26 October 2016
26 October 2016,
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The Pay Gap

The pay gap is still a serious issue, but it seems like progress is finally being made. Thanks to pending legislation and ongoing promises from prominent political figures, women may finally see their wages rise to meet the pay earned by men in the same field.

Breaking Down the Wage Gap

According to the United States Census Bureau, working women in this country earn 79 cents for every dollar earned by men. The Census Bureau arrived at this figure by comparing the median wage earned by men and women who work full-time all year. Skeptics often criticize this figure, citing that women earn less simply because they are more likely to leave the workforce to raise children, they are more likely to work in lower-paying fields and they tend to have less experience than men. However, advocates for equal pay point out that these facts only serve to highlight the unique obstacles women face in the workforce.

When compared to other developed countries, the United States wage gap is considerable. Of the 34 countries tracked by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States ranks 12th. Furthermore, of the 342 occupations tracked by the Census Bureau, women earn more than men in only nine occupations.

Even when women feel that they deserve a raise, they may not ask for it. As many as 27 percent of women report that they won’t ask for a raise because they don’t believe it would make a difference. Of those women who do ask for raises, only 19 percent actually received the raise they requested. When men ask for raises, they will be successful 33 percent of the time.

Politicians and Celebrities Work to Close the Divide

Many politicians are now promising to help close the wage gap for women in the United States. For example, President Obama’s administration proposed a new rule in January that would require all companies with more than 100 employees to report the wages they pay by gender, race and ethnicity beginning in the year 2017. Democratic Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton has also promised to work toward equal pay, stating that she would work to pass equal pay legislation if she makes it to the White House.

Celebrities have joined the fight to close the gap as well. Members of the United States women’s soccer team are fighting to be paid the same wage as males on the men’s soccer team, while A-list actresses like Charlize Theron fight for equal pay in Hollywood.

Looking Forward

As interest in the wage gap intensifies, the Census Bureau prepares to release the latest statistics, and women everywhere are hoping to see that the gap is closing. Fortunately, it does seem that the efforts of women in the workforce are beginning to pay off. Several large well-known companies, including Stella McCartney, L’Oreal and Amazon, have already promised to analyze the way their employees are paid and take action to end discrepancies. In addition, pending political action may go even further to close the gap. In the meantime, women can focus on closing the gap by being proactive at their own places of employment. Drawing attention to disparities, negotiating a well-deserved raise and networking to move ahead in your career are also excellent ways to work toward the equal pay you deserve.

Although many instances of unequal pay are not malicious in nature, some employers may practice overt discrimination. Workplace discrimination based on gender is always illegal. If you believe that you have been a victim of discrimination, please contact Wood Law.

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