Tackling The Gender Pay Gap
by Student 14 on February 10, 2015 - 4:25pm
Women’s opportunities in the workplace (i.e. access to fair pay, to pay supplements, and to advancement) are limited in comparison to those of men. This is a gender discrimination issue, as a result of the beliefs, values, and attitudes that are being promoted by workplace culture. Certainly, workplace culture promotes the status of women as subordinate to men, as evidenced by the gender pay gap between men and women. The gender pay gap refers to the difference in pay earned by men and women. Women, in particular, are disadvantaged by the gender pay gap, which they face in female-dominated, gender-neutral, and male-dominated occupations.
Today, women are increasingly more educated than men. Moreover, they represent growing numbers entering the workforce. As such, women deserve to be treated fairly and compensated equally. Utilitarianism promotes the need to eliminate the effect of gender in the workplace because narrowing the pay gap between working men and working women contributes to the greatest good for the greatest number. Indeed, pay equity satisfies women because it eliminates the pain of working hard and making less money than their male counterparts. In addition, it maximizes utility for society as a whole. In fact, eliminating the effect of gender increases competitiveness and reduces expenses (e.g. high cost of employment turnover if women leave because the conditions are not fair). Thus, we ought to encourage fair pay.
There is little debate about the need to narrow the gender pay gap. There is, however, a moral dilemma that presents itself when dealing with how to fix the problem. On the one hand, some people believe that women, themselves, are the problem because they lack ambition, they underestimate their own abilities, and they choose to opt out of the workforce. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, advances this very idea. She suggests that women need to “keep their feet on the gas pedal” to be successful, to be leaders, and to narrow the effect of gender in the workplace (TED 13:30). In other words, she urges women to believe in themselves and to be aware of their own success and to continue to reach for promotions. Conversely though, on the other hand, some people believe that women, themselves, are not the problem. Instead, they attribute women’s struggles in the workplace to external factors such as a lack of flexibility at work and men’s overbearing behaviour. Anne-Marie Slaughter, the former Director of Policy Planning at the State Department from 2009 to 2011, supports this view. She encourages organizations to offer greater flexibility (creating time for women to take care of their children) and men to “speak less and listen more” (Slaughter 23).
I agree, in part, with Slaughter. I believe that the solution to the gender pay gap issue involves greater flexibility at work, which would allow women to take care of their children, work from home, and continue to advance their careers without the risk of being marginalized for working part time at the office. Furthermore, I believe that it comes down to restructuring the pay distribution system to ensure that women are paid as much as men upon entering the workforce and that pay supplements are not gender-influenced. These solutions will hopefully succeed in reducing the effect of gender in the workplace and in narrowing the gender pay gap. In doing so, they will promote the greatest good for the greatest number.
Slaughter, Anne-Marie. “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.” The Atlantic. n.p. 13 June 2012. Web. 9 Feb. 2015.
TED. “Sheryl Sandberg: Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 21 Dec. 2010. Web. 9 Feb. 2015.