Equal Pay Day 2018 – Mark your calendars (and take a seat and do some reading)

genderequality

Source: https://dailytimes.com.pk/25033/gender-equality-a-dogma/

Tuesday, April 10th marks “Equal Pay Day”, the day where women’s earnings from the previous Calendar year equal their male counterparts. If you are unfamiliar with the notion of the wage gap, the premise is that on average, women earn about three-quarters of a dollar for every dollar earned by a man. This varies widely by ethnicity.

Consider checking out this resource on the wage gap (links to other resources and studies are included in the link below):

At the same time, many scientists have called into question the way statistics about wage are being used. Statistics and scientific studies, after all, are not infallible. For example, this 2016 article by The Atlantic writer Bourree Lam, “What Gender Pay-Gap Statistics Aren’t Capturing” points out that most pay-gap models do not account for “differences in education, experience, age, location, job title, industry and even company”. When controlling for these factors, the gap is reduced. Cultural values and beliefs are not controlled for or explored, which, Lam suggests, could have a further impact on the gap.

Indeed, stay-at-home motherhood is on the rise (or deeply rooted) in some countries, and supported ardently by many women themselves. The reasons for this are of course, complex and multi-faceted, but they do raise important questions about how we define “equality” or “equity” and how we use statistics to enforce those definitions.

This is a fantastic opportunity for discussion in your history or social science classroom. Trouble simplistic narratives about wage gaps. Bring in intersectional lenses (what impacts does race have on wage? what are possible reasons for this?) and have deeper conversations without clear resolutions. Get messy. History is a verb (Sandwell, 2011), after all.

In short, if the wage gap is more complex than women simply being offered less money, the solution will likely have to be more complex as well.

References

Chamie, J. (2018, January 25). Despite Growing Gender Equality, More Women Stay at Home Than Men. Retrieved from https://yaleglobal.yale.edu/content/despite-growing-gender-equality-more-women-stay-home-men

Lam, B. (2016, July 27). What Gender Pay-Gap Statistics Aren’t Capturing. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/07/paygap-discrimination/492965/

Ruth Sandwell (2011), “History is a Verb: Teaching Historical Practice to Teacher Education Students” in Penney Clark, ed., New Possibilities for the Past: Shaping History Education in Canada, Vancouver: UBC Press. 224-242.