By : Ioannes Salamanes( Journalist)
August 29, 2020
The Gender Wage Gap in Employment
Although research suggests that companies with women in higher positions are more organized and perform better financially, there is still an astounding gender gap. Human capital is being wasted and female talent is being underused because of the lack of women in leadership positions. While men and women make equally good leaders, many Americans believe that men have a better shot at obtaining leadership positions in business and politics. It is important to understand what causes the gender gap in order to close it.
Sex stereotypes are large contributors to why not many women hold positions of power. For so long, only men have held leadership positions. Because of this, traits associated with leadership are viewed as masculine and not favorable when executed by women. Women in management or leadership positions are often seen as ‘abrasive, aggressive, deceitful, pushy, and self-serving’ which is not true. Because of sex-role stereotyping, it is sometimes difficult for women to cultivate a style of leadership that is comfortable for others as well as themselves. There is a belief that women tend to follow other’s views on how they should lead rather than following their own instincts which can lead to mistrust. This mistrust can lead to decisions not being enforced or accepted. Additionally, women are known to prefer a participative and collaborative leadership style so there is a perception that women cannot lead with authority, which is obviously not true.
We’ve come a long way from the days when a woman’s only job was to stay at home and look after her children but women are still primary caregivers in families today. They have important responsibilities in family matters and sometimes they have to sacrifice or interrupt their careers for their families. As a result, many companies think that their jobs or careers are not their first priorities. Having to balance work and family, women usually do not have enough time to attend out-of-hours professional functions or to socialize professionally which are both important in achieving a leadership role.
Effective networking is important for new business opportunities and collaborations but networking activities for most companies are male-oriented such as golf or clubbing. Because of this, men surpass women in having networks to learn about opportunities and to find mentors. Going off of that, mentorship for women is difficult to find because most people with higher positions are men and people tend to identify with younger colleagues of the same sex. This usually leads to mentors being more encouraging, helpful, and supportive to young men than they are to young women.
Keeping all of this in mind, it is important to know that women make up almost half of the U.S. working force so there is no shortage of qualified women to fill leadership roles. Women outnumber men in earning master’s and bachelor’s degrees and are almost equal in getting legal and medical degrees. Yet from Congress to universities, from corporate boardrooms to the courts, from health-care companies to non-profit organizations, men are so much more likely to rise to the most prestigious and highest paying leadership roles.
Even though there is a gender gap between women and men in leadership positions, there are ways that we can close it. Women seeking leadership positions should look for leadership training and skill-building opportunities and learn how to negotiate for salary and benefits. Employers should do blind resume screening, prioritize an equitable workplace, and widen candidate pools and recruitment networks. They should also support equitable promotion and retention policies, continued professional skill training and development, and internal growth opportunities. Additionally, employers should promote workplace flexibility policies that will allow all employees to achieve a good work/life balance. Some other ways to close the gender gap are on a larger scale which include policymakers. Policymakers should support the federal Paycheck Fairness Act and the federal Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act in addition to state pay equity laws. They should also pass local and state initiatives that promote parental leave and flex-time policies. Finally, punishment for workers who share their salary information should be prohibited and salary-history questions for job applicants should be banned.
Since 2006, the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index has been measuring differences between women and men in economic opportunity and participation, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment. The 2020 index shows that we are 99.5 years away from a completely gender-equal world. We need to acknowledge the role of unconscious gender bias in the workplace. The status quo is not only holding women back from leadership positions, it is also holding men back from support and care-taking roles. Families will be more secure if women move into higher-paying leadership roles, especially if the woman is the primary breadwinner for the family. If more women will be offered top jobs, businesses will benefit because there will be a wider range of talented leaders. Closing the gender gap in workplaces is beneficial to everyone, not only for women, and we should strive to find ways to promote workplace equity.