March 13, 2022
Although women have made incredible progress, gender inequality is still pervasive. A significant but often overlooked concern is the gender pay gap, also referred to as the gender wage gap. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, on average, women are paid 82 cents or every dollar a man makes.
One of the most pronounced examples of earning inequality based on gender has been among the U.S. soccer teams. Men’s soccer players have salaries ranging from $25,000 to $300,000. In contrast, the salaries of women’s soccer players have ranged from $25,000 to $85,000.
These professional athletes compete at the highest level of the same sport, yet women have earned significantly less. Fortunately, last month marked a major victory for the U.S. women’s soccer players.
On Feb. 22, they settled for $24 million in a lawsuit in which they argued that they were being paid 40% of what male players were earning. Their agreement will ensure that moving forward, male and female players who wear the Team U.S.A. jersey will earn equal pay.
The biggest reason why the gender pay gap still exists is motherhood.
There is also the issue of objectification. A review conducted by the Office of Undergraduate Research at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City revealed that among Sports Illustrated magazines published between 2000 to 2011, only 35 of the 716 regular issues featured female athletes on the covers. When star athletes, such as soccer player Alex Morgan, appeared on the cover, they were wearing a bikini. Rather than focusing on their athletic talent, the magazine capitalized on their sex appeal.
Another reason for the gender pay gap is unpaid housework and care. Generally, women do more housework than men. A study conducted by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research found that women ages 15 to 24 perform 5.7 hours of daily household and care work, while men of the same ages complete 3.6 hours a day. Men ages 25 to 34 spend 3.9 hours a day on housework and child/elderly care, but women in this age range average eight hours per day. Since women work more unpaid hours than men, they do not have the same amount of time to invest in work, which further affects their pay and earning potential.
The biggest reason why the gender pay gap still exists is motherhood. Unmarried, childless women earn 96 cents for every dollar a man makes. However, women with children are paid 71 cents for every dollar a father makes.
The United States does not offer paid parental leave, so the time women take off of work contributes to the gender pay gap. Mothers typically have an 11-week maternity leave, whereas new fathers take about one week away from work, according to the Pew Research Center.
When it comes to everyday circumstances concerning child care, women are more likely to take on extra responsibilities. Mothers tend to stay with their children when they are sick, take them to doctor’s appointments and attend school meetings.
The severity of the gender pay gap varies depending on race. A study by the National Women’s Law Center found that for every dollar that White, non-Hispanic men earned in 2020, Asian women earned 87 cents, Black women earned 63 cents, Native American women earned 60 cents and Latina women earned 55 cents.
Americans need to pay attention to these inequities rather than dismissing them or assuming the problems cannot be resolved.
Moving forward, more needs to be done to recognize injustices associated with female earnings and ensure its end. All people should be properly educated on this matter and work towards feasible solutions because, regardless of gender or race, everyone deserves equal pay for equal work.
ILLUSTRATION BY CAROLINA AGUILAR