We Earn Less Than Men Because of Choice

Growing up I have always been told that “life is a choice”, however now that I’m older life has been more of a series of never ending opportunity costs. It seems as though one could never have it all despite the efforts of trying to make the right choices.
I plan to climb the corporate ladder like most of my male colleagues, however I cannot help but think of the choices (or rather personal sacrifices) I would have to make in future for the sake of my career advancement. As I am faced with the fact that only 29% of senior positions are occupied by women.
Regardless of having the equal opportunities, qualifications, jobs and salaries; a research conducted by Ipsos in 2017 found that, on average, women in South Africa earned 27% less than their male counterparts. Effectively, this means women earn in a full year what men earn in eight months due to the gender pay gap.
Gender pay gap is the average difference between the earnings for men and women who are working.
There are numerous factors that hinder the gap from reducing.

  • It is commonly known that occupations that are risky or need to be executed under stressful conditions result in higher remuneration than those in pleasant environments. A number of studies have shown that there are more females than males enrolled in universities, however these young women tend to choose less challenging degrees which result in lower earning careers. Women are, on average, risk aversion which tends to affect our career decisions.
  • They often say to get ahead in business; you need negotiation skills, competitiveness and grow meaningful networks. Status quo. discourage women in being competitive in the labour market as it is labeled as abrasive, therefore most women voluntarily avoid jobs with pay for performance stipulations. Surprisingly women are less likely to neither negotiate a salary nor ask for an increase, we in most cases accept what is offered. We also have a lot of people around us whom we hardly benefit from career wise, in essence lowering our reliance on our informal networks to seek promotions.
  • Despite the modern integrated gender roles, women still work shorter hours and have more workforce interruptions due to unpaid family responsibilities. It is important to know that the gender wage gap is significant for women between 20 and 35 as it a childbearing age. This might be seen as a short term setback, however raising a family consumes more working hours for women in the long run resulting in lesser pay. Choosing to have a family can oblige one to make more sacrifices about their career.

Subsequently the gender pay gap reflects people’s individual preference and their priorities.
However the “glass ceiling” effect might not be entirely based on preference, it is a rising gender pay gap as people move up the wage distribution. It reflects the barriers women face in accessing the higher ranks of the occupational ladder based on discriminatory promotion practices. Discriminatory practices such as speculations that men dislike having a female boss, women are “newcomers” therefore it takes time to move up the ranks, and women tend to take things personal.
I recently took things personally when I was made to feel very uncomfortable by a male manager; as a result I have been very withdrawn since the incident. I fear my reaction to this can be detrimental to my career advancement if I am not careful.

In conclusion we cannot choose what happens to us but we can choose how we react. We should not view the gender pay gap as a form of inequality as the word inequality does not necessarily mean its unfair, instead we should research ways on how we can enhance our career dynamics to work at our advantage. For men, business is a game and they play to win, therefore there is nothing hindering us from emulating that notion and still embracing our femininity.

ReferencesBac, L.(2018). Percentage of women in senior roles in South Africa creeps up. BBrief.https://www.bbrief.co.za/2018/03/08/percentage-of-women-in-senior-roles-in-south-africa-creeps-up/Blau, F.D. & Kahn, L.M.(2016). The Gender Wage Gap: Extent, Trends, and Explanations. IZA Discussion Papers, 9656.http://ftp.iza.org/dp9656.pdfCardoso, A.R. , Guimaraes, P & Portugal, P. (2016). What drives the gender wage gap? A look at the role of firm and job-title heterogeneity. Oxford Economic Papers, 68 (2): 506–524.http://digital.csic.es/bitstream/10261/133512/4/Cardoso-OxfEcPap-2016-v68-p506.pdfClifford, J (2017). The Economics of Inequality- The Gender Pay Gap- Part 1. ACDCLeadership.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fCBsugN_g0Makou, G. (2018). Do South African women earn 27% less than men? Africa Check.https://africacheck.org/reports/south-african-women-earn-27-less-men/
Rachelson, D. (2015). Play to win. Brandingmarketing YOU Publications:Strathavon.

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