A Woman’s Dollar

By Engelberta Yue.

The year is 2017, yet still, a woman’s dollar is only worth 80 cents as compared to a man’s. Even more shocking is the fact that those numbers came from the United States – a country with one of the highest “quality of living” ranks. Globally, a woman’s average earnings are just over half of their gender counterparts. The factors of gender roles, inequality in representation, and disparity still at large with the acceptance of women in STEM fields continually furthers such numeric, but nonetheless, the presence of a wage gap, domestically within the United States, and in a global economy, remains prevalent.

The average woman, compared to the average man, makes about 80% of the latter’s wages in a year, with the gap increasingly expanding when taking into account racial demographics. Fortunately, the United States has made progress from the late 1900s, since the education of women and their presence in the workforce has increased, closing the gap from approximately 60% in 1960 to around 80% in 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. However, estimates following this trend predict that income equality between the genders will not be achieved until 2152 as male wages experience increases while female pay still struggles, not only with increases, but also in terms of catching up.

All these statistics fly off the charts when the handicap of the “average” ceases. Broken into state earnings, women in New York and Delaware lead the way with 89% earnings ration to their counterparts, while states like Louisiana and Wyoming have only equated to 68% and 64% respectively (American Community Survey).

Furthermore, the numbers completely digress when considering women and their color. Among Asians, the highest earning minority group, the proportions of women to men remain at 81%. For the second highest wage earners, Caucasians, the wage ratio is 78%. African Americans and Hispanics have wage fractions of almost equal dimensions, around 90%. Wow! The data shows that the minorities are even closer to attaining equality! That all sounds better, right?

Don’t kid yourself! That data simply demonstrates the significance that racial factors play in the market. Ethnic minorities like African American and Hispanic women and men both earn considerably less than their Asian and White neighbors, their pay is simply closer in face value within their demographics. Thus, the data not only shows how far apart the gender wage gap is, but also how divided income can be within racial divisions.

In 2015, the Pew Research Center released information placing Asian males as the highest wage earners, earning about $24 an hour. After them are White men at $21 an hour, followed by the Blacks and Hispanics at $18 and $17, respectively. The highest wage earners in their female counterparts, Asian women, made $18, while White, Black, and Hispanic women received $17, $13, and $12 an hour.

The wage gap has shrunk, that’s true. Though no matter how small the change is, the female population has worked tirelessly to diminish the inequality. However, if you find yourself asking the fellow next to you, you may find that they may not believe that such a wage gap exists. In fact, Glassdoor’s global surveys report that 7 out of 10 employees believe women and men are equally paid. No, it is not because they cannot read the simple statistics that demonstrate inequality, rather it is their belief that there is no such thing as a gender wage gap due to the sex-related circumstances that distinguish man from woman.

Many believe that there are plausible reasons for such differentiation. Opponents of the existence of the gender wage gap state that women do not accomplish as much education as their male counterparts. There have also been many arguments stating that the jobs of women are domestic, their sole responsibility being the home and family, not a paycheck. Some even vouch that women simply do not work as hard as men or do not have the skills required for performing the same work.

These views, however, are as outdated as the wage gap itself. Times have changed. A 2015 report by Time Magazine has found that “women are more likely to have a bachelor’s degree than men”, with the educational gap continuing to grow since its beginning in the 1970s. Statistics state that females outnumber male students enrolled in colleges by the millions and continue to do so. Higher schooling in graduate education also supports the evidence, as women have been the majority of doctorate recipients in the past 7 years. So, education is not a valid reasoning for wage discrimination.

The second belief as to why female wages are lower than male wages is because of their domesticity. Unfortunately, this suggestion can be ruled out as illogic. Those who present this argument as the foundation for their case fail to acknowledge the fact that unemployed women and men are not included in the statistics of income inequality. This topic of debate sounds more like a gender role discussion for another time.

The third dissent is approached by skeptics of the wage gap arguing that women typically do not pursue higher caliber (and thus higher paying jobs) as often as men, though this is untrue. Even within the same professions, numerous researches and surveys continue to prove that women are paid less than men for identical work. Pay is fair in standardized occupations, but in negotiated contracts, women find themselves less likely to obtain the same wages as a man. Gender bias also projects women as being more submissive to established office “traditions” and depicts females as unavailable, burdened with the home and family more so than men, thus leaving promotions for women harder to come by and the glass ceiling effect still commonplace in the workplace.

When the world looks upon America as a model for progression, the gender disparity is disheartening. Though the nation does boast a better equity than most, countries such as Nigeria, Vietnam, and the United Arab Emirates have even closer pay expectations. In Morocco, women earn $1.03 in comparison to the dollar of men, leaving it as the only country where women make more than men on average. In order to maintain its position in leading global improvement, the United States still has so much to do. The domestic economy is also interwoven with income and earnings and thus, is reflective of government and international business. Women’s pay is, in fact, extremely important.

In my personal opinion, the wage gap between women and men is not caused by the job or education or skill factor. Pay inequality is spurred by gender. Despite being decades past the introduction of women to education and career opportunities, there is still a reminiscence of the stigma towards a working woman. Women have already proved their worth in attaining the knowledge and requirements necessary for any job they desire, but their growth and empowerment within those careers remains entangled in the gender culture of our society. Don’t believe so? Try to recall what you have read so far in this piece. Did you slightly cringe at the syntax of “women and men” rather than “men and women”? It sounds weird, right? That’s one example of how American culture has not yet completely accepted equality of the genders.

To move past the wage gap may not take the 135 estimated years. It could be in the next ten years or take another two hundred. Before income inequality can be conquered, gender discrimination has to be addressed and overcome first. So please, let’s fix this, let’s give disheartened little girls a chance because with every year, I am one step closer to becoming another number on a survey that has shown a long bleak journey for a result I may never see.

Image Source:

Featured image: This image was originally posted to Flickr by Tax Credits. The image has been licensed for fair use by the creator under the Creative Commons license – Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0). No changes were made.


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