The Gender Gap In Pay… Still There

According to a new study from Indiana University, working long hours is slowing the closing of the gender gap in pay. It is often easier for men to commit to overworking and spending more time at their jobs, while women are still burdened with traditional “feminine” tasks such as domestic labor and childcare. The bottom line is that women are only earning 81 cents to the dollar of what men make. And somehow people aren’t up in arms over this?!

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About Jeana

Jeana

Jeana Jorgensen, PhD recently completed her doctoral degree in folklore and gender studies at Indiana University. She studies fairy tales and other narratives, dance, body art, feminist theory, digital humanities, and gender identity.

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    Isn’t this more about the personal decisions within the relationship though? And, parents are responsible for their kids, someone has to care for the children, and unless a partnership is agreed with a precise 50/50 divide there will always be a difference.
    I think this is one of those things that is easy to argue about when you see the data, but it goes a whole lot further than just being about inequality in the workplace.
    I have no doubt that there are plenty of employment laws which could be revised to increase pay equality, and we know that certain industries are terrible for it, but I just wonder if many of the statistics are the showing voluntary choices made by parents rather than inflicted inequality by employers.

  • http://twitter.com/foxyfolklorist Jeana Jorgensen

    I guess I don’t view this issue as being “just” about personal decisions (though they certainly are an influence) because the personal decisions are patterned by gender and by outside constraining forces, like the fact that men tend to have higher paying jobs than women, so it makes sense for the female partner to be the one staying at home, which in turn affects the pay gap even more.

    And I have trouble calling it a “voluntary” choice for women to stay home all of the time (again, it certainly is a lot of the time), since there is SO much social pressure for women to be mothers… how can you exercise free will in a society conditioning you to seek fulfillment in this way from the time you’re a wee one?

    But yeah, employment laws could certainly use some reform, especially childcare and maternity/paternity leave laws. Here in Europe, many countries (especially Scandinavian) have both maternity AND paternity leave, which I think is pretty awesome!

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    I think what I meant when I mention voluntary choices, is that either the father or mother has to care for their child (unless they are wealthy enough to have hired help – which is not a good thing in my personal opinion), so the very act of having a child means that this decision has been made.
    And while there may be social pressures upon women to always play this role, that is increasingly not the case. But even if it were always the case, the woman IS the mother. No amount of social adjustment and demand for equality can change the fact that a woman gives birth to her child.

    Also, there has been some fascinating insight into the “hard wired” aspects of motherhood. So I don’t think we can possibly suggest that we ignore evolution entirely.

    It is (like it or not) in our fundamental makeup for each of the sexes to fulfill specific purposes within the community. This can still be seen in remote communities around the world, and in numerous species studied.

    I would suggest that sexism is not so much about the duties or roles each person performs in society and their relationships, but more about the value that we place on those roles.

    For example – a man goes out to get food so that his family does not starve. A woman stays at home to ensure that the children are not eaten by wolves. In our society the latter is not seen with such importance, and it should be.
    These same fundamental instincts have led to us still being here as a species, and it’s only in very recent times that we have labeled these important things and view them entirely differently. We’ve belittled our traditional roles and stigmatized them, not invented them from nothing.

    Thats my opinion at least ;)