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The Effect of Gender Wage Inequality on Women’s Empowerment in the Workplace

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By Iberkis Faltas
August 19, 2016

In the United States and around the world, gender wage inequality (GWI) is a timeless issue untouched by modernism, contemporary governance, policymakers or social equality affairs. In fact, some companies still require their employees to sign a contract agreements agreeing not to disclose salaries to prevent legal confrontations, internal hurdles or despotism against unhappy employees. However, those contracts might be hiding a more significant pressing social problem.

Analysis of academic research, professional reviews and official state agencies reporting confirmed that GWI is a problem as congruent now as it was decades ago.

In January 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the median weekly earning between men and women was 83 percent, with males earning an average of $871 a week while women earn $719.

In the U.S. the BLS reported that 38 percent of women are college graduate versus 34.6 percent of men, and 57 percent of the workforce population is women. According to Meghan Casserly, a member of the Forbes Entrepreneurs Team, women are making $377 less each week than their male counterparts. That is an average salary difference of $19, 604 a year.

In her article, “The Real Origins of the Gender Pay Gap—And How We Can Turn It Around,” Casserly noted that yearly, women’s first paychecks will be roughly $7,000 less than their male classmates. She further explains that in the private sector, the average male’s pay scale was $1,328 per week while women with the same professional, educational, experience and capacity earn only $951.

An analysis of the latest BLS report on gender wage based on professional fields offers additional insight. For example, in the financial sector, women are paid as low as a 54.2 percent of men’s salaries. In the legal sector, women are paid 56.7 percent of men’s salary.

While academic programs in the U.S. do not separate groundworks and achievements by gender, unfortunately, statistics shows the median earnings between men and women have a considerable difference furiously relinquishing on social equality and opportunities.

Cause and Effect of Gender Wage Inequality

The GWI issue is not only affecting women financially but also their leadership empowerment opportunities. In the financial sector, only 18.3 percent of women hold board directors or relevant positions at their workplace. Heather Landy, the editor-in-chief of American Banker Magazine, wrote that 100 U.S. banks hold assets calculated in more than $10 billion. However, only five of those banking organizations have females in positions of chief executive officers (CEO). Also, in the field of technology, only 9 percent of women hold senior manager positions, while in politics only 10 percent of women hold governorships.

Landy also explained how a recent strategic study conducted on CEOs from 2,500 of the world’s largest companies found that in the past decade, 38 percent of personnel fired from their positions were women versus 27 percent of men.

Timeless social problem

In 1999, the BLS published a report based on ethnic demographic earnings indicating. This report showed the weekly earning wage of white men was $615 while white women earned $468. Black men earned $468 while Black women earned $400. Hispanic men earned $390 while Hispanic women earned $337. The report also showed the GWI, men versus women ratio, was an astonishing 76 percent regardless of ethnicities, race, nationality, origin or culture.

The GWI and pay inequality is a problem affecting societies since the Paleolithic era. The problem surpassed the development of the Old World diving into the 21st century without significant changes.

In 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was one of the first documents to acknowledge GWI officially around the world. The UDHR advocates equal pledge of dignity and human’s rights as common standards of achievements. The UDHR also pledged equal autonomy for developments and favorable remunerations regardless of the gender. In fact, the UDHR states, “Everyone, without discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.”

Still, in 2016 social advancements, academic development and contemporary modernism do not seem to influence GWI changes. The GWI is a social problem intimately associated with a lack of democratic governance, diminishing social equality and promoting social imbalance.

Cognitive of a Social Problem

The literature suggested the GWI problem is obstructing organizations from empowering leadership strategies and guidance toward women development at the workplace. The literature also indicated that issues such as gender-discrimination, gender bullying and the lack of recognition of women’s performance are significantly reducing equal opportunities governances for women at their workplace. Studies showed that women and men are equally capable of performance and responsibility; therefore, organizations must treat and respect them equally.

The United Nations and the organization Women’s Empowerment Principles recommended several areas of development essential to empower women equality at the workplace:

  • Leadership that promotes gender equality, equal opportunity and nondiscriminatory programs.
  • Safety, health, violence freedom, training and education.
  • Marketing practices, enterprise women development and community and leadership engagement.
  • Transparence measurement reporting evaluation strategies toward women development.

Author: Iberkis Faltas, MS, PMP, AF is a doctoral candidate in management and leadership. Faltas is Emotional Intelligence MSCEIT Certified. Email: [email protected].

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