Discrimination in the Workplace: Why Are Women Paid Less?

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Introduction

It is not new to hear that money makes the world go ‘round: in many ways this is true. The jobs and salaries that a person brings home to their families will greatly determine the type of life that they will be living. However, it has recently become an issue (again) that women’s salaries, on average, are lesser than men’s salaries. With the aid of studies and data, reasons for this discrimination are examined.

Text Article

In the article “(Why) Are Women Paid Less?” the writers note that “on average, for every dollar a man earns, a woman gets paid 80 cents” (2011). With a serious and informative tone, the writer notes several facts about gender discrimination and inequalities associated with women in the workplace. According to a study in this text, the three key factors for work discrimination against women are whether or not they have children, occupational selection, and work hours. Women are less likely to get as many paid work hours as men. In fact, on average, a man gets 15 percent more paid work hours a week than a woman (78). This article states quite a few facts that mirror that issue that women do indeed get lesser treatment than men in the workplace, despite any experience or education that they may bring to the office.

Men are typically the employees chosen for higher-up positions, and this discrimination simply breeds more discrimination:

“Most business owners and senior managers are men, and given a choice between hiring a man or woman, the ‘old-boy network’ operates in favor of the man. According to this view, women can get the job only if they agree to accept lower wages” (76).

This is a sad and common fact. It is true that women are paid less than men, despite any sort of experience or education that they may have, simply because they are women, or because they have children – or both. This article also writes that “the extent of gender discrimination in the workplace is (not) going to be definitively settled anytime soon” (78). This sentiment is also carried into the second article in which the article examines the issue of how women’s wages compare with those of men.

Washington Post Article

In her article, Why women still earn less than men: It’s the kids’ fault, Joann Weiner points out that, today, almost 60 percent of all college graduates are women (2013). This becomes a problem with gender discrimination in the workplace is considered. The author notes: “overall occupations, women’s wages would be lower than men’s wages due to differences in occupational choices” (Weiner, 2013). This is the first piece of the article that indicates that it may carry an opinion as well as evidence. Occupational choices are not simply ‘male’ and ‘female.’

A separate study noted in this article found that women who return to work after an extended leave of absence – it is assumed that this means maternity leave – they are paid up to 16 percent less than before they left. A similar study found that only 25 percent of women who returned took a “traditional hard-driving job, such as banking, compared with the two-thirds of women who were employed in such jobs before taking time off” (Weiner, 2013). Around the middle of the article, there is a lot of objectivity as far as facts and evidence that speaks for the discrimination of women in the workplace. The fact that women are the ones who primarily take care of their kids is one of the reasons, according to the author, that women are so badly discriminated against in the workplace, as far as wages, etc.

The article also notes that a professor at Columbia University professor of social work and public affairs, Jane Waldfogel, published information that indicated that having children has a negative effect on a woman’s wages (Weiner, 2013). This study also notes, of course, that a child’s birth has either no effect on a man’s wages or a positive effect in some cases (Weiner, 2013). Again, there are facts, but the author seems to clearly express their opinion when they wrap up the article and it loses some credibility at the end.

Informative Versus Influential

In the textbook’s article, the audience is being informed. In the Washington Post article, there is evidence for the case, but the author ended the article on a tough note that indicates toward simple influence. There are several places where the authors (both articles) cite studies and findings that speak to the case for female discrimination in the workplace; however, the second could easily be discarded because of the author’s take. It reads as if the author of the Washington Post article is telling women to wait or not to have children at all in order to gain the same salary level as men. Perhaps it is more subtle to other readers, but it is in the article and that is tough to swallow when determining credibility. The textbook article is simply more informative with the least amount of bias between the two.

Objectivity

The first article, published in the textbook The Economics of Public Issues, is more objective than the article published with the Washington Post. It is more factual and less opinionated. Although it is important to defend personal opinions and those issues that one cares about passionately, they should be kept out of the argument and discussion for an issue. The fact that a person is researching an issue and presenting evidence for the issue to be changed positively is enough of an opinion. Both articles are informative and give possible reasons for women being underpaid in the workplace, with a sound discussion for each three. Unfortunately, in the Washington Post article, it is too much like an opinion and is honestly discriminatory in itself.

Discussions

I agree with the text discussion over the Washington Post article discussion. I understand that one major reason that women are paid less is that their hours and wages depend on whether or not they have children, but this is not the only reason. I cannot completely agree with the second article because they chose one reason, and make it seem as if women should never have children if they ever want to be successful or gain acceptance by their male co-workers. It is a woman’s choice whether or not she would like to start a family or have children, and it is almost adding fuel to the fire in saying that children will always result in a lowered success rate for their mothers.

It is important, yes, to mark specifically the factors that lead to gender discrimination in the workplace against women. When people can see specific reasons for this treatment, the issue can be fixed in a concise manner. It's a goal that the National Organization for Women strives for. However, to write the following at the end of the article puts a purposeful slant on the entire piece: “the research shows that having kids is bad for your paycheck” (Weiner, 2013). It is wrong to begin to influence women to simply opt-out of children to better their careers. This is the choice of many women, yes, but for many others, it is not; the keyword being “choice.” However, to earn less than men is not a choice that any woman would make, despite her personal lifestyle choices. The Washington Post article is more influential than actually being unbiased and informative, like the article found in the textbook.

Conclusion

When discussing sensitive matters such as gender discrimination, finding reasons for long-running discrimination against a specific group of people, it is important to keep facts correct and studies relevant. It is crucial that opinions be kept out of the argument. If the problem is ever going to see a concrete solution in the future, there have to be outlined and very convincing facts for any positive changes to become permanent.

References

Benjamin, D.K., &Miller, R.L. (2011). (Why) are women paid less? In The Economics of Public Issues (75-78). Prentice Hall.

Weiner, Joann. (2013). Why women still earn less than men: It’s the kids’ fault. The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/she-the-people/wp/2013/08/13/why-women-still-earn-less-than-men-its-the-kids-fault/.