Monday, July 7, 2014

What We've Been Reading

In a July 1st article by the Washington Post, journalist Zachary Goldfarb reported on the 13% pay gap between women and men working in the White House. This 13% pay gap is lower than the national average, which is 23.5%. White House male employees earn $88,600 on average, compared to a female employee’s salary of $78,400. Obama has made it clear that equal pay is a priority for his administration, citing his recent push for a higher minimum wage as evidence of his commitment. However, “The White House has not narrowed the gap between the average pay of male and female employees since President Obama’s first year in office,” the Post reports. “One of the key reasons [for this wage gap] is that more men hold the higher-paying, senior jobs in the White House, and more women hold the lower-paying, junior jobs.”, as depicted by the graph below. In defense of the gender pay gap, White House officials claim that women and men who work the same position are paid similar wages. The issue the White House, and many other big employers in America face is the reality that males typically have the higher paying jobs.
Gender discrimination is still evident in the workforce in 2014, but is less obvious than in prior years. For example, many economists believe that the reason women are working lower paying jobs is not due to discrimination, but because of childbearing. According to the Post, “most [economists] agree that one of the key instance where women lose earning potential results from when they take time away from work to care for children.” The break in work for maternity leave translates into a loss of seniority in women’s careers. Furthermore, domestic responsibilities such as taking care of the children fall unequally on women’s shoulders. This means that having children is an economic setback for women, who leave their jobs to tend to the house, children, and cooking, and an economic bonus for men, who can now focus more on their work.
As a young woman looking ahead to an exciting, busy career, I find it unfair that I must factor in childbearing to my career plans, while young men my age do not. There are a multitude of ways employers, like the White House, can combat this inherently unequal practice. By guaranteeing women their job after an extended maternity leave, providing access to affordable day care, increasing their pay, or even allowing more flexibility for their employees can help decrease the effect childbearing has on the careers of women.
This week the Supreme Court ruled in favor of craft store chain Hobby Lobby and other family-owned businesses saying that they did not have to provide birth control to women through their insurance if it went against the company's religious beliefs. Many Republicans have said that it is a “win for religious freedom.” However, in an article written by the Boston Globe they say that this decision is might actually hurt the Republican party in future elections. The article states that there are two groups the GOP has been trying to go after lately, women and young adults, two groups that are more likely to depend on insurance to pay for birth control. A recent poll by Gallup found that 90% of Americans, including 88% of Republicans do not see birth control as morally wrong. The poll also says that a majority of Americans think that “for-profit companies should be required to cover the cost of birth control.” Democratic candidates across the nation are now using this data, and probably will speak out against the recent court decision, in order to reach the key voting demographics.
In an
article for the Huffington Post this week, Soraya Chemaly writes about ten words she thinks women should start saying more: “Stop interrupting me,” “I just said that” and “no explanation needed.” She explains how people socialize girls to be young ladies and that boys will just be boys, meaning girls should be more polite and  should expect a certain amount of rude behavior, like interrupting, from boys. This correlated to what she calls “the gender confidence gap” down the road, where men will frequently interrupt women and ignore what they say. She pointed to several examples, including some notable people such as Senator Elizabeth Warren, where an idea they made was generally ignored until a male college mentioned it or where they were expected to act in more of a supporting role. It is a very interesting article that points to examples of this in all segments of society and how everyone's lives could be improved if women started using those ten words more.