By Andrea Felix
As a Hispanic woman living in the 21st century, reading an article stating that Black and Hispanic women are most affected by the gender wage gap came to me as a shock of disappointment.
The gender wage gap is the difference between what women earn compared to men’s earnings year round. When I first learned about the gender wage gap I ignored it.
I did not feel as if it was a real matter. This was due to thinking different choices impact how much money men and women make.
Once I did further research, I realized it was definitely a matter that not only women but men as well should address because the gender wage gap does exist. In a video by Christina Hoff Sommers, a Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, she explains that there is “no” gender wage gap.
Her explanation may sound reasonable at first until you pay close attention. In her video she states, “The department of Labor paper concluded that once these differences are accounted for across all professions, the unexplained wage gap is somewhere between 4.8 and 7 percent.”
This contradicts her argument towards saying there is no gender wage gap. Clearly there is a gender pay gap no matter how small the percentage may be.
According to the US Census Bureau, the gender pay gap differentiates according to state; the average gender pay gap in the United States is around 21%.
On average that is 77.9 percent of men’s earnings. However, when Hispanic women are compared to Hispanic males, the women make 88% of what the men do. Women’s earnings as a percentage of white men’s earnings by race determines that Hispanic women make a 54% of white men’s earnings. This proves that the pay gap problem is not just based on gender, but on race as well.
This is a huge barrier that not only I, but many other women of a different race must overcome.
Other factors in the gender wage gap include woman having children. Studies show that women make less when returning to the workforce after having children, in contrary to men who make more while having a family.
An article from Business Insider calls it the “mommy penalty” because after they have children women earn 3% less compared to women without children.
This is typically because employers consider motherhood as a sign of lower levels of commitment and professional competence unlike fathers who are seen as having increased work commitment and stability.
All these factors that contribute to the gender wage gap have a real effect on women especially in women who are single parents. It is unfair to judge that women will have lower levels of commitment and professional competence when there are many women in the workforce working hard daily to be able to provide for their family.
There has been slight progress towards pay differences between sexes, but the Institute of Women’s Policy Research estimates that the gender pay gap likely will not be dismissed until 2059.
“Hispanic women will have to wait until 2233 and Black women will wait until 2124 for equal pay.”
That is still a long way to go and, personally, I do not want to join a workforce where my annual earnings will come out to be less compared to a man due to my gender and race.
It is a problem that all women should address and fight back to rid. Some changes that can help close the wage gap, according to The Simple Truth About the Gender Pay Gap, are for companies to stay committed to paying their workers fairly, for women to learn strategies to better negotiate for equal pay and advocate for themselves, and for policy makers to update their Equal Pay Act and enhance federal regulations.
If employers are not committed to paying their workers fairly, they should receive a fee penalty to keep them from discriminating against women.
As former President Barack Obama calls attention to in the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act, “I do not want that for Malia and Sasha, I do not want that for your daughters, I do not want that to be an example,” I propose we stand together and enforce the Equal Pay Act.
Andrea Felix studies criminal justice at Fresno State.