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Wage gap between women and men is a topic that has kept on re-surfacing in the past years. Since the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in the United States, employment   discrimination in relation to promotion, hiring, and   payment of women and the minorities was considered illegal.  The question   now is that is there a possibility of pay disparity in the labor market between women and men? This paper will examine the possible factors that lead to the existence of gender wage difference.   I will look at some of the solutions to this problem.  I will also present the future possibility of this social and economic problem.

Wage gap between male college graduate and female college graduate

The issue of the wage gap between male and female is still a subject of controversy today in the United States.  In 1963,  President Kennedy  signed  the  Equal Pay Act (EPA), which  made it  illegal  for  illegal to pay  men  more than women for   the same  job they have done . The signing of this act saw many women entering the labor market.  This led to a major state of scenario from that of the 1950s in which only one in three women was in the workforce.  By 1998, three in every five women was part of the labor force.  In today’s labor market, women are represented in all sectors of the economy including those jobs which were predominantly for males. According to the projections of the  US Department of Labor, the number of  women in the workforce will  have  increased considerably  by  2015, but this will happen at  a slower  rate compared  to  the past.

Gender pay gap is an issue that has continued to resurface since the late 1980s. The question therefore, is that, could the issue of   pay disparity be applicable in the modern labor market of the United States between women and men? This paper will critically examine the history of pay disparity between men and women. This document will also explore the   prevalent trends on wage gap in relation to gender and will investigate into the factors that act as possible causes of this problem. Various sources of materials will be examined that have   addressed the issue of the gender pay difference. The aim of this research is to establish the variations of the gender Pay disparity in the past and today and look at the causes of the problem.   I will close with my personal views on this topic and the possible aspects related to the subject in future.

Literature review

Gender pay gap and   gender earning gaps are terms used inter-changeably to show the   income disparity between female and male in the United States. The U.S Census Bureau has gathered statistics that is helpful to compare the female median wages with that of the male median wages.  The gender pay gap is shown by the ratio between the male and female earnings of    workers taking full time jobs.  The female employees have historically been the earning much lower compared to their male counterpart in the same work position (Pagan, 2008).  For the past 25 years, the gap of the gender pay has   narrowed considerably, and women have joined    occupations that were traditionally considered for the male Teichgraeber (2004).  Teichgraeber (2004) goes on to say that the narrowing of this gap does not mean that all is well. He says that the average earning of women is 78 cents a dollar earned by a man (U.S Department of Labor).  The figure has over the years improved since 1975, from the 63% of the dollar earned by men.

The report given by Teichgraeber indicates that due to unequal pay, women at an average of 25 years old during their working life will lose over $523,000. Others studies have clearly proved that gender wage gap still exists today in almost most of the sectors (Pagan, 2008, p 1008). This is despite the academic qualifications and occupational characteristics are taken into considerations. Social scientists of today have presented various hypotheses and   theories to explain the reasons for the existence of gender wage gap. One of these theories is on the Choice theory. This theory postulates that the main reason for women earning less is based on the career choices they make. The types of professions they choose are those which are predominantly for female. These positions have also been known to be low paying jobs (Pagan, p 1008).  To many economists, wage difference mainly exists because of the   likelihood of female taking time off for parenting and due to occupation segregation (Pegan, p 1008).

History of wage inequality

American employers have in the past, at average, paid women employees much less wages compared to men (Pegan, p 1011). With the Equal Pay Act signing, women earned 60 % of the amount earned by men working in the same position.  However, over the years, this gap has narrowed down considerably.   Women today are earning approximated   earning 81% of that amount earned by men (Pagan, p 1011).   This gap is greater in   professional and managerial positions among other ones.  The gender wage gap has improved in other sectors by only 10% (Pagan, 2008).The Congress took the necessary step in correcting the   gender wage gap in 1963 through the EPA.  the main intention of this act according to  Alkadry & Tower (2006) was  to  guarantee all Americans of  an equal pay  opportunity  that  warns against  employment discrimination based  on  sex (Alkadry & Tower, 2006, p 888).

This law still applies today by calling upon employers to ensure employees in similar work positions and conditions enjoy the same wages.   In another study  by  Mathis and Jackson  (2008), the researchers say that even though  men and women work in the same core task, the  tasks carried out infrequently  or  intermittently  does not  make the job to be different so that it can justify for a  difference in wages. The researchers  indicate that many  people have supported  wage  difference between male and  female on the  basis of the following factors; difference in performance,  difference in superiority, difference   in  quantity and  quality of production and  other  factors, such as working conditions, effort and skill. A current example of gender wage gap is a university that was found to violate the EPA Act by providing much lower salary pay to female lecturers compared to the male lecturers. The university was also accused of assigning many classes to these new female lecturers (Mathis & Jackson, 109).

Pay equity

Pay equity is a concept that calls for the need to pay equally for   jobs that require a similar level of skill, knowledge and ability even when there is a difference of its actual duties (Mathis& Jackson, 2008, p 109).  Belau& Kahn (2007) present the variables considered   o be the indicators of human capital. These variables related to experience and education, as well as measures on union and industry status and occupation (Blau, & Khan, 2007, p 11).  Race is also presented by the researchers as a controlled variable, but has a minimal effect in determining the wage gap between men and women (Blau & Khan, p 11).  There study indicates that women have less amount of   experience in the labor market,   and   this was a significant determinant on the difference of wages in gender. The difference is found to be eleven percent.  The difference is also reflected in the   three and a half difference in full time job experience   between women and men.Even though, these experience durations much less compared to the previous years, it is a strong factor that explains the gap of gender wage. In   Blau and Khan  study they found out  an  intriguing aspect on the educational  attainment  of  women  being  higher than that  of  the men. This high education level in   women according to the researchers helps considerably in solving the enormous gender gap issue between men and women by seven percent. This shows that educational attainment is not a factor in explaining the wage gap between men and women.

Gender differences in industry and occupation are substantial and   present and explanation of    a part of   the issues of gender wage gap.  Men are likely to take jobs considered to be in the blue-collar category and to work in the construction, mining, and manufacturing sectors. The men are also likely to be in employments that are unionizes than women. Women mostly take    clerical jobs, in service industries and in other professional jobs. All these variables    contributed to gender wage gap in the industry sector by 22% and union status by 4% (Blau, & Khan, p.5). Another contributing factor leading to gender wage gap is because women take up part-time jobs compared to men.

The decline in the gender wage gap since the 1980’s is mainly attributed by the increased     chances of women joining the workforce.  This means that there has been a shift in principal   roles of women being employed as managers and professionals relative to that of the men. By 1990s, the gender gap started to be wider, which could be as a result of lack of proper measurements of woman qualifications (Blau &Khan, p 18).   Levin (2004) has suggested that the gap between male and female earning is due to the division of labor in women whereby they have to balance their family responsibilities with work responsibilities. The family responsibilities have made women to decide concerning the kind and amount of investing in training and education (Levin, 2004, p 4).

Padavic & Reskin (2002) shows that schooling is a substantial contributor to the future wages that determines a person’s earning in the workforce. For women, it is less profitable for them to invest in skills for the labor market. This small human capital investment among women is a key contributing factor to their earnings in the labor market (Levin, 2004, p 4).The discontinuous working employment experience among women is another factor that contributes to their low earnings. This is that women to sacrifice their   jobs so that they rare for their children and take time off for maternity and other leaves (Padavic & Reskin, 2002).


Though currently the gender wage gap has narrowed considerably for the past thirty years, women are still earning much   lower than men.  Also, though women have joined jobs that were predominantly for the male, they are few who earn more or equal to the amount earned by men.  In the future, the  gender wage  gap will continue to decrease, but at a  slower  pace,  but will  never close thoroughly as a result of the various challenges that women have  in  balancing their work with  family  responsibilities. However, it is essential for employers t ensure that there is pay equity and to avoid any form of discrimination in terms of promotions and wage earnings.


Alkadry, M. & Tower, E (2006) unequal pay and the role of gender. Public administration review, pp. 888-898.

Blau, F& Kahn, L (2007) the gender pay gap: have women gone as far as they can? Retrieved from


On November 29th 2012

Blau, F & Kahn, L (2007) the gender pay gap: Have women gone as far as they can? Retrieved


On November 29th 2012

Blau, F & Kahn, M (2000) gender differences in pay. Journal of Economic Perspectives. (pp. 75-99.

Brown, B (2008) bridging the pay gap. Wall Street Journal Online.


On November 29th 2012

Levine (2004) the gender wage gap and pay equity. CRS report for congress. The Library of Congress

Padavic & Reskin (2002) sociology for a new century of women and men at work. Thousand Oaks: London

Pagan, R (2008) defending the acceptable business reason” requirement of the equal pay act journal of corporation law, vol. 33 issue 4, p1007-1028, 22p.

Retrieved from


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Robert, M. & Jackson, J (2008) Human Resource Management (12th Ed.).Ohio: Thomson South-Western.

Teichgraeber, T. (2004, March 22). Women’s pay day: Progress made, but disparity remains.

.from http://pacific.bizjournals.com/phoenix/stories/2004/03/22/focus1.html

On November 29th 2012

The Council of Economic Advisers (1998) Explaining Trends in the Gender Wage Gap Washington, DC: Author.

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