The Lamp

Where truth can be shared.

What a Woman’s Worth

Posted by thelamp on June 18, 2007

May marks the beginning of graduation season. On college and university campuses across America, a new crop of young adults will grip their degrees, toss their hats in the air and hope to land a job. A poignant Washington Post article explains that within the first year of entering the real world, female grads will learn precisely what separates them from their male counterparts in the workforce: their pay (“Her Pay Gap Begins Right After Graduation”).

The article is based on “Behind the Pay Gap,” a study released April 23 by the American Association of University Women.

“One year out of college, women working full time earn only 80 percent as much as their male colleagues earn,” the report states. “Ten years after graduation, women fall farther behind, earning only 69 percent as much as men earn.”

Although individuals can make choices that enhance their earning potential, it’s clear that society has yet to value women for what they are truly worth. So what can be done to rectify this social injustice? The American Association of University Women suggests that publicly recognizing the disparity as a problem is the place to begin.

Unfortunately, too often both men and women dismiss the pay gap as merely a matter of different choices. In reality, though, even women who make the same occupational choices that men make won’t bring home the same paycheck.

In education, a field dominated primarily by females, women earn 95 percent of what men earn. By contrast, in biological sciences where more men are in the mix, women earn only 75 percent of their male peers.

Despite the progress women have made over the past three decades, equity in pay remains an issue. Gender pay discrimination is difficult to document, and typically is discovered only after other possible explanations have been eliminated.

“These unexplained gaps are evidence of discrimination, which remains a serious problem for women in the work force,” the women’s association study concluded.

“I’m not looking for an America that just gets a little better from here,” said Pastor Rod Parsley. “I’m not just looking for an end to the empires of pornography that objectify women; I’m looking for a society that revolts against the idea of a woman only earning 80 cents compared to every dollar a man makes doing the same job.”

It’s possible that some bosses subconsciously make discriminatory decisions about pay based on personal beliefs about gender roles. So Christian employers and managers with responsibility for setting wages have a duty to take notice of such inequities and become agents for change.

The American Association of University Women notes that leadership is critical to changing attitudes and policies within an organization. Without a concerted commitment at the top, pay-equity policies are unlikely to be taken seriously.


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