Everybody knows that Hollywood’s leading actresses earn considerably less than their male counterparts. And it’s common knowledge that for every dollar a man earns, a woman earns only 83 cents. However, recent research reveals that a woman aged between 17-36 now earns only 5% less than a man of the same age through the 20s.
But the stark reality remains that women still earn less than men.
This is dependant on career choice too. But even when we compare male and female graduates who go into the same job upon graduation, gaps exist. The gender pay gap widens during one’s 30s and 40s. For mothers (but not fathers) with babies it is pay Armageddon.
As we all are well aware of, there are penalties to be paid both for taking time off work or for choosing part-time. For mothers, this is an unavoidable penalty that takes its toll even when they return to full-time employment.
So what can be done to close the gender pay gap? Should it be that women put away or even stop having babies? It is something an increasing number of females seem to be contemplating. While a new generation of women think success in a high-paying career or profession is important, many also do not believe that this is attainable with a child in tow.
Looking purely through an economic perspective (without going into the pros and cons of child rearing), a child-free existence can only be an incomplete solution at best. Look no further than women without children who also earn less than men throughout their careers, but to a lesser degree.
The state also has a prominent role in making it easier for mothers to re-enter full time work faster. Case in point : Iceland, which instituted a very generous paternity pay in 2000 - has seen this strategy deliver, and how?! 90% of fathers now leave the labour market for at least three months. Consequently, their partners get to return to full-time work faster. Highly subsidised infant and kindergarten care is another state intervention that contributed to making a difference.
So men have a part to play as well. Men need to celebrate when their partners earn more than they. And finally, the path for women themselves. Many smart, successful women rarely if ever, initiate a pay-rise conversation at work. Remember, if you do not ask, you will never get enough.