Throughout the history of humanity, discrimination has been taking place at all times in various forms. Practically any form of discrimination is based on human prejudices that recede into the past. Apart from race, religion, and gender discriminations that unfortunately still exist, there is also the so-called wage gap. According to the United States Census Bureau, “women who work full time earn, on average, only 78 cents for every dollar men earn” (Equal pay for equal work: pass the paycheck fairness act, 2015, para1). It is the violation of the existing principle – equal pay for an equal job. In other words, under equal conditions in the same workplace, people should be paid equal wages regardless of their gender.
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Nevertheless, the fact that mens wages are higher still exists. There are a lot of theories trying to explain this phenomenon of pay inequality. First of all, there is widespread opinion that men are more skillful and hard-working than women are. However, this opinion is based on different prejudices that have become ingrained in our everyday lives.
One of the most common reasons that may serve as a basis for such prejudices is the so-called motherhood penalty. Since ancient times, a woman has been always associated with motherhood.
A woman was a domestic goddess who was responsible for keeping a house clean and tidy and bringing up children. At the same time, a man was a bread-earner whose aim was to feed and protect his family. Moreover, there was a period in history when it was considered disgraceful and abnormal for a woman to work. The only source of family incomes was a mans salary and in rare cases a woman just helped her husband. It was explained partially by the existing tradition and by the fact that in highly industrialized society for heavy work mans strength was needed.
Times has changed and we live in society, in which the gender equality has been proclaimed. Nevertheless, this stereotype has found its reflection in our everyday lives.
As a rule, it is a woman who takes a maternity leave after a birth of a child. As well as a woman more often takes a leave in case of a childs illness. In such a case, her working hours are reduced simultaneously with a wage cut (Budig & England, 2001). The birth of a child also influences a womans career opportunities, because during her maternity leave she is not involved in activity and her professional skills do not develop.
As a rule, men are stronger than women are. This physical difference between genders in a great degree predetermines the choice of profession. Only a few part of women are involved in dangerous jobs even if it is high paying. The existing stereotype that most men have an aptitude for exact sciences while women are persons of a humanitarian bent, leads to the situation when highly paid engineering professions are occupied by men.
Moreover, these stereotypes are highly cultivated by mass media. The image of a woman created by TV shows and by slick magazines makes a man perceive her as an object to be won. It is impossible to imagine a model from a fashion journal performing a hard labor. Influenced by mass media a woman on an unconscious level is perceived in accordance with the existing stereotype.
It is possible to conclude that there are many different opinions concerning the existing wage gap and most of them have historical overtones. Nevertheless, last time there is a tendency for dissolution of the wage gap.
Budig, M., & England, P. (2001). The Wage Penalty for Motherhood. American Sociological Review, 66, 204-225. Web.
Equal pay for equal work: pass the paycheck fairness act. (2015). Web.