Reasons Why Gender Pay Gap May Exist And How To Deal With It?

    25th Sep 2018
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    Talking about gender is a very sensitive topic. If you talk in favor of one, the other may easily get offended. When we talk about gender it is important to understand that it is completely different from the term sex. Sex is more or less in relation to our physical attributes where gender refers to the attitudes and behavior risen between the different sexes due to influences and expectations from the society. The combination of both these terms influences the roles played by an individual in a society.

    Irrespective of whatever gender you belong to, it is important to know everyone has rights. These rights help an individual to contribute to the society as well as to develop. Over the years, many people have come talking about gender equality. However, when we look at the society we often notice that one gender is always treated superior whereas the other is discriminated against.

    One of such places where we can see such bias in the workplace. Workplace bias is common news all around the world. At a workplace, we experience prejudice in various forms including discrimination while assigning tasks, unfair distribution of opportunities, etc. Amongst all of these, the biggest factor where there is unequal treatment is when it comes to remuneration.


    Before we go ahead with the article, here is a small disclaimer. All the facts and points covered in this article are written after proper research. The author doesn’t aim at putting false accusations on any country, company or individual. The author has tried her best to put a balanced perspective on this topic.

    What is Gender Pay Gap?

    When there is a difference between the amount of salary received by a man and woman, it is termed as gender pay gap.

    In the United States the average female’s earnings are cited as 78% of the male earnings, thus the gender pay gap is 22%. In most of the developed countries as well as developing countries, this pay gap may be pretty narrow or even in existent based on the organization. However, the majority part of the population around the world still faces gender pay gap.

    In 2016, the average remuneration of women working full-time was only 90.6% of men’s pay. Robin Wright made headlines last year when she said she wasn’t being paid the same as costar Kevin Spacey for the show “House of Cards”. Spacey was reportedly paid $500,000 an episode in 2014. It was reported in 2015 that Wright made an estimated $5.5 million from “House of Cards,” which is approximately $420,000 an episode.

    Another example from Hollywood is about Michelle Williams and Mark Wahlberg. Jimmy Kimmel even spoke on this during the 90th Oscars monologue. For the movie “All The Money In The World,” Michelle Williams only made $80 a day in per diem for the film’s reshoots, while co-star Mark Wahlberg squeezed $1.5 million.

    The attention-grabbing headline is likely the first of many that will shine a light on Hollywood’s gender and racial pay inequality. Mark donated his money to the sexual misconduct defense initiative Time’s Up.

    Why Does Gender Pay Gap Exist?

    In its annual report, “Highlights of Women’s Earnings in 2012,” the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that “On average in 2012, women made about 81% of the median earnings of male full-time wage and salary workers ($854).” The report stated that on average men make more money than women do.

    However, there were certainly other factors that were considered that most of the women included in the report worked for fewer hours in comparison to the men. In one of the most recent reports in 2014, full-time, year-round working women’s annual median wages were $39,621 compared with $50,383 for men, which shows a vivid pay gap. Here are some potential reasons why gender pay gap may exist at work.

    Reasons Why Gender Pay Gap May Exist

    1. Factors Other Than Gender

    In most of the organizations, gender pay gap is based on various other factors and have nothing to do with the “sex” of an individual in general. These factors include the individual’s qualifications, experience, job position, workload, working hours, etc.

    For e.g. If a man working in a company is having more work experience as well as qualification as compared to a woman working in the same department as him, it is but obvious there may be some difference in their salary.

    But, there may be some cases where the story is different. A woman working in a company with higher qualifications and experience compared to a man working in the same department as she may still be paid lesser in comparison. Sometimes, the salary they receive may be the same but there may be a difference in the perks and incentives that they receive.

    2. Negotiating The Salary

    In another report, it was stated that while being hired for the same position, men are more likely to negotiate for a higher salary as compared to a woman. This is one true fact. I would like to share a personal example at our college about a particular international school which came in for placements. They had a vacancy for the position of a Mathematics teacher.

    In the end, there were around 3 girls and 1 boy who was shortlisted. While negotiating the salary, the girls ended up asking for somewhere around 30k per month even though they had more qualifications as compared to the boy. The boy, on the other hand, negotiated for around 45k, which is around 50% higher than the girl requested for.

    3. The Nature of Job

    It is said that women are more likely to go for flexible jobs where they can work as well as take care of their families which may result in lower pay per hour than jobs with set hours. They are also more likely to reject riskier jobs which are usually high paying. Similarly, there are certain jobs where women are paid higher as compared to men. Some field like these are jobs like occupational therapists, teachers, dietitians and nutritionists, modeling etc.

    4. Stereotypical Attitudes

    Another factor in the gender pay gap is the attitude of the organization. There are some organizations in the world which follow a very stereotypical attitude and belief. The gender wage gap most severely affects women of color, and the wage gap exists within all racial and ethnic groups.

    Another typical attitude is that employers feel a woman may quit her job or take more leaves, in order to take care of her family. This may clearly affect women’s wages.

    The fixed belief of employers about the job capabilities of women and the acceptance of male workers in terms of taking orders from women in the interest of the company’s productivity and profit are serious concerns which cause the pay gap.

    5. Rural vs Urban

    Gender pay gap exists because most women work in unorganized sectors where the pay is less. In 2009-10, in rural areas of our country, the earnings per day for males was Rs. 249.15 whereas for females it was just Rs. 155.87. A similar situation was found in the urban areas too, however, it is smaller.

    • Illiteracy of women,

    • lack of awareness of laws and the types of jobs available

    make gender pay gap larger in rural areas as compared to urban areas.

    6. Undervaluing Work

    Sometimes, the amount of work put in, especially by women, is also undervalued. Women’s competencies and skills are undervalued, so women frequently earn less than men for doing same work. Another way in which women’s capabilities and skills are undervalued could be reflected in the promotion rates in an organization.

    What Can Be Done to deal with gender pay gap?

    1. Know Your Rights

    Laws exist, both at the national and international level, to ensure that there is no discrimination between men and women in terms of remuneration received for the same kind of work.

    The Indian Constitutions Article 15 guarantees that there will be no discrimination on basis of sex and Article 39 states that equal pay for equal work should be granted to both men and women.

    Apart from this, there were various acts and provisions passed on an international as well as national level for same work same pay.

    2. Raise Awareness

    According to International Labor Organization, India’s female labor participation was just 29%. Most of the labor industries in don’t employ women.

    Another reason can be women are not allowed to work and are discouraged from taking such jobs. There is a need to raise awareness among women especially from the rural areas who are not aware of the laws.

    There are various NGO’s fighting for equal remuneration for both genders and also towards creating awareness among people who are exploited in the name of “work.” Unjust pay based merely on sex on an individual is a punishable offense.

    3. Be Ready to Work

    It is easy for someone to complain about gender pay gap. As I have pointed out above, there are a variety of factors determining the remuneration some of them being workload and nature of the job. If you want to be paid as much as your colleague, you need to put in the same amount of efforts and working hours. If you take leave very often, work flexible hours and don’t prefer having much workload, you will have to accept that you will be paid accordingly.

    4. Provide Help

    Companies want their employees to put complete effort and dedication to the organization. What they fail to do is understand that the employees to have some personal problems or situations which may hamper their performance. Organizations need to provide help to the employees especially working mothers who have just delivered by providing paid leave and sponsored or on-site childcare. In the US, companies have started to take note, with a “babies at work” policy becoming a growing trend. If the situation is not suitable to bring the child to work, allow the parent to work from home.

    5. Follow transparency

    Formulate policies that will help to reduce the gap. Be transparent when it comes to remuneration. Don’t take any decisions about wages from behind the curtains. Let the employees be comfortable to discuss their salary amidst themselves and address any concerns. This way you will be able to clear their doubts and solve the issues. Transparency will also ensure compensation is based on a job’s requirements and the candidate’s qualifications not only their sex.

    Concluding thoughts on gender pay differences,

    Solving the issue about gender pay gap is a long process which will take a good amount of time. It is not possible to achieve results overnight. Over the years, the gap has been narrowed down due to various women action groups and changes in government policies. Hopefully, somewhere in the future, gender pay gap will become extinct.

    Share your thoughts about gender pay gap in the comments section. Do not forget to subscribe with AlignThoughts for more interesting articles.


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