Essay on equal pay in the work place.

on equal pay in the work place
In 1963, President Kennedy signed the Equal
Pay Act into law, making it unlawful to discriminate against a worker on
the basis of sex. Since that time, the wage gap between men and women
in the United States has narrowed by just 15 cents, now being 74 cents,
as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Pay equality is most prevalent for the
16 to 24 age group, in which women earn more than 90 percent of what men
do; however, the gap becomes 75 percent in the 25 to 54 year old group
those at the height of their careers and life responsibilities.

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A number of factors have contributed
to the gap between mens and womens wages. These include: occupational
segregation of women into low paying jobs; lower levels of unionization
for women and attitudinal barriers that have kept women from achieving
equality in the workplace and undervaluation for womens work.

The Equal Pay Act (part of the Fair
Labor Standards Act), forbids employers to compensate women differently
for jobs that are “substantially equal”, that is, almost identical.

Traditionally, women have worked in different occupations than men; these
occupations tend to be substantially different, pay less and confer less

Equity means fairness and justice.

Pay equity programs throughout the world attempt to legislate and regulate
the elimination of systemic gender-based wage discrimination and to ensure
ongoing systems that will maintain equitable wage relationships over time.

Pay equity programs attempt to address
the undervaluation for work traditionally or historically done by women.

Pay equity (also referred to as “comparable worth”) programs require a
gender-neutral analysis of comparative work. A variety of very different
jobs are compared based on a composite of the skill, effort and responsibility
of a job and the conditions under which the job is generally done.

The comparison determines the relative worth of those jobs to the achievement
of a firms objectives, under the proposition that equal contribution merits
equal compensation. Where female-dominated jobs in the workplace
are found to be of equal or comparable value to male-dominated jobs but
paid below the level of the male jobs or payline, then all employees in
those female-dominated jobs are entitled to receive pay equity adjustments.

But how are these adjustments to
be determined in a workplace that already subjectively undervalues the
effort and contribution of women and minorities? Over the past decade,
under-recognition of jobs and skills attributed to women, their lower human
capital attributes and a historical concentration in a culturally-confined
range of jobs combined with direct discrimination has produced continuing
inequities in pay. It is doubted by those concerned with this issue
throughout the world that anti-discrimination and equal opportunity laws
relying on the successful legal action of individuals seeking redress cannot
address systemic problems due to the undervaluation of feminized work.

Equality means equivalent, or equal
in value, measures force, significance, etc. The idea of “equal pay
for equal work” refers to men and women in the same job, under the same
circumstances, ability, seniority, performing equally well but being paid

Opponents of pay equity base their
criticism on economic theory; stating that the labor market establishes
an employees worth. But Pincus and Shaw argue that this economic
argument disregards the historical and cultural bases for the differential.

Many studies show that predominately female jobs pay less, on average,
than predominantly male jobs.

Debates over “comparable worth” policies
come from the findings that the sex composition of an occupation exerts
a net effect on the wages earned, even after all other factors, which may
influence the outcome, are withdrawn. Studies done in North Carolina
showed that the higher percentage of female workers in an occupation had
a negative impact on total pay.

Thomas R. Tudor points out in “The
Complex Issues of Pay Equity” (Journal of Compensation and Benefits, Jan-Feb
1997 v12 n4 p.34) that what employers perceive as fair pay or even what
is legislated may not be perceived as such by current employees.

Many employers attempt to achieve internal pay policies by standardizing
pay ranges for a given position. Influencing factors may include
firm size, profitability, growth and market share; however, most companies
want to set compensation at whatever level they feel necessary to obtain
the highest efforts and results from their employees. Some of these
factors can be subjective and lead, not only to defacto discrimination,
but employee dissatisfaction in general, as they compare job responsibilities
and relative productivity between the people on site.

Currently, in all methods of job evaluation,
it is the requirements of the job itself that are evaluated, not individual
performance, and equity is not the goal.

Advocates of pay equity want to legislate
that gender composition of jobs not affect the resultant pay. Systems
could be set up to establish rating scales on the basis of job evaluations
where it is the requirements of the job and not the performance of a given
individual within the job that are determinant factors in compensation.

This could include educational factors, how much time are spent on different
tasks and the sphere of responsibility incumbent upon the employee.

Current plans most commonly use skill, effort responsibility and working
conditions as factors.

Critics of pay equity argue it could never
achieve its goal, and even if it did, it would have the undesirable side
effects of the misemployment of women and hurt the economy of the enforcing
government. The fact is that pay disparity for men and women has
a serious effect on the economy, diminishing each womans purchasing power
in a society in which most marketing is done toward women, and also has
adverse effects on families with single mothers or other female head of
household situations.

Critics also point out that women or minorities
come to the market with productivity shortfalls. Conclusions of research
done by Neumark in 1999 are that minority workers are paid lower starting
wages, which are thought to reflect discriminations based on taste and
lower expectations.

Will the wage gap ever be solved for good?
It is expected that with all the momentum from legislative efforts, individual
lawsuits, and well-intentioned proponents, hopes are high that the pay
gap will be long gone by mid-century.