This is no secret to us all that even in the 21st century, there exists a huge wage gap between men and women. For equal work, women get paid lesser than their male counterparts. But this is the tip of the iceberg and fixing the problem requires a much deeper understanding of the issue.
Reebok has begun an important campaign in this regard – Equal Pay – where it is encouraging women to fight for their right.
Why does the wage gap exist?
The disadvantages women face in the workplace don’t always begin with their paycheck. When multinational companies reward employees who can work longest in the least flexible hours, they indirectly penalise those persons with caregiving responsibilities outside of work. More often than not, these employees tend to be women.
This is the primary reason why the wage gap is higher in some jobs – for lawyers, the gap is large but for scientists, really small; for women in their 30s, the wage gap is large but for the ones in their 20s, it is small. For women without kids, the gap is small but for the ones with a kid, the gap is large.
A 9 to 5 job has less time flexibility thus, businesses prefer men who will be available for the client at their beck and call. In the field of science, it doesn’t matter when a women starts working on the experiments she wishes to run. As long as the work is done, her superiors do not complain. Hence, the wage gap is less.
In jobs where specific work hours are important, the wage gap is really high; and these are usually the high paying jobs.
The wage gap usually starts small but as the age of the women increases, the gap grows. As she enters her 40s and 50s, it again begins to shrink.
Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan had said that women actors work five times harder to get paid 10 times less than men.
Yes, the world is progressing and there are more and more households where both the couples work. But is the division of work at home equal? No.
One way to deal with the wage gap is move away from traditional schedules we’re so used to. Flexible hours would make all hours equally important. But this is not the only way and we need further changes in policies and the society to enable women to earn as much as their male counterparts.
Why is equal pay important?
A 2015 report by McKinsey Global Institute explains how eliminating the wage gap can add between $12 trillion and $28 trillion to global GDP.
If women are not getting paid enough, they lose the little they have in loans and the money needed to run the house. That is a lot of money which the economy isn’t getting back.
As long as the wage gap persists, eradicating poverty will also remain a dream.
Some research say that women are more productive and dedicated workers. For them to show the world that they are equally worthy as their male counterparts, they work harder, fight harder.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said that the pay gap holds women back. It doesn’t exist because women aren’t educated enough; in fact, there are more female college graduates now than ever before. “It is about structural barriers we need to dismantle,” she said.
Lower wages for women hurt men too. They get smaller leisure hours as they are expected to work inflexible hours at work because they are ‘men’. They do not have the family life they hoped.
What is the need to assign the role of the ‘breadwinner’ of the family to one gender?
What can we do to help?
First, each of us needs to accept that despite all laws and regulations, the wage gap exists. It is not a myth.
“There are women in the (film) industry who say that if actresses are unable to bring in crowds [in a theatre] that a male star can, how can they demand equal pay?” actress Kangana Ranaut had once said. “If we, as actresses, keep instilling this inferiority complex in girls, there is no hope for better times,” she explained.
Today, squash is that rare sport in India that boasts about equal pay for both the sexes. It was due to the efforts of the country’s number one squash player Dipika Pallikal who refused from playing domestic championships because of the wage gap. Like her, all of us need to take a stand.
There are many who think that women are the weaker sex. With Reeboks #FitToFight and #Girls
Don’t Fight campaign, Reebok is asking women to not hold back. It is asking women to say no to people who question their worthiness.
It falls upon each of us, men and women, to work toward a more open and progressive society. There are no gender roles, there is no weaker sex. Never tell yourselves, girls, that you cannot fight. You have fought for your rights since the beginning of time and will continue to do so.
Equal pay to make you stay.
Share your story on social media with #FitToFight or write to Kangana at [email protected]