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Gender Roles and Wage Gaps: Not a Myth

Sajal Nazir, BBA 2017

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I find the dismissal of the gender wage gap as a “debunked myth” to be infuriating, condescending and ignorant. While there is a large chunk of misleading statistics used to support the existence of this gap, ignoring it altogether only supports the notion of blatant misogyny. Let’s start this off with a definition of this infamous gender wage gap. The Pay Equity Commission of Canada captures it as the difference between wages earned by men and wages earned by women. Relative to Statistics Canada, this means that for every dollar that a full-time male worker earns, a full-time woman worker will earn approximately 26 percent less. Ouch? Not quite. You see, this definition does not hold education, work experience and other skills constant; it merely takes the aggregate average of salaries earned by men and puts them against salaries earned by women. Though not an accurate representation of the actual gender wage gap, this is still indicative of regressive societal gender roles.

For instance, around the globe, women are employed in less lucrative professions. While men are expected to work in STEM fields, women are often discouraged – or worse, dismissed – from participating. Society puts them in the role of a caretaker; someone who will look after the children, family and home. Because of this, women end up working less paid hours than men as they are busy doing the unpaid work at home. Years of data suggests that women frequently take time off of work to start a family while the man doesn’t. (The paternity leave is still a very modern concept). So tell me, you Schulich-going, liberal-minded, logical person, does it not make sense for there to be a gender wage gap? Clearly, if women work less paid hours than men, they will earn a lower salary. Simple. But is that fair? To what degree does the low-paying, less-paid-hours-working situation involve an active choice? Why are women expected to do more unpaid work than men? Should it not be the responsibility of everyone – regardless of gender? Why does society consider doing chores around the house to be demeaning for men, but “expected” of women?

This is misogyny and it needs to be laser-beamed out of its sorry existence.

With our newly-acquired perspective on the gender wage gap due to societal and economic reasons, let’s analyze a business article published by Bloomberg Business. Every year, when the publication sits down to rank Business Schools in the States, they conduct a survey targeted to Ivy League MBA alumni. This data obviously holds education, work experience and other skills constant, and yet still suggests a 6.67 percent gender wage gap in recent MBA graduates. We can attribute this difference to the fact that women are usually less assertive in salary negotiations. Fair enough. So the next logical assumption here would be the fact that, after these women start full-time employment, their work will speak for itself and they will be compensated equally to men of comparable Ivy League education in the future. Right? Wrong. Sorry for being a party pooper, but the gender wage gap doesn’t diminish after six to eight year following the MBA. It actually increases to a shocking 20 percent in higher executive job positions. This will be an acceptable time to pull your hair out. Aside from gender discrimination, can you help me identify any other “economic” reasons for this ludicrous difference? Tell me, how absurd is it that we live in a world where virtual reality is the future, 3D printers are accessible, humans are going to travel to Mars, and yet we are still not fairly compensating women for their labour value? What’s more angering is the fact that I’m not even considering racial discrimination in this argument. I can write a separate article on data evidence suggesting the unfortunate fact that women of colour are disadvantaged in career opportunities and wages, regardless of education and skills. And I’m also not considering the fact that women in some countries are not even allowed to step outside of their homes. Never mind fair salaries – they don’t even know of their basic human rights. Some are killed in the name of “honour” while others go through female genital mutation as punishment for just being born as women.

You can either take a deep breath and accept this unfair truth, or you can actually do something about it. Paying women more simply because men are paid a certain amount is not the solution. It will only ostracize the pursuit of gender equality as ingenious. Until we acknowledge women as capable members of society who will offer just as much value as men, there will be no real change.

Please tell me that you think so too.

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