What the wage gap tells us about gender equality

What the wage gap tells us about gender equality

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The wage gap is a reality that women all over the world have to face every day. A man and a women, in the same job with the same qualifications will still earn a difference of 17.3%.

In Australia, that is an average full time difference in pay of $277 per week. The pay gap has closed by 4% in the last 10 years, meaning at this rate the gender wage gap will be closed in 118 years, which is much too far into the future.

The wage gap has a negative impact on women everywhere and ultimately results in a lack of opportunities, lack of education and demotivation. It can result in women not going to university, or not going back to university, in many women being less educated than men, resulting in women getting paid less.

This creates a vicious cycle of inequality that needs to change. Whilst in Australia women have a slightly higher chance of enrolling in a bachelor’s degree, men are more likely to enrol in a post- graduate degree, as a result of having more expendable income to spend on higher education.

The starting salary of a man’s first job after receiving a bachelor’s degree is $52, 000 per year while a women of the same degree is only $50,000. In 2010, however, the median full time salary for women with their master’s was $70, 000 while a man’s was $85, 000, which is a difference of $15, 000 per year! There is no reason as to why women who have received the same degree as a man should be earning less money than a man in a similar job.

While in developed countries, women and men received similar education levels, in many developing countries women are not entitled to any level of education at all. The gender pay gaps may be closing at a slow rate in developed nations, but they are still closing. However in the Middle East and North Africa, these rates are hardly moving.

In other developing regions, 50% of women are employed or looking for a job, but in the Middle East and North Africa, this rate is only 25%. At this rate, it is going to take 150 years just for the Middle East and North Africa to catch up to the rest of the developing world alone. In Afghanistan, only 26% of the population is literate and only 12% of women are literate. For school age children, 38% of them do not have access to school, most of which are girls. Women who are not given the opportunity to receive an education, are often then unable to pursue a job, and once again there is another cycle of gender inequality.

The circumstances in which women live in in many developing countries are horrific and extremely unfortunate in comparison to the opportunities that men are receiving in the same country. In Afghanistan, 85% of women have had no formal education. There are 3 times more boys than girls in school. The life expectancy of women in Afghanistan is just 51 years old in comparison to 84 years old for women in Australia.

More than 50% of girls before the age of 12 are already engaged or married. Many of the girls marry men far older than them, often in their 60s and meet for the first time at their wedding.

Because of these child marriages, these girls do not continue their education and remain illiterate. In these Middle Eastern/North African nations, women are frequently not even allowed an education, let alone a job. Children should not be forced into marriage with men much older than them and they certainly should not be denied an education. All women deserve to be educated and all women should have the basic right to be literate.

The lack of opportunities and wage gap between women and men worldwide has enormous impacts, not least of all the fact that they are often not motivated to pursue careers usually dominated by men. Women hold less than 25% of STEM subjects in the United States.

Many women would think that it is pointless for them to study, or get a tertiary education when they are going to be earning less money than a man with the same education as them. This causes children and teenagers to believe that since they are women, they shouldn’t try as hard because they won’t receive the same opportunities as men who are the same as them.

I believe that women should be receiving equal opportunities, equal pay and equal living conditions as men worldwide, and the gender gap should be closed far closer than in 118 years. Women should not be denied the rights men are given. The gender gap is closing at rates which are far too slow, and we need to make efforts to close these gaps and bring equality to both genders.

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