Why The Gender Pay Gap Has Not Gone Away.

At a recent bake sale at a Utah high school students decided to sell cookies for one dollar to males and seventy-seven cents to females as a reflection of the current pay gap in today’s society. In Canada our statistics tell us that for every dollar a man makes, a women with a graduate degree makes 96 cents, a women with a bachelor’s degree makes 89 cents and a women with a trade’s certificate makes a mere 65 cents to her male counterpart. (Stats Can) In the recent past social constructs told women that they were not permitted to be in the workforce and once given admission to join were doing so under the conditions of men who had already occupied it. Rooted in women’s initial entrance into the workforce, men continue to employ antiqued stereotypes about gender roles as a means to maintain the stable system of inequality that is the gender pay gap in society.

Despite huge strides made towards eliminating this belief, gender socialization still tells us from an early age that household roles for females take precedence over their roles in a career. There has been a stable system of inequality in place that places men as breadwinners and as a result power holders while women remaining at home, powerless. This system has been argued to have been maintained by stereotyping women as communal, docile beings. (Rudman and Glick) If a women’s career cannot be validated as her true job, instead of raising kids or maintaining a house, how can she expect to be credited for he work in the same way that a man is? It is also these same stereotypes of emphasized femininities that tell women that if she sticks to ‘traditional’ caring and nurturing roles she can bask in what society deems to be a woman. Seeking ‘non-traditional’ roles triggers sexism in her society. (Fine) I feel many women fear this backlash and work to fit the expected niche of a woman in a family. The concept of sacrificial motherhood means a woman may not be able to devote herself to a career in the way that a man can without fear of criticism. Sadly, I feel this means women will not pick careers that require extended amounts of graduate studies (often those that are high paying) or once having her career may not put in extra time, opting instead to use this time fulfilling duties she feels is expected of her at home. This pattern would maintain the pay disparity we see today.

It is important that pay inequality be viewed as a discriminatory act against women despite it not being as overt as a racial slur or a tangible hate crime. The discrimination a woman may face during both her hiring process and her time employed also correlates with how much she will make on average comparative to men. The jobs that often bring in a larger paycheck are those that are managerial positions. The traits that we associate with leadership are in direct conflict with traits that society perpetuates that belong to women. Studies have shown that agentic women are viewed to be socially deficient and as a result experience hiring discrimination. (Rudman and Glick) Discrimination is something that is learned and not innate. We see discriminatory practises intersecting with inbred social constructs to disqualify women from positions where they may earn higher wages. These constructs that do not have room for women in positions of power are the same that often delegate women to ‘pink-collar’ jobs where they are obstructed from advancing in organizational hierarchies. (Fine)

The androcentric lens in which many view our current workforce in free markets sees no pay gap. We seem to believe that where you end up is a direct result of the work you put in and the degrees you have earned. Removing this lens, you will see a hierarchy in which men are elevated. Susan Faludi asks “what ‘equality’ are all these authorities talking about?” She reminds us that American women make up two-thirds of poor adults and nearly seventy-five percent of women still make less that twenty thousand dollars per year. (Faludi) For women to make more however, men must make less. I do not think it is in the nature of anyone who holds power to relinquish it. Living in a society driven by personal incentive and gain, we often do not see people investing themselves in issues that do not affect them personally. In the United States, Reagen’s reign as president pushed millions of women below the poverty line as his administration made severe budget cuts to programs that serve women. (Faludi) You cannot expect an administration lead by and serving the interests of white, wealthy males to consider women, the poor and people of colour when making decisions. Until we see women, and all kinds of women, represented in places of power in society, I think it will be hard to push the issue of a pay gap to the forefront of any political agendas.


-Word Count: 834

Works Cited

Rudman, Laurie & Glick, Peter. “Prescriptive Gender Stereotypes and Backlash Toward Agentic Women.” Journal of Social Issues (2001) : 743-762. Web. 2 Apr. 2015

Fine, Cordelia. Delusions of Gender. [Kindle Edition]. (2010). Retrieved from Amazon.com

Statistics Canada. “Women in Canada: A Gender-based Statistical Report.” (2013). Web. 2 Apr. 2015 http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/89-503-x/89-503-x2010001-eng.htm

Faludi, Susan. “Backlash, the undeclared war against American women.” (1991) Web. 2 Apr. 2015 <https://ereserves.library.queensu.ca/ares/ares.dll?SessionID=R112317293N&Action=10&Type=10&Value=13761&gt;


5 thoughts on “Why The Gender Pay Gap Has Not Gone Away.

  1. I really enjoyed this review! I’m glad that you took a different route and chose to focus on the wage gap. This is an important issue that still needs to be addressed. Women as a whole are under payed but it is still important to recognize the realities of radicalized women who are paid less and offered less job opportunities than cis-gendered white women. We often just talk about these issues but what would you do to bring awareness or change peoples points of view/opinions?


  2. This is a very different review from mine and I like it! Feminism today is criticized for taking on and tackling many other issues such as race and gender instead of focusing on women but with the rise of intersectionality (or perhaps the discovery as I feel it was always there) today’s feminists realize that intersectionality is essential to viewing “all women”. I had just wished you had touched on the importance to looking at other groups besides cis-gendered white women. Though I’m glad you touched on the topics androcentric and social constructs. How do you feel intersectionality should’ve take a role within the bake sale. And Do you think intersectionality should play a bigger role within the wage gap issue itself?


  3. I liked the way you reviewed and focussed on the issues surrounding the wage gap. This is not an issue that has gone away yet in our society, and although it has decreased its still a problem that we need to get rid of. I like how you recognized that women are forced into these social constructs and stereotypes that do not allow them the same job opportunities just because they are a woman. I do wish you had focused a bit on intersectionality however, because it is not just the cis-gendered white woman that is affected by this, and i would of liked how you looked at the overall impact of intersectionality. Even though everyone knows the wage gap still exists, and that we need to get rid of it, how do you think our generation can tackle this issue and finally put it in the past?


  4. I liked how you focused on the topic itself in an insightful way. It is always harder for people with privilege and power to see the problem in issues like this. While researching deeper into the matter, I found a lot of people trying to justify that the wage gap goes down to 5%, once level of education and other factors are taken into consideration. The sources for the statistics were not stated, and this approach to a matter like this one is very problematic. Are they suggesting that 5% is not a wage gap? Many seem to think that wage gap is an issue of the past and has been “solved”. However, as a female engineering student, I still feel conscious about my gender when I go into interviews or talk about my career, which is still a male-dominated profession. How would you go about trying to raise awareness about wage gap of today’s society?


  5. To answer MOTHERWILLOW’s question, assuming ‘racialized’ was meant to be asked, I think awareness should begin in their communities themselves. Racialized individuals who are uneducated on system discrimination, may be unaware of the inner workings of how it is working against them. To answer ALLABOUTHETTREBLE I found it interesting that not naming another specific race or gender meant you assuming I was speaking for white, cis-gender women. Thinking of the importance of reflective-self knowledge I realized after the fact that I did not specifically name other groups. Belonging to a racialized group myself, I automatically speak for all women and I assume others know that I do as well . To examine the intersectionality between racialized or trans-gender women making less that white cis-gender women would be an entirely different blog post in itself. In terms of intersectionality playing a bigger role in pay gap I feel like it is known, just as it is known that women are paid less; it is just that society views these simply as facts and continues to perpetuate them. In response to THATGUY1214 I think our generation needs to elect more women to positions of power that would use their power actively to put a system of check and balance in place that would monitor the wages of more firms in society. To respond to HJH37 I feel like starting to educate children as young as possible about the fact that a pay gap exists and how our society perpetuates it would be a good first step. Presenting this view to young children actively as they are being socialized would (hopefully) oppose the passive views of society we often come to accept.


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