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Women face bias and inequality in the workplace

Columnist

Published: Monday, November 4, 2013

Updated: Monday, November 4, 2013 10:11

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Louisa May Alcott, Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. These women have become household names — activists who worked around the clock to ensure women were treated equal to men.

The constitutional amendment extending the right of suffrage was ratified in 1920. It is wonderful how far we’ve come since then, yet 100 years later we still fall short.

It is inspiring to see women take on lead managerial positions and becoming CEOs of multimillion dollar companies. It is less inspiring to see them earn a significantly lower salary than their male counterparts.

The latest data from Eurostat determined that in places such as Germany, Austria and Estonia, male employees were making as much as 27.3 percent per hour more than female employees.

Here in the United States, we fall prey to this gender difference as well.

A survey done by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics found that a woman’s median weekly salary is 80.9 percent as much as a man’s. That means while the full-time working man is raking in $854, a woman of the same caliber brings home a meager $691.

For a country that prides itself on the idea of exceptionalism, this seems unfair.

Now, by no means am I a raging feminist “man-hater.” I want to be clear that I believe there are hundreds of thousands of bright, intelligent and driven men out there that deserve every penny they make. However, I feel women should have opportunities to make the same amount.

An analysis done by PayScale finds women are putting up a fight and seem to be closing this salary gap in non-managerial positions. But the analysis discovered that “as workers move up the ranks, men’s wages start to increasingly outpace those of their female counterparts.”

Some blame women themselves for the wage difference, claiming they choose to work in lower-paying careers. This may be true in some cases, but it still doesn’t justify women in the same position earning less.

Other possible causes for the divide are created by employers who believe hiring women is a liability because she may put her job on the back burner at any time if she chooses to focus on her family and having children, resulting in the company writing out checks for paid time off.

No matter the reason, a solution should be sought. President Obama’s Paycheck Fairness Act is a bill that updates and strengthens the Equal Pay Act of 1963 by making it illegal to pay unequal wages to women and men who perform equal work.

However, more can be done.

Women must know their rights and fight for them. They must make a lasting impression in their careers and climb the ladder of success at the same pace as their male colleagues. In this wage war, women must hold their own.

 

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