Debunking Common Myths About the Gender Pay Gap

The gender pay gap exists

The world is more progressive than ever — or so we think. Amidst policy changes on women’s rights and feminist movements like #MeToo going mainstream, there still remain some cynics beneath the surface who stubbornly hold on to out-dated ideas about the gender pay gap. Here’s a roundup of some of these pervasive myths, and the truth behind them:

Myth 1: There is no pay gap

As ridiculous as it sounds, some individuals still continue to question the existence of a gender pay gap. At best, they are just uninformed and have not encountered studies that say otherwise, but at their worst, they may choose to ignore these reports and call them “propagandistic.” The numbers don’t lie, however, with the U.S. Census Bureau revealing that women who work full-time all year earn 20% less than their male counterparts. The pay gap is very real and extremely troubling for women around the world, who can try their best to work as hard, but never get the same benefits that men do.

Myth 2: Women don’t ask for better wages

There is a notion that women are just not assertive enough in the workplace, and are too timid to ask for a raise. But research published by the Harvard Business Review dispels this notion, stating that women actually do ask for raises — they just don’t get them. Instead of being assertive, they are seen as demanding or aggressive and only get a raise 15% of the time they request one, compared to a 20% success rate for men.

Forbes’ Kathy Caprino points out the problem with this supposed female aggressiveness, writing: “Women’s perceived competency drops by 35% and their perceived worth falls by $15,088 when they are judged as being forceful or assertive.” These opinions can greatly damage or slow down a woman’s chances of advancing in her career.

Myth 3: Women choose low-paying jobs

Although there is a concentration of women in lower-paying jobs, the choice was hardly theirs to begin with. The sad reality is that salaries for positions decrease when females take over male-dominated fields. According to researcher Paula England from New York University, it’s not really that women pick lower-paying jobs in terms of skill and value, it’s that employers decide to pay less for those skills when women are the ones who do the work.

Additionally, this myth is disproven by the fact that even within certain occupations, large gaps can still be found. For instance, CNBC reveals that female financial advisors are getting the short end of the stick, a common occurrence within the highly lucrative finance industry. To illustrate, Maryville University details that the annual median salary for financial advisors is $90,530 — nearly three times the national median figures for all full-time workers in the US. But if you factor in how women financial advisors only make 58.90% compared to their male counterparts’ salaries, this means that they’ll only get just over half of that amount. Real estate agents and paramedics suffer a similar pay gap, with emergency medical technicians getting only 66% of what male technicians typically earn.

Myth 4: Mothers earn less for taking time off

The underlying problem for working mothers is that there are societal norms that dictate their hours. Mothers are expected to take time off to raise their children, while fathers are rarely given days off to play their part in child rearing. This dilemma is inevitably tied to a number of ingrained cultural beliefs and traditions, and women aren’t at fault here. Researchers from Cornell University estimate that one-third of the gap in women’s labor force participation is caused by not enough time for family leave and inflexible workplace policies in the United States.

There is a long way to go before we will be able to close the gender pay gap once and for all. An important step you can take as an individual is to look beyond your own misconceptions on the topic and inform yourself about the hard facts that exist and affect women everywhere. This is a stepping-stone that is necessary to take action and call out discriminatory practices across all industries, and ultimately, in all aspects of society.

Article specially written for NextPivotPoint
By: Harriet Iris