The persistence of the gender wage gap in contemporary American society is not new. However, in 2015, the issue started garnering much public attention, especially since Patrica Arquette’s Oscar speech. Arquette asserted, “It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all,” upon receiving the Best Supporting Actress award. Arquette is not the only high-profile Hollywood actress to address the issue: Diane Keaton, Meryl Streepe, Gwyneth Paltrow among many others have all shared their experiences of gender wage gap in interviews.
While actresses have been especially vocal about this issue in recent months, gender wage gap is not a unique problem that only pertains to Hollywood. According to the White House, women who are working full-time make approximately 77% percent of what their male counterparts earn in wages. Pew Research Center’s estimate shows similar results, where women working full- and part-time earn about 84% of what their male counterparts make on average.
Some pundits point to the persisting sex-segregation in the workforce to explain the gender wage gap. Women are overrepresented in low-income service sectors and public sectors, while underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields and high-income private sectors, especially in top managerial positions. In other words, the concentration of women in the lower-income workforce contributes greatly to the overall gender wage gap.
But sex-segregation does not really explain the overall gender wage gap. Women’s average educational attainment now exceeds that of men’s and as a result, women have been entering previously considered to be “masculine” occupational fields at growing rates. Even in the STEM fields, women are no ...
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...ut her experiences with the gender wage gap addresses this self-fulfilling gender bias. She writes, “When the Sony hack happened…I didn 't get mad at Sony. I got mad at myself. I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early.” She is rightfully mad at herself and other women should be, too. We have made a tremendous progress in achieving gender parity in education, occupation, and many other social domains. However, these progresses are yet to translate into wage equality.
We need more women like Patricia Arquette and Jennifer Lawrence demanding gender wage equality in every occupational field. Demystifying and debunking unequal gender beliefs will also help addressing inequalities stemming from other marginalized statuses such as race, age, disability, and so on. However, the change will not come on its own. Women need to be better, more aggressive negotiators.
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