Mind the Gap: Women at Work

Image: The Skim

Image: The Skim

The way that you have been thinking about the wage gap is all wrong, and here’s why.  For generations, women had been considered “too good” or “too fragile” to participate in the labor economy, relegated to positions in childcare, housework, or secretaryship in an occurrence dubbed “benevolent sexism”.  This view that women are seemingly above promotion so as to not hurt themselves or their families can have undeniably detrimental effects on their careers, and explains the cause of the gender pay gap.

This can be summarized by the main topic of this article: gender promotional gaps.  According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, men earned 3% more promotions than the women did over three years.  While the number may seem relatively miniscule, one must remember that the overall mean promotion rate is only 9%, making the 3% figure comparatively large. The cause of the gap is a little less clear.  It is known that women are not without ambition, as 60% of women surveyed expressed interest in becoming a top executive in their profession.  It’s not for lack of effort, either, as women have also been found to be 10% harder workers in comparison to their male counterparts. Additionally, despite popular belief, women ask for promotions just as often as men do.

Image: Business 2 Community

Image: Business 2 Community

However, the “second sex” is still are not promoted equally.  According to the Harvard Business Review, after the initial request, men are promoted 20% of the time, compared to women being promoted at only a 15% success rate.  

So, what does all this have to do with the wage gap?  Everything.  When we discuss wage disparities, it’s often framed as everyone in the survey having the same job.  But, the 85¢ gender pay gap(as a difference in median hourly earning)is taken from polls of every man and every woman in a plethora of different jobs and positions. In order to understand the full picture of the pay differences in the workplace, it is essential to understand the work differences.  It is simply an application of the theory of “equal pay for equal work”.  

All in all, one cannot only use the wage gap to understand gender inequalities in the modern workplace.  It is essential to not only examine the effects of an issue, but also the cause.  “Benevolent sexism” and severe promotional gaps must be reckoned with as a priority in order to see that all employees are given the same opportunities and treated as equals to their peers.

Editor’s Note: You can learn more about the “pink tax” and how it unfairly disadvantages women here - https://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/how-to-fight-the-pink-tax/

Margo Cohen Comment