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11.5C: Family and Gender Issues

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    8283
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    Social expectations that women manage childcare contribute to the gender pay gap and other limitations in professional life for women.

     

    LEARNING OBJECTIVES

     

    Recall at least three reasons why there might be a gender pay gap

     

    KEY TAKEAWAYS

    Key Points

     

    • Because women are expected to handle childcare, they choose jobs with greater flexibility and lower pay.
    • The gender pay gap has been attributed to differences in personal and workplace characteristics between women and men (education, hours worked, occupation etc.), as well as direct and indirect discrimination in the labor market (gender stereotypes, customer and employer bias etc.).
    • Health care for children and flexible scheduling that can help women with the childcare for which they are still overwhelmingly responsible, may take priority over pay.

     

    Key Terms

     

    • gender pay gap: The gap in wages between women and men, even when women perform the same tasks as men.

    In the United States, there is an observable gender pay gap, such that women are compensated at lower rates for equal work as men. The gender pay gap is measured as the ratio of female to male median yearly earnings among full-time, year-round (FTYR) workers. The female-to-male earnings ratio was 0.77 in 2009, meaning that, in 2009, female FTYR workers earned 77% as much as male FTYR workers. Women’s median yearly earnings relative to men’s rose rapidly from 1980 to 1990 (from 60.2% to 71.6%), and less rapidly from 1990 to 2000 (from 71.6% to 73.7%) and from 2000 to 2009 (from 73.7% to 77.0%).

    This discrepancy is frequently attributed to women’s desire to have a family life. Inequalities in professional success are sometimes attributed to women taking maternity leave after having children. Further, women are accused of intentionally seeking out jobs with fewer hours and lower pay in order to be more flexible for their children. Economists who have investigated the gender pay gap have also noted that women are more likely to choose jobs based on factors other than pay. The gender pay gap has also been attributed to differences in personal and workplace characteristics between women and men (education, hours worked, occupation etc.) as well as direct and indirect discrimination in the labor market (gender stereotypes, customer and employer bias etc.).

    Health care for children and a flexible schedule that enables women to take care of their children for which they are still overwhelmingly responsible, may take priority over pay. Moreover, many women are disinclined to take jobs that that require travel or are hazardous. On average, women take more time off and work fewer hours, often due to the unequal distribution of childcare and domestic labor. Family obligations tend to pull down on women’s earnings as they proceed through the life course and have more children. The earnings gap tends to widen considerably when men and women are in their early to mid-thirties, or when people start to have children, and reaches its widest point when men and women are in their fifties. The demands of women having to manage work and family lives have become an obsession of American popular culture.

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    Mother and Ssons from the Akha Hill Tribe: Traditionally, women are expected to stay at home and take care of the children, while men earn wages to financially support their families.