Equal Pay for Equal Work
Gender is a structure embedded into every aspect of life. Today, women make up nearly half of the U.S. workforce, yet the average working woman earns only 79 percent of what the average working man makes. This statistic compares the median earnings of men and women who work full time. Sadly, despite the educational efforts and workforce participation from women, the gender pay gap still persists to today, hindering women from reaching the top. Equality can only be achieved when men and women are granted equal pay and equal respect. Therefore, we must explore the social and cultural structures embedded in the gender pay gap debate.
First, we must understand the premise of this issue starting with the Equal Pay Act of 1963. The Equal Pay Act requires men and women in the same work place to be given equal pay for equal work. When it was enacted in 1963, women earned 59 cents on the dollar compared to men. Within half a century, women now earn 79 cents to a dollar. Now this makes us question why progress has been so slow and small. The gender pay gap has been predicted not to close until the year 2069. The reason the Equal Pay Act has been ineffective is all the loopholes of the workplace that have been exploited by employers. This law is written in a vague language to begin with. It states that employers must pay the same wage to men and women who perform “equal work on jobs which require equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions” (“The Equal Pay Act of 1963”). To hide the bias, employers award their male employees with higher pay based on their seniority, merit, and any other factor besides their sex. However, employers who violate this law merely g...
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...they are “too emotional” or cannot handle the pressure. Not only are women still seen as second-class citizens, men and homosexual males who commit “feminine” acts are devalued and discriminated in the workplace as well. These gendered assumptions give employers the power to utilize gendered tactics throughout their hiring process to assure that these gender boundaries remain intact. “Research shows that existing work organizations frequently have structures of power and control, divisions of labor, rules for behavior, procedures for evaluating workers, and so on that carry within them implicit cultural assumptions about the gender, as well as the race and social class, of the actors that will enact them “(Ridgeway, 2011, Acker, 2006, p. 95). Hence, the workplace is another way for the dominant culture to police gender normativity and maintain hegemonic masculinity.
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