Despite countless studies proving that gender inequality exists in the workplace (both in terms of salary and treatment), seven out of ten people still believe that men and women are paid equally. Due to the widespread denial of the mere existence of the wage gap, the efforts to find solutions are far less concentrated than they should be. Frankly, gender inequality is an outdated term for male dominance, and the wage gap is used as a pawn in maintaining the existing power hierarchy.
The Second World War marked the first awareness of the wage gap. While in desperation for workers, women were forced to contribute to the war effort in various ways, leaving their children or families. Because most women had not previously worked outside of their houses, workplace inequality was a largely unnoticed phenomenon. However, once the men left to fight and women began filling their roles, they were, on average, paid fifty percent of male wages, sometimes less but rarely more. In the seventy-nine years from the discovery of the wage gap until today, the gap has closed by only around 30%, placing it roughly around 80¢ per dollar.
Yale University recently hosted a study that provides substantial evidence proving the extent of the wage gap. To see sexism in STEM field (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) jobs, they used two completely identical resumes with only one expensive difference, one had the name John and the other with Jennifer.
The faculties of both genders were biased in favor of the male; furthermore, they were more willing to mentor, employ, and offer more money to John. Disregarding the fact that both people had the exact same qualifications and experience, Jennifer was perceived by professors and employers as substantially less competent. On average, women earn 75.7% of a man’s salary in the STEM field. Not only does gender inequality exist pecuniarily, but it also impacts the manner in which women are treated by their bosses in the workplace, which in hindsight significantly hinders their careers.
According to research from the World Economic Forum, if change continues at the same slow pace as it has done for the past fifty years, it will take a staggering 168 years—or until 2185 —for women to finally reach pay parity. Financial equality would help more than half of working women and their families out of poverty in addition to adding approximately four hundred eighty-two billion dollars to the economy. With data supporting the economic benefits of equal pay and the potentially drastic change quality of life for so many families, the hesitance to pay men and women the same amount for the same job is beyond perplexing. Even if the wage gap somehow disappears in 168 years, there are not any indications as to whether the gap will stay gone or what impact it will have on the younger generations. Ultimately, the wage gap is a solvable problem that, if solved, will have nothing but a positive impact on America’s economy and society.