Gender Gap and Compensation
Gender Gap in terms of compensation means that women generally get paid less than men for doing the same job. This has been an issue ever since women started working in the United States. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 tried to close this gap by stating that people doing equal job should get equal pay, no matter what sex they are (Lussier and Hendon 2019), but 55 years later this still is a big problem, women getting paid on average only ¾ of what men get paid for the same job. Not only that, but women are also under-represented in top management jobs (mainly in tech and high-paying governmental jobs). So from these facts above we can deduce that gender gap is particularly a women’s issue.
Closing the Gap
The main reason used by companies as of why the gender gap still exists is that women are generally the ones that care for their children (Lussier and Hendon 2019). Thus they will usually end up in part-time jobs that are below their education level and have low progression opportunities. Employers usually defend themselves with saying that women choose to care for their children and to work part-time, when actually this is not about making a choice, it is ingrained in human nature that women are more caring than men. However, British studies have shown that over half of the fathers in the UK would trade their jobs to part-time, with pay cut, to be able to spend more time with their family (Modern Families Index 2016), but it is harder for them to get a part-time job due to cultural biases. The solution? Making part-time jobs more attractive to both men and women by making it less demanding and giving them a chance to progress career-wise. But this is not the only problem.
According to Dr. Charlotte Gascoigne (2017), one cause of the gender pay gap is that there are generally more men than women in senior roles at companies. This comes from the bias companies have that men are more trustworthy and available when it comes to work, so they are more dedicated, can work longer hours and are not distracted by other events in their lives. Gascoigne says that this issue can be solved by creating flexible, part-time senior roles, and this is important because there are many talented women out there, who are also parents, and miss out on great job opportunities because they simply cannot be available all the time.
(Photo: Ryan Todd)
Another problem is that jobs that are seen as ‘feminine’, such as teaching, nursing, care-giving, or store sales associate are usually low-paid, while manly jobs like IT, engineering, construction workers are highly paid, just because some require more education than the other. Traditionally female skills are much needed but undervalued, and this is a real issue (Gascoigne 2017). A solution for this problem is allowing talented women to work in male sectors part-time or in a flexible manner, so they can both tend to their families and have a high-paying job.
The main problem, however, is that on average women still get a quarter less salary then men for the same job, and that is due to cultural biases that have been ingrained in people despite the Equal Pay Act of 1963. This is discrimination. Some states, such as Oregon, California, and New York have passed laws to help employees combat pay disparity (Lussier and Hendon 2019), but there needs to be more regulations federally.
As mentioned earlier, there have been a few laws passed to aid women against the gender gap. The first was the Equal Pay Act of 1963 which claims that everyone should be paid equally for doing the same job. Oregon has passed a law to help employees who win a claim against their employer to get more money, and California passed a law that requires comparable pay for similar job, making it easier to combat discrimination or win fair pay claims against the employers. Still, gender gap persists mainly due to discrimination and stereotyping against women and biases that men are keener to live for their work or career while women generally devote themselves to their family. The solution to this are more government policies and regular pay assessments and pay transparency (Tyson, Parker 2019).
In my opinion human resource professional should consider many things when planning compensation and pay during recruitment planning. First of all, assuming that a young woman will soon have children should not be a negative thing anymore that keeps someone from hiring that lady, even though she has a great resume. There are several months from conception to childbirth, in which time someone can be trained do help out in those few weeks the lady is away. During that time she can work from home and part-time. The opportunity to advance in their careers should definitely not be taken away from women just because they are the life-givers.
Secondly, HR professionals should look at the education level and the experience of the candidate and also at the supply/demand of candidates for that position, and at the market to see how much others offer for that job, to make a thorough decision. But in no case should they pay more to someone based on the fact that he is a male or based on how much they got at their previous job, it is unfair to the rest of the recruits.
In conclusion, gender gap is a known fact, not only in the United States, but in the whole world. Governments in developed countries are working on the problem and, according to a recent data from the World Economic Forum, the gender gap should completely close in 99 years (BBC News 2019). 99 years!
Lussier, R. N., & Hendon, J. R. (2019). Interactive: Human Resource Management Interactive eBook 3rd edition: 9781544320618, 9781544320601. https://www.vitalsource.com/products/interactive-human-resource-management-interactive-robert-n-lussier-v9781544320601
Priest, D., & Jackson, S. (2016, January). Modern Family Index 2016. https://www.workingfamilies.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Modern-Families-Index-2016.pdf
Gascoigne, C. (n.d.). The real reasons behind the gender pay gap.
Tyson, L. D. A., & Parker, C. (2019, March). An economist explains why women are paid less. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/03/an-economist-explains-why-women-get-paid-less/
BBC, N. (2019, December 17). The gender gap is on course to close... in 99 years. https://www.bbc.com/news/business-50814765