The Working Woman

The scope of a woman’s role in most cultures, surrounds her femininity. She is seen as a symbol of motherhood, nature, fertility, and the like, while the man is often attributed with inherent machismo and titles like, “breadwinner”, even if these roles are not so.

In recent years and months, issues surrounding women in the working world have grown in recognition, but it seemed that even Hillary Clinton, the issue’s greatest advocate, has failed to match her words with equal salaries. The question becomes, why?

Throughout the 20th century, World Wars and major movements gave a societal push for women in the work force, but we only see significant and consistent numbers of working women in the last fifty-plus years. This growth during the sixties and seventies coincided with an expanding equal-rights movement concerning race, gender, and sexuality.

It is no surprise then, that during a similar and constantly-growing movement, women are starting to question consistently inferior pay and the demographics of our work force.

Money is undeniably linked to power, and while there are those celebrities earning enough money so that the pay difference may not matter for their livelihood, the disparity speaks to a greater issue. And this issue trickles down to those earning fractions of an A-list income.

Many, like Jennifer Lawrence in the above-linked article, will claim responsibility for significantly lower salaries due to poor negotiation tactics. This remains an issue for those women who continue to undersell themselves, but there are many sources claiming a lack of negotiation is not usually the case.

The stigma surrounding salary is interweaved in those beliefs that certain jobs are strictly male or female. After all, it took until December 2015, some 100 years after their entrance to the military, for the powers-at-be to deem women able to serve in combat positions.

Indeed, in positions of great power, like law enforcement, women experience smaller representation, and a very different career than males. This, evidenced in a study conducted by PEW Research Center, comparing the experiences of male and female police officers.

There are those “pink-collar” jobs where women constitute the majority, with the top three being registered nurses, elementary/middle school teachers, and social workers. Women make up a staggering amount for each, between eighty and ninety percent of the work force.

The rest on the list follow a similar trend: jobs requiring considerable interaction and communication, like counselors, psychologists, human resource or public relations managers.

However, if you compare with a concise graph made by CNN Money, even in these female-dominated areas, men still make more. While there are certain scenarios where women make more than men, it is a select-few, traditionally male-dominated occupations such as boilermakers, non-oil/gas drillers, and riggers.

We can be certain, too, that the wage gap is not a result of differing qualifications. Forbes cites a study from The National Partnership for Women and Families, noting that women with doctoral degrees are paid less than men with master’s degrees, and women with a master’s are paid less than men with a bachelor’s degree.

The scarier thought, is that minority-women fair even worse than their caucasian-counterparts, with black and hispanic females making 63 and 54 cents of every dollar that a white male makes.

Taking the value of money out of this equation, we come to the recognition that the problem lies with everyone from the men making more than even overqualified female coworkers, to the executives knowingly underpaying female employees. Seeing this as an issue is necessary, but bridging gender gaps to create change is paramount.

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