Known worldwide as the champion of human rights and gender equality, the United States of America, it seems, has failed miserably to live up to its own standards when it comes to the issue of gender pay gap. A report by PayScale Inc., published on July 5, 2017 said that for equal work women in the U.S are paid less than men in all industries.
The report by PayScale Inc. was compiledby analyzing data from a poll of 1.4 million full-time employees.
A Reuters report quoted Aubrey Bach, senior editorial manager of PayScale Inc.: “The gender pay gap is absolutely real. Half or more of our workforce is made of women but we are still not progressing at the same level as men.”
Male executives tend to earn “many times more” than female executives, the report found.
The report found that largest pay gaps exist in mining, quarrying and gas exploration industries. It was also noted that the gender pay gap is widest among men and women with PhDs, followed by MBA holders.
Recent media reports reflect the reality presented in the PayScale Inc. report. And, quite ironically Wonder Woman would bear evidence to that.
According to a Variety report, Gal Gadot received only $300,000 for starring in the massive Hollywood hit movie Wonder Woman which has so far earned almost half a billion dollar. Compared to that Henry Cavill earned $14 million for starring in the movie Man of Steel.
The culture of such discrimination also prevails in case of women directors in Hollywood. In a Washington Post report, headed “For women directors, ending discrimination in hiring is just the start” Alyssa Rosenberg wrote: “And it’s not as if discrimination necessarily ends when a shoot is over and a film has been edited. As Rebecca Sun reported in the Hollywood Reporter recently, a new report commissioned by the Female Filmmakers Initiative found that “whereas companies that handed distribution deals to male-directed films were roughly evenly split between studio specialty divisions/mini-majors (43.1 percent) andsmall indie companies (56.9 percent), the vast majority (70.2 percent) of female-directed films that landed distribution went to the latter, which have fewer financial resources and industry clout to offer.” You can get your directing job, hire a gender-and-racially-balanced cast and crew, practice pay equity, and then still end up with a deal that won’t let you realize your vision nearly as well as if you were a man.”
But probably the most bizarre picture of gender pay gap exists in U.S soccer.
The U.S Women soccer team has three World Cup championships and four Olympic championships. In women soccer, it is the best in the world. For winning the World Cup the women team received $1.8 million.
Guess how much the men’s team earned just for reaching the World Cup?
The average salary in the U.S. men’s soccer league, Major League Soccer, is $305,000 while for women, the average salary is $14,000, media reports said.
Not only has the women’s team outperformed the men and has a higher popularity in the USA, but also, although arguably, they drive far more revenue to the U.S. Soccer Federation than they are compensated for.
The international football regulatory authority FIFA has been no exception in this gender discriminatory scenario. According to media reports the total prize money for men’s World Cup is $576 million while for women it is only $15 million.
Why does such discrimination exist in one of the world’s most modern economy?
A 12 April, 2016 dated World Economic Forum report, titled “The simple reason for the gender pay gap: work done by women is still valued less” says: “…there is no country in the world where women earn the same as men.
“One of the arguments used to explain – and sometimes justify – this stubborn gap is the idea of choice. Women simply choose to study less lucrative subjects, enter lower-paying professions and stay towards the bottom rungs of the career ladder. While these choices might give them shorter working hours and greater flexibility, it also negatively affects their earnings.”
But as mentioned earlier the pay gap exists in equal work for men and women. The PayScale Inc. report thus comes as no surprise as the World Economic Forum report further added: “The fact is that even within those lucrative, male-dominated professions, the gender pay gap is still there. ‘There is a belief, which is just not true, that women are in bad occupations and if we just put them in better occupations, we would solve the gender gap problem,’ Claudia Goldin of Harvard University told the New York Times.
“As her research has shown, even when men and women do the same work, there’s still a gender pay gap – particularly in higher-paying jobs.
“What can possibly explain this persistent pay gap?
“Paula England, a professor at New York University and an authority on the gender pay gap, thinks it’s obvious: ‘It’s not that women are always picking lesser things in terms of skill and importance. It’s just that the employers are deciding to pay it less’, she explained in a different New York Times piece.
“She’s not just saying this based on a hunch: along with Paul Allison of the University of Pennsylvania and Asaf Levanon of the University of Haifa, England has carried out one of the most exhaustive studies on the issue. Their findings suggest that women are not necessarily kept out of or choose not to enter high-paying and prestigious professions. Instead, when a job is dominated by women, it’s just not seen as important, and therefore pays less, even if it requires the same skills and education. The New York Times uses the example of janitors versus maids, jobs that are identical in every aspect except gender composition – and pay.
“And as women start moving into traditionally male-dominated positions, the pay falls: ‘A 10% increase in proportion female is associated with .5% to 5% percent decrease in hourly wage in each decade’, the three researchers found.
“The world of computer programming is the perfect example. Historically a female-dominated field, men started to take over in the 1980s. And as they did, things changed: ‘When male programmers began to outnumber female ones, the job began paying more and gained prestige’, Claire Cain Miller of the New York Times writes.”
Back in 2015 a study by nonprofit LeanIn.org and management consulting firm McKinsey & Company said that gender equality in the corporate sector of America is happening so slowly that it could take more than a century for women to have the same number of top executive jobs as men.
But some women, as intransigent as they are, are refusing to give in to this unjust system. As of yesterday, according to a Reuters report, five leading stars of the US national women soccer team, announcedon NBC’s “Today” show that they have filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against U.S. Soccer, claiming wage discrimination relative to the men’s national team.
The players in the filing are: co-captain and reigning world player of the year Carli Lloyd, goalkeeper Hope Solo, striker Alex Morgan, playmaker Megan Rapinoe and central defender and co-captain Becky Sauerbrunn.
In a statement released to The New York Times, Lloyd said: “We have been quite patient over the years with the belief that the Federation would do the right thing and compensate us fairly.”
Although it is unknown whether these soccer players were inspired to take legal actions by former cheerleaders of NFL and NBA.
In 2014 a former NFL cheerleader sued the Oakland Raiders claiming it violated minimum wage laws. Similar suits against the Buffalo Bills, New York Jets, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Cincinnati Bengals followed.The Tampa Bay Buccaneers paid $825,000 to settle the claims. The Oakland Raiders had to pay $1.24 million in a suit brought by Raiderettes while the claim against the Cincinnati Bengals cost it $255,000
In 2015 a former NBA cheerleader Laurren Herrington sued the team Milwaukee Bucks for which she used to dance on claims that she and other dancers were underpaid in violation of federal and state labor and wage laws.A Journal Sentinel report on the case said: “Herington’s suit claimed that Bucks dancers spent hours in training, wardrobe maintenance, practice and dancing at games. In addition, they appeared at charity events and posed for a calendar. It said the payments — $65 for games, $30 for practice and $50 for special events — often led to the dancers earning less than minimum wage some weeks.
The settlement proposal would pay Herington $10,000, her attorneys $115,000 and give her and 40 other women who were employed as dancers from September 12, 2012, to July 31, 2015, the chance to “opt in” to the settlement and receive payments based on their particular hours worked during the covered period.”
Women in Hollywood are also raising their voices for equal pay. Meryl Streep, Salma Hayek, Jennifer Lawrence, Jessica Chastain are among the few who have taken a strong stand for equal pay for women in the cinema industry. Whether they would follow their sports counterparts and take similar firm course of action, remains a question.
But it is without any doubt that women’s demand for equal pay is just and the present economic system has failed to ensure that.
Today, after analysis by Marxbased on science, it is known to all that capitalists constantly try to reduce wages, one of the main items of production cost, which results in pushing down wages below the value of labor power. Marx’s Capitaldiscusses the issue in detail. So, the working people struggle to raise wages, and result of this struggle is ultimately defined by the balance of class forces in the society within which the working people wage their struggle. The information cited in the article show condition of the women in the United States, an advanced capitalist economy.
Omar Raad Chowdhury is an undergraduate student in Department of Economics, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh.