My Portfolio on the Gender Wage Gap

At first, I was rather intimidated when I was presented with the portfolio. It was about to be the largest and most extensive writing project I had ever been tasked to do. My professor recommended that I choose a topic I was interested in learning more about. Eventually, I decided on the gender wage gap. It was a pretty easy decision for me at the time considering that I was watching a lot of videos on YouTube about the pay gap and the existential argument. It was an intriguing subject especially with all of the controversy surrounding it. The regressive left would yell rape and sexism and then there would be people like Sargon of Akkad and Milo Yiannopoulos would accuse them of misrepresenting data. In the middle of it all, it is hard to tell who was right and who was wrong. Level-headedness and well-thought responses attracted my attention, particularly those of Sargon of Akkad, who would look at feminist arguments and then offer his researched opinions. After being exposed to his opinion and views on the subject, I began to reflect his ideas on my own. Because of this, I was very skeptical that there was any amount of sexism on the part of men in western society.

I began doing my research and found my views on the wage gap were mirrored closely by the sources I had found. My overall findings were in favor of my original opinion on the subiect in that sexism is not so much to blame as is several other different attributing factors. Through it all, I found that it was difficult to balance several different scholarly sources while having an understanding of all of the content and using that to support my research. I now have a greater appreciation for the work and effort it takes to compile research into a comprehensive work. These challenges proved to a great obstacle to my research and were overcame solely through perseverance and determination.

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The first part of the portfolio is my personal connection to the subject. In this, I shared my own experience and views on the concept of the “Gender Wage Gap.” I acknowledged several questions I had had ranging from the existential argument to how women are treated and the primary source of disparity. I did not yet know at the time what aspect of the wage gap I would devote three months of research to unearth and refine into what is now my hypothesis, which is introduced at the end of part three.

The second part of the portfolio is a comparative rhetorical analysis of a report published by CONSAD Research Corp., which focused on what have been identified as causes of the wage gap, and an article written by Michelle V. Rafter, who identified ways that some companies have lessened the disparity between their employees. These two pieces played crucial parts in helping me narrow my focus to a certain aspect of the gap.

In part three I had reviewed six sources that I collected for research and in doing so, I found that many scholars on the wage gap agree on certain points regarding causes, such as gender-specific differences, while offering their own unique perspectives. After being exposed to their findings, I decided on my hypothesis which is introduced here in the conclusion and would be the primary focus of my research in part four.

Part four was where I was finally able to conduct my own primary research. I utilized a journal by Blau and Kahn (2007) and the findings from a survey I conducted anonymously online. Before I had compiled the results of the study, I was positive that the research I had already seen was correct especially since I had found such a large amount of it. That was not the case with my findings, which argued to the contrary of many theories I had seen. Granted the survey had flaws such as having more than double the amount of female participants than male and therefore should not be used as definitive evidence to the contrary of all previous research.

The final part of this portfolio, the discussion and conclusion section, analyzes the evidence I had found through previous research and my own and determines whether or not it supports my hypothesis. Should it prove my theory correct, it will only be valid for a short period of time because society is consistently changing and will require further research to answer the question again.

Part One: Personal Connection

There are many radical movements in the United States and one of them, in particular, has been around for decades, Feminism. According to the Oxford Dictionary, “Feminists are advocates of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.” The Feminist movement has attracted attention these last few years, especially in its effort to eliminate the Gender Pay Gap. President Obama states in one of his speeches “Today women make up about half our workforce. But they still make Seventy-seven cents for every dollar a man earns.” Clearly a wage gap between genders should not be something that exists right? This is a convoluted and highly controversial subject that has people metaphorically up in arms against each other, and I want to know why this pay gap is such a complex issue.

When I was a child, I was always told that boys can’t hit girls and that we have to treat women politely. I grew up in a small school where the girls seemed to have a sort of subconscious supremacist attitude about themselves. The prevailing opinion was that girls were smarter than boys, faster than boys and of course, better looking than boys. This way of thinking followed into middle school, and when I entered high school I started wondering “Why do we have to treat women better than men?” It just felt wrong to give special treatment to some people and not to others solely based on the type of chromosomes they were born with. Once I graduated, I became more interested in learning about social issues that were currently shaping the world and affecting the ways we live. That is when I discovered Feminism, which is arguably the epitome of female supremacy. I began reading about how women in the United States are supposedly being oppressed by the Patriarchy and saw for the first time people talking about a wage gap between genders. I would read articles that said women only make 77 cents to every dollar a man earns and then other sources would argue to the contrary and say that women make 90-92 cents for every dollar a man makes. There are many questions I have about the wage gap; the following are a few of them.

The first question that comes to mind is to do with the existence of the pay gap. Is there really a difference in pay between genders? I never saw any oppression of women growing up that would indicate the existence of such a thing. Perhaps I am just naive, but it honestly seems like this whole thing could just be some ruse started on the internet that has people misinformed about the wages earned between genders. Another question is in regards to and assuming that there truly is a pay gap. Is the disparity in wages truly as dramatic as the media portrays it? President Obama said himself that women only make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. My sociology professor, on the other hand, said that women only make 8-10 cents less than men do. There are so many varying numbers being thrown around and the majority of the time the people making these claims showed no evidence to support them, President Obama and Sociology professor included.

There is one big question I have that could be a game changer depending on the answer I get. The year is 2016 and women are no doubt viewed as equals in my generation. With that in mind, there must be a different reason for the existence of a pay gap other than discrimination. Why are there disparities in wages between men and women? Feminist websites everywhere would be quick to scream sexual discrimination as the answer, but there has to be something with more substance than that. I find it difficult to believe an issue like this could be so cut and dry. The results of my research will not only be of interest to me but should it bear any fruit this portfolio could prove to be very informative to anybody concerned with the pay gap between genders. It gives me a sense of satisfaction knowing that I might help myself and other people to understand better what is going on.

Part Two: Comparative Rhetorical Analysis

It is a commonly thought in the United States that women have and still do make less money on average than men. It is a highly convoluted situation that most people do not fully understand. CONSAD Research Corp prepared a report for the Department of Labor covering reasons why there is a wage gap between men and women and Michelle V. Rafter published an article for about what a few companies have done to try and eliminate the wage gap. Both articles ultimately agree that conditions for women have been improving within the last few decades.

CONSAD Research Corp. performs commercial business, marketing, opinion, and other economic research and prepared a report for the U.S. Department of Labor entitled “An Analysis of Reasons for the Disparity in Wages between Men and Women”. The U.S. Department of Labor states in their foreword “During the past three decades, women have made notable gains in the workplace and in pay equity, including increased labor force participation, substantial gains in educational attainment, employment growth in higher paying occupations, and significant gains in real earnings.”(p.1). It becomes fairly evident at this point, this report is targeted to most employed people and more specifically to women and employers who are concerned about wage disparities.

Later in the foreword is the statement There are observable differences in the attributes of men and women that account for most of the wage gap.” (U.S. Department of Labor, p. 1). They follow this by presenting evidence describing women in the workforce such as how most women choose part-time jobs whereas men are more likely to choose full-time employment. “Although additional research in this area is clearly needed, this study leads to the unambiguous conclusion that the differences in the compensation of men and women are the result of a multitude of factors and that the raw wage gap should not be used as the basis to justify corrective action.” (U.S. Department of Labor, p. 2).

The actual report begins by acknowledging that the wage gap between genders has been a source of “political controversy and economic research throughout the past several decades” (CONSAD, 2009, p. 4) followed by defining the wage gap. “When the ratio is calculated for all men and women who are paid wages or salaries, or for all wage and salary earners who work full-time and year-round, the measure is often called the raw gender wage gap.” (CONSAD, p. 4). By defining the pay gap as such, they have avoided any confusion as to what the pay gap entails. To further their point they provide a graph that was published in “Highlights of Women’s Earnings 2007 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, 2008)” (CONSAD, p. 4) that helps to visualize the difference in pay between man and woman on a weekly basis. Citing previous research projects adds to their credibility and demonstrates to the reader that the content the report is suggesting is not unfounded but is backed by previous research by a different group of researchers.

Throughout the report CONSAD explains reasons behind the disparities in wages between men and women such as prior work experience, pregnancy, insurance, overtime work and other factors that affect the earnings of women. Each of these topics is separated by a subtitle and covered individually with a brief explanation and supporting evidence from other sources. Because this is such a controversial issue, the authors of the report heavily emphasize how the research was conducted. With sociological issues such as the wage gap people often have biases and providing an overview and then the detailed methods on how the study was done is an excellent way to inform the reader of the legitimacy of the study.

Visualization is a great way to help a variety of readers truly grasp difficult concepts, especially those involving numbers and comparisons. CONSAD does this effectively by referring to a chart or graph whenever one is available. Not only are they referred to but they are explained as well “The first four rows of estimates in Table 7 present the results obtained for four successive conventional versions of the wage equation” (CONSAD, p. 31). In Rafter’s article “Wagering on Equal Wages” she discusses not from where the pay gap arises but what some companies have done to make their pay between men and women more equal and less gender biased. The visual appearance of the article itself is much more attention- grabbing as it has illustrations on the first two pages that represent the difference in pay between men and women. It illustrates a man standing on a stack of coins towering above a woman standing on her significantly smaller pile of coins. Along with this illustration is that of three women rolling life-size coins. These two images work in conjunction with each other and suggests that women are working hard and yet are still making less than men.

The article itself begins very suddenly by introducing a retailing company “The Gap Inc. didn’t wait for California’s new law on fair pay to kick in to do something about it.” Following this, she said the “retailer hired an outside firm to audit its pay practices to make sure women and men in the same jobs got the same wages. The consultants analyzed the company’s 129,992 employees and confirmed it – their salaries were on par.” Rafter said this in particular to stimulate the reader to form questions about what this company has done to rise above the wage gар.

Rafter moves into Apprenticeships and Jobs after that. It is here that CONSAD and Rafter agree on some aspects. “While women might make the same hourly wage as men in construction apprenticeships and jobs, their annual incomes are likely to be lower because they aren’t offered the same hours” (Rafter, 2016, p.34). To summarize both publications, CONSAD provided extremely comprehensive data and research to present their findings in an organized fashion whereas Rafter was not focused so much on comprehension as she was on illustrations. Both however did agree that the pay gap between genders has decreased over the last few decades and that women are at a disadvantage because they don’t work as much as men typically do.

Part 3: Review of Literature

According to the Center for American Progress, women currently make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. Everyday Feminism, an internet magazine that is as the title indicates, targeted towards feminists, claims the fact behind the gender wage gap is simple. Sexism. This belief has lead today’s youth to protest speeches such as Milo Yiannopoulos at Rutgers University where he intended to try and convince the audience against the existence of a rape culture. Much like the supposed rape epidemic, the wage gap has also been approached by youth in the same way. The following sources will present evidence and research studies that prove the pay gap is more complicated than sexism and show how many other contributing factors account for the difference in pay.

In their journal, researchers Manning and Said (2010) attempted to attribute the pay gap to different attitudes in competition between men and women. Recent research has shown that men and women react differently to competition and as a result, more women typically do not participate in jobs with performance pay and under-perform in competitive scenarios, and it was found that women avoid variable pay schemes and in particular, mixed-sex tournaments (Manning & Said, p.681). They are not accusing women of being incapable of performing in competitions and performance based jobs but rather they said that according to Babcock and Laschever (2003) it is women’s attitudes, not their productivity that accounts for their lower earnings relative to men. Though the pay gaps between men and women in the experiments were typically large, they cannot be used to explain the pay gap according to Manning and Saidi. They stated in their conclusion that their findings can only explain a small portion of the wage gap as a whole and suggest the laboratory studies be used as directions for conducting further research rather than estimates of effects in the labor market.

Similar to Manning and Saidi, researchers Blau and Kahn (2010) also believed parts of the wage gap can be explained by gender-specific factors, specifically in that there are differences in their qualifications and how they are treated in relation to men. Referencing the work of Jacob Mincer and Solomon Polachek (1974) the authors believed that because women expect to participate in the labor force less frequently than men they naturally invest less time into formal education and on-the-job training (Blau & Kahn, p. 10). Because of this women are logically less likely to be found in jobs that require the worker to make investments in skills. The returns on an investment like that as Blau and Kahn assert can only be attained through continued employment at that particular job or place of employment and results in employers who are more reluctant to hire women for jobs that require an investment for fear of not getting a full return (Blau & Kahn, p.10). Much like the findings of Manning and Saidi, this only accounts for a portion of the wage gap and the remaining amount is not yet known and is typically thought to be the result of discrimination (Blau & Kahn, p. 10).

Additionally, CONSAD Research Corp published a report for the U.S. Department of Labor in which they identified nine different factors that affect the difference in wages between genders such as their chosen occupations, work experience, career interruptions and motherhood. Much like Manning & Saidi and Blau & Kahn, this report came to the conclusion that there is a definite portion of the wage gap that can be explained by differences in the way men and women choose to approach their daily work, family, and personal lives. Though these reasons account for a significant portion of the gap they cannot be used to estimate what conglomerate part of the difference for which they account.

Other researchers such as Chaa and Weedenb (2014) take the ideas of gender differences even further by acknowledging what they call Overwork, or working 50 hours a week. In their research, they found that in 1979 only 15% of men versus 3% of women are more likely to work 50+ hours a week. By the 1990s that that number had increased to 19% of men versus 7% of women worked 50+ hours a week. In 2009 according to the authors, “Overworkers” earned about 6% more per hour than full-time workers (Chaa & Weedenb, p. 2-3). This proves to be a disadvantage for people who do not have the opportunity to overwork such as those individuals with responsibilities at home. Because of this women are predominantly less likely to be as active in the worktorce as men.

Mehroz Baig, the author of “Women in the Workforce: What Changes Have We Made?” (2013) pointed out that certain jobs in the 1970s such as accountants were primarily male until 2010 where 60 percent of accountants were female. Many fields have become more accepting of women since the 1970s, but equally many are still dominated by men. Norma Carr-Ruffino, an expert on women in management, believes that the increased amount of women in the workforce is not necessarily due to new opportunities but of the necessity to keep a steady income for their family to maintain its lifestyle. With that in mind, one can easily see a relationship between the increase in female workforce participation and the narrowing of the wage gap.

A recent survey by PewResearchCenter (2013) shows approximately 75 percent of millennial women in the United States believe that there needs to be a continued effort in order to reach gender equality whereas only 57 percent of millennial men agree. Paradoxically only 15 percent of millennial women have reported being discriminated on the basis of sex. Views on the workplace are typically the opposite for different genders according to the survey. When asked about how parenthood affects their ability to advance in their career 59 percent of millennial women said it was harder, and only 19 percent of millennial men said the same. The data shows unanimously that men and women differ in their attitudes towards career advancement and parenthood. Men are more likely to advance their careers and apply for top management positions than women who are more apt to invest more time with their family duties. In conclusion, there are many aspects of the wage gap that have not been identified by researchers, but as it is, differences between men and women seem to much more likely cause for the disparities than discrimination. Further research will attempt to verify whether gender- specific behavioral differences between men and women are the primary reason for wage disparities.

Part 4: Primary Research

Women have come closer to wage equity in the last half century in that both uneducated and educated women have narrowed the pay gap between uneducated and educated men respectively according to Blau and Kahn (2007, p.7). They stated that these gains “are particularly remarkable because they occurred during a period when overall wage inequality was rising” (p.7). By this, they had meant that the difference in pay between low paying jobs and high paying jobs has increased, and yet women have somehow narrowed the wage gap. Though women have made significant gains in achieving pay parity, there is still a prevalent gap between the earnings of men and the earnings of women. Both of the sources used for this primary research maintained gender-specific factors are crucial when examining the wage gap.

“The Gender Pay Gap: Have Women Gone as Far as They Can?” was conducted by Francine D. Blau and Lawrence M. Kahn and published in 2007. Blau is the Frances Perkins Professor of Industrial and Labor Relations and Labor Economics at Cornell University. Kahn is a Professor of Labor Economics and Collective Bargaining at Cornell University. Both individuals are highly qualified and are both very prevalent in the ongoing research on the wage gap. I first accessed this source for research on Thursday, March 3, 2016, via, an online scholarly journal database. This particular research paper was particularly helpful even though its primary purpose was to determine whether the narrowing of the wage gap would continue or if it has gone as far as it can. It went relatively in-depth about gender-specific differences that attribute to the gap even though it was ultimately used to answer a different research question than the one I seek. However, this seems to be the most comprehensive research available at this point, and additionally I am familiar with other work by Blau and Kahn and know them to be reliable and unbiased sources.

While I and any who have read my prior research on this subject may be able to claim a moderate understanding of the wage gap, the same cannot be said for everyone. However, Blau and Kahn made sure that it is not an issue by giving a brief overview of gains women have made since the late 1970s until the early 2000s. Their paper was organized so that it would primarily benefit their primary goal: Introduction (background information), trends in the pay gap, the role of qualifications and discrimination, the role of wage structure, explanations of trends in the 1980s and 90s, and their prospects for the future. For the purpose of my research, I am using exclusively their section on the role of qualifications and discrimination which is a considerable portion of this paper.

Blau and Kahn began their section on qualifications and discrimination by defining gender-specific factors as “differences between men and women, either in the qualifications or how they are treated.” (2007, p. 9). Qualifications, in this case, are as the human capital model shows in their research: education and experience. According to Blau and Kahn, the gender gap in education was not very large except for a few exceptions such as women were more likely to graduate from high school than men, and they were less liable to go to college and graduate school. Additionally, men were more likely to go into STEM fields or other areas of occupation that paid highly (p. 9). In recent years, the difference in education has decreased in such a way that women are more represented in fields that have been traditionally male and made up over half of all college students. As a result, Blau and Kahn concluded that education cannot explain large parts of the pay gap. Contrary to what history has shown Blau and Kahn stated that there have been samples taken for gender differences in education and found that the results favor women. The qualification that has proven to be quite important is work experience because traditionally women moved in and out of the labor market based on family considerations. Before World War II, most women left the labor market permanently when they got married and had children. In the immediate post-war period, a pattern arose whereby older married women returned to the job market after their children were in school or grown. (Blau & Kahn, 2007, p. 9-10)

Women according to their research are more likely to choose occupations that require fewer investments in occupations in which on-the-job training is more frequent or skills that are unique to that particular profession. This they explain, is because to get full returns on investments in skills you need to stay with that employer. Understandably, companies are less likely to hire women as a result of them being unsure of whether or not they are going to get a full return on their investment on the training required for a position. On average, women who work full-time have about 3.5 fewer years of experience when compared to men that work full-time. This translated to 11% percent of the pay gap according to Blau and Kahn. Though the women in the sample had less work experience, they were found to have higher educational attainment than men. Blau and Kahn offered that the level of education does not help in explaining the gap and that the educational attainment of men is still higher than women. When taking a sample that focuses exclusively on men and women that work full-time, women have a slight edge but because it only focuses on full-time workers it is not representative of the entire workforce.

Blau and Kahn found that men are more likely to work in blue-collar professions such as mining, construction, and manufacturing. Men were also much more liable to be involved in unionized occupations. Women, on the other hand, are more apt to choose professions that are clerical or professional and in the service industry. This resulted in what they claimed to explain 53% of the wage gap. 27% was from occupation, 22% for industry, and 4% for union status (Blau & Kahn, 2007, p. 12). My second source was a survey I created Wednesday, March 30, 2016, via SurveyMonkey. I created a link to the survey and posted it to Facebook with instructions for adults 18 years of age and older to take the survey and share the link on their own Facebook. By Saturday, April 2, 2016, I had received 32 complete responses. There was a total of 23 women that took the survey and a meager 9 men. There is a present and obvious gap between the amount of men and women in the results, and therefore, the study does not represent both genders as equal as I would like.

The survey began with simple demographic questions such as age and gender. There was a total of fifteen people ages 18-29, six people ages 30-44, five people ages 45-59, and six people 60 years and older. Of these people, I found that more women attended college relative to men. Nine women graduated from college versus zero men that graduated from college. Likewise, I found that seven women had completed at least one year of college versus two men who finished a year of college. The results do support that women are more likely to attend college than men, but this may be attributed to the overwhelming presence of women compared to men in the sample. Of the five men who attended college, most of them had a major that was related to science and business. The women were overwhelmingly found in nursing (8 in total). The majority of the remaining women were spread out among clerical and professional fields such as psychology, history, and economics. There were a few in the sciences and business and even one in aircraft armament.

Assuming if there were more male responses and the results remained consistent with the present results, this would support that men are more likely to be found in STEM field professions and women in more clerical and professional occupations. very likely, one said she was undecided, and one said she was very unlikely to negotiate wages. These results are to the contrary of the argument that most women do not negotiate their wages with their employer. In fact, more than half say they would. In regards to how many hours women work compared to men, I found 4 of the men in the survey worked between zero and fifteen hours, 1 who worked twenty to twenty-five hours, and 4 worked between thirty to fifty plus hours. The women in this survey work surprisingly much more than the men. 7 women worked zero-ten hours, 2 who worked fifteen to thirty hours, and 14 women worked thirty-five to fifty plus hours a week. This is again contrary to my prior research, and only further research can provide if the numbers remain constant.

When asked about how soon they would return to the workforce after having children I found that as expected most men said they would have never left except for two who stated that they would return under a year. When the women were asked, six reported that they would have never left, and ten said they would return under a year. The remaining women were dispersed anywhere between one and twenty years. This data supports that provided by Blau and Kahn in that women are still working even soon after having children or having children that are still young. My final question asked how much work experience each person had, but seeing as there is such a vast difference in the age of the majority of male and female respondents it cannot be used to determine much of anything except that many of the older women have over forty to fifty years of experience.

Having analyzed both sources, I found that some of the evidence was against my hypothesis and some it supported it. Only with further research can it be accurately determined whether or not there are gender specific differences between men and women. Hopefully further research will yield better results.

Part 5: Discussion and Conclusion

Women have certainly made notable gains in the labor market since the 1970s. Despite this, they still do not experience parity with men (CONSAD, 2009, p. 1). Though the existentia argument is still common among feminists and denialists, causes of the gap have been a source of considerable research for academics. Nobody knows exactly what causes the wage gap and through my research, I have found several theories that scholars believe account for portions of the disparity. These ideas include but are not limited to education, insurance, behavioral differences, and sexism. My research and hypothesis were primarily focused on proving that the wage gap can be explained by differences in behavior between men and women. The following discussion will indicate whether or not my hypothesis was correct.

Despite the advances women have made in the labor market, I have found they still on average have less experience than men. This is as Blau and Kahn (2007) argued because they [women] anticipate shorter and more discontinuous work lives due to children or other circumstances. This leads to less incentive to invest their time into market-oriented formal education and on-the-job training (Blau & Kahn, p. 10, 2007). Evidence from a survey I conducted points to the contrary. Of the 23 women that participated in the study 15 said they would prefer on-the-job training and the remaining eight preferred formal education. However, this does not mean that those women who chose on-the-job training as their preferred method participated in that form of training. Perhaps there are regional differences in behavior that change from state to state or town to town for example. Only future research can hope to better observe and understand this ever-changing part of society. Should this question be answered, it would lead toward a better understanding of different behavioral aspects of these women and their occupational preferences.

Another explanation of behavioral differences between men and women is the type of wages they receive. I have found that women tend to avoid occupations that utilize variable pay schemes. Babcock and Laschever argued it is women’s attitudes and not their productivity that partially account for lower earnings (as cited in Manning & Saidi, 2010, p. 681). Evidence from an experiment performed by Dohmen and Falk (as cited by Manning & Saidi, 2010, p. 682) that controlled for productivity shows women are approximately 15% less likely to enter an occupation with a variable pay scheme than men. In a variable pay scheme employees are paid in addition to their base pay depending on how much they have achieved versus how much they were supposed to meet. Much like what Dohmen and Falk found, the evidence suggests that women are less competitive compared to men. This ultimately leads to a slight advantage for men when it comes to competitive and high paying occupations such as Engineering and other STEM fields. If women, however, overcame the aversion to variable pay schemes and held more positions in STEM fields the wage gap would be significantly smaller than it is currently due to more women making greater amounts of money.

When it comes to challenges, motherhood is no small matter. It requires effort and devotion from the father and even more so from the mother; because of this being as important a task as it is many mothers expect to have short or intermittent work lives. I found in the survey that I conducted that of twenty-three women interviewed, six women said they would not have left the workforce after having a child, ten women stated that they would return under a year, and the remaining seven were scattered between 2-18+ years. This means that those women who returned immediately after having given birth are not having their careers as adversely affected as those who said they would return in under a year or longer. Essentially, the more time spent for motherhood is work experience lost. Men on the other hand typically do not leave the workforce for extended periods of time like most women, and this gives them experience that the mothers are otherwise missing. This translates to a gap between the skill levels of men and women and results in lower pay for those women. Another possible explanation that ties in with the one above is that women are less likely to choose occupations that require on-the-job training or skills specific to that particular position because they do not expect to maintain a constant work life. Researchers Blau and Kahn supported this idea by suggesting women are less likely to be found in professions that require investments in skills because to get a full return on such an investment one needs to stay with that employer for an extended time. Companies may be reluctant to hire women for positions that require investments in skills as well (Blau & Kahn, p. 10, 2007). Their reluctance can be understood as they would be worried about not getting a full return on their investment into that employee.

Observed gender roles could explain why more women are in fields that are clerical and/or professional whereas there are more men in blue-collar professions. Women are more often found in areas that are traditionally female such as day-care, teachers, secretaries, and nurses and are being found more often in the workforce. Norma Carr-Ruffino, an expert on women in management, says this is not due to the opportunity being present but the necessity to maintain a steady income for their family to maintain their lifestyle. For example: during the second world war, more women were working to support their families due to the majority of men being overseas fighting the war. It is not unreasonable to see a connection between the increased presence of women in the workforce and the narrowing of the wage gap. Had there not been such a massive influx of female workers in the 1940s through the 1980s the pay gap would be considerably greater than it is currently.

The larger presence of women in the workforce can also be attributed to the higher attendance rates of women in colleges and universities. This can easily be observed at U.S. universities where over half of all currently enrolled students are female. In the past women were more likely to graduate high school according to Blau and Kahn, but they were less liable to attend college. As the modern day approaches more and more woman attend college and at the same time the disparity in wages was observed to be shrinking. These educated women are now able to enter more advanced careers and eventually make more money than they would have without a degree thus narrowing the difference in wages. Even though there are more women in higher paying jobs, there are not as many in top management positions or more advanced positions. PewResearchCenter (2013) conducted a survey in which 59% of all millennial women surveyed said it was harder to advance their careers after having children, and only 19% of all millennial men surveyed said the same. Men in this study were found to be more likely to apply for top management positions than the women who were found to be more liable to invest more time in their duties at home. The survey showed that views on the workplace greatly differed between men and women and proved that there are behavioral differences in attitudes that account for the lower population of women in high paying jobs and by extension accounts for lower wages.

Through all of my research it has remained consistent that women are on average not as competitive, have less experience, have more family duties, have fewer skills, and hold fewer management positions than men. Should these be amended by more women entering high-paying fields that require more time and skill, it is easy to see a world where women are making as much as men. This can be achieved simply by encouraging young girls to enter the sciences and engineering while they are still in primary school, so there is no longer a stigma in their minds about women in the workforce.


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