Reflections on the Gender Wage Gap Essay

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The gender wage gap is a complicated issue that has persisted despite the Equal Pay Act of 1963 that promised equal pay for equal work. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2010, women on average earned 81 cents for every dollar men earned, creating concern among scholars, policy makers, and the press, and lingering questions as to cause (2011). While the wage gap has narrowed considerably in the nearly 50 years since the passage of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, many contend that the gap has not narrowed fast or far enough. Although, a full understanding of all necessary and sufficient causes remains elusive, a number of causes and contributing factors are observable, including the demand-side problem of occupational…show more content…
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2011a). Additionally, the government agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission exists to enforce federal anti-discrimination laws (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2011b). How then does workplace discrimination still take place? A study analyzing the impact of the adoption of blind auditions in symphony orchestra audition procedures found that “the blind audition procedure fostered impartiality in hiring and increased the proportion women in symphony orchestras (Goldin & Rouse, 2000, p. 715). Perhaps outright discrimination is not at issue; rather there may be a subtle kind of bias in the workplace that negatively affects women. Occupational Segregation The allocation of work based on gender has its origins in early human hunter-gatherer societies and continues to this day with certain occupations dominated by men and others dominated by women. Occupational segregation can be said to exist “when women and men are distributed across occupations so as to be out of proportion with their overall participation in the labor force” (Preston, 1999, p. 612). While there are varied opinions as to how much of the gender wage gap is a result of occupational segregation, few scholars would disagree that it has a significant impact (Blau & Kahn, 1997; Macpherson & Hirsch, 1995; Treiman & Hartmann, 1981). While the impact of occupational segregation
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