THE WAGE GAP IS FAR FROM A MYTH

It is certainly not the first time that a bake sale utilizing this method has made it into the news. At first glance the blatant price mark-up of cookies for male customers does not appear to promote gender equality but further the discrimination of people based on gender, warranted by the same injustice that women face in the workplace.  However, upon further inquiry of the topic one would discover that men are not being overcharged as some form of punishment or act of justice, but to reveal the fact that in 2010 women only earned 77 cents to every dollar that a man earned (Glynn & Powers, 2012). Compared to the 2000 figure of 73 cents to every dollar, there seems to be a slight increase towards equal pay. However a four cent increase every fourteen years isn’t a viable solution to this national and global issue that affects far more than simply how much money a woman takes home at the end of the day. It is a systematic undervaluing of the work that women perform. This gender bias is present at all levels of education and subject to women of all nationalities. It can vary greatly by the field of work but is present in all fields nonetheless. (Lips, 2003).

The news report was conducted by ABC Utah news and provides an excellent account of not only the reasoning for the bake sale but the thoughts and concerns of fellow students as well. Jake Knaphus a student of Jordan high school stated “I believe in what they’re doing. I believe in their standing for a cause, but I just don’t believe the statistics they’re using are correct. I would love to have a debate with them, about what they believe in. But the fact that they tell me to go away is kind of disheartening” (Carlisle, 2015). He brought up an excellent point and it is unfortunate that he was not able to get the answer he was looking for. Although believing in the push for equal pay Jake was right to question the statistics that was being presented to the public. The exceedingly common statistic that women earn 77 cents to every dollar that a man, comes with a considerable amount of variables.

This statistic was originally made popular when research calculated the median earnings of full-time, year-round, working women by the median earnings of full-time, year-round, working men (Glynn, 2014). This is only an ideal statistic regarding a specific group of working men and women, when in reality men and women do not work equal hours, hold the same jobs, always have the same years of experience, or equally share the responsibility of childbirth and child care. This subject has been debated for many years, with reputable sources on both sides constantly claiming that they have sufficient proof to settle the issue. However, the debate continues because of these discrepancies that are very difficult to display in hard data. One being the idea that men are willing to work longer hours and in more demanding environments than women. Unfortunately in our patriarchal society jobs that are commission based award men with an advantage due to spending more time at the workplace and in turn closing more deals while women of an equivalent position are expected to spend more time at home.  This is the type of social attitudes towards women in the workplace that will continue to prevent us from reaching total equality. Various statistics from 77 cents to 95 cents continue to arise through different forms of data collection and attempting to incorporate all variables. However, a women receiving 95 cents on every dollar that a man receives (despite how much of an increase from 77 cents it is) does not put an end to this issue. The reason being that these few cents that cannot be accounted for lie in the deliberate discrimination of women in the workplace by men due to their privilege from the barriers that immobilize and marginalize women. John Oliver does an excellent job in putting this statement into a rather fitting analogy.

An important intersection of race that appears in this issue should also be considered. The controversial gap of “77 cents” on the dollar seems to widen significantly when looking at women of colour. In 2013 African-American women made 64 cents, American Indian and Alaska Native women made 59 cents, and the widest gap was found to be to Hispanic women who only made 54 cents on the dollar (Crockett, 2014). The racial inequality of the situation along with the gender bias is made frighteningly clear in these statistics. Despite constant attempts to demonstrate that the wage gap is created by women’s choice of career, these statistics show that that even if that were true there remains a serious issue regarding racial inequality towards women in the workplace.

Carlisle, R. (2015, March 1). Gender equality bake sale causes stir at Utah high school.

Crockett, E. (2014, September 19). Gender Pay Gap Worse for Women of Color, People From Louisiana.

J. Glynn, S., & Powers, A. (2012, April 1). The Top 10 Facts About the Wage Gap.

Landrum, S. (2015, April 1). What Young Women Need To Know About The Wage Gap Right Now | fbomb.

Lips, H. (2003). The Gender Pay Gap: Concrete Indicator Of Women’s Progress Toward Equality. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, 3(81), 87-109.

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3 Comments

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  1. I thought it was very interesting that you brought up the different variables that accompany this widespread statistic. I think this statistic is used very broadly and has many fallacies attached to it, so it was good that you pointed out some of it’s flaws, complications, and components. It is really unfortunate that women are not only being treated unfairly, but are also being blamed for the gender earnings gap. The video was also really interesting!

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  2. I completely agree with your criticism of this social experiment. If anything, it just left students confused, and did not lead to any useful conversation or debate. Your use of the video was also excellent and very helpful. I think statistics get thrown around all the time because they are difficult for people to automatically disprove, which is inherently unfair. It is no question that women and men are not completely equal in the work place at this time, but we should also question the differing pay per race as well.

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  3. I like the angle you took when writing this entry- considering the logistics behind the actual statistics. There are so many factors that apply to this stat, and that I didn’t necessarily consider when I read this article on the bake sale. Personally, I respect where it is they are coming from. Despite the variables you pointed out; I can appreciate that this group is trying to raise awareness, and promote future changes. Who knows where their fellow classmates may be twenty years from now; they may be able to make the difference.

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