Imagine that you work in a good office and just received a significant promotion. Thrilled, you cannot stop the grin on your face from spreading from ear to ear. As you begin another day of diligent work in your new position, you stumble onto a spreadsheet listing the pay of several of your colleagues. Your jaw drops. A minor assistant with no management experience -- one of your male colleagues --makes around $20,000 more than you. With shock, you realize that the only reason an assistant made more was because of your gender. This is the disturbing but true story of a female executive in our locality. The gender pay gap has existed for decades, and it is not improving. This is a true story from an office of Los Angeles, USA and similar or worst stories can be found throughout many countries globally! We believe the gender pay gap needs to end.
Let us briefly narrate the history in USA, a developed and rich country. Since the first woman’s rights convention in 1848, women have advocated for fundamental freedom: equal treatment. In 1869, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony founded the National Woman Suffrage Association. However, it was not until 1920, after the ratification of the nineteenth amendment, that women were finally granted the right to vote. After this decades-long battle, in 1963, President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act, banning inequitable wages for women and men working the same job.
Society is to blame. Women are discouraged from working hard for high-paying, “better” jobs. For example, many believe that women should “stay at home to take care of the kids,” while the men should work to make the “money for the family.” These family responsibilities pressure women into jobs with more lax hours. However, these jobs often provide lower salaries. They also provoke women into not investing in pursuing their educational dreams, such as going to college and having a major they are interested in.
Furthermore, unpaid maternity leave takes away from women’s years of experience. These stereotypes disadvantage women. Why is it almost always the mother who has to take time off for their children? Caring for the child should be both parents’ responsibility if both are available. These stereotypes can be saddening and discouraging, especially when your loved ones stereotype you. The picture is almost same globally.
In USA, the milestones of Sandra Day O’Connor serving in the U.S. Supreme Court, Hillary Clinton being the first female presidential nominee, and Kamala Harris holding the position as a female U.S. Vice President has made vital progress towards equality between men and women. Globally, as of September 1st, 2021, 26 women served as Heads of State or Government in 24 countries. Nevertheless, our country will not reach gender equality in the highest positions of power at the current rate for another 130 years. We cannot wait so long. A UN executive director calls on leaders to “Step It Up,” launching an initiative to record concrete new commitments. In 1995, 189 countries endorsed the Platform for Action, but no country has achieved gender equality today. At the current pace, it will take 81 years to achieve gender parity in economic participation and some 50 years to reach parity in parliamentary representation.
Unfortunately, these stereotypes and biases about women, especially mothers, have been normalized. But they need to end. They have been destroying any chance our world has for gender equality. Women should be encouraged to enter the workforce in any industry they wish, instead of jobs with more flexible hours because they must take time off for the family. Women are afraid to speak up and afraid to lose their jobs. A woman should be paid the same amount for every single cent a man makes. Your gender should not define how you are treated.
What if this was your mother or a female you are close to in the workforce? What if, while she was raising you, taking you to your dance recitals or baseball games, she was not paid or treated fairly in her work environment? In the future, what if this was you? The trauma supporting this issue is overlooked, as some lose full faith in themselves. Issues regarding the gender pay gap have been in our society for decades, but these battles should not be forgotten.
The writers are secondary school students from Los Angeles, California, USA