Why the Gender Gap Controls the World

And what women can do about it.

When Maxine Lampe started her career as a teacher in the early 1970s, the school district refused to give her the head-of-household pay that men received- even though Lampe was in graduate school. Later, Lampe went into public school administration and found once again that her gender- and marital status- was a factor in her pay. While trying to negotiate the salary, one of the board members told her, “You don’t need as much pay because your husband is a professor and you have enough money.”

Since 1970 the gender pay gap has changed by 22.2 percent. In 2019 women earn 79 cents for every dollar earned by men. Even when women and men are doing the same exact job, women are paid 98 cents to every dollar a man is paid. That is what economists call a controlled gender pay gap. 

Employers in jobs that do not acknowledge the gender pay gap is more likely to have an uncontrolled pay gap. However, women who pay attention and ask how much people are being paid can help decrease the distance between gender pay.

In 2015 the median salary for men was 26 percent higher than the median salary for women. Now with some jobs taking action towards the gender pay gap, the median salary for men is roughly 21 percent higher than the median salary for women. 

Is this problem only in the United States? No, in Poland, women earn 91 cents to every dollar earned by a man. In Israel, women earn 81 cents to every dollar earned by a man. In South Korea, women earn 65 cents to every dollar earned by a man. 

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research estimates that women will not receive equal pay until 2059.

In 2015 the salary for men was 26 percent higher than the salary for women

In jobs, employers could be required to share their gender gap data with the government and hold them accountable or they could publicly disclose their wage gaps and then use pay audits to reduce them, as some firms have already done. 

However, the blame is not only on employers. Women can research what people are being paid at the job they want/have and negotiate their payments. 

Yes, some women lose time away from work because of children, but that does not mean they don’t deserve a raise. 

“It is logical for couples to decide that the person who earns less, usually a woman, does more of the household chores and child care. One person focuses on a career, and the other one does the lion’s share of the work at home. It’s why women earn less,” said Sari Kerr, an economist at Wellesley College in an article in the New York Times. 

Without equal pay, the gender pay gap will never close. When more employers shine a light on the gender pay gap, the gap itself will start to close.