The Real Truth About the Wage Gap

Christina Zhang


Two weeks ago, an article was posted about the debatable topic of America’s wage gap. While the post does make some interesting points, I think it’s fair to say that not every factor has been taken into account. I would like to address some points which my fellow news writer did not include. I would just like to say that this piece is not meant in any way to discredit “The Truth About the Pay Gap”.

Firstly, the statistic that women earn 23% less pay is, in fact, very much true. Asserting that companies maximize their profits by hiring women because their pay is less, is not the case. Personally, I think this is because it would hypothetically take less time and money to train men for the job because the end results would yield more efficient workers. Companies would rather pay men with mediocre performances, than pay strong performing women. According to S&P 500, a stock market index, only 4.0% of company CEO’s are female. Why is it that only 20 out of 500 company owners are women?

In a country with a strong history of sexism and adherence to gender norms, it is hard to believe that people think the wage gap doesn’t exist. Sure we’ve made progress: e.g., The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act passed in 2009, the amazing history of women’s suffrage, and modern day feminism. The fact that a bill needs to be put into place at all should indicate that, indeed, something was very wrong in the first place. In the past, “feminine jobs” such as nurses and teachers were the norm for women. It isn’t because women are “altruistic” in nature, it’s because in the past (and even still today) women are expected to stay home and take care of families. Fast forward to the present, and now women have more options, but society isn’t at all fair.  What happens when independent women want to apply for the same jobs that are mostly male- dominated? It’s just not far, simple as that. We’ve come a long way but we’ve got a long way to go.

Women are more likely to be in employed in lower paying fields because of the history of socially constructed gender norms. Cleaning, cooking, and taking care of children, are all vital jobs that limited women from exploring different paths. In Betty Friedan’s classic 1963 book, “The Feminine Mystique”, she explains how smart and educated women with degrees from universities tend to be depressed as a result of their “soccer mom” lifestyles. Taking care of a family is not at all bad. In fact, it’s pretty badass. The gift of a child is rewarding in and of itself, but what happens when women return to their normal day jobs? Why is it that women on maternity leaves don’t receive the adequate help they deserve? They birthing a baby and care for it, but then what? They often come back to their jobs and face work piled high to their necks and because they’ve lost time, they’ve missed opportunities for raises and promotions, which leads them to lower salaries than their coworkers that didn’t go through 9 months of pregnancy and several months of intense childcare. Society doesn’t place value on raising a child.

Lastly, women are not negotiating for higher wages. We’re demanding it because it’s a basic human right. We don’t need to argue nor fight for something that should already be ours. And as for the common retort of “no one is stopping you”, my answer is the following: Firstly, the fragile masculinity of men that are afraid of strong performing women surpassing them on economical ladders is stopping lots of women and secondly, many women don’t need to be told that no one is stopping them. They’re gonna’ go out and be strong as heck.