April 14 was Equal Pay Day. It’s not really a day to “celebrate.” Women only earn 71% of every dollar a man makes. Despite all the gains women have made over the past 50 years, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.
Sometimes people try to rationalize the pay gap as a structural problem that’s difficult, almost impossible, to resolve. This simply isn’t true. Here are a few myths surrounding the gender pay gap:
Women work less hours then men do. Women in full-time jobs earn 20% less than their full-time male counterparts. Even though a greater percentage of women are employed part-time, that doesn’t account for the entire pay gap.
Having children affects women’s earning power. The average age a woman has children is 29. But women under the age of 29 still earn less money than men in the same age bracket.
University-educated women earn just as much as men do. Even though more than half of all university graduates are women, they still earn 10-30% less than other men with the same level of education.
Women choose to work in occupations that pay less. Men make more than women in just about every single occupation. Out of 500 different occupations, women earn more than men in only 31 of them, which is 2.7%. Women aren’t choosing low-paying jobs.
Women earn more money in female-dominated occupations. Women earn 10% less in teaching, 7% less in nursing, and 26% less in administration than their male counterparts. Women make up the vast majority of workers in all three of these occupations.
The good news is that there are ways to fix the problem. One way is to promote unionization. The pay gap is much smaller among unionized employees. Also, implementing a national daycare program would allow women to ensure care for their children while also providing for them.
Even though there is still a big gender pay gap, that doesn’t mean we have to accept it.