Gender Inequality in the Workplace: Everything to Know
Gender inequality in the workplace is when employees are treated and paid differently or promoted differently at their place of work based on their gender.8 min read
Gender Inequality in the Workplace
Gender inequality in the workplace is when employees are treated differently, paid differently, promoted differently at their place of work based on their gender.
Statistically, there have never been more women in the workforce than right now. At one time a woman with a career or even a job was somewhat rare and unusual. Today, it’s obvious that women have made long strides into the workforce, but unequal treatment persists. One issue that gets a lot of attention and can incite tempers to rise is the issue of equal pay. The United States Census Bureau says that statistically, women earn only 80 percent of what men are paid. For every dollar a man makes for a particular job, a woman is paid only 80 cents for that same job.
Today, women are half of the United States workforce. Four out of 10 families have females as an equal, or dominate, breadwinner. The reason that this is odd is because females earn more college and graduate degrees than their male counterparts. And still, women continue to earn less. In addition, women are more likely to work in a service occupation than men. Examples of these service jobs are nursing assistants, personal care aides, home health aides and other roles that fit the stereotype as “women as caregivers.” While these jobs are on the rise, the median salary annually for jobs like these are only 25k per year.
Even with the recent emphasis on women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) women are less likely to work in those fields than men. Reportedly, 10.3 percent of men in the workforce are employed in a STEM field. Compare that with the just 4.6 percent of women in the workforce are in STEM fields.
Age also plays a factor in the gap. Women under the age of 35 statistically earn nearly 90 percent of what men their age are paid. This gap broadens after the age of 35. Subsequent to age 35 the gap between what men and women earn becomes larger. Women in this post-35 earning group make 75 to 85 cents to a $1 earned by a man in the same job. Some might think that higher education is the answer to increasing earnings and narrowing the pay gap. However, this has not proven to be the case. Companies must implement policies that can effectively ensure that people are provided an opportunity to earn the same wage for the same job. For tips on creating an employee handbook go here.
One way for companies to make change is to audit wages and monitor them for gender-based differences in pay. Interestingly, the Paycheck Fairness Act has not been amended since its creation in 1963. Women in the workplace must continue to strategize to ensure that they know how to better negotiate fair pay. These gaps are not unique to the U.S., these gaps appear all over the world. The ITUC (International Trade Union Confederation) reports that the global average of pay gap is 17 percent. When the gap is based on gender, it qualifies as sex discrimination. Improvements are clearly needed.
What Do You Think Is The Largest Hurdle For Equality In Places Of Work Today?
While women have continued to achieve and have become the biggest consumers of higher education they still handle the bulk of “housework” which includes caring for children or aging parents. There is not an issue with female ambition. It is unrealistic for women to spend so many hours on household activities and still be available to work at all hours of the day.
How Do Fertility Rates Connect With Equality In Places Of Work Today?
Since roughly 1980, the fertility rate (which means birth rate) has been in steady decline. This rate is how fast a population replaces itself. The U.S. has a fertility rate of 1.9 and in Eastern Asia and Southern Europe are 1.3. In post-industrial countries with elevated female participation rates in the workforce, the trend is for higher birth rates. This seems counterintuitive when you consider that many of these same countries (like Japan for example) have a cultural ideal for both mothers and workers, both requiring near perfection in both. It’s been suggested that gender equality in both the home and the workplace go hand in hand.
Japan: Is This Demographic Sustainable?
In Japan (like most of the industrialized world) women are pursuing more education and strive to have a career. However, in their homes, gender equality is not keeping pace with workforce equality. When a woman comes home from work they end up performing a second job in the way of child care, elderly parent care, and housework. This has had the effect of women delaying getting into a domestic partnership. Instead, women are choosing to focus on their professional path, which means getting married later and having fewer children. Japan is facing a demographic time bomb in that by 2020 their population is expected to drop by over 16 percent. By 2025 the Japanese population is expected to have 40 percent of its population to be over the age of 65. The result of this shift will likely be enormous costs in pension and health care cost. In addition, with fewer employees entering the job market (and therefore paying into pension systems) Japan’s economy could be in trouble.
What Can the U.S. And Japan Do To Increase Equality In Places Of Work Today?
How can gender equality be achieved? In both the United States and Japan public policy can be effective in increasing gender equality. People in an industrialized nation must continue to encourage people to step beyond stereotypes and divorce the idea of gender from the contributions of an individual. Gender stereotypes are difficult to break because individuals are all apt to engage in stereotyping sometimes. It’s important to research the biases and measure inequality so that we ocan understand how to effect change.
With all of the progress made within the U.S. workforce, unfortunately, gender inequality continues to survive. It’s estimated that women earn 22 cents less on every dollar that a man earns for the same job. It doesn’t appear that this trend will be at an end soon. The IWPR (Institute for Women’s Policy Research) the gap will not be solved until the year 2058. The United States has slightly lower gender gap in wages there hasn’t been improvements in the gap since the middle of the 90s.
Household chores and care for children and elderly parents have continued to be the domain of women, but men have started to contribute more significantly recently. However, women are still far more likely to perform these tasks than men. For working women, this generally means that they must perform two jobs at the same time, one in their home and another in the workplace. A report released by the IWPR (Institute for Women’s Policy Research) which was an analysis of state and national data of employment of women and their earnings in 2013 said that Florida will likely be the first of the 50 states where men and women will have the same annual median wage. Obviously, this is considered good news. However, women must wait until the year 2038 to celebrate it because that’s when this equality in Florida is likely to take place. Other places will be well into the next century before they reach this milestone in their state. For more information on women’s rights in the U.S. go to this article.
Highlights in the U.S.
- Improvement since 1979 in the U.S.: at that time women earned just 62 cents for every dollar a man earned.
- Women in the U.S. in 2010 earned 81 cents for every dollar men (in their same job) earned.
- The U.S. workforce has seen an increase in female participation reaching 60 percent in the year 2000.
- From the year 2000 to 2013 this number declined to 46 percent with not increase expected by the year 2018.
- Men and women were affected differently by the Great Recession (in the years 2007-2010). Women lost few jobs than women but also experienced a less steady recovery from it.
- Women who work part-time may be doing so because they aren’t able to land full-time work. At the start of the Great Recession one in 10 women were reporting this phenomenon, but at the end, one in five reported this.
- Unemployment for women is generally lower than it is for men and they are also lest likely to stay on the roles of unemployment long-term.
- Women are more likely than men to work in the public sector by 50 percent.
- Women who are over the age of 25 surpass their male peers in education. They are 3 percent more likely to have a bachelor’s degree than men.
Where are Women Employed?
Sixty-five million females participated in the workforce in the United States in 2010. More than half of these women were employed in 3 primary industries. These industries were
- Local Government
- Health Services and Education
- Transportation, Trade, and Utilities
In several other industries, women were either overrepresented or underrepresented. For example, Social Services and Health women comprised almost 80 percent of the workforce. In Education Services, women made up almost 70 percent of the workforce. In Professional, Scientific and Technical services sector women represented 43 percent, and an abysmal 9 percent of workers in the construction sector were women.
Low Wage Households
The low wage workforce is over represented by women. In a report in 2010 by the GOA (Government Accountability Office), females made up almost 60 percent of this portion of the workforce. Other highlights of this report included:
- Less-educated women were more likely to work part-time than less-educated men
- Single woman had the lowest annual income of households, at roughly $27,000 annually
- Low-wage single mother households would be the lowest if not for other sources of income like government aid and child support. Without these dollars, these households would be below the poverty line.
Women and Corporations
Leadership positions are not immune from the wage gap. It’s reported that less than 25 percent of CEOs in the United States are women. And those female CEOs make less than 75 percent of what a male CEO makes. Research into Fortune 500 organizations in regard to women in Corporate Officer positions as well as on Boards of Directors found that if a company had three or more board member who were women, that board gave 28 times the money to philanthropy than those with less women. This eye-popping number gives one pause. Look here for more on the workforce flexibility act.
Unequal Rather than Just Different
Gender equality is easy to define. It is each person being treated the same regardless of their sex. To provide separate bathrooms for the sexes is not a policy of gender equality. Salary decisions, promotions, hiring decisions, firing decisions should all be made without regard to the sex of the individual. To further this point, pregnancy should be treated like any other medical condition that is temporary. It should not adversely affect that employee’s development, promotability, salary increases or any other aspect of employment. Employers are legally unable to discriminated based on pregnancy as a gender issue.
While the statistics on harassment in the workplace favors it being a gender equality issue, it’s actually not. The behaviors prohibited by law are regardless of the victim’s sex or sexual orientation. Both sexes have been sexually harassed (unwanted advances, jokes, and innuendo, offering advancement in exchange for sexual favors) in the workplace and it is illegal in all cases. For more information on protections provided by The Civil Rights Act of 1964 go here.
If you need help understanding the gender issues in the workplace or have any other legal need, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel’s marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law School and Yale Law School and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Stripe, and Twilio.