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A Closer Look at The Gender Pay Gap in The Corporate World

Pew Research stated that only 6% of households surveyed said that the father manages their children's schedules and activities.

We hear the phrase "gender pay gap" quite often, especially in today's third-wave feminism climate. It refers to the basic fact that, all over the world, women are being paid less for the same work as compared to their male counterparts. For example, women in Poland earns about 91 cents for every dollar a man earns. In the United States, it's 81 cents.

Although pay discrimination plays a part in the gender pay gap, (we've seen this unfairness hit even big stars), it does actually only play a small part. The truth behind the gender pay gap is much more complex and linked to factors such as race and societal norms. This isn't great news - it makes it a much more difficult problem to solve and one that "equal pay for equal work" doesn't quite Address.

The hypothetical businesswoman

To really explain the gender pay gap issue, it might be easier to create an example, which very much mirrors reality. Take a prototypical businesswoman, she works the standard 9-5 hours along with her male counterparts. When she hits her mid-twenties or thirties, she decides to have children. Maternity leave means that she is already a year behind her male counterpart.

The child caring duties are heavily placed on her (as society expects). Pew Research stated that only 6% of households surveyed said that the father manages their children's schedules and activities. She also has medical appointments to attend. Her money is spent mainly on her new child, rather than on events or objects that will help her advance in her career.

Our hypothetical businesswoman is now unable to meet out of hours, has less time to really focus on climbing the ladder and may even feel pressured to quit or reduce her hours, to care for her child. She starts to miss out on important opportunities, meanwhile her male counterpart is attending after work events and making big moves in his career.

Statistics prove this too, the wage gap starts small, but grows and grows during a woman's 20's and 30's. The wage gap actually starts to shrink when a woman enters middle age. This correlation is mostly pinned on when women decide to have children and the responsibilities that are placed on them during this time.

It's also worth mentioning that for women from minority or working-class backgrounds, these issues are elevated too. In fact, even making their way to the same job as an upper-class white male is a big challenge in itself, even if all the skills are there.

Obviously, this needs to change. The good news is, steps towards equal pay have meant that the wage gap has been closing steadily. However, there's a limit to how far government interventions can go.

How do we eliminate it?

Studies have suggested that the best way to eliminate the gender pay gap, in the West at least, is by making set work hours equally valuable to out of work meetings and discussions and a shift in attitudes towards caregiving responsibilities at home.

It won't eradicate the gender pay gap in a heartbeat, but an increase in flexibility both at work and socially will be beneficial to women and companies alike.

Companies and businesses should look into new ways to incorporate women with less free time into opportunities that will help her advance. Certain “extra” hours shouldn’t be seen as more valuable as the standard 9-5 hours.

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