segregation occurs on different jobs, which are given equal value pay differently.  In this instance, female interpersonal skills are always valued less than that of male counterparts.  A good example of this problem being persistent regardless of the legislation a good example is the case of Betty Dubes vs Wal-Mart. The lady filed in a lawsuit against the giant retail business for not honoring the equal pay principle.  Dubes realized that she was being paid less money compared to her male employees though they were doing the same job.  A jury set up awarded her a pay amounting to 3 million.  This implies that a significant gap exists further accelerating the poor economic freedom of women employees.

Measures to reduce the gender pay gap

The gender pay gap is a bigger problem and requires combative measures so that it can be reduced.  I think education is the key in eradicating gender pay gap. Governments need to formulate policies that facilitate female participation in male dominated fields.  This will imply that both women and men get equal opportunities in different fields of occupation therefore reducing the pay gap.  I also strongly believe that the recruitment and selection process holds a key to solving the disparity in male and female pay.

Promotion and selection of employees need to be structured so that they enhance female access to higher paying jobs and those fields in the company that are male dominated.  Awareness arising programs should be encouraged across the world so that pay gap is reduced.  This is because most people in the world do not know their right to equal pay and employment opportunity.  By so doing, the world would become aware of their rights and would make claims in the cases where they are violated.  This in turn will compel employers to follow strict laws and regulation so that they do not suffer damage.

Since gender pay disparity is mostly caused by correlated factors, I think all the stakeholders should anticipate these problems early so that they are tackled. Measures such as facilitating improved working conditions especially for female employees, encouraging women to break the traditional bonds of poor jobs and improving female gender participation in positions that involve decision making.  Furthermore, women need to be encouraged to take up better paying tasks such as chemical engineering, leadership position such as those in government and make good use of promotion opportunities. More often the major cause for a wider gap between men pay and women is a lack or inadequate representation of women in higher leadership positions such as government jobs.

Another way of encouraging a reduction of gender pay gap is through the enhanced involvement of women in collective bargaining and unionization more so in women dominated jobs such as home based jobs.  This will ensure that women employees have opportunities to negotiate collectively for improved pay and promotion therefore reducing the gap.  This is the best way since it involves the increment of pay for jobs that have a female dominance.



Parbudyal, S., & Ping, P. (2010). Canada’s bold experiment with pay equity. Gender in Management: An International Journal, 25 (7), 570 – 585.

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