You might have heard about the gender pay gap with famous male actors or TV presenters getting paid much more than their female co-stars. While those cases grab the headlines, it is an issue in all lines of work and all levels of income.
In 2020 women working full time earned 83 cents for every dollar men earned. Is that legal?
The Kentucky Equal Pay Law suggests it should not be, as do laws across the country. Yet many of these laws have existed for decades, and the problem still exists.
How do employers get away with paying women less?
Here are some of the reasons:
- No one knows what their colleagues earn: Some employers swear their workers to secrecy over wages. Others have created a culture where people feel they have to guard that information to avoid jealousy.
- Male-dominated industries tend to pay more: Imagine if most nannies, nurses, and cleaners were men. Would the wages be the same as they are now? Some industries were traditionally considered “women’s work” and thus less deserving of high pay. Many of those jobs still are treated that way in the eyes of some employers.
- Fewer women get promoted: The law demands pay equality for the same position. It accepts that people in positions of more authority will get paid more. Yet if you look at the higher echelons of most companies, you will see they promote far more men than women.
Few employers are dumb enough to tell you outright that they will pay you less because you are a woman. Often the discrimination has been built into the system for so long that they may not even realize they are doing it. That is why it is crucial people point it out and take action to hold employers accountable for wage discrimination.