Highly educated women’s perceptions of gender equality in the workplace

There is a diverse environment when you are in any corporate workplace. After graduation, men and women are encouraged to apply for their perfect career. But what if I told you that women employees with the same job titles as their male coworkers are being paid significantly less? This unfair term is defined as the glass ceiling. The issues surrounding the glass ceiling are seen in today’s workplace. Women are constantly experiencing discrimination in the workplace. Women are not able to advance in their company as much as males, regardless of their higher education and experience level. Women, such as myself, tend to do the same (if not more) work as their men coworkers, but have learned of pay differences due to the prejudges of society. This paper will be supported by various authors and professors that agree that there is a level of discrimination in the workplace that is often neglected. They will also describe the extreme differences in the gender pay gap in the workplace around the world despite having the necessary qualifications for the job.

Key Points in articles

Neo-liberalism and Gender Inequality in the Workplace in Britain

– a series of laws introduced since the 1970s, notably the Equal Pay Act of 1970,  the Sex Discrimination Act of 1974 and the Employment Protection Act of 1982

– International Labour Organisation (ILO)?? can be described as work that provides decent pay, and offers development and progression opportunities.

– Many of the jobs created in the service sector and largely occupied by women tend to be low paid and low prospect “pink-collar” jobs, failing to meet many of the “decent work” recommendations of the ILO.

– ‘They argue that market liberalisation and increasing trade provides a growing number of jobs in a wide range of areas and opportunities for women to become empowered by actively contributing to the wealth and richness of the nation on the same level as men, rather than carrying out unpaid domestic chores behind closed doors’

– Women are said to have been uprooted from old institutions, which focused on equal outcomes for women, and now work in a flexible economy.

–  As the Gender Impact Analysis of the UK underlined, gender equality is currently a contested political priority.

– Two nationwide surveys of the working population were carried out in Britain and France in 2014.

The surveys contained a wide range of questions relating to both objective measures of wellbeing, such as pay and prospects, but also subjective values relating to the social and physical environment of work. Within the framework of these questions, we focused on equality because substantial research has found that it can have a major impact on overall wellbeing.  9

– Women, in particular, tend to work part-time. 10  The UK has the third highest incidence of female part-time workers in the OECD (38.7%), which is significantly higher than that of France (22.5%). 11  Our survey found that the percentage was even higher if only mothers working part-time are taken into consideration. Indeed, the majority of mothers in our survey worked part-time (56%) (see graph below). ??

– In Britain, the need to find family-friendly work tends to lead mothers to take on part-time, and generally less well paid, work. Despite laws to increase part-time workers’ rights, there are many drawbacks to working part-time including lower hourly earnings, fewer training and promotion opportunities, fewer job opportunities, less job security, less access to unemployment insurance and reduced pension entitlements. This high incidence of part-time work among women has been found to incur a significant pay and opportunities gap in Britain. In the UK, this is 17.4%. This is significantly higher than the OECD average of 15.6%, and very close to other countries that have fully embraced the neo-liberal economic framework: the United States (17.5%), Australia (18.0%) and Canada (19.2%). 12  An ILO report also points to the concept of the motherhood wage gap, which suggests that inequalities in wages exist between mothers and non-mothers. According to a Glassdoor Economic Research report, the gender pay gap for women in the UK with no children is just over 7%. However, for those with at least one child, the rate rises to 21%. 13

– They found that years of part-time work was the factor that had the most influence on diminishing women’s pay. Harkness’ paper 16  also shows how part-time female workers have not gained from the introduction of Equal Pay and Sex Discrimination Acts in the 1970s in the same way as full time workers.

-Although earnings of female part-timers improved relative to male counterparts immediately after the introduction of these acts in the 1970s, the pay gap started to widen again for part-timers in the 1980s and 1990s. In 1993, for example, hourly pay of part-time women was only 63% of male mean earnings.  Moreover, the main problem with part-time work is that it is overwhelmingly concentrated in low paid sectors fueling labour market segmentation. The highest paying and highest ranking managerial, professional and associate professional occupations are predominately occupied by full-time workers.

To be or not to be a woman? – Highly educated women’s perceptions of gender equality in the workplace.

– Although the overall gender pay gap has narrowed in the last decade, in some countries the national gender pay gap has actually been widening (e.g. Portugal and Romania) (Eurostat, 2016a). The gender pay gap exists even though women do better at school and university than men – in 2012 in the EU 83% of young women reached at least upper secondary school education, compared to 77.6% of men, and women represented 60% of university graduates (European Commission, 2014: 2).

– Across the EU economy gender pay gap was 17.3% in 2008, 16.2% in 2011 and 16.4% in 2012 (European Commission, 2014: 12). According to the data available for selected EU countries, on average women earned 13.4% less than men in 2014.

-The most negative organizational factor is “glass ceiling”, which was perceived by 36.4% of respondents as an extremely negative or negative career factor. The most negative social factor is the perception that women are less capable of performing the most demanding jobs, as perceived by 40.2% of respondents. Some of the evaluated personal


that corporate America promotes men at 30 percent higher rates than women during their early career stages and that entry-level women are significantly more likely than men to have spent five or more years in the same role.

– Companies have been trying to apply the same playbook of programs and policies for more than a decade

– Over 90 percent of companies report using clear, objective criteria for hiring and promotions, yet only about half of women believe they have equal opportunities for growth at their companies.

Lovewell tuck’s Logic

-She said that, according to research, flexible-working schedules are the number one thing women say is the most effective tool in furthering their careers.

Leadership style and success

-Because women with children have less discretionary time than men and childless women, they are likely to allocate a smaller percentage of their work week to research

– Among the different stages of life, parenthood particularly impact men’s and women’s employment experiences differently, men devoted more on work becoming a parent while women devoted more to the family (Kaufman & Uhlenberg 2000). Men are more motivated to succeed in their career by having children as they perceive higher financial responsibility for the family. But women would be expected to take a step back from their work and focus on raising the children. At the same time, scholars have argued that faculty members allocate their discretionary time to research (Massy & Zemsky 1994). Because women with children have less discretionary time than men and childless women, they are likely to allocate a smaller percentage of their work week to research (Winslow, 2010).

– Men faculty are not expected to take care of children, prioritize research over teaching in their career and spend more time on research

The Real Gender pay gap (Australia)

– First we need to define the gender pay gap. It is certainly true that women in the labour force are paid less on average than men. In Australia the average female weekly earnings in November 2017 was $960 and for men was $1428—33% less for women4 . However, this partly reflects the fewer hours worked by women than by men in a working week. If we adjust for this by taking fulltime workers, excluding overtime—which is the preferred measure adopted by the WGEA—the gender gap is 15.3%.5 The gap has fluctuated between 14% and 19% over the past two decades, and has fallen several per cent over the past three years. It is 8.5% larger in the private sector than the public sector; several per cent higher for workers over age 50 than under 30; at least 5% higher for managers than non-managers; and the gap varies

– Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA)

– In a 2016 study KPMG found that of the total gender pay gap of 16.2%, a little over one third or 6.2% remained unexplained.9 They attribute this to sex discrimination, which they define as lower pay of women than men where they have equal skill, experience, and are in a job with the same characteristics.

– Graduate Careers Australia found an unexplained gap of 4.4% in the labour market for graduates in 2013.10 An earlier study by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) found an unexplained

– Taking this evidence together it does seem that the available data is unable to explain a wage gap of between 4% and 8%. So, for example, if a man is being paid $100 for a day’s work a woman on average would be paid between $92 and $96 after accounting for all of the above factors for which we have data.

– Brown also argues that women are less successful negotiators, citing research that says they are not socialised to negotiate and that their style is more accommodating and less competitive than men.13 If so, the next questions are: why are they less successful negotiators and does this warrant public policy intervention?

– The difficult question, however—not addressed in the U.S. studies cited—is how much of these ‘preferences’ could be eliminated by changes in technology and domestic arrangements that remove the necessity for inflexible work schedules in some jobs, and how much is due to deeper innate More senior roles in the corporate, financial and legal occupations pay a premium for an inflexible work schedule, for the willingness to work extremely long hours at unpredictable times. The preference of women to avoid such inflexible work schedules is costly. THE REAL GENDER PAY GAP 6 POLICY • Vol. 34 No. 2 • Winter 2018 preferences for time allocation to professional work versus family/household time. If there are innate preference differences among women and men, then we should expect the gender pay gap to continue and it would be entirely consistent with an efficient labour allocation of male and female workers in the economy, assuming no direct discrimination against women since that would be a type of market failure. If women are prepared to work for less pay due to preferences, their labour supply at any given wage would be lower than for men, resulting in a lower market wage for women even where the productivity of both women and men is the same.

– In one sense we should be pleased that the WGEA Director told a Senate estimates hearing last year that Australia is 50 years away from closing the gender pay gap. On the other hand, 50 years of the red-tape costs of complying with WGEA legislation would be a burden, along with the expenditure by the agency of $6 million in 2016-17,18 not justified by any benefits.

The Glass Ceiling

-Human resource professionals are often in leadership positions that allow them to have a broad impact on organizations. As a result, it is important that they are knowledgeable about how the glass-ceiling phenomenon may directly or indirectly impact an organization’s reputation, customer loyalty, diversity of skill sets, growth potential and even its bottom line. Oftentimes, the CEO or president of an organization may tap HR professionals for their advice and expertise on the strategic organizational changes that are necessary to reduce the existence of a glass ceiling in order to maximize an organization’s performance and reputation.

– In the United States, discrimination in the workplace is illegal (see Figure 1). Yet discrimination exists in many forms. For women, for example, discrimination can result in lower pay and fewer advances in salary when compared with men. It may also manifest in hiring practices, training and development, and promotional opportunities that are disproportionately in favor of men.

– Workplace changes that are facilitated and implemented by HR professionals–such as hiring, transfers, training and development, promotions, succession planning, and terminations–have the potential to either positively or negatively impact glass-ceiling barriers. For example, many organizations are required to develop affirmative action plans (AAP), complete EEO reports and undergo audits. A critical section of the AAP is the utilization analysis, which compares the number of women and minorities available in the labor market to those employed in the organization. Corporate management reviews, sometimes called glass-ceiling audits, are another compliance requirement, usually conducted during the overall AAP audit and focused primarily on the decision-making process of senior executives and CEOs. For AAP noncompliance, companies can be severely fined. Further, companies who do not comply with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other U.S. employment laws risk large court-imposed fines and unfavorable publicity.

– Another indicator of the glass ceiling is when women’s advancement is hampered by well-ingrained corporate cultures. For example, corporate policies and practices can subtly maintain the status quo by keeping men in positions of corporate power. Boards of directors, which are mostly comprised of men, sometimes perpetuate the status quo by selecting CEOs who look like them.

– Work/life balance challenges can impact women’s advancement and, if not dealt with, may contribute to the glass-ceiling phenomenon. Women are typically the primary family caregivers for children and/or the elderly. Assumptions are often made regarding women’s availability to do a job without interference from family responsibilities. Further, some organizations may not offer work/life programs that support outside commitments, particularly for senior-level positions. Therefore, many women are at a disadvantage to take steps that would increase the likelihood of advancing up the corporate ladder.

– Finally, opportunities for promotion often favor men due to developmental prospects, such as mentoring and networks. Women may not have full access to informal networks men use to develop work relationships in the company, and these networks often tend to exclude women due to the nature of their activities or the perception that these are “male activities” (e.g., golf), thus contributing to gender barriers in the workplace.

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