A recent article summarizes an event that occurred at a Utah High School that many perceived as a forward movement, as well as brought forth controversy. Members of the young democrats club at the high school prepared a bake sale where they sold cookies that cost either 77 cents or 1 dollar depending on if you are female (who paid 77 cents) or male (who paid 1 dollar). You may question why the difference in cost, as did I. The interesting answer is that these cookies were exactly the same. The students’ goal was to raise awareness about the unequal pay of women and men in the workforce for doing the exact same job.
“Because in America, for every dollar a man makes, a woman only makes 77 cents. So we’re raising awareness for this. So boys will pay a dollar and girls only pay 77 cents,” said Kari Schott, a member of the young democrats club. An aim was to show the men how it feels to lose the 23 cents, or how it feels to be at a disadvantage solely for the reason based of your gender. “They were really mad about it. They didn’t think it was fair and I said yeah, it’s not fair. That’s why we’re doing it.” Kari says of the complaints she received of the cost difference. People, especially young people going into the workforce, are unaware of the difference is one of the problems about the gap. One of the students shows this by not standing by the statistics used by the club, and by scrolling through the comments posted in response to the article. It is evident how many grown adults refuse to believe a gap exists or provide half-hearted excuses as to why it continues to exist. One man’s comment talks about the difference of men and women in the construction field, “most women would freak if they cut their finger off, a guy would probably duct tape it and work the rest of the day before leaving work.” I find this bias as it is fair to say that the majority of all gender identities would be worried if they cut their finger off, as well as patronizing women in this way is exactly one of the reasons why some women do not firstly consider pursuing after what would be considered male-hegemonic careers.
Historically, women in the workforce have always been at a disadvantage, with no political rights until the 1920’s. The few women who did work though were at disadvantage for pay wage far less than men because men were seen as the primary wage earners and entitled to a ‘family wage’ (Aulette and Wittner 196). It was not until World War II, when a high percentage of the men had to go to war, that women were able to obtain factory jobs temporarily. Even after proving themselves and the capabilities of women in the workforce and some proving they could do jobs better than some men, women were forced out of their jobs when the men returned home due to the expectation of women was to stay at home, care for the children and cook. This led to the Equal Pay act of 1963 when women were outraged, making it illegal to pay workers differently solely on the basis of gender. Unfortunately, this act has not been revised since its enactment.
Although there has been definite improvement over the last century regarding the pay differences, there is still an overwhelming 23% difference in overall earnings of men and women. It is a highly debated argument over the reasons for this difference, primarily; the accepted reasons are the gender segregation of the labor market and discrimination. There are certain careers that many people of a general western society believe fits a specific gender role, such as women as secretaries, nurses, teachers and waitresses and men being truck drivers, construction workers, engineers and doctors. Both lists are considered gender dominated because they have over 75% of one gender as employees and the fact of the matter is, that of these jobs with the exception of nurse/doctor, men have higher weekly wages. The big question is that with all the equality movements we (try) to have today, why are women still dominating lower status and paid careers? It is exactly because we do not have (gender) equality. Society still follows a patriarchal way of life, with women, for the most part being the primary caregivers of children and it seems like child bearing is still more valued than education and career building. Many think it as odd for a woman to wait until her thirties or to never even have kids at all, but if a man waits so he can build his career or decides never to have children, it is not seen as abnormal. Many also think the president should never be a female because males are a stronger political figure. Women are forced to take lower paying jobs or part time jobs if they are single mothers and usually do not have the opportunity to attend higher education if they had children young, whereas the men do. Statistics are even worse for minority mothers who have a wage gap of 54% to white, North American male earnings (Hill, Simple truth about Wage Gap). This shows the intersection that race plays along with gender that discriminates women among the work force. So, the specific job differences are said to account for approximately 16-18% of the earned differences seen, so what about the other 5-7%, what are the reasons for this difference? The answer is discrimination. Studies have shown that replacing a male’s resume with a female’s name, has a lower likelihood of earning a response and that the likelihood decreases for women with children compared to men with children (A Compressive vie of Women in the US Economy). Women on average, with the exact same education and work experience as a male of the same job will be offered a lower salary in an interview. Why? Discrimination.
Some believe it’s the women’s choices that cause the difference and we “would have equal pay if women made the same choices” (Farrell). How is that fair wen women are pushed aside because of their gender or because they have children or because men think they cannot handle constructive criticism? Some men in company-based jobs actively seek sabotage of women working up by supportive discouragement and condensing chivalry in fear of the profession become ‘female dominated’ and would be viewed as ‘women’s work’ (Aulette and Wittner 192). It is this type of worldview that gives rise to the inequalities of women in the workforce.
The awareness that the teenagers of the Utah high school did was something that many high school kids do not pay attention to, which are exactly the type of people who need to notice this issue. Not many know about this movement and it needs to be noted. It is their future to change we will be able to see one in the next few years.
Aulette, Judy Root., and Judith G. Wittner. “Gender and the Global Economy.” Gendered Worlds. New York: Oxford UP, 2014. 188-94. Print.
Hill, Catherine, Dr. “The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap (Spring 2015).” AAUW: Empowering Women Since 1881. N.p., Mar. 2015. Web. 03 Apr. 2015.
‘’Why Men Earn More’’. Warren Farrell N.d. Web. Retrieved on March, 2015.