Gender Pay Gap: The Hypocrisy Of Gendered Pay
The traditional understanding of the gender pay gap reveals that women continue to earn less compared to their male counterparts. Such is despite numerous laws and judicial pronouncements that have labeled the difference in pay between the two genders illegal (Harris & Estevez, 2017). The persistence of the gender pay gap, however, remains predicated on its name, gender. Women, through societal practices such as reinforced bias, have been internally conditioned to accept less pay compared to men. Although such a statement seems straight forward, it remains problematic because it is beyond the women’s ability to understand why they continue to suffer at the hands of minimal pay for equal work compared to men. The same means that women are at a disadvantage when it comes to getting paid compared to men.
On the other hand, the sexuality of the women also plays a critical role in terms of the relationship between the pay the women receive and their sexual disposition. Lesbians, on average earn 9% more for the same amount of work compared to heterosexual women (Klawitter, 2015). Why so? Does sexual orientation have a cure for the persistent gender pay gap? The central research concern for this paper is to inquire into the difference between the pay gap between lesbians and straight women. One of the reasons as to why I chose this topic was because of the challenge of the gender pay gap and why it has persisted despite various attempts from all quarters of life to make women at par with men when it comes to paying for equal work. At the same time, I was intrigued by the notion that Lesbians are more likely to be paid high than straight women even though gender pay gap persists.
One of the main reasons why the gender pay gap continues to rear its head even after being chopped off by legislation and the Courts is because of implicit bias. Whenever women attempt to compare themselves to men, they tend to undervalue their worth. Women tend to conform to the nature of being a woman as construed in their societies (Woolf, 2014). As such, despite the law guaranteeing that women should be paid equally to men, the professional women when in negotiations for pay is more likely to quote a low figure despite being highly qualified. Such is because the society through stereotyping has conditioned women to believe in a specific set of behaviors like not being greedy because one is a woman. This is a self-defeating behavior that ensures that the gender pay gap remains alive even though, in the formal sense it has been eliminated by laws.
Another reason why the gender pay gap persists is due to the concept of motherhood as construed by society (Harris & Estevez, 2017). Many women believe that at some point they have to temporarily quit their job and undertake motherhood. Since most women believe, through societal reinforcement, they will have to undertake motherhood; many readily accept lower grade jobs based on the male perception of their work. Such notions are not considered in the face of men who have children. The latter group tends to have some form of care for their children while they concentrate on their careers, yet women believe that they must take time off to take care of their children.
There is also another perception that women are risk-averse and most employers embrace this notion. While women should not adopt the same, many go into jobs with a fixed mindset that they are somewhat a liability to the employers especially when the time for motherhood knocks. Therefore, instead of playing hard and negotiating better for pay, they tend to play humble and accept lower even when the employer tried such a number to see whether they would play hard (Blau & Kahn, 2017). The same is self-defeating as the women easily accept lower pay even though they are worth more than such half-hearted negotiations. Besides, the general behavior in the workplace also appears to be a challenge when it comes to women. Many professional women, through implicit bias, are forced to act like a ‘woman’ within their work environments for fear of acting differently. Many fear that if they act differently, their male counterparts might consider them as bossy and assign them other disparaging characters, something that many believe might lead to relationship breakdown within the work environment. The worry about the male perception by women is equally another subtle problem when it comes to gender pay gap.
A close evaluation of some of the above factors indicates that they are beyond the reach of the law. These factors are instead based on personal decisions that have been reinforced over time through societal expectations of women, assignment of gender roles albeit unconsciously, misconceptions about women and stereotypes (Blau & Kahn, 2017). An example is the presence of the equal pay gap laws, which are formally established to ensure that women are paid equally to men. However, when the women get into salary negotiation rooms, they readily accept lower figures due to the societal disposition as a woman. The society states that women are naturally compassionate and, therefore in some cases transfer the same to their professional lives.
Then men also expect this side of the women in their working life, and it is the same that is exploited against the women to lower their worth unconsciously. This happens indirectly through implicit bias (Harris & Estevez, 2017). Subsequently, the women in professional lives operate unconsciously in the belief that they are acting freely when, in the real sense the stereotypes, misconceptions, and societal expectations are the main drivers of women’s decisions in their working lives. Their choices, therefore, affect the future generations of women since others are inclined to follow in the same footsteps as long as the societal structures that reinforce the same continue to exist. This is why the gender pay gap remains alive even though many efforts have been employed in resolving the same.
Sexuality Pay Gap
The concept of the sexuality pay gap is akin to the gender pay gap, with the difference being that one’s sexual orientation dictates their income even though one shares the same gender with others who get different pay. In 2015, it was reported that Lesbians receive, on average, 9% more when it comes to income compared to heterosexual women (Klawitter, 2015). While closer interrogation indicates that many Lesbians receive low salary compared to heterosexual females, another host of lesbians receives more. The former group, in some instances, recorded that heterosexual women earned more by 25% compared to Lesbians, and in the latter group, Lesbians earned more by 43% compared to their heterosexual counterparts (Klawitter, 2015).
One of the main concerns of these findings is that women who tend to behave like men “Lesbians” tend to earn more than women who tend to act like women. Such is even shocking considering the gender pay gap should in real sense apply to women across the divide. Invariably, men earn more than women in nearly all occupations, and this is what reinforces the gender pay gap. While Lesbians can make higher on average compared to heterosexual women, they still manage to earn less when it comes to heterosexual men. However, why is it that they have an advantage over heterosexual women?
One of the main reasons for the intra-gender pay difference is based on the disposition of the lesbians. First, many lesbians are not easily held back by societal norms and expectations about women (Klawitter, 2015). As such, they tend to be insulated from the conception that they have to behave like women. The societal misconceptions about women, while practically applicable to them is not a limiting factor since lesbians don’t believe in the traditional role of women within the gender norms. Besides, lesbians tend to behave like men and approach their jobs with more men in them, and it is this that makes them on average receives more pay than heterosexual women.
Furthermore, there is equally a difference when it comes to work experience between lesbians and heterosexual women. The former is less likely to drop out of the labor industry than the latter. Such is predicated on the fact that they are less likely to take time off their work to attend to motherhood the same way heterosexual women do (Antecol, Jong & Steinberger, 2008). Besides, Lesbians are far less likely to take up over time than their counterparts. When all these are compounded, it becomes evident that lesbians’ quantity of work hours and their job experience is way beyond that of heterosexual women, and that is why, on average they are more likely to be paid higher than straight women.
The traditional conception of marriage of partnership entailed a situation where one of the partners in the relationship took full-time engagement in the labor market while the other took care of the home. Lesbians are less likely to conform to such traditional notions are more immersed in labor industry compared to straight women (Antecol, Jong & Steinberger, 2008). As such, the sexuality of the women in a way changes their fortunes when it comes to income. However, when it comes to the gender pay gap, the sexuality of the women doesn’t elevate one to the level of the men. Such is, although a lesbian tends to behave like men, takes up some of the roles of men and at the same time has invariably the same time as men in the same professions.
Surprisingly, the research findings indicate that while women lesbians tend to earn higher than heterosexual females, the same is different for men. Gay men earn less than their fellow straight men in income levels (Klawitter, 2015). Unlike in women where sexuality plays a critical role in elevating the pay of lesbians compared to those who are straight, gay men face the opposite consequences. Such is premised on stereotypes and religious misconceptions about gay men and the societal orientation of their position. Thus, the overall analysis is that gender plays a critical role when it comes to the persistence of the gender pay gap, but sexuality furthers the same purpose especially for women in the positive and for men in the negative.
The gender pay gap remains a challenge in terms of attaining equality for both men and women. The research findings, however, show that its persistence has been perpetuated by other things that are beyond the reach of the legal system and formal means of realizing solutions. While the law focuses on the formal aspects of the relationship between men and women in their professional capacities, the societal expectations cut across. Many women tend to behave is a specific way, which is dictated by the misconceptions, stereotypes as well as societal expectations. Such orientation makes it impossible for women to be on par with men when it comes to equal pay. This is why gender pay gaps continue to thrive even though there are efforts aimed at resolving the same.
On the other sexuality the pay gap indicates that women who can transcend the societal expectations of women, stereotypes attached to womanhood and motherhood as well as implicit biases earn higher. Such is indicative of the fact that the sexuality of women is one of the primary factors attributed to the gender pay gap. Heterosexual women are expected to give birth, take care of the homes while the husbands work full time and motherhood means that they must take a break. As such, they have less job experience and time on work than the lesbians who are not bogged down by the same expectations. As such, sexuality pay gap in a way sheds light on the challenges that perpetuate the gender pay gap
One thing I noted from the findings of the research is that they are missing the racial perspective of pay, which is predominant in the United States. While women are paid less based on their gender, women of color are paid far less compared to their white counterparts. The problem somehow worsens when one is a woman; they are black and lesbian at the same. Such a woman faces the discriminatory pay that comes with women, and at the same time, due to racial bias, they are subjected further down the pecking order, and since they are also lesbians, they face another form of discrimination from their society.
The findings, however, offer an insight into how gender and sexuality intersect to affect the lives of individual women. Even though women face gender pay gaps in equal measure, Lesbians, on average, have better pay not because they are not women but because they have a different sexual orientation compared to straight women. However, the sexual orientation of lesbians compared to heterosexual women is only applicable in this sense because of the gender roles. Lesbians, unlike straight women, tend to adopt different gender roles that that which is expected of them by society. For instance, lesbians who are in a relationship tend to be engaged in the labor industry because they don’t take up the traditional role of motherhood that straight women assume.
At the same time, lesbians behave like men, which means the employers consider them less averse to risk especially when the period of motherhood knocks. Such gender roles also say that they have more time to undertake their jobs without distractions like motherhood and stereotypes, which doesn’t apply to their situation. As such, sexuality seems to offer a solution to the problem of gender pay gap albeit not all women can be lesbians to earn more. My primary research concern with this topic was the persistence of the gender and sexuality pay gap, even though there are policies that dictate that the same should be erased. From the findings, I realized that the challenge of the gender pay gap is reinforced by societal inclinations and misconceptions, and only those women who have refused to take the route the societal expectations coin can surpass the same challenge. When it comes to men, the story is different as those who have different sexuality from the dominant heterosexual system face the wrath of low pay. Such is indicative of the intersection between gender and sexuality which is critical when it comes to income both for men and women.
From the above analysis and findings, one of the lessons I have learned is that the laws and policy efforts in resolution of gender pay gap are not in touch with the reality of the problem. While we are trying to fix the problem we assume that it is founded on law when the challenge is rooted in societal behavior, stereotypes, and misconceptions. This is why men who support equal pay unconsciously promote gender pay gap without their knowledge. Such is because women have been conditioned to behave in a specific way, which allows men to exploit them and women to accept the same without realizing that they are part of the problem. As such, the same has made me change my mind about the legal and policy efforts and instead focus on the fundamental challenge, which is dealing with the prejudices supported by society unconsciously.
Gender and sexuality pay appears to be the different sides of the same coin, but their implications are far-reaching. While gender pay gap cries to the gender disparity reinforced by societal misconceptions and prejudices, sexuality pay gap notes that rising above the discrimination means more than just conformity and comes with rewards for those women. The same however means that the only way to reconcile the two is through defying the societal disposition, which is quite an impossible fete. The solution for the gender pay gap that is perpetrated by gender disparity is in addressing the societal beliefs and definition of womanhood within the individual communities.
If society conditions women to behave as though they are meant to undertake specific roles, then we are still perpetuating gender pay gap. If jobs within different industries still operate exclusive gender systems, such reinforces the notion that one gender is better than the other. The challenge is that many of these beliefs and misconceptions about the nature of women are ingrained and hard to overcome. Therefore, it is desirable that future research about gender pay gap addresses the means and ways through which we can eliminate gender norms. If women were taught to behave like men just like lesbians without becoming one, then the menace of the gender pay gap will be tackled in better ways. The same would be the only correct course to a resolution of the gender pay gap.
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