There is no debate that a pay gap exists between genders in the workforce; the debate is over why it exists. There are many factors and reasons why these gaps exist between men and women along with gaps that have remained unexplained which are believed to be a result of discrimination. Advocates for women debate that about what is being done currently about the gaps along with what future solutions could be. Studies and statistics show an improvement over the years but the questions remains, are current laws effective and what new legislation can further improve the gender pay gap?
Thomas Billitteri states in his article “Gender Pay Gap” there are many factors which explain some of the pay gaps between men and women in the workforce. Economics, demographics, law, social justice, culture, history, and personal emotions are some of the factors that are said to explain why men tend to be paid more than woman (Billitteri, 2008). Differences in education, training, work experience, career choices, and the amount of hours an individual works could be other reasons that the pay gap exists between genders. The pay gap has also been blamed on the fact that women with families tend to pass up promotions and higher pay in order to have a more flexible work schedule. Although most of the pay gaps are explained, a certain portion of the gaps are still unexplained. There are arguments that the unexplained pay gaps are due to discrimination but little can be done to prove this.
There has been an improvement in the wage gap between 1979 and 2006 (Billitteri, 2008). However, after seeing an improvement, it stalled in the 1980’s and 1990’s. So why has there been no more of an improvement? A weak government is being blamed for the stall in progress. In addition to laws that are not effective in stopping men from being paid more than women, there are so many pending cases of wage discrimination causing the agency assigned to handle this to fall behind. Despite the studies that estimate that the portion of unexplained cases of gender pay gaps is due to discrimination, the U.S. Department of Commerce disputes this fact (Billitteri, 2008).
The current laws responsible for addressing this situation are the Equal Pay Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. These laws are not successful in doing so because wages are confidential and there is no legal way to prove wage discrimination. As a society we need to work towards a solution to eliminate gender pay gaps by pushing our legislators to propose laws and legislation that will truly address the problem and force companies to pay employees fair and equally whether a man or woman.
As we see there are many factors that are said to cause a pay gap between men and women but are these truly reasons for women to be paid less the a man in the same position or career? Groups and advocates continue to dispute and debate the factors of why pay gaps exist, whether it due to the personal choices of women, lack of enforcement of laws, discrimination or the expectations of society, the debate with keep going. It is easy to blame these pay gaps on the choices that woman make for their families but more women with children work than ever before along with focusing on their continued education, training, and careers. Discrimination is blamed for the explained pay gaps so it is clear that we need to address this through laws and legislation.
Billitteri, T. (2008, March 14). Gender Pay Gap.