The Pay Gap

By Emmie Heiserman

International Women's Initiative Staff Writer  

(Photo Credit)

April 12th was Pay Gap Day, bringing worldwide attention to the gap in pay between women and men. In the United States, on average women who have the same education, experience, and skills get paid $0.79 for every dollar that men make. For mothers, this number decreases to $0.71 as compared to fathers, and for women in minority groups, this number falls even further.

Previously it was thought that women make less money because of the career choices that they make, but new research has now shown this is not the case.

The New York Times reports, “One of the worst career moves a women can make is to have children.” Research by Shelley J. Correll , published in the American Journal of Sociology, has found that there is strong evidence that there is discrimination against mothers in the work place. Not only are women paid less if they have had children, but for each additional child they have their pay is statistically cut further when being compared to workers who are men with the same qualifications. A recent study found that, “women lose about 4 percent in lifetime earnings per child.”

Often, people who insist that the pay gap is a myth justify it by insinuating that women who are mothers work fewer hours than their male counterparts. However, as reported by the New York Times, studies have shown that this gap persists, “even after controlling factors like the hours people work, the types of jobs they choose and the salaries of their spouses.” In addition to receiving less pay, mothers are also less likely to be hired. On the other hand, men are rewarded in the work place for having children. Not only are they paid more, but also are more likely to be hired.

The stigma against women in the work place is so strong that women often feel the need to hide the fact that they are mothers. This causes women to blame themselves for focusing on their family rather than questioning why they are being punished in the first place.

It is not just mothers that are being discriminated against. Women of color make even less than mothers.

Although all women in minority groups are statistically paid less for the same work, Latinas are hit the hardest. The Huffington Post reports, “In a shocking number of states, white men earn more than twice as much as Latinas.” This means that over the course of their lives, Latina women earn around one million dollars less than white men for the same work.

International Women’s Initiative believes it is crucial that attention be brought to the pay gap. This discrimination as it affects millions of people globally, especially mothers, minority groups and gender equality, will not be achieved until it is resolved.