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This time, we will not stay silent....
If we hear one more person say “the gender pay gap doesn’t exist” we will possibly scream. It definitely exists, and it’s affecting women in every single country in the world. At the current rate of progress, the World Economic Forum predicts that it will take another 217 years before the gender pay gap finally closes. We’re not keen on waiting another two centuries to achieve equality, so let’s work on closing the gap. Knowing why a problem is occuring is the first step to achieving change. Here are six reasons why the gender pay gap still exists.
Gender bias at both a conscious and unconscious level is still very much alive around the world. Although a study by Harvard Business Review found that women actually rank more highly than men in 12 out of the top 16 leadership qualities – including problem solving, communication skills and innovativeness – women are consistently overlooked by employers, who still tend to view men as being more competent.
Not only are women being short-changed when it comes to hiring decisions and negotiating salaries – we’re also receiving less in performance bonuses. An Australian study by Mercer found that men were receiving up to 35 per cent more in performance bonuses than women, despite receiving the same performance rating.
Many discuss how women choose to go into lower-paid industries including childcare, social work, teaching and nursing, but few question why these female-dominated industries attract lower wages in the first place. A study that looked at US census data between 1950 and 2000 found when women entered a previously male-dominated industry, the average salary dropped. These findings led many social scientists to suggest that factors such as gender bias and social pressure not only devalue “women’s work”, but also discourage women from pursuing higher-paid, male-dominated jobs.
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As childbearers, women are still largely expected to be the ones who take time off work to raise children. However, the number of women having children is falling, while the number of men taking on more housework and the role of primary caregiver is on the rise. Hopefully these new trends mean more women will be able to pursue their careers regardless of whether they have a family or not.
Unfortunately, even if women try to return to work after having a child, they often face what is known as the “motherhood penalty”. As most workplaces still don’t offer much flexibility for mothers, they are often forced to take on lower-paying and less demanding jobs. However, even if they are able to find a job that suits them, mothers are much less likely to get an interview compared to fathers and childless women. What’s more, while women are penalised for having children, men are rewarded, with research from the University of Massachusetts finding fathers are more likely to be hired than childless men and tend to be paid more.
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