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Problem StatementLess than 50 years ago women had no way to fight against being discriminated against by being paid less for doing the same jobs but yet, even today with establishments in place to fight inequality in the work place women still make less than eighty cents to every dollar a man makes.[1]




Why Does this Problem Exist?Explaining the Gender Pay GapCountless studies that have used statistical modelling techniques to explain why we have a gender pay gap. A comparatively recent and very thorough study, using data from the British Household Panel Survey (a large up-to-date survey that looks at how people’s lives change over time) explained the gap in terms of four explanations:
  • 36% of the gender pay gap could be explained by gender differences in lifetime working patterns, including the fact that women, on average, spend less of their careers than men in full-time jobs, more in part-time jobs, and have more interruptions to their careers for childcare and other family responsibilities.
  • 18% is caused by labor market rigidities, including gender segregation and the fact that women are more likely to work for small firms and less likely to work in unionized firms.
  • 38% is caused by direct discrimination and women and men’s different career preferences and motives (some of which are in turn the result of discrimination).
  • 8% is the result of the fact that older women had poorer educational attainment.


Devaluation PerspectiveWithin job discrimination, paying men and women unequally who have the same job of equal standards and have equal seniority, has been illegal in the United States since the 1963 Equal Pay Act and Title XII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.This does not, however, mean that unequal pay for men and women is a thing of the past. Jobs of comparable work that are traditionally held by women consistently get paid less than those traditionally held by men.
Economists have proposed two explanations for this consistent gap:

  • Jobs traditionally held by women are less hazardous and more comfortable than jobs traditionally held by men. Thus their jobs are seen as more desirable and can be filled at a lower cost.
  • There are many applicants for jobs traditionally held by women because women who attempt to enter traditionally male fields face sexual discrimination. Thus they do not need to increase wages to attract applicants.

Sociologists have proposed that this pay gap exists due the to the devaluation thesis:
  • Once segregation based on gender occurs, employers engage in valuative discrimination

Many studies have found that both men and women earn less when they have a traditionally female occupation. These studies support sociologists' claims and find that the difference between pay cannot be completely explained by the conditions of a job nor the skills a job requires.[3]

Percent Women
Number of women
Secretaries and administrative assistants
Registered nurses
Elementary and middle school teachers
Nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides
Retail salespersons
First-line supervisors/managers of retail sales workers
Waiters and waitresses
Maids and housekeeping cleaners
Customer service representatives
Childcare workers
Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks
Receptionists and information clerks
First-line supervisors/managers of office and administrative support workers
Managers, all other

Inequality Problems for Working Mothers

The Mommy TaxEconomist Ann Crittenden’s claim that the choice to become a mother in America today imposes enormous costs on most women. This includes lower incomes and higher risks of poverty than men or childless women face. The interruptions in a mother’s career of bearing and raising children reduce her life time earnings and savings immensely. Motherhood carries a steep price tag, mostly in lost wages and benefits. Crittenden estimates that the "mommy tax" easily comes to more than $1 million for many college-educated women, not including other compensation, such as retirement savings. Even more than sexual discrimination, the mommy tax exposes women to higher risks of poverty in old age or in the event of divorce. A woman who faces divorce after raising children rarely gets consideration in the settlement for the loss to her earning capacity. The mommy tax highlights the failure of employers and government to accommodate the demands of raising children.

No major group still seriously contests the right of women to pursue higher education and careers. Many argue, however, that if women then decide to have children, they do so voluntarily, and if they have to give something up, that is their own choice. But raising children is not just another form of personal satisfaction; the flourishing of the entire society depends upon the willingness to undertake it. And for that choice, as Crittenden argues, women should not have to pay the price of social marginalization and diminished economic security.

Mother’s Work is Not AcknowledgedThe U.S. official economic statistics add up the goods and services in the economy, but they leave out the unpaid services performed inside the household. Mothers at home are, by definition, unproductive, even though by educating and socializing their children they contribute to the human capital that is critical to economic growth. And because their work isn't quantified, they disappear from pictures of the economy that are drawn with the data.[5]

"Second Shift" for Employed MothersThe Second Shift refers to the second part of a working mother’s day in which she comes home from a job outside of the home to her job in the home. This second shift includes housekeeping duties (preparing dinner, cleaning, doing laundry) and other responsibilities involved in taking care of the family.
Over two-thirds of mothers in the United States are now working outside of the home (Hochschild, 2003). This includes both married and single mothers. The number of working mothers is steadily increasing, with the biggest rise in the number of working mothers with small children. “In 1975, 45 percent of mothers with a youngest child between ages three and five were in the labor force; by 2000, 72 percent of such mothers were doing paid work" (Hochschild, 2003). [6] It has been reported that on average, women work 15 hours longer each week than men, adding to an extra month of 24-hour days in a year’s time.

Who is most likely to do each of the following in your household?





Keep car in good condition



Do yard work



Make decisions about money



Pay bill



Wash Dishes



Do grocery shopping



Prepare meals



Do laundry



Carrying for the children



Clean the house



Make decisions on décor



Effects of the Second Shift on MothersWorking women find one of their biggest challenges to be succeeding in their responsibilities of both their first shift (professional job or career) and second shift (home and family life). Because women are still considered to be primary caretakers of the home and family, the strain of balancing work and family still falls heavier on women versus men (Burke, 1996). And a mother’s job description continues to expand to now include chauffer and manager of each child’s busy schedule of enhancement activities (Wallis, 2004). The age-old saying is true: “A mother’s work is never done.”

Research shows that a “leisure gap” exists between men and women in the home. Studies show that working mothers have higher self-esteem and get less depressed than housewives, but compared to their husbands, they’re more tired and get sick more often.

How the Second Shift Affects the Family UnitAs Family Stress Theory explains, family stress levels depend not only on a stressor event, but on resources and perception as well (McKenry & Price, 2005). The stress on mothers of working both in and out of the home can be somewhat lessened with positive resources; however, negative resources and a lack of instrumental support can lead to a situation of crisis. Because a family unit functions as a system, high levels of parental stress and crisis affect each individual person in that system as well as the entire family unit as a whole.

Glass ceilingThe unseen, yet unbreakable barrier that keeps minorities and women from rising upwards on the corporate ladder, regardless of their qualifications or achievements
Four distinctive characteristics of glass ceiling inequality:
  1. A gender or racial difference that is not explained by other job-relevant characteristics of the employee.
  2. A gender or racial difference that is greater at higher levels of an outcome than at lower levels of an outcome.
  3. A gender or racial inequality in the chances of advancement into higher levels, not merely the proportions of each gender or race currently at those higher levels.
  4. A gender or racial inequality that increases over the course of a career.

Primarily a Gender PhenomenonStudies show that glass ceilings are a distinctively gender phenomenon. Both white and African-American women face a glass ceiling in the course of their careers. In contrast, research has not yet found evidence of a glass ceiling for African-American men.
Internal Business Barriers
  • Prevailing culture of many businesses is a white male culture and such corporate climates alienate and isolate minorities and women
  • Initial placement and clustering in staff jobs or in highly technical and professional jobs that are not on the career track to the top
  • Lack of mentoring and management training
  • Lack of opportunities for career development, tailored training, and rotational job assignments that are on the revenue-producing side of the business
  • Little or no access to critical developmental assignments such as memberships on highly visible task forces and committees
  • Special or different standards for performance evaluation
  • Biased rating and testing systems
  • Little or no access to informal networks of communication
  • Counterproductive behavior and harassment by colleagues
  • Outreach and recruitment practices that fail to seek out or recruit women and minorities
The Federal Glass Ceiling Commission and independent research suggest that the underlying cause of the glass ceiling is the perception of many white males that as a group they are losing control and opportunity. Many middle- and upper-level white male managers regard the inclusion of minorities and women in management as a direct threat to their own chances for advancement. As a result of this "upper- and middle-level white male resistance", business-based barriers are not always being as forcefully addressed as they should

Governmental barriersThe Federal Glass Ceiling Commission pinpointed three governmental barriers to the elimination of the glass ceiling. They are:
  • Lack of vigorous and consistent monitoring and law enforcement
  • Weaknesses in the collection of employment-related data which makes it difficult to ascertain the status of groups at the managerial level and to disaggregate the data
  • Inadequate reporting and dissemination of information relevant to glass ceiling issue
Other barriers
  • Different pay for comparable work.
  • Sexual, ethnic, racial, religious discrimination or harassment in the workplace
  • Lack of family-friendly workplace policies (or, on the flipside, policies that discriminate against gay people, non-parents, or single parents)
  • Exclusion from informal networks; Stereotyping and preconceptions of women's roles and abilities; Failure of senior leadership to assume accountability for women's advancement; Lack of role models; Lack of mentoring
Requiring long hours for advancement, sometimes called the hour-glass ceiling

What is Being Done1164064830521.jpg
  • Global Women’s Equality Fund
The Pax World Global Women’s Equality Fund (the “Global Women’s Equality Fund”) seeks to invest in companies that take affirmative steps to attract, retain and promote women, and to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment in the workplace and beyond. Specifically, the Women’s Equality Fund seeks to invest in companies that promote gender equality through internal policies and programs, transparency regarding the effectiveness of those policies and programs and accountability among employees to assure implementation and observance of those policies and programs. Examples include:
  • Promotion of women to top executive positions and compensating them accordingly,
  • Representation of women on the board of directors and in senior management
  • Strong support from senior executives for workplace equality
  • Career development, education and training programs for women employees
  • Hiring and promotion policies and activity to promote gender equality
  • Programs to address work/life balance concerns, including in particular women’s health, safety and childcare responsibilities
  • Programs to address discrimination against women and to protect women from harassment and violence
  • Positive images of women in their advertising, promotion and marketing
  • Use of women-owned companies as vendors and service providers
  • Accountability and transparency to employees, investors and the communities in which they operate[7]
    Web sites like the one below are being put out there... to help companies realize that gender equality is necessary and provides ways to attain it.


ResourcesWomen are being given more resources than ever to expand their human capital with job training and placement centers. Women are being given a chance to work with a successful employee as a mentor in hopes of helping them excel to their own success. Social marketing is being used to promote hiring women by showing that if a company chooses not to, not only are they hurting any females' chance of getting hired, but destroying the productivity of the company. Last women with children are now more comfortable as ever leaving their children at day care because higher quality child care is being put in place.[8]

  • jointsession-graphics-2.jpgObama's Help
Recently Obama Has released the American Jobs Act, which turns out to actually help women in a number of ways..
  • Helps fund states to prevent layoffs of teachers, which so happen to be mostly women
  • The act funds infrastructure improvement, more specifically training to help women, communities of color, and low income individuals with nontraditional job opportunities
  • "President Obama’s plan would be a great step in the right direction should Congress choose to act, but women and children still face challenges and crises that must be solved in other ways. Enforcing equal pay is critical in bridging the gender wage gap and ensuring economic justice for women. The grim reality of unrelenting poverty and unemployment numbers point to the critical need for increased investment and improvement in public benefits and income supports for struggling families, especially since these programs face continued attacks."

What has been done in history?The Equal Pay Act of 1963 passed making it illegal to pay women a lesser amount due to gender and enforced that all women who were owed for unpaid minimum wage differences and unpaid overtime will be compensated at the businesses cost. [9]

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was established on July 2, 1965. This group is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person's race, color, religion, sex , national origin, age , disability or genetic information. The EEOC protects employers and employees in all business that have 15 or more employees. They deal with every allegation in a charge of discrimination against an employer or employee. They apply protection to every individual on all the types of work situations, including but not limited to hiring, firing, promotions, harassment, training, wages, and benefits of personnel. Another major responsibility of the EEOC is to prevent discrimination before it occurs by creating groups to educate CEOs of business. President Gerald Ford granted them 62 million dollars in 1973 to create a back log of cases and to provide lawyers to employees that were discriminated against with unequal pay. In 2006, they were granted 307 million. [10]

April 13th, 1999- the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) held its monthly meeting and decided to put an emphasis on the following categories when meeting with the major employers of America.

  • Increase systemic litigation as well as individual suits filed under the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  • Highlight best-practices and pro-active efforts by employers to encourage compliance.
  • Expand public education and outreach through partnerships with community and advocacy groups at the national and grassroots levels, as well as through media campaigns.
  • File more Commissioner charges on behalf of workers who are unaware of their rights due to language or cultural barriers, or who are afraid to come forward because they fear retaliation.
  • Monitor the pay practices of employers by categories of workers to deter biased practices.
  • Encourage the use of mediation and lower the average charge processing time.[11]
The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act of 2009 was the first act of congress by President Obama when he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act of 2009. This Restoration Act was a result of the case Ledbetter vs Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. Lilly Ledbetter an Goodyear employee was filing charges against Goodyear for unequal pay just six months before she retired under The Civil Rights act of 1964. The Civil Rights act of 1964 states that she is allowed to file these charges 180 days from date of being discriminated against. This case turned into a battle of whether she is being discriminated against with every pay check or if it was a one time discrimination at time of employment. In the case of Ledbetter vs Goodyear the supreme court interpenetrated title VII of the Civil Rights act of 1964 as a one time discrimination at the time the wage was decided upon. This dismissed Ledbetters case because the law only allows 180 days to be compensated for unequal wages. However, in 2009 President Obama passed his first act of congress which allowed an employee to file charges against his or hers place of employment from 180 days of the last pay check. This was supported by many Democrats, while the Republicans were against it, saying that a business under new management would be held responsible for past managements decisions. This case was used in the campaign of 2008 because President Obama supported the case and Republican primary candidate John McCain was against it. [12]


To Get the Credit Women DeserveStatus Characteristics Theory explains how individuals attain influence in work groups: those who are expected to contribute the most gain influence and and receive the most awards from the group. Men are consistently rated as performing better in groups and reap more rewards than women. They tend to get more credit for a groups success and less blame for any failures. This has lead to women feeling as though they must be ruthless and outperform men in order to succeed.
Cecilia Ridgeway has conducted experiments to discover if any possible solutions to this problem exist, apart from women simply work harder than men just to achieve the same status.She discovered that people value not only ability, but motivation, whether it selfish or for the good of the group as a whole. Men in this study had the same amount of influence whether they were self-motivated or group-motivated. Women, in contrast, were significantly more influential when they appeared to be group-motivated than when they seemed self-motivated.This study suggests an alternative to the strategy of ruthless competition. If women emphasize the importance of working together to accomplish group goals and concern for other group members, they can achieve equal recognition for their accomplishments. [13]

To Get Women into Traditionally Male ProfessionsMany believe the tendency for men to go into fields such as math or science and for women to major in education and the humanities is natural and see nothing wrong with it, despite the fact that with this tendency comes a sizable gap in income. This tendency actually stems from educational differences. Differences in treatment based on gender have been observed in classrooms from forth grade onward. Boys are asked questions that require analytical skills, are given more time to answer, and when they have difficulty solving a problem, teachers will help them learn how to solve it. Girls tend to be given questions simple questions about facts, are given significantly less time to answer questions, and if they cannot solve the problem, the teacher usually just solves it for them. By the time many women get to college, they lack the necessary skills needed to major in many of the fields dominated by men, such as engineering and physical sciences. To solve this problem, we must retrain experienced teachers and make new teachers aware of the inequality that exists. Teachers must remain conscious of their behavior toward students to assure equal treatment and in turn equal opportunities in their students' futures.[14]

To Lower the "Mommy Tax" and Reduce the "Second Shift"Many women are forced to make the decision between advancing in their field and having children due to the "mommy tax" discussed above. To combat this issue, in many European countries such as France and Sweden, families receive annual subsides, free or greatly reduced healthcare, housing subsidies, and access to free, quality preschools. Not only have these steps helped to decrease the pay gap, they have also managed to substantially reduce child poverty rates.

Family stress resulting from the second shift needs to be addressed on many levels. Husbands and families can help alleviate stress at the home level, whereas society, businesses, and organizations can help mothers at an overhead policy level.

Gender Strategy: plan of action through which a person tries to solve problems at hand, given the cultural notions of gender at play. A woman’s gender ideology determines whether she wants to identify with the home or work sphere as well as the nature of the power she holds in her marriage .

Hochschild describes 3 ideologies of marital roles

  1. Traditiional
  2. Transitional
  3. Egalitatian
The ideologies held by both the husband and wife speak to their individual expectations of the roles that they should each play in the marriage. Couples can reduce the stress between them by discussing their expectations (i.e., ideologies) regarding work at home, as well as by showing sincere gratitude and support for each other. Support and understanding between husband and wife can help alleviate outside stressors that can be more difficult to control. Outside of the home, it is important for organizations to support working mothers. Companies must communicate with their employees, creating awareness of work-family policies and programs and enforcing them. Companies also need to offer constant top level corporate support for working mothers and families and all policies supporting them. This support needs to be integrated into the organizational culture.

  1. ^ "Women Deserve Equal Pay." National Organization for Women (NOW). Web. 07 Dec. 2011. <>.
  2. ^ "Motherhood Penalty Remains a Pervasive Problem in the Workplace | Gender News." Stanford University. Web. 07 Dec. 2011. <>
  3. ^ England, Paula. Comparable worth: Theories and Evidence. (pp. 353-356). Germany: Aldine Press. 1992. Print
  4. ^ Firat, Rengin. "Gender Inequality in the Work Force and at Home." Social Inequality Class. Iowa, Iowa City. 17 Oct. 2011. Lecture.
  5. ^ Crittenden, Ann. The Price of Motherhood: Why the Most Important Job in the World Is Still the Least Valued. New York: Metropolitan, 2001. Print.
  6. ^ Hochschild, Arlie Russell, and Anne Machung. The Second Shift. New York: Penguin, 2003. Print.
  7. ^ "Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment." Home | PAX World. Web. 07 Dec. 2011. <>.
  8. ^ Deutsch, Ruthanne. Working within Confines: Occupational Segregation by Gender in Three Latin American Countries. Washington, DC: Inter-American Development Bank, Sustainable Development Dept., 2002. Print.
  9. ^ "The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA)." US EEOC Home Page. Web. 07 Dec. 2011. <>.
  10. ^ "About the EEOC: Overview." US EEOC Home Page. Web. 07 Dec. 2011. <>.
  11. ^ "EEOC FOCUSES ON PAY EQUITY AT MEETING IN PHILADELPHIA." US EEOC Home Page. 15 Apr. 1999. Web. 07 Dec. 2011. <>.
  12. ^ Berrien, Jacqueline. "Equal Pay Day 2010." US EEOC Home Page. Web. 07 Dec. 2011. <>
  13. ^ "Sex-Based Charges." US EEOC Home Page. Web. 07 Dec. 2011. <>.
  14. ^ Brinkerhoff, David B. Essentials of Sociology. Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth, 2008. Print.