For 1880 only 17% of all American women

For years,
the world over has been trying to tackle the issue of gender imbalance within
salaries as it has raised several concerns including its influences,
progressions and measurement among policy makers and social scientists.


inequality is a problem that affects the entirety of the world, being inclusive
of the majority of religions, cultures, nations and income groups. Defined by
Victoria Bromley, in 2006, the gender-related pay gap refers to the difference
between the earning of men and women REF. Furthermore, the European Union defines the gender pay gap as
the difference between men and women’s hourly earnings REF. Consequently, it is clear that this issue
has persisted despite the attempt of the Equal Pay Act of 1963 that promised
equal pay for equal work.  When
researchers address the gender gap more recently, it would be perceived that
they are referring to systematic differences in the outcomes that men and women
achieve in the labour market.  These
differences are illustrated by the percentages of men and women in the
workforce, the types of occupation chosen, and their relative incomes/ hourly

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Over the
past few decades, there has been a significant increase and improvement in the
supply of labour to women in more economically developed countries (MEDCs),
developing countries and less economically developed countries (LEDCs). For
example, in the United States, female involvement in the salaried work force
has changed considerably, as in 1880 only 17% of all American women
participated in the labour market. 
Whereas, in 2000, this number had increased to more than 60%.  Nonetheless, the Global Gender Gap Index, in
2007, has portrayed that no country truly has achieved equality between men and
women, since the gap is illustrated by the difference in salary, which is
expressed as a percentage of the men’s earning. 
Furthermore, this is implied by the highest-ranking score was just over
80%, with 100% being complete equality, whereas the lowest ranking score was
45%, ultimately indicating that this is still a critical current world issue.
In addition, that this problem requires a rapid solution since it is still
prominent with the average pay for women in 2017 being $12,000, compared with
$21,000 for men.


There are
several reasons suggesting why the gender wage gap exists so distinctively,
although they can differ from country to country the overall effect of the
disparity in wage is wholly apparent. A few main reasons as to why this gap
still exists include the issue of stereotyping and traditions, the undervaluing
of women’s work and because of the “glass ceiling” direct discrimination. On
the other hand, some argue that the continuance of the gender wage gap is
because males and females seek different career paths, in the choice of
profession and educational degrees.

industrialisation, for the majority it is believed that women became ‘secondary
workers’ in the work place; they entered the labour force in minimal numbers
and for shorter periods than men. Furthermore, with the industrial revolution,
the separate spheres ideology became much more prominent, with men occupying
the public sphere and women the domestic sphere. During the 18th
Century when the began revolution, the majority believed such a division was
natural, and that these separate roles were rooted in the nature of each
gender.  Consequently, women who sought
places in the public sphere were often identified as unnatural and abnormal,
leading to this ideology being considered an example of the social construction
of gender.  With these ultimately
illustrating the cultural and social attitudes of womanhood and manhood,
‘proper’ womanhood and manhood, thus that empowered and/or constrained women
and men.  Carroll Smith-Rosenberg, in
‘Disorderly Conduct: Visions of Gender in Victorian America’, clearly portrayed
women in their separate sphere, and critically illustrates how women were at a
disadvantage social, politically and economically. Furthermore, a Marxian
feminist interpretation would imply that Marx always failed to understand the
importance of work in the domestic sphere, which ultimately promotes a liberal
feminist viewpoint, that worsens the divide and promotes the stereotypical
viewpoint of gender discrimination that is irrational. This led to industries
and occupations being highly separated by sex, due to employers developing
overt strategies to segregate the labour force and prevent the employment of
married women. Consequently, the historical evolution of the world is a major
factor which promoted the patriarchal society and resulted in the large divide
of equality between the sexes leading to a gender-related pay gap all over the


A neoliberal
approach would deem the cause of the gender pay gap not to be because of
discrimination but rather women’s choices. An example of this is Christina Hoff Sommers who
argued this in the New York Times in 2010. Her evidence was a study published
by the Department of Labour, which was conducted by CONSAD Research
Corporation. This investigation concluded that “The differences in raw wages
may be almost entirely the result of the individual choices being made by both
male and female worker.” This idea of ‘choice’ can be interpreted in several
different ways.  A neoliberal explanation
of ‘choice’ would ultimately be the question of why and in what way do people
make choices. For instance, entry into more profitable fields of math, science,
and engineering requires a developed understanding of mathematics.  From a very young age, it could be considered
that females can be and are indoctrinated by sexist assumptions, conservative
gender values and peer pressure possibly resulting in their objection to
mathematics.  This ultimately creates a
gender segregation within the labour market. 
This is indicated by 41% of women working in female-dominated
occupations, and by 49% of men working in male-dominated occupations.  In this instance, ‘dominated’ means at least
75% of workers are female or male, correspondingly.  Furthermore, ‘Pink collar’ jobs, in the past
and present, statistically on average pay less than the ‘traditional’ male
jobs; therefore, a more even distribution of ‘male’ jobs across the entire
population could be a strategy for reducing the pay gap. In addition, another
interpretation of ‘choice’ would be for women to have children. When women
leave the labour force to bear and raise children, they typically suffer
consequences in terms of career progression, retirement and social security
benefits, not just a few years’ earnings. Thus, therefore leading to employers
avoiding workers with high quit rates for economic reasons and therefore women
in comparison to men are less likely to acquire stable profitable jobs.


reason for why there is a gender-related pay gap is because of ‘The Glass
Ceiling’. Ann Morrison used this expression in the article, “Breaking the Glass
Ceiling: Can Women Reach the Top of America’s Largest Corporations”, and within
this she portrayed the persistent failure of women to reach the top of the
corporate ladder and how this symbolises the working population as a whole. Ultimately,
this expression suggests that a transparent barrier, a glass ceiling, prevents
women from reaching the top. 
Furthermore, that this barrier was possibly invisible from the bottom,
when women began their careers, but then made it impossible for them to attain
equality with men later on.  Evidence for
this theory is that, in Europe and America women rarely accounted for more than
10% of senior executives and 4% of CEOs and chairmen in large corporations. Moreover,
there is evidence to suggest that even when women reach the highest levels in
the labour market, equal pay with men does not always follow for the exact same
role, since a figure of women receiving 75% of a males’ salary is often quoted.
Additionally, Rosabeth Kanter argued, in ‘Men and Women of the Corporation’, in
1977, that the glass ceiling was created due to a lack of role models for women
in managerial work.  This makes them and
their failures much more noticeable, and amplifies the differences between them
and the dominant male culture. Consequently, it can therefore be argued that
the ‘glass ceiling’ theory is one of the reasons why there is a gender-related
pay gap since it illustrates the direct discrimination of women and prevents
them from attaining equality with men.

Moreover, it
could be argued that the gender-related pay gap is not only due to
discrimination and that it is the result of scientific theory. It could be said
that men and women naturally have different interests and that they obtain their
fulfilment through a different balance. This was argued by Catherine Hakim in
2003 and she suggested that of 100 women, 20 are work centred, 20 are home
centred and 60 are adaptive. Whereas, out of 100 men, 60 are work centred, 10
are home centred and 30 are adaptive. Also, it could be perceived that the male
dominance within the labour market could be a result of their hormones. Since,
their assertiveness, attraction of competition and authority are the outcome of
their testosterone. Steven Goldberg argued this in … in 1973 and consequently he believed it was obvious
for men to be high in the hierarchy because of this factor. As a result, it
could therefore be justified that the majority of males are more career driven
leading to them providing employers with a greater economic benefit in
comparison to women, resulting in them earning more and ultimately creating the
gender-related pay gap.


The equality
between men and women is a vital part of human rights, and is also a requirement
for social justice and democracy. Every democratic state pursues to promote
gender parity in all spheres of life. As a result, globally, closing the
gender-related pay gap has been at the focus for policy makers and social
scientists. Since not only is it critical for social progression, but it would also
have great economic benefits. The World Economic Forum, (WEF) have illustrated
that it could add billions of dollars to economies. They state that, “Notable
recent estimates suggest that economic gender parity could add an additional
$250 billion to the GDP of the United Kingdom”. Furthermore, that the world
could increase global GDP by $5.3 trillion by 2025 if the gender gap in
economic participation was closed by 25% within the same period. Also, other
report cites research proves the same with the accountancy firm
PricewaterhouseCoopers indicating that, in the UK alone, economic gender
equality could add “$250bn to GDP”. In addition, Peter Northouse, in 2010,
claimed that women make up 46.7% of the labour force and hold 50.8% of the
managerial and professional positions. Thus, clearly illustrates the
improvement in gender parity across the world. Partly because the percentage of
women within the labour market has increased, but also because the proportion
of women in managerial roles has increased dramatically and this possibly
insinuates that the ‘glass ceiling’ no longer exists in society today.
Furthermore, Northouse declared that women have also earned more Bachelor’s
degrees than men, covering 57.5% of all degrees earned.  Therefore, it could be perceived that globally
there is going to be a rapid development in the gender-related pay gap with
more women having degrees, allowing them to access the more profitable jobs,
ultimately reducing this gap. Although, on the other hand, WEF claim that
recent research has shown that women will have to wait 217 years for disparities
in the pay and employment opportunities of men and women to close. This
therefore proves that the phenomena of the gender-related pay gap still exists
but is gradually improving with the end goal of equality being somewhere in the


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