Women earn about 20% less than men in the US. Why? A simple Google search offers the typical reasons:
- Women usually don’t demand as much money
- Women often choose careers with a lower earning potential
- Women are statistically more likely to take on child-rearing duties, which impacts their career
- Gender stereotypes in many workplaces value men’s patterns of employment
So, what’s the conclusion? Well, some of these arguments may make sense. If you ask for less, you are going to get less. If you are working part-time to take care of children, chances are that your career track is going to be slower. It is also true that some jobs that tend to be favored by women do pay less – for example in service occupations. I’m not sure if I can really find a reason for the stereotypes.
So what’s the flaw in this thinking? Hint; there are many. So many that I’m not even sure where to start. Instead of picking them apart one by one, let’s look at the most telling example I can think of: The salary gap between the women and men in US soccer teams. Quick overview: The men’s soccer team has been doing better than expected, but the women’s team is one of the best in the world, with an amazing recent track record. You wouldn’t guess this if you compare how much they earn.
Some may say… “This is all well and good, but the reason the women’s soccer team earns less is because they attract less media attention”. Nope. They draw much larger crowds than their male counterparts.
Back to square one. Why do women earn less than men? Probably because people paying them can get away with it.
How do we change this? In my opinion, we can’t wait for change to come from regulations or people suddenly paying others what they deserve, because we could be waiting a long time. Let’s take control. Let’s learn from the women soccer team initiative and other leaders taking control to get what they deserve.