Author: D. Drishya, II year of B.A., LL.B.(Hons.) from NMIMS Kirit P Mehta School of Law, Mumbai.
The 21st century society is quite evolved and women have come a long way, competing with men in every walk of life. Equality is something which is perceived to be attained, but sadly there still exists disparities be it socially or economically. Gender pay gap is the difference between the average income of a male and a female for the same work done and emphasises on the concept of equal pay for equal work. When there is a difference in wages for the same work done, it gives rise it disparities. Often women dominated industries tend to have lesser wages. Those industries are usually care related ones like nursing. But in the male dominated sectors, women are often paid less for the same work done as men and that too for the same working hours.
According to the gender pay gap index report released by the WEF, it would take 257 years before we can achieve gender parity.The main reason is the stereotypical gender bias which still continues to thrive in our society despite several empowerment movements and laws being instituted. Majority of the senior positions in various MNCs are occupied by men. Naturally a senior position accompanies a higher salary. It is believed that senior positions require more commitment and longer working hours which can’t be fulfilled part time or with flexible working hours. The perceived inability of women to work at odd hours coupled with the burden of household responsibilities often leaves them out of the race.
It has also been found that women in their twenties, that is, their start of their career, have the least pay gap difference percentage. This gap further gets widened with increasing age. Specific industries have also been identified where gender pay gap is prominent. The private sector has more percentage of pay gap difference than in the public sectors. The airline, insurance and financial sectors have the maximum pay gap difference. Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) related fields, tend to generally have few women. But even if an organisation has few women employees, a large gap is not inevitable but means that those women are paid less on average than men.
REASONS FOR PAY GAP DISPARITIES
Gender wage gap has always thrived in our society since time immemorial. Despite we living in the 21st century, women still continue to be paid less for the same work done as men. Primary reasons include the age-old discrimination against women. For centuries, women as a whole class have always been put behind. Though our society has evolved a lot, there still exists the same stigma.
Women are often deemed to be fit for caring jobs and are expected to be limited to the kitchens of their house with their role to revolve around the family. Junior positions come with a meagre or a low pay and the career growth is extremely slow. It is believed that senior positions require more dedication and hard work combined with long working hours that are often hectic in nature.
Some industrial sectors have much larger pay gaps, such as air transport with a 35.9% gap, financial and insurance activities with a 32.8% pay gap, the arts with a 36.5% pay gap, and legal and accounting with a 23.8% pay gap. Primary cause of this disparity is primarily the age-old notion of women being underperformers. Woman are also burdened with caring responsibilities.
Women often have the burden of household responsibilities after work; hence they are thought to be incapable of handling such positions. Also, due to issues of woman’s personal safety, they also can’t work late. Also, women often tend to work part time due to the burden of caring responsibilities, hence they end getting paid less.
CONSEQUENCES OF GENDER PAY GAP
The global pay gap between men and women would take 202 years to close due to the vastness of the gap and the slow pace of change. Achieving gender pay equity in the workplace is a critical issue not just for human resources, but for the society as a whole.
It not only encourages the age-old discrimination; it also affects the economy. According McKinsey researchers have also found out that the 2025 GDP can increase by 60% if the pay gap is eliminated. It also fuels the existing gender perceptions in the society and keep the women limited to gender-based professions. This issue not only impacts the society economically, but also legally infringing the right to equality, encouraging gender inequality and further biases. Closing the gender wage gap matters for a broad range of stakeholders and makes a difference not just to the bottom line, but to our society as a whole.
It also affects an organization’s performance and workplace culture. Such organizations also tend to have higher customer retention, ability to attract talent, better customer orientation, employee satisfaction. It also encourages this age-old discrimination hence encouraging it and corrupting the thought process of today’s youth. This led to a cycle of endless discrimination for women and increases the gap. It also affects a women’s mental health and forces them to perform even harder.
Women are equally capable of performing tasks and should hence be paid the same as men for the same role and work done. This disparity in pay not only affects the country’s economy, it also affects the mental health of women. It also fuels the age -old discriminatory practice of gender discrimination and also seeds such concepts in young minds. Equal pay audit surveys should be done periodically and should be mandatory in all organizations. Distribution of caring responsibilities should be done equally between the genders and also introducing a concept of shared parental leave. Pay for each role should be fixed as well as gender neutral and should be made public. CVs should be gender neutral at the time of recruiting in order to maintain the sanctity of the process. We all are equal and so are the work done by us.