What makes women accept less money than men are able to accept? Social expectation to work and provide for a family is still higher towards men, so if the fear of not being employed would be the case, men would be equally, or even more, willing to accept a lower wage, right?
NEW LAW – OLD PROBLEM
On Wednesday, January 30, the Paycheck Fairness Act of 2019 was introduced in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives. Passing this Act is seen as a critical step to giving women protections against sex-based pay discrimination and helping ensure pay equity for all women. The gender pay gap is still real today, with women currently making an average of 80 cents to a man’s dollar.
Closing this gap definitely requires taking action from employers and policymakers. The need to have a fair and just law regulation is beyond the question. As a person who spent over 10 years in the court of law, I strongly support taking legislative actions. I do not believe, however, that legal measures itself will close the gender pay gap.
Why? Because the pay gap is the EFFECT, not the SOURCE of the problem.
WOMEN ARE 20% LESS VALUABLE… IN THEIR OWN EYES
When analyzing the factors leading to the pay gap, most of the social commentators point to sexism, direct pay discriminations or a lack of equal rights or treatment. But, here’s an interesting fact: This percentage (20%) not only represents the current pay gap but also illustrates the difference in financial expectations between genders.
Marilyn Davidson, a professor of work psychology at Manchester Business School, had year-by-year asked her students two questions:
- What do you EXPECT to earn five years after graduation?
- What do you think you DESERVE to earn five years after graduation?
What Prof. Marilyn Davidson observed, were massive differences between the male and female responses. Women who do not enter the labor market yet, already assume to earn 20% less than men. Not surprisingly, male students also thought they deserve to earn significantly more than their female colleagues.
How much more? Exactly 20%!
On average, the men believed they deserve $80.000 a year, while the women $64.000 – that made a $16.000 difference. These numbers come from the first decade of the 2000s and might be slightly different nowadays, yet still, they illustrate the dismaying conclusion: women believe they are 20% LESS VALUABLE than men believe they are. Consequently, women expect to earn less, and this expectation help sustains the status quo – said Prof. Marilyn Davidson.
Knowing these facts, what we-women can do to close the pay gap effectively? First of all, we should turn inwards! In order to earn more, we have to ask for more, but to get the courage to ask for more, we have to first change our subconscious believes about our value as workers and – most significantly – about our value as women. This change requires our own effort, no law regulations will help here.