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Pay Gap and Its Sociological Implications Essay

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Updated: Jul 1st, 2021

Gender and race pay gap have been a topic of discussion not only among sociologists as any average person strives to be treated fairly when compared to his or her colleagues. The difference in paychecks that people receive for their work is troubling, as there is an implication of racism and sexism. The sociological imagination enables one to study facts without reliance on personal experiences; thus, it should be applied to this problem. This paper aims to examine the issue of the pay gap by collecting various viewpoints from newspaper articles and identifying sociological implications.

The exact nature of the social problem is that particular groups of people receive lesser financial compensations for performing their work when compared to other groups. Thus, the primary stakeholders in the question are women including women of color, and people of varied ethnicities such as Afro American, Latin, or Native American in particular. Men in particular white are benefiting from the current state, as they can out-earn the mentioned groups.

Breaking down the issue along the different axes of inequality is crucial to understand its causes and consequences. According to Foley “Census Bureau study making the rounds consisted overwhelmingly (85 percent) of white couples, with Afro American couples and couples of other races making up just 7 percent each” (2018:15). Additionally, the author states that for women, the underlying cause of the issue is evident, as working and taking care of a baby is difficult. This results in a need to choose which aspect of life requires more dedication. Thus, some studies argue that the cause of men out-earning women is in the latter’s desire to care for their families. Moreover, for Afro-American women, the ability to be a stay-at-home mother is not always an option; thus they have to continue working.

The issue is public trouble as it does not merely reflect one’s difficulties. In addition, the evidence suggests that there is a systemic occurrence of pay inequality. Thus, it was brought to public attention by various nonprofit organizations such as Equal Pay Today, fighting for the rights of women and ethnic minorities. Foley (2018) states that “I and many other female academics are on a professional trajectory that does not readily support having a family” (2018: 3). Afro-American women are affected as they work (on average more than an Afro-American man) however receive a smaller paycheck, which proves to be challenging when having to take care of children additionally. Chen (2018) states that an Afro-American female worker would receive only 67 cents per dollar that a white man would get for his work. There are no other implications concerning education or ability to work; thus, the problem should be resolved.

Although there have been steps for the legitimization of the problem, they have proven to be unsuccessful by researchers, as the issue remains. Martin (2018) states that the first step in protecting equal pay was made in 1963 by John F. Kennedy. The president signed the Equal Pay Act, which declares that it is illegitimate to provide different compensation for similar work in regards to men and women. Two other initiatives followed – the Equal Rights Amendment and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (Martin 2018). Thus, the legal acts aimed at minimizing the pay gap exist in the U.S.

It can be argued that the solutions mentioned above did not work. According to Scott (2018), Afro-American women historically work regardless of whether they have a child or not. Thus, those who have a baby continue to work which in theory would result in a smaller wage gap between them and men or white women. However, the statistics reflect an opposing view as according to Reinicke (2018) to receive a similar paycheck that a man would get, Afro-American women would have to dedicate an additional eight months to work. The inequality here is evident regardless of the legislative initiative that exists. Furthermore, Wilson (2018) states that the gap in pay between an Afro-American man and a white man has returned to the estimates of the 1950s. Therefore, further policy changes are required to ensure that society adheres to equally treating individuals.

A dramatic change in how the public perceives wages for different groups is required. In addition, Carpenter (2018) argues that merely talking about the issue would not be enough to resolve it as women and people of different ethnicities are often aware of the existing problems. However, due to the pressure from the employees (led by the difference in perception of people) and public opinion these individuals are afraid to speak up when negotiating their pay. Thus, Carpenter (2018) states that a resolution would be in standardized job levels, and open access salary information. The proposed decision is right as it brings factual information into the conversation (through similar positions which are easy to compare and salary data that can be presented to the employer as an argument). The problem would be alleviated in the long-term as people who are discriminated against would be aware of the problem, the solutions, and considerations that can be utilized in a negotiation. Thus, the proposed settlement would empower women and ethnically diverse populations to speak up for their rights.

Overall, the issue of the pay gap between white men, women, and people of different ethnicities is evident. The aspect is a social problem as it affects the entire population, not a particular individual. Although there are several legislative initiatives, those have proven to be ineffective. Further changes should include standardized job descriptions and access to information regarding the salaries of different individuals. This would enable proper negotiations for people who are currently experiencing issues.


Carpenter, Julia. 2018. CNN Money, Web.

Chen, Michelle. 2016. The Nation, Web.

Foley, Nadirah F. 2018. Huffington Post, Web.

Martin, Areva. 2018. Time, Web.

Reinicke, Carmen. 2018. CNBC, Web.

Scott, Eugene. 2018. “The Black Unemployment Rate Is Down, But Black Women’s Equal Pay Day Is Putting a Spotlight on Wage Inequities.” The Washington Post, Web.

Wilson, William J. 2018. The Economist, Web.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Pay Gap and Its Sociological Implications." July 1, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/pay-gap-and-its-sociological-implications/.


IvyPanda. (2021) 'Pay Gap and Its Sociological Implications'. 1 July.

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