After graduating from college of engineering, and landing my first job as an environmental engineer, I face a wage gap. My male co worker was making $38 per hour, while I was making $15 per hour. I was performing the same tasks as him.The wage gap, known as the difference in money earned by men and women, may have narrowed slightly since the 1980s, but still paints a pretty dismal picture as far as equality is concerned. It’s been 50-years since the U.S. passed the Equal Pay Act, yet American women still face a substantial gender wage gap across the spectrum.
In 2018, women earned 85% of what men earned, which was information released by the reputable Pew Research Center after they looked at median hourly earnings in both full and part-time positions in the United States. Based on this estimate, women would have to work another 39 days per year to earn what their male counterparts earn.
In 2017, the Census Bureau found that full-time, year-round working women earned only 80% of what their male counterparts earned.
But, in hopeful news, the 2018 wage gap was somewhat smaller for adults ages 25 to 34, coming in at 89%.
Why is this the case?
- Educational Attainment: Societal and cultural factors make it more or less likely that a student will attend college. For women, that number is lower than men, due to familial expectations.
- Occupational Segregation: Many careers, like hair stylist or medical assistants, do not need to receive a full college degree, which lands women in a lower-paying situation than their male counterparts.
- Work Experience: Many old school firms are simply not as willing to hire women as men, which means that women have a harder time curating the experience they need to land high-paying positions.
There are other, scarier factors that are hard to measure: gender discrimination. In this same study, 42% of women said they had experienced gender discrimination at work, compared to the 22% men who said they have experienced a similar situation.
The Wage Gap is Here and It’s Alive
Politicians love to talk about the improvement percentage in the wage gap from a certain year until today. What they don’t love to talk about is that women still earn 15% less than their male counterparts. How can that be acceptable in a country like the U.S. in the year 2019?
Women are rising up and demanding a change. The #metoo movement has helped women come out of the abusive shadows and call out their employers for sexual harassment. It’s creating a more accepting professional environment for women, which will encourage more girls to pursue high-paying positions.
I know for me: I won’t stop until the wage gap is completely closed. It’s about time women receive the fair pay and recognition for their work. I am pushing for every woman to achieve the education of her dreams and get out there to make the world a better place. That’s what I try to do every single day.
Gender wage gap
U.S. wage gap