We have all heard that men are paid more than women are paid over their lifetimes. But why? Are women paid less because they choose lower-paying jobs? Is it because more women work part time than men do? Or is it because women have more caregiving responsibilities? The gender pay gap is real and women still earn about 77 cents for every dollar a man earns for working the same job.
Experts from National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) found two key reasons of gender pay gap. Their research shows that women are still paid on average just above half the average male wage.
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According to researchers Francine D. Blau and Lawrence M. Kahn, the lack of women in certain industries and specific jobs contributes to the gender pay gap.
Women are significantly underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields (STEM). On a global level, women make up only 28% of research and development workers.
Some say it's because women aren’t studying STEM subjects in the first place. This educational gender gap then results in an imbalance at the company level. The findings of the NBER report confirm this: “Gender difference in college major have been found to be an important determinant of the pay gap between college-educated men and women.”
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The second reason behind the gender gap is that women’s career choices are being affected by motherhood and family. Mothers were perceived to be less competent and less committed to work, the report found, and are often offered lower salaries. This "motherhood penalty" has been shown in a separate study from the Chartered Management Institute. It found that women who return to work following maternity leave experience lower pay and fewer promotions for decades after their return. Mothers are also encouraged into part-time or less challenging roles.
The report also revealed that women across the world are faced by a “motherhood pay gap”, over and above the gender pay gap, with women in developing countries suffering the most.
Also, according to a UN report, women will continue to be paid less than men for the next 70 years if the gender pay gap continues to reduce at the present rate.