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Why Is Differential Pay Between Women And Men Wrong? Or Is It?

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"Why is differential pay between women and men wrong? Or is it?"

Differential pay between women and men is wrong. If you look from a historical perspective the role of women in the workplace has evolved immensely over the decades. A woman's job in the past was to support her spouse and family by staying at home. But this changed after the start of World War II. Once the war started and men were called off to war, women were asked to come to work to assist in the jobs that men once worked in. This shift of women in the workplace has led to a widespread transformation of the traditional rules and practices of daily life not only in workplaces, but also in families. As work and family changed, there were reverberations throughout society. The roles women play today would be unrecognizable one hundred years ago. A female friend of mine is the main bread winner in her household while her husband stays home and watches their 4 children, total traditional role reversal of the past decade. In the report "Women in America" White House Report: How Far Have We Come?" Author Amy Chulik states that "Among full-time wage and salary workers, women's weekly earnings as a percent of men's have increased from 62 percent in 1979 to 80 percent in 2009." (Chulik,1).

Despite the progress made after World War II in the 1940's, the soldier's returned home, saw men wanting their jobs back and women who held onto them were seen as "Stealing" from veterans and war heroes. Women were expected to return to home, but some stayed on in areas such as nurses, lower level civil servants, and secretaries. In fact, by the 50's and 60's, it became extremely fashionable for successful businessmen to have female secretaries and assistance to the point that the market was practically cornered overnight by the fairer sex. But it is quite arguable that this development was the very definition of sexist, as women may have stayed on because of skill, but they were hired almost purely for attractiveness.

While men may have been motivated by these factors, the result was that the sight of women in the work place was no longer strange or alien; while men did not think highly of them; women in the office became common place. The 1960's and 1970's saw a large number of women beginning to assert themselves in the business environment and demand better treatment and opportunities. Also the advent of the Vietnam war once again created a vacuum of qualified workers and the ability for women to postpone marriage and families allowed for higher education level; not only were they needed for these jobs, but for the first time many of them were "Over qualified" showing that women were both hard working and motivated.

The 1980's to the present has seen a sharp increase in every venue for women in the work place; female employment in virtually every sector of employment from agriculture, to military, to politics over double in the past two generations. The biggest struggle in the first twenty years was equality in pay and occupational promotability. While not all sectors are quite up to par, most occupations have be quite accommodating in these two short comings and most women's rights group have begun focusing on the issue of family accommodation. Most women still want to start and have families, but the nature of the work place has made it very difficult to do so, and rights groups have been searching for a solution to this problem.

The increase of women in the labor force gained momentum from then on. However when the men returned from war, many of the women were fired from their positions or their pay was reduced significantly for their male counterparts. Working women often faced discrimination on the mistaken belief that, because they were married or would most likely get married, that they would not be permanent workers. But to the contrary married women generally continued on their jobs for many years and were not a temporary or undependable work force. Because of these discriminatory practices laws were passed like "The Equal Pay Act of 1963" which required equal wages for men and women doing equal work. "The Civil Rights Act of 1964" which prohibited discrimination against women by any company with 25 or more employees. Also a "Presidential Executive Order" in 1967 was passed which prohibited bias against women in hiring by federal government contractors. After these advances for women equality in the 1970s women began to flood the colleges and grad schools as opposed to past generations that only worked sporadically because of marriage and childbirth. They went to better their education to compete with men's salaries in the work force also women began to enter professions like Medicine, Law, Dental and Business that were once dominated by men. Real or even perceived, discrimination in certain job sectors could discourage women from seeking employment there. Role models might, in turn, influence the next generation of girls to gravitate toward lower-paying fields, therefore creating an unfortunate cycle. Census Bureau in 2007 stated that even in fields in which their numbers are overwhelming. Female secretaries, for instance, earn just 83.4% as much as male ones. And those who pick male-dominated fields earn less than men too: female truck drivers, for instance, earn just 76.5% of the weekly pay of their male counterparts. Perhaps the most compelling -- and potentially damning -- data of all to suggest that gender has an influence comes from a 2008 study in which University of Chicago sociologist Kristen Schilt and NYU economist Matthew Wiswall examined the wage trajectories of people who underwent a sex change. Their results: even when controlling for factors like education, men who transitioned to women earned, on average, 32% less after the surgery. Women who became men, on the other hand, earned 1.5% more.

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