Zoe Stratos | Staff Columnist
Women’s rights have come a long way since the 19th Amendment, Equal Pay Act and Title IX, but there is still work to be done within the women’s movement for equal rights across the board.
As a part of President John F. Kennedy’s New Frontier Program, the Equal Pay Act was signed into law in 1963 aiming to abolish disparities in wages based on sex. The act believes that wages should be based on skill, effort and responsibility rather than biological differences within men and women.
With this act in place, the assumption would be that there are no longer disparities within the workplace; however, the gender wage gap still exists in American society across many different types of occupations ranging from chief executives to food service workers.
As college students, many of us may not understand or even witness the wage gap, as we are all mostly part-time workers. The gender wage gap refers to the median annual pay of all women who work full time compared to the pay of a male counterpart within their respective field.
Specifically, according to a Business Insider calculation of data from the United States Census Bureau in 2018, white women are currently earning 80.5 cents for every dollar men earn, and the annual median earnings are an estimated $10,086 less. Although the gap is slowly decreasing, research shows that if action is not taken now, the gap will not even out until 2059.
This means that college students should be educated now on the problem. Being that college students often have to pay off college loans, women students should be aware that their loans may take longer to pay off, even if they earn a steady wage. Not only this, but women graduate college at a higher rate than men as well.
According to 2019 statistics provided by the Bureau of Labor, the median weekly earnings of male food service managers– 420 of them to be exact– earn $922 per week; whereas, female food service-managers, 407 to be exact-only earn $708 per week.
The statistics continue with many occupations as well; for example, disparities within a chief executive position differ by $752.
Especially within the business field, women find it difficult to secure a high position within companies. Within business and feminist studies, the “invisible barriers” effect takes place. Commonly known as the glass ceiling, high achieving women are often faced with an artificial boundary that allows them to see the next level within corporation hierarchy, but obstacles prevent them from reaching it.
Men often receive these positions over deserving women despite their lack of qualification.
Part of the wage gap also comes with intersectionality. Intersectionality is the interconnection of social categories such as gender, race and class that contribute to levels of discrimination. Women of color find it even more difficult to close the wage gap than Caucasian women.
Most affected by intersectionality are black and Hispanic women. Caucasian women earn 79% of what white men do; whereas black women earn 67% and Hispanic women earn 58%, according to Business Insider.
The wage gap is a serious problem for all women no matter their race, and the problems seem to continue forever. With the glass ceiling in play, the wage gap usually exists during the entirety of a woman’s life and causes serious problems down the road into retirement.
According to a 2016 senate report on gender pay inequality, women over the age of 75 are twice as likely to live in poverty.
The main problem with the wage gap is the lack of awareness or belief in it. Americans are generally divided on what steps to take to end this long battle of economic inequality within the U.S. One of the options available would be to require companies to share pay information to the government or to the public. Another consists of restricting questioning of previous wage earnings of new applicants.
Transparency in business is the main way to begin changing the system and reward hard work, regardless of gender.