The problem of women being underpaid and their labor undervalued has existed since the times immemorial. However, these were the French to talk about it out loud first. The reason for them to be the pioneers of the battle for women’s rights is quite clear, since it was them to proclaim the principles of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. But despite it has been long time since the French revolution came to an end, the problem of women’s rights neglected is still on the agenda.
Actually, the problem takes roots from the times when women were considered a combination of a slave and an instrument to bear children. The times have changed, and the relationship between a woman and a man resemble no longer a dialogue between a master and an odalisque, but the influence of the ancient prejudice stuck somewhere deep in the genetic structure still calls for men to be recognized as the superior creations stemming from the resentment of the powerful preoedipal mother (Slipp 197).
Since men are stronger physically, it was easier for them to prove their superiority in the rimes when such notion as courtesy did not exist yet. Thus the psychological dependence that each woman can feel even now has the historic grounds, which does not make it less but gives some clues to solve it.
The change was made as the World War II ended and women were finally recognized on the labor market and in the world of politics. That was a huge breakthrough, since women were not to intrude the political business until then. But the mess that the war made has changed a lot of things and made people forget their ideas about the superiority of men.
Women were proclaimed to have the same rights as men did, and from that time on they could earn the same wages men did. The women’s role of the breadwinner was already a revolutionary idea, and the equal rights concerning the payment were an incredible thing to hear. However, that was the beginning, fast and unexpected.
The rejoice, however, was soon turned into a sadness. The equal payment was another fake to speak of out loud from a tribune. And the provocative mottos were another political trick. Unfortunately, all that the whole case was talked into was ended in the advertisements saying: “Help Wanted – Male”. (Brunner). That was something to consider further on and to try to make a change until it could be too late.
Even now, the situation is not improving. Despite the fact that women have gained the same rights and freedoms as men – at least, in the European world – the former still get underpaid, and their labor is considered less meaningful and important than the one of men.
That is rather unfair, not to say unlawful, but there is very few that most people can do about it. Another revolution, perhaps, would do, but that sounds far too messy. However, to be serious, it is a well-established fact that when it comes to comparing a woman’s and a man’s work, there comes the time for double standards.
It sounds very rude but that what the truth is. “A working woman earns 77 cents for every male dollar”, Evelyn Murphy says, and that is what is happening in the XXI century! The scale of the unfairness is unbelievable. It is well understood that the time has come to face the truth and say that women are no worse and at times even better employees than men are. However, the stronger part of the mankind remains in silence.
Instead, the women speak. And they speak the things that are well understood for the people of today.
It is scandalous that despite the fact that 90% of women work just as hard as men, they get underpaid in 42% of cases, due to the survey recently held in Dubai (Badih). This is something that has to be immediately dealt with.
However, the attempts that are being made sink in the flood of the temporary economical problems that seem to the government more important than protecting someone’s rights.
The rattle that the whole struggle has been taken to so far ends in nowhere. Addressed to the non-existing forces that pretend to fight for something humane, this call echoes in multiple no’s. In 2009 reaching the point of 77%, the gap between a man and a woman’s salary is constantly growing. It seems that men have monopolized the right to have higher salaries. (It’s Time For Pay)
Of course, we have to admit that there are some facts that the opponents have the point in. These are mostly the arguments considering woman’s physical abilities, which are, as a rule, not so impressive as a man’s ones. Of course, a woman cannot carry heavy loads, and she cannot do any job that involves hard physical labor. A woman is often not taken seriously as a boss, and that shifts her from the upper positions to the cast of a clerk or lower managerial.
It is hard o believe, but this is the point where the drawbacks of a woman as a worker end. What follows next are merely advantages. A woman is more organized and punctual, she can handle tense situations when a man can lose his temper and create an impression of an unreserved person.
Finally, it is easier to work with a woman because she follows the instructions more carefully than a man, and she can handle five or more problems at the same time, proving that Julius Caesar’s talent was nothing compared to an average woman’s abilities. And the communication skills that add to the image of a brilliant worker top it all.
In fact, women are more prepared to live and work in the contemporary world, it is just that they are prohibited to enter this world by those who are guarding the doors. With their inborn leadership skills, men are very unwilling to see a woman making her career in front of the astounded male colleagues, who did not suspect even a tint of such business acumen in the person who is predetermined to be weak and uncertain.
It practically scares men out to see a woman who is better at the business items than they are. And speaking of the shame that comes when the female colleague has made a better career and is not going to stop at this point, while the men stay down there, the mere office workers…
There is also a problem of double standards that comes as a woman starts competing with a man. If a man is late for work, he says that he had an important project to work on, and everyone believes that he tells the truth. If a woman is late for work and she says that she had an important project to work on, everyone thinks that she must have been late because she was at the hairdresser’s…
Joshi wants to emphasize that it is nearly the discrimination of women that such results drive at. However, she also admits that sometimes the employers explain such treatment of women employees with the fact that women’s work productivity is less than men’s one, for women tend to give most of their efforts to the family, not to the business they are into. That makes them be not that successful at work and provide dissatisfying results of their work.
As she puts it,
“Family responsibilities may reduce the actual productivity if they limit the level of effort women, faced with a “double burden”, are able to put into their jobs” (99).
And she also makes it clear that even the idea of being a mother is no good when trying to settle the problems with the business. The employers are very reluctant at suggesting jobs to women who can go on maternity leave every other day.
Kelly (86) emphasizes that women are being paid lesser and lesser, and since we live in the society where a woman sometimes has to be a breadwinner for the family, a lot of such families are below the poverty level. The people are starving due to the fact that someone thinks women proving worse employees than men are. According to the recent statistics,
Employers do not always abide by the Equal Pay Act of 1963 or by the other laws that require equal pay for equal work. In Fiscal Year 2006 (October 1, 2005 to September 30, 2006), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received 861 complaints about wage discrimination, which included accusations of employers violating the Equal Pay Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act (Charge Statistics: FY 1997 through FY 2006.
Just think how many people have violated the rights of the others in order to gain some profit, for in case they had employed men they would have had to pay much more money… That is something that sounds absurd for the modern society, but that is the way the things go. Women’s labor is used to reduce the costs that the enterprise is, I dare say, suffering… That is more than awful, this is inhumane.
It is also a well-known and a painful fact that the modern society is not ready to face the women struggling to earn the same wages as men do. The arguments remain the same, pointing out the drawbacks of being a woman and practically reeking of discrimination and chauvinism.
However, it is also the women psychology that plays an important part in the relationship that end in unequal pay. In many Eastern countries women are not quite ready to take the freedom they have been deprived of for so long and have been striving for with such huge efforts.
And in most cases the problem about the women is that they are far too passive in their actions, and it is easier for them to complain about the state of affairs that does not satisfy them than stand up against the injustice and fight it. It is far too complicated and it takes much more pain and efforts than a woman can take.
What women also lack is the backup, but that is something that is beyond their reach. Men are unwilling to help them to gain their rights, and the ladies themselves don’t have enough power and courage to face the strong opposition from the government and the society and create a strong union that could help them be well protected and assure a certain degree of safety. Some of them even push it harder, admitting that such policy is right:
“Political correctness, sexual equality and feminism all prevent many commentators from stating the bleeding obvious…” (Whiteman) – just think that it was a woman to say that!
There is also the question of whether higher salaries would make the profit for the countries that would undertake such a step. There are certain doubts whether it would be reasonable and whether the representatives of the stronger part of the mankind would agree with such state of affairs.
But still the economical changes that such step would trigger could beat the records of the previous centuries. As labor force, women could bring more profit to the companies and increase the production times as high. The Equal Pay Act that was hushed down in the Senate right after Barak Obama had introduced it to the ministers did have a point about making the companies prosperous and more prolific than they are now.
Why the ministers considered the new act not worth paying attention to is mystery, but the fact is that it could have changed women’s lives – at least, for those women living in the United States.
Being cheated out of thirty-three percent of one’s earnings (Murphy 14) is something that makes even a humble person to fight for their rights. The distress that women are brought to at work, being underpaid, discriminated and ill-treated makes women turn to medical help twice as more often as men and creates the feeling of insignificance, which further on develops into a inferiority complex.
The measures that are being taken at present are apparently not enough. These are not only the opinion polls and surveys that must be undertaken, but a focused movement towards the acknowledgement and, which is the most important, fulfillment fo women’s rights.
What I am talking about is that women must be paid on the equal level with men, and the work they do mist be considered just as qualified as the one done by a man. Women should not be underestimated under the pretext of belonging to the weaker – in physical respect, I want you to notice that – gender, once oppressed, and the process still going on in certain Asian countries.
I see the ideal society as the one where both men and women are judged and paid for their work not according to their physical qualities, but according to their skills and professional qualities. This would be the most dramatic change over the past few centuries, and definitely the most fair.
And, not to ignore the things that happen behind the employer’s doors, the modern society has to understand what it takes to be a woman. Both genders have to realize fully what they are striving for and what is the most precious for them.
And, suppose the change would finally come, this would be the world where at least a little piece of it would be just. Or at least it would try to.
Badih, Samia. Women Feel Passed Over at Promotion Time. Gulf news.
ALNISR Publishing. 8 June 2010. Web. 17 Oct. 2010.
Brunner, Borgna. The Wage Gap. Infoplease. Pearson Education. n.d. Web. 15 Oct. 2010.
< http://www.infoplease.com/spot/equalpayact1.html >
It’s Time for Pay. AFL-CIO. American Federation of Labor Congress of Industrial Organization. n.d. Web 15 Oct. 2010.
Joshi, Heather, Pierella Paci. Unequal Pay for Women and Men. Evidence from the British Birth Cohort Studies. Boston, MS: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2001. Print
Kelly, Rita M. Comparable Worth, Pay Equity and Public Policy. Arizona: Greenwood Press, 1988. Print.
Murphy, Evelyn, E. J. Graff. Getting Even: Why Women Don’t Get Paid Like Men – And What to Do About It. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2006. Print.
Slipp, Samuel. The Freudian Mystique: Freud, Women and Feminism. New York: NYU Press, 1995. Print.
Whiteman, Hilary. Are Top Female Tennis Players Overpaid? Cable News Network. 13 Feb. 2009 Web. 30 Oct. 2010.
Wolfe, Lahle . Why Equal Pay for Women Would Benefit U.S. Economy? About. The New York Times Company. n.d. Web. 3 Oct. 2010.