The never-ending issue over gender pay gap has been growing, ever since women were actively participation in the workforce decades ago. Despite these efforts by women activists to raise awareness about unequal pay between men and women in the workplace, people often chose to ignore the existence of a wage gap. Often perceived as a trivial matter, how should women overcome self-depreciating issues such as settling down for a lower pay?
One major argument why gender pay gap persists is because women simply have different priorities in life. There is a popular perception held about women to prefer staying at home and raise kids, rather than pursuing a successful career. Also since men are generally known or expected to be the financial breadwinner for a family, it becomes but natural for men to earn more than women.
However, a survey conducted by Pew Research Center finds contrasting findings. The problem however does not lie in the fact that women do not want to advance in their careers. The truth is, they simply cannot do so because they find it harder to juggle between work and family, especially when they have children.
According to the study, more than half (58 percent) working Millennial mothers state that being a working mother has made it harder for them to get ahead at work. On the other hand, there are only 19 percent working fathers who agree with the statement.
Interestingly, an article published by Public Broadcasting Service reveals that women are not the ones who cause the pay gap, but employers do. It is a fact that employers pay women less to do the same work that men do. As harmful as it could be, it has been a common workplace practice to value women less than their male counterparts. What makes the situation worse is that, there is actually legal law in the United States justifying the gender-related pay difference. The decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals states that employers can legally pay women less based on their past salaries.
‘Take it or leave it’ often becomes a common threat for women when they try to negotiate for higher salary with their employer. And most of the time, women have to agree for whatever the compensation offered by employers, because they do not have other better choices.
See: Break the Glass: 8 Things Company Should Do to Close the Gender Pay Gap
But, is there nothing women can really do to improve their welfare? Here are 5 things women can actually do to fight for equal pay:
For women, it is inevitable that pay gap actually widens when they get older. As stated previously, being a working mother often becomes the main reason why women cannot get ahead in their careers. Not to mention, some laws have further supported this gender-pay divide to make it legal for employers to pay women less, based on their past salaries.
Therefore, it is crucial to start your fight early for fair pay at the early stages of your career. Hone your negotiation skill and ask for the best compensation you rightly deserve. Because towards the end, the paycheck you receive from your first job will matter for the rest of your career journey.
Sometimes, even women themselves do not realise that they earn less than the male employees. And for some cases, employers are also clueless about the wage gap in their organisation as well. When you understand that you are underpaid, the best advice is to talk directly and have conversation with your boss about it.
If you are unsure of how to approach your boss, first you can go to the HR department to find out what you can do to fix the situation.
When you suspect that you have experienced salary discrimination, you need to document everything that underlies your suspicion. Take notes of any relevant information that will support your argument, if you have to make a formal complaint or even file a lawsuit in the future.
As the old adage says, ‘there is power in numbers.’ Gathering collective support from other coworkers who experience the same injustice in pay at work, can be a good starting point to push for better and fairer pay at work.
Collecting massive support often becomes an effective method to carry out real and impactful change within a system.
When you have followed the previous four points and nothing much is done by your employer, then filing a lawsuit against the company will be one but unavoidable solution. While this could be a risky move for your career in the organisation, there will be a great sense of achievement when you realise equal pay after winning the lawsuit.
Read also: Singapore Shows Good Progress Towards Gender Parity: Grace Fu