As American women earn more education than men and contribute to the workforce, while frequently being familial breadwinners, they also tend to receive less pay for equal work.
The universal implications on American families, their bottom lines, and opportunities for financial betterment, are apparent. These problems were reemphasized Thursday when the Center for American Progress (CAP) released a report on the wage gap.
Although race nuances the wage issue, women generally earn less.
"The gender wage gap exists for all women, regardless of race or ethnicity ... The wage gap is smaller for African American and Hispanic women primarily because wages for people of color tend to be lower overall," the center reported. White women and Asian American women earn about 20 percent less than their same background male counterparts. Black women earn about 10 percent less than black men, while Latinas earn almost 9 percent less than Latinos.
As if modern disparities aren't cause enough for action, the reality of most mothers being the top earners in their families or juggling "that responsibility with a partner" shows the practical implications of this gendered issue.
Unequal pay cannot be blamed on one thing. It results from a biased marketplace and, to an extent, gender socialization. A LinkedIn study reported that women are less likely to negotiate pay. About a quarter of women were comfortable negotiating pay. Thirty-seven percent of men were comfortable negotiating.
Women often internalize employment scarcity and paycheck gratitude in ways that teach them that something is better than nothing, and asking for more might result in obtaining nothing.
Unequal salaries for equal work are an issue that some authors, analysts and politicians speak out against and seek to remedy. "Women are certainly less confident than men when it comes to negotiations," says Selena Rezvani, author of PUSHBACK: How Smart Women Ask – and Stand Up – For What they Want. "A big part of that problem for women is the belief that relationships should trump agenda."
That fear coupled with the current marketplace affects career veterans (to the tune of more than $400, 000 during a 40-year career) and recent graduates. A 2011 Rutgers University study reported that median pay for male college graduates was $33,150 for men and $28,000 for female graduates.
The commander-in-chief attempted to address some aspects of unbalanced pay when he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act ino law in January of 2009. While President Barack Obama's move was an important step (and first for him as president), analysts advocate for more action.