Written by Tanvi Mahajani
For women all over the US, the gender wage gap is a serious concern. On average, an employed woman earns $0.82 for every $1 that a man earns. This average varies by ethnicity, background, education, age, and state. However, all these categories have some sort of gap between the wages of men and women.
Let’s take California for an example. As of 2020, a women’s salary in California sits at around $0.88 for every $1 earned by a man. California has one of the smallest gender wage gaps in the United States, however it is still a significant difference. For a man earning $100,000 annually, a woman will earn $88,000 that same year. Over a 5-year period, the difference increases to $60,000. There are multiple reasons as to why the gap is so large, including the number of hours worked by men and women, discrimination, experience, and industry. In addition, women work 12 years less on average due to various reasons. As a result, women will have a harder time paying off student debt - as ⅔ of student debt in the US is held by women - and acquiring social security checks during retirement.
The wage gap also greatly differs by race. The highest pay gap by race is currently held by Hispanic women, who earn 54% of the salary of a Hispanic man. Black women earn 63% of the salary of black men, white (non-Hispanic) women earn 80% of the salary of white men, and Asian women earn 87% of the salary of Asian men.
Over the past decade, the gender wage gap has only improved by an average of $0.04, which is an insufficient increase if we want to close the gender wage gap sometime soon.
However, there are many things which companies can do to help! Making sure each employee is given paid sick/leave days is a great way to start. Women unable to work due to menstruation cycles, pregnancy, or an inability to afford childcare are now able to take paid leave days without sacrificing their health or their financial situation. Another way to close the gap is to increase the convenience of childcare. By making childcare less financially burdening, women will be able to work without having to take time off for their children. Finally, we can stop discriminating against women who are pregnant. Many times, companies fire women who are pregnant due to the belief that they will not be able to commit as much to their work. Their new lack of income means that they might not be able to provide for themselves.
As you can see, the gender wage gap is still an immensely prevalent issue today. Even though it may seem impossible at first, we must come together and push companies into providing these simple benefits for women. By doing this, we are working towards decreasing the gap at a faster rate than before.
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