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Knight Errant

The gender pay gap is really an earnings gap

“No employer having employees subject to any provisions of this section shall discriminate, within any establishment in which such employees are employed, between employees on the basis of sex by paying wages to employees in such establishment at a rate less than the rate at which he pays wages to employees of the opposite sex in such establishment for equal work” -Equal Pay Act of 1963

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The Equal Pay Act was passed to prevent pay-based discrimination in the workplace based on sex. Passed in 1963, it outlawed men being paid more than women for the same job, however, many argue that gender discrimination is still alive and well in modern America and that it is nearly impossible for women to get equal pay. The facts prove otherwise. Women aren’t earning less because there is a sexist society conspiring against them, rather, women are making choices that significantly lower their income.

In one 2016 case, over 3,000 women were going to sue their employer over pay discrimination and inability to get management positions. Before the lawsuit was ever filed, the company settled for a cool $19.5 million without ever having to step foot in a courtroom. Another company agreed to pay $4.6 million plus administrative fees to 1,500 of its female pharmaceutical representatives after an EPA lawsuit in California. Both of these cases are recent examples of women who have fought the gender pay gap and won, meaning courts uphold the law and will rule in favor of women. These cases are proof that women can challenge employers that pay them an unequal amount compared to their male counterparts. Even if sexism is alive and well, the law is on the side of the oppressed and not the oppressor.

Women aren’t earning less because there is a sexist society conspiring against them, rather, women are making choices that significantly lower their income.”

— Olivia Rossman

Not only can women sue to get equal pay, but despite the fact that women account for almost 50% of the workforce, they are safer at their jobs. A study from the US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics found that women only account for 8% of workplace deaths, but women do account for about 80% of non-fatal workplace injuries. This means that women are less likely to get killed but more likely to hurt themselves, resulting in lower pay. If a woman is more likely to hurt herself, obviously, employers know they’ll have to pay out more if they hire a woman. Not only that, but the more dangerous a job is, the more money that the employer will pay because there are so few people willing to do that job. A kindergarten teacher will not make as much money as a coal miner because the risk involved is significantly less and more people are willing to do it. Someone working in the coal mines will earn more because it is not a desired job, and therefore, fewer people are willing to do it.

Despite these facts, women still do, on average, make 77 cents to the dollar of a man, this fact is indisputable. However, a significant factor that contributes to women earning less is not due to the gender discrimination of modern America or the man’s agenda to bring down every woman. Women earn less on average is because they choose lower-paying jobs. Full-time only constitutes 35-hour work weeks, but men work more hours on average. Obviously, men who work 40 hours will earn more than their female counterparts who work a mere 35 hours.

Women, we are not idiots. We can make a change, but the only way anything valuable can happen is if we accept facts and make change. If we choose to major in computer science rather than art history, we will work to close the earnings gap once and for all. However, if we continue to feed into these fake facts that politicians use to manipulate women’s vote, we will not be able to give our future generations an accurate depiction of what life was like in the 21st century. We want to be remembered as the factual generation, not the generation of complacent women.

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The student news site of Benilde-St. Margaret's School in St. Louis Park, MN
The gender pay gap is really an earnings gap