What is the Gender Pay Gap

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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Women have suffered greatly in their bid to be considered equals and this has been from the basic right to exist, vote and to lead companies. Cultures and societies have played a role in how stigmatized the opposite sexes are. Even today, we see many who claim that weaknesses in women prevent them from leading or doing the same work and hence why should they get paid equally. Case and point are the Billie Jean King vs Bobby Riggs, in which the challenge was that female tennis player can beat a prominent male player and she would earn the same monies as what the male player would have earned; in this case it was million.

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This paper will reflect the anthology of women’s roles and rights in our history including the gender gap that exists today. In the gender gap, the paper will showcase both the positive and negative points on this issue and will include how women have made a difference in the workplace and in society. In this course we discussed every aspect of business law for a company called NGT, whose owner Jesse was advised on which type of company, to policies in establishing offices overseas. This paper will enable Jesse to see the various aspects of gender pay and their implications on foreign investments. After all America is the “Land of Opportunity”.


Throughout history women have had to fight for all of their rights. It was not until the 20th century that women had the right to vote and the right to an equal education. The elite were no longer who could afford an education and the right to work in an administrative role. Women since have expanded into Blue collar, White collar and have become CEO’s of major companies.


The goal is to project women’s path to self-reliance and the culmination in gender equality and equal pay. We will also experience the various hurdles and the socioeconomic challenges that have laid the foundation for many of the gender gap and pay issues.


We will look at the history of women’s rights, the various laws that were created by the government, government statistics to determine the gap from the 1970’s – current and scholarly articles that shed light on various situations that affect the gender gap.


Though the recommendations may not be able to reach reality due to the many issues outlined in this paper, some can be done. The final act would be to suggest what would work from a thesis point and as with any project that deals with emotions of “man”, life should be taken with a grain of salt.


In the centuries that followed history to the 20th Century, women were used as pawns and trades worth of a property; not a human being. The overall concept was that men were breadwinners and the women stayed home and tended to the family. Social classes dictated were women would marry and seldomly they diverged from them.

  • Life in the 17th and 18th centuries: The role of the women relegated to the household included:
  • Cooking and feeding the family
  • Highly educated to take care of the children and educating them
  • Oppressed by the patriarch
  • Tend the garden and do household chores (dishes, laundry etc.)
  • No rights on will as only men collected

In the United States, the suffragette began in the 1800’s during the Civil War and only white men were given rights to receive money and property from wills. Many non-profit organizations such as anti-slavery organizations, moral-reform and religious organizations/movements to name a few featured women, leading to the abolition in Seneca Falls, NY where famous reformers like Elizabeth Cady Stanton; nominated as the first president of the National American Suffrage Association; and Lucertia Mott where recognized for their work. Unfortunately, even in the free North, African American women were not recognized including women like Harriett Tubman who helped create the underground railroad to lead slaves to the North.

  • Life in the 20th Century changed for many women. The very alienable rights of “all men are created equal had women leaders believe that they have the right to vote.
  • After the civil war, the 14th and 15th were passed but claimed that the citizens were “male” and even the African Americans had the right to vote.
  • WWI saw the role of women change due to the war effort and the 19th Amendment was ratified to allow women to vote.

This was the beginning of the end of women’s suffrage but the battle to be considered equals would last another century.

Gender Wage Gap

WW II saw the complete change in women’s rights. Approximately 6 million women joined the workforce as men went to war.

On the war front women played an important role as nurses and in intelligence. They did many of the men’s blue-collar jobs such as:

  1. Taxi and street car drivers
  2. Steel and construction
  3. Munitions
  4. Government and office workers

This led to a lot of challenges such as harassment and inability to balance the household budget. After the war, men realized that they were not superior to women and accepted the role of women in a working environment but the fight had just begun for equal pay and equal rights in the workplace as guaranteed by the constitution.

Government Statistics

According to the Bureau of Statistics in 2016 (2017 was not completely updated at time of this paper), median earnings of women to men were $749 to $915 respectively. Women accounted for 56.8% of the workforce out of which 52% were in white-collar jobs. 27% of women represented the number of CEOs compared to 4.2% in 1979. Women also were more educated and divorced women accounted for 63% of the workforce. 4.5 million women also accounted for the poverty level. Though the women’s situation on the job front have improved from the 1970’s, the percentage is not significant since women were new to more education while men were already established. Below are the women’s achievements over the decades. In many areas there has been significant achievements but equal pay and promotion has always been unachievable. (BLS – Women in Labor Force -2017)


The most important aspect of women’s advancement in the last 70 years has been education. In 2017, 42% of women held a bachelors degree compared to 11% in 1970 while only 6% of women had less than a High School diploma compared to 34% in 1970. (BLS – Women in Labor Force -2017)


In 2017 the highest women earners were Asian at $902 followed by Whites $766, African Americans $641 and Hispanics at $586. This was compared to 1970 earnings where Whites $248, African Americans $199 and Hispanics at $194. There were no numbers reported for Asians. Median earnings for women executives was $1876 per week while men were $2419 per week. In 2017 the hourly rate for women under 25 years of age under the federal hourly rate of $7.25, while women over 25 average $7.25 and men started at $7.25 irrelevant of age. (BLS – Women in Labor Force -2017)

Working Hours

In 2017, 25% of women worked part-time. This number has not changed in 5 decades. In comparison 12% of men worked part-time and has levelled off in the last 20 years. Women who worked full time accounted for 61% in 2017 as compared to 41% in 1970. Men accounted for 74% in 2017 as compared to 66% in 1970. (BLS – Women in Labor Force -2017)

Married couples

44% of men and women married accounted for in 1967 while in 2017 the number was at 55%. In 1967, 35% of men only earning families existed but in 2017 the number was down to 19%. The number of women earning more than their spouses grew from 18% in 1987 to 29% in 2017. (BLS – Women in Labor Force -2017)

The Poor

More women live below the poverty line than men. In 2015 the statistics show that the 4.5 million women accounted against 4.1 million men. African Americans (13.3%) and Hispanics (10.8%) were worse off than Whites (5.2%) and Asians (3.7%). (BLS – Women in Labor Force -2017)


For two years from 2013, 3.2 million workers over the age of 20 women accounted for 44% of displacement. The rehire numbers were similar to those of men with both being at 64% and 67% respectively. (BLS – Women in Labor Force -2017)


In 2017 employee tenure declined in women to 4% from the previous year of 4.5%. Men also declined from 4.3% in 2017 from 4.7 the previous year. (BLS – Women in Labor Force -2017)

The statistics above supports that women in general are affected by the gender bias as indicated by the number of women CEO’s and the number of full-time employments. Strides in women’s education, workforce realization and an increase in men’s wages have given women more opportunities to participate. The above statistics also indicates that women of all backgrounds, education and ages have wage gap variance with African Americans and Hispanics at the bottom of the pyramid. Deeper studies reveal that Hawaiian and Native American have the lowest though the numbers are not enough to create a trend in the general population. The point to be made here is that men in these communities also do no significantly make more wages while Whites and Asian significantly earn more than their counterparts.

The Law

As of June 10th, 1963, the Equal Pay Act was created as a ground to ensure that business do not have wage differentials based on sex. (EEOC – The Equal Pay Act of 1963). The law clearly states that the pay for both men and women should be the same as long as the work levels are equal. The law also states that there may be cases where there may be additional information that may not impact the job and it should not be held against the candidate. The law also allows the pay difference to be conducted as long as the differences other than sex can be established. The difference is applied to collective agreements, wage council decisions and employer’s pay structures.

The law affected reduction in the gap of white-collar jobs between women and men. In white-collar jobs women were hired mainly in the commercial or in the public sector where the wage act was already implemented and the benefits minimal. For example: A women in white-collar before the law was making $35 an hour and after the law would be making $45 which is the lowest of the men thus equating the increase to the law.

Many women benefitted from the law with substantial pay increases which they would not have received. In manual jobs or blue-collar jobs, women were paid considerably less than men and this was basically due to their sex. In specially applied jobs such as a machinist woman were paid considerably lower than their men counterparts because of their sex. Women were categorized into one single rate irrelevant of their job or positions. The law changed these women’s payrate where they were directly at or above the lowest payrate for men but still not equal to the highest rate. In the specified areas such as collective bargaining, men were in charge of the negotiations and would often take care of their own, thus increasing the pay in the gender gap.

The next question that comes to mind is, do women get only equal pay rates or equal bonuses or earnings? Some men do not like being equal or a woman earning the same as them. In this instance men are compensated extra by either through bonuses or earnings. The basic pay structure for women would be their hourly/salary rate with an annual increase without incentives. For example, if a man earned a base pay of $50,000 and a 20% bonus, then the total pay is $60,000. A woman on the other hand has earned $50,000 but will have to work more hours to match the extra $10,000. Men have gone on strikes to get bargaining power for their salaries. In some cases, men earned more with bonuses for less hours/workload compared to women who had to meet their quota for the same basic pay.

When cases go to arbitration, women generally win since it is the law and has to be upheld. This situation is called non-compliance where the company does not uphold the law and needs to be taken to a special counsel or arbitrator. This non-compliance is not understood by women who work for the company and majority of the time do not bring it to their union representatives or tribunal. Women who do not understand these processes and the action after are the results:

  • Women do not understand the description of the men’s jobs. This could be due to being in a different area of the company or are paid weekly, bi-weekly instead of monthly.
  • Titles can make a difference, though the jobs maybe the same. Employees are always encouraged to not reveal their pay so as to not have any confrontation or issues among the sexes.
  • In some union instances, women were not even aware of what the union had bargained for due to their lack of knowledge and or participation with the union. Women who come to light of this error continue to work rather than face confrontation or have a bad work situation with their associates.


Women are regarded as delicate, not competent and not efficient employees due to the general view of their inability to balance family and career. One example of this view is that women would leave their jobs for having children. Though laws have been created to protect the job and career of the “new mom” including leave for the “dad”, this is considered a weakness by many since the ideal worker cannot deviate from his or her responsibilities. Women suffer from employers who constantly deny work from home, part-time jobs and threaten layoffs. Amendment to the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act called the “family leave act” have made discrimination illegal but a lot still needs to be done to address the unwritten rules or practices by employers who want to ensure that personal views or families do not interfere with their operations.

These laws only help slow down the career challenges by any women. It does not alleviate the issue of cultural or societal stereotypes that are taught during the upbringing of young women and the challenges that lay ahead for them and how to overcome them. The family leave act was created to help women take of their new family and men were included to keep the balance where one does not have the upper hand and the buy in needed to keep the law. This has made the act gender neutral and allowing men to take advantage and reduce the stigma of childbearing and penalties for workers. Even with the family leave act the United States is the only country in the world where no guarantee is provided for maternity leave. Sweden on the other hand has programs in place to help take care of the new born by providing care services for the child so the mother can resume her career and be back into the workforce with minimal downtime.

The issue with most jobs is that they do not reward for high quality work but rather for the number of hours and their availability. A new mother is required to take time off from work either by choice of taking the newborn to appointments or not by choice where the newborn is sick. Men have limited involvement in the early stages of the upbringing. This is a penalty that only the mother faces because they are viewed as less efficient, dedicated and or competent. Many companies have realized that replacing and retraining new associates was more expensive than it was to expand coverage. Google for example increased their family leave from three to five months with full pay and thus reduced by 50% the number of moms who left their promising careers. Many states and other companies are following the Google path and are offering paid leave for family and understand that these policy changes encourage productivity, loyalty and moral. The United States needs to do a better job in this category compared to other wealthy nations and follow Sweden in subsidizing child care including sick and paid family leave. This will increase the base pay continue to bridge the gap between men and women on their earning potential (Hartman, 2015).

There are approximately 50 – 60 percent of US workers in the private sector of the workforce. A majority of these workers do not possess any paid sick days. Having a paid sick day would enable to close the gender gap so that most would care for their family and would be more productive and not be in fear of losing their jobs. On the other hand, when employees are sick and do not have this option, they will have to go to work sick, send their children to school sick and leave their loved ones at home for fear of losing their jobs. Unpaid jobs can have adverse effects on the individual and the company. Research in many cities have shown that such detrimental factors need to be addressed and have passed laws such as the Health Families Act which would set a national standard to earn sick days regardless of the city they live in (Glynn, Fisher & Baxter, 2014).

Negotiation on salaries should be based on the skills of the job and not on the sex of the applicant. Society views women as greedy, pushy and demanding when negotiating while it is the opposite of men. Women should not foresee this as a fight but more as a collaboration. The ultimate goal is to solve the needs of both the applicant and the employer. Companies take advantage of women because they know that they will take less money thus eliminating the competition but also lowering the average salary. Companies take advantage of this scenario and strategize accordingly as negotiation is short and save the company dollars. To solve this scenario, transparency in salaries and total compensation become part of the recruiting process. Deterrence in negotiation allows the same raises for both men and women leading to no gender wage gap. One such example is the United States military where the men and women earn the same based on their rank and what they do for work.

Legal Cases

Some of the legal cases on gender gap settled by the US Supreme Court include:

  • Califano v Goldfarb.

This was a case where the husband was denied benefits after his wife’s death. She had worked for 25 years as secretary for the NY Public Schools and on her death, Leon filed for survivor benefits. Ruth Ginsburg; a future Supreme Court Justice; represented Leon and successfully defended where the court ruled that not giving him benefits violated the Fifth Amendment as the benefits should be the same for men as well as women’s spouses.

  • Nike – Gender Discrimination.

Based in Oregon, Nike became a major violator of the equal pay act as well as sexual harassment. A New York Times inside investigation revealed that the atmosphere at Nike was abusive and demeaning for women. The investigation changed many executive roles but the situation did not solve itself. The women decided to take matters further and asked the federal court to give back pay for not only the defendants but all the female employees who left the company and suffered harassment along with loss of career opportunities. This was more in line with lawsuits against Google and Uber.

Human Resources managers were alerted to by employees for years regarding sexual harassment and demeaning treatment. Supervisors were known to send graphic emails and in one case a key was thrown at a woman and called “a stupid bitch” (Campbell 2018). None of these were dealt with by HR and in the end the female employees decided to conduct the survey on their own to see how widespread the problem was. Nike finally had mandatory manager training, training and accountability with all inclusion diversity in this new step. The step above for back pay was done because the women did not believe that the company could police themselves and within one month the company announced that there was ongoing investigation into gender discrimination.

Though the case is ongoing, it will be difficult for women to prove their case as the Federal courts are difficult to convict employers on gender discrimination and gender bias under the Equal pay act.

  • US Soccer v US Women’s Soccer team

In 2017 a collective bargaining agreement was struck between the US Soccer Federation and the US Women’s Soccer Team. Four players filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in the prior year. Once the new agreement was offered, EEOC cleared the path for the right to file a lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation. Their aim was not to downplay their right to play for the US on the contrary they were proud to play for US but to fight for equal pay irrelevant of gender. The case was filed three months prior to the World Cup, where the women’s team was ranked number 1.

Some background facts:

US Women’s National Team (USWNT) has won the World Cup three times and the Olympic Gold Medal four times. The men’s team have not won the Cup or in some cases even qualify. The men average $263,320 per game while the women average $99,000 or 38% of the men’s wage (Wamsley 2019). The US soccer countered that women get paid guaranteed while men get paid only if they qualify and play for the team.

The bonus money is given by FIFA the international soccer governing body. The disbursement of the funds is done by the discretion of US soccer. The union that represents the US Men’s team supports this lawsuit and urges US soccer to reach a fair agreement to resolve the gender bias wage gap.

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What Is The Gender Pay Gap. (2021, Mar 09). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/what-is-the-gender-pay-gap/