Now it’s official: you can’t blame women for earning less than men | Angelina Chapin

Now-its-official-you-cant-blame-women-for-earning-less-than-men-Angelina-Chapin

Many believe the stereotype that men and women approach salary negotiations very differently.

The conventional wisdom is that after only a few months on the job, men will waltz into their boss’s office unannounced, slam their fist of the table and demand more money. This chutzpah, of course, results in a raise. Meanwhile women who have worked for 10 years at the same company still feel undeserving of a salary top-up. I don’t want to come across as entitled, they say to each other wistfully over crantinis. I still have so much to learn.

Misogynists use the above scenario to illustrate why women themselves are to blame for the pay gap. Chicks earn 21% less than men because they’re afraid to speak up! they’ll say. Thankfully, a recent study that uses data from Australian workers disproves that faulty logic. Researchers from universities in the US and UK found that both genders ask for pay raises with the same frequency. That’s right, women earn less because of good ol’ fashioned discrimination. It’s no surprise, since for most of history work cultures were created by men to help other men advance. The pay gap will only close once companies become environments that cater more to the female sex.

In popular culture and actual workplaces, men still hold the majority of powerful positions. Donald Draper. Francis Underwood. Tony Soprano. In corporate America, less than 15% of the top leadership roles are held by women and 80% of members in the US Congress members are male. That degree of industry dominance leads to discrimination against women, particularly women of color, that manifests in not-so-subtle ways.

Supposed feminine qualities such as collaboration, empathy and self-doubt are seen as weaknesses, despite research that shows they motivate employees. The result is that many females feel they must act more like powerful men to succeed. Around 42% of senior women take on masculine characteristics to get ahead, according to UK telecommunications firm O2. Yet the last thing this world needs is more megalomaniacs who think their authoritative demeanour makes them fit to run a country or a company.

In addition to behavioural discrimination, there’s a larger structural imbalance that explains why women earn less than men: they are still the primary caregivers for children and parents. Even though fewer women are full-time housewives, their home responsibilities have a tangible effect on their careers. In a previous column I’ve cited the research by economist and Harvard professor Claudia Goldin, who found the best explanation for the pay gap is that a decade into their careers, many women will take less prestigious jobs that allow for more flexible work hours.

When women then have children, or again are caring for their own parents or other sick family members who need care, then they need to work differently, writes scholar Anne-Marie Slaughter in her book titled Unfinished Business. They need to work flexibility, and often go part-time.

So rather than become partner at a big criminal law firm, a job that doesn’t easily allow for 4pm daycare pickups, many women self-demote themselves to smaller firms or part-time work. Because of their home life responsibilities, many mothers and caretakers don’t have the luxury of taking the high-paying jobs which would help close the pay gap.

The idea that women make less because they are reluctant to ask for more money is an anti-feminist fallacy. Female employees are repeatedly disadvantaged in a workplace that still equates masculinity with competence and a society that expects them to prioritize their families over leadership positions. Companies can help shrink the gap with work-from-home policies and a culture that evaluates staff based on their results, rather than the amount of hours they put in. And more men can take on caregiving duties so their female partners can both be mothers and focus on professional success.

News Source TheGuardianNews

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