The opinions expressed in entries in the LC Blog are those of the author, not of Lawyers Club of San Diego.
It’s Time to Stop Blaming Women for the Gender Pay Gap
It is time to stop blaming women for the pay gap. Women have shouldered the bulk of the criticism for the wage gap for years. The results of a new study show that the differences in pay between men and women is actually due to discrimination.
In conjunction with the discussion regarding the wage gap between men and women, there have been many reasons given for the differences in pay. In addition to the discussion regarding the biases contributing to the problem, many of these explanations seem to either blame the women themselves or criticize what was deemed to be their natural characteristics.
Some of the reasons frequently given for wage inequality include women’s failure to negotiate pay and taking time off to raise children. There have also been some that argue the reason women are paid less is because women tend to choose lower paying jobs. Men, it is thought, choose better paying jobs like science, tech, engineering, and math. Meanwhile, women become teachers or work for non-profits.
One of the other reasons frequently asserted for wage inequality is that women don’t ask for raises. Simply put, women do not get what they deserve because they don’t ask for it. Women are less likely to negotiate for themselves because they are socialized from a young age not to promote their own interests. Also women tend to assume they will be recognized and rewarded for working hard and doing a good job. Unlike men, this theory goes, they haven’t been taught they can ask for more.
A recent study debunks this commonly held idea that women are less aggressive negotiators when it comes to pay. A new study shows that women do ask for pay raises just as often as men, but the problem is they are less likely to get them. This study showed that women were 25% less likely than men to get a hike in pay when they asked for it. The researchers noted that they expected the study to show that women were “less pushy” than men, but their findings showed there is discrimination against women.
The results of this study show what most women already know - discrimination is a reason for the gender wage gap. Women sense there is discrimination keeping the pay gap in place, but there are entrenched ideas that it is their fault. They are taught that if only they asked for more raises, did not choose family over work, and chose the right careers then they would make more money. However, this study shows that even if women did everything right, there would still be inequality due to discrimination.
From now on when we hear someone blaming a woman for getting paid less than a man, then we should speak up. We need to point out there is inherent sexism keeping women from closing the gap that no amount of negotiating can close. We need to stand up for each other until this discrimination no longer exists.
This blog was authored by Jillian Fairchild. Jillian is a full-time litigator and full-time mom who spends her spare time trying to keep the princess culture away from her daughter (and failing miserably!).