Wage Gap: the Issue of Unequal Pay Between Men and Women

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In the 21st century, the gender wage gap should not be an issue that modern women must face. With the same level of education and the signs of progress that women have shown over the past decades, such discrimination should be abolished. The right for women to receive equal pay as men for doing the same performance of work is a must to achieve an ideal American society.

In order to solve this issue of pay discrimination, the U.S. legislation must propose laws and regulations that protect women’s right to receive full payment for their work. Previous laws were passed such as the Equal Pay Act of 1963 signed by President John F. Kennedy, the law mandates equal pay for equal work by forbidding employers from paying men and women different wages or benefits for doing jobs that require the same skills and responsibilities. (…..). . Although the wage gap between men’s and women’s earnings has decreased over the years, the gap still exists. One reason this exist is due to the high prevalence of pay secrecy and workers usually do not know how much their co-workers get paid. Therefore, women cannot file complaints because they do not know how much their male co-workers earn. According to Marlene Kim in Pay secrecy and the gender wage gap in the United States (Industrial Relations: a Journal of Economy and Society, October 2015), well over half of private sector employees are not allowed to discuss salary differences. Although we have laws that were put in place, yet women still earn less than men and only a little progress have been made after decades of the Equal Pay Act was passed.

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The gender wage gap has a different impact on women based on their race, age, and educational level. A source from Targeted News Service states that on average a woman who works full time and year-round is typically paid only 77 cents for every dollar paid to her male counterpart and for women of color, for which the wage gap is even worst. African-American women are typically paid only 64 cents, and Hispanic women are typically paid only 55 cents, for each dollar paid to their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts” (NWLC Report Highlights). In addition, the gap widens and grows with age. The gap grows due to a variety of reasons, including parenthood and caregiving. Among the age group of 25 to 35 women earned up to 92% of what men earned and ages 35 and older women had earning that ranged from 75% to 81% of those of their male counterparts. Women with high school diplomas earned little more than half of what women with bachelor’s degree or higher and with advanced degree the gap is wider (“Is the Wage Gap Between Men and Women?”).

Women contribute to the American economy as consumers, savers, and asset owners; they are nearly half of the working population. Closing the gender wage gap would help many women and families to have more financial stability. According to Jessica Milli a Study Director at the Institute for Women's Policy Research , women’s average earnings would increase $6,870, from $38,972 to $45,842 (or 17.6 percent) annually. Poverty would be reduced by half by providing working women same pay as men and the U.S economy would add up to $512.6 billion in wage and salary income.

Unequal pay can have unplanned consequences throughout women’s lives. Some of the effects it has its that women earning less mean less saving for retirement. Especially single mothers are the most impacted on this issue as they are the main breadwinner in their households. The author of the article “How Better Pay for Women Would Kickstart Amazing Economic Growth” stated that currently women in the U.S. make up 46% of the workforce, but account for just one-fifth of the country’s annual GDP because of that lack of high paying, full-time work (Renzulli). “The Economic Impact of Equal Pay by State” acknowledges the high poverty rate among working single mothers would fall dramatically in the United States as a whole from 28.9 percent to 14.5 percent if the gap closes (Milli). Women will be able to afford to pay for their needs and their children’s needs, and the government does not have to spend taxpayers’ money to support them with housing and food assistant. This does not only benefit the children to have a good life and get out of poverty, but it will also help the mother to save for retirement, healthcare cost, and have enough money to support herself and her children's higher education. 

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