I come from a family where women are used to earning salaries equal to men. We are a family of entrepreneurs where women have had equal respect, equal responsibility, starting with my immigrant grandmother. In my own businesses, I have always employed women who are paid their worth. Right now the business I am in is in the construction industry – my women employees are paid fairly for the job irrespective or perhaps in spite of or because of their gender! So I was never
particularly conscious of the awful discrepancies and the paucity of anything being written or any action until last week when I thought to explore it for a particular task.
Here is what I was horrified to discover.
There is very little on the internet. I searched and searched for articles and kept coming back to the same few written in about 2014/201. The last time any serious articles presented good information was in 2015 when PAYSCALE presented some findings that simply reinforced the differences in remuneration for men and women. The message that came through is that it is not a subject of great importance to either men or women. Neither to employers or to employees. In an article August 2017, The Economist wrote that the differences are wider at the top and
narrower and at the bottom. As if this added anything of value!
I also discovered that the US Congress since 1997 has been considering the Paycheck Fairness Act which is annually introduced, but never passed !!!! Refer to researchers Kaitlen Holmes and Danielle Corley. This was not helpful either.
On a further search I found that Shawn M Carter on 7/8/2017 suggests that millennial women who are proportionally better educated than men might have more success, but this seems to be just supposition. The American Association of University Women is more pessimistic.
What one can find in abundance are rationalizations and excuses about such issues as women and childbearing and taking some time out. There was no good research apparent, just lazy suppositions.
Not satisfied, I kept searching. I didn’t find anything that made me happy but did find that Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg has called for public policy changes to help improve women’s pay and claimed that women underestimate their worth, which prevents them from asking for wage rises. Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, told BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs on Sunday she believed job openings should be contested by equal numbers of women and men.
Catherine Bennett Read says “We need to start paying women well and we need the public and the corporate policy to get there,”. She said. “Certainly, women applying for jobs at the same rate as men, women running for office at the same rate as men, that has got to be part of the answer”. Her comments come after the row over gender imbalances at the BBC following the publication of pay
rates for broadcast talent, which revealed wide gaps between the earnings of male and female colleagues in some departments.
Since 1963, the Equal Pay Act has stated that men and women doing the same work have to be paid equally. More recently, the Obama administration has announced an executive action that will require companies with 100 employees or more to report pay data broken down by gender. The problem with legislating equal pay is that it puts the onus on female employees to bring lawsuits showing that they have been discriminated against. (The California Fair Pay Act has now added
additional protection, saying that women need not have the same title in order to have a claim of doing equal work and protecting them from retribution if they ask about the fairness of their pay.)
Of course, this helps if men and women are doing the same work. But a big part of the gender wage gap is due to the fact that they aren’t. So what’s to be done about that?
There was something however, that caught my imagination and that was a Newsweek 2015 article using information from 2015 on the equality in the employment situation in Sweden. Much was written about equal maternity/paternity benefits, but underlying I still got the impression that remuneration is not equal.
Here is a warning I picked up in a local newspaper and published in London and supplied by Reuters”
“Young women with a well-paid job will be almost 40% poorer than male colleagues by the time they are old, as the pay gap limits women’s ability to invest over time, an (unnamed) study found. On average, a 25-year-old woman living in a rich country earns 10% less than a man of the same age according to research by Swiss Bank, UBS. According to the study, by age 85, the pay gap will result in the woman having 38%less wealth than the man, the difference widening if the woman takes a
gap year or decides to work part-time. As women are expected to live longer, it is harder to maintain their lifestyle in retirement.
I have been pondering this for a couple of weeks and have come to a conclusion. Ladies, it is in our own hands.
I had a discussion with my daughter on the subject of why would men give up their power, their advantages and she is right. Read about the suffragettes of the beginning of the 20th Century in Western Countries. If not for them, women like me and you would not assume our right to universal suffrage. The same with wage discrepancies. Money is symbolically even more powerful than voting rights.
Are we up for the fight?