Is This the Answer to Closing the Gender Wage Gap?

Libby Kane

Solving the gender wage gapBringing up the pay differences between men and women never fails to ignite healthy debate.

First, we have to look at the reasons behind the disparity: Is it because women are less likely to ask for a raise—and when they do, their bosses view it differently than when a man raises the question? Is it because male executives are reluctant to mentor younger women? Is it that men simply put in more hours than women?

If it isn’t obvious, definitive conclusions about the causes of the wage gap—which has barely budged in the last 10 years—have yet to be made.

On the solution front, however, a study by Harvard professor and president of the American Economic Association Claudia Goldin found that the pay gap is more dramatic in industries with less flexible work hours, such as finance and law, than in those with more flexible work hours, such as technology and health.

In fact, she posits, if companies were to amend their policies to enable more flex time, the gender pay gap would lessen considerably.

It makes sense, when you think about it. While we’d like to think that moms and dads are just as likely to pick up the kids from the school nurse’s office, or tag-team with a last-minute babysitter on a snow day, the reality is that moms are disproportionately responsible for navigating the unpredictable situation that is child care. (And we won’t even touch on maternity leave.)

And unpredictability isn’t rewarded in the working world. Currently, Goldin says, many fields apply value to hours worked based on when they are worked, and whether those hours are continuous. If industries became more flexible and shifted their mindset about how they value their workers’ time, it could help close the pay gap … and benefit men and women alike.

RELATED: Beat Wage Discrimination: How Women Can Get Paid as Much as Male Colleagues

  • hottdamm

    There are so many variables for the disparities of wages between men and women. It would be impossible for two people to make the same wages for the same job.

    Case in point: Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie have exactly the same job; both are the co-hosts of the Today show on NBC. However, Matt has been with the show for almost two decades. Savannah has been the co-host for less than two years. Should she and Matt make the same amount of money? Of course not. Matt has many more years building the brand, and putting in hard work. And yes, they have the same job.

    I find this question of equal pay for equal work for men and women trite already. There are just too many variables to make it a legitimate question.

    There are so many women who make so much more money than I. Janet Yellen, the new head of the Federal Reserve, makes so much more money than I do and she’s a woman. I’m not a woman. Three Supreme Court justices make more money than I do. The head of NBC news makes more than I do, and she’s a woman. There’s an endless list.

    • nkdeck07

      We aren’t talking about “a” women, we are talking about “all” women. When overall women are making way less then men, on average, across similar jobs in the same industry then we have a problem.

  • Kristianna Thomas

    There has always been a wage disparity between men and women, black and white, foreign born and native born; white men are paid the highest wage. One of the main problems with tis theory of the “willingness” to be overworked is that most women in the work force have to tend to their children’s needs as well as their responsibilities at work. Men don’t drop off and pick up their children at day care, and they don’t get up an hour early too fix breakfast; checking to see if their homework is done properly. Women have to make sure that both her cloths are ready for work; as well as her hubby’s. A man’s work is from sun to sun, but a women’s work is never done.