Imagine a shopping spree in your favorite tech store, sporting good shop or the local grocery. After taking time to assemble a basket of worthy goods, it’s off to the checkout for the next and final stop. The cashier rings up your acquisitions and promptly informs you that there is a surcharge… because you are a woman.
Unheard of! While it is highly unlikely this would happen anywhere in the civilized world, it does beg a more serious question.
If women pay similar rates for goods and services as men, then why are women often not paid similar rates for the same services rendered?
Gender pay gap is not new news and the battle for equality has been fought for years. Many questions can be asked… and answered. Which occupations have the greatest gap, which sectors have had success closing the gap, which countries outperform others?
According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, “Women working full-time in the U.S. last year earned 82.5 cents for every dollar a man earned, according to the Labor Department’s weekly wage data. There are disparities across regions and occupations.” The largest gender gap is in the legal profession where women’s weekly earnings are a mere 56.7% of men’s.
The table below concisely illustrates the salary differential among select careers. Curiously, construction, a field traditionally dominated by men for years, boasts the smallest gap –but a gap nonetheless.
Certainly one might not expect Hollywood, long considered a bastion of progressivism, to have any role in gender pay gaps, yet that is not the case. The leaked emails from Sony Pictures proved to be quite an embarrassment when it was revealed that the A-list actresses in the Oscar nominated film American Hustle major were paid less than their A-list male counterparts. Actress Patricia Arquette vocalized her dismay on Hollywood wage inequality while accepting her Academy Award for her role in Boyhood.
Geographically, there is a significant gap in the, well, gaps. Sadly, but astutely reported by Business Insider, “There’s no country in the world where women earn more than men.” Especially, in South Korea where the world gender pay disparity was the greatest. This infopic, from Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s 2016 “Transforming World Atlas” report is a snapshot summary of wage inequality from 2011 through 2014.
New Zealand, with the narrowest pay gap in the world, still manages to pay women 5.6% less than men for performing the same work.
After reviewing such discrepancies one can’t help but wonder… what is being done about gender parity?
The United States passed the Equal Pay Act in 1963 when women were earning 59% of men’s earnings. According to a recent White House fact sheet, by 2013 women were paid an average of 77 cents for every dollar paid to men. However, the report outlines several new initiatives to end wage disparity such as passing the Paycheck Fairness Act and establishing a National Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force.
Optimistically, similar programs will be deployed worldwide. Let’s be confident and hope the next set of statistics demonstrates significant progress.