Some people hold beliefs in a certain religion.
Some people believe in ghosts. Some people believe in karma and good vibes. There's a reason that these things are called beliefs, though: a belief is defined as "the confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof." People choose to invest themselves in these ideas because there's no evidence convincing them that they should or shouldn't, so they just do what feels right to them. However, this does not apply to issues that actually have rigorous proof of their existence.
I've had two people tell me that they don't "believe" in the gender pay gap in one day, and I am fairly certain that my jaw hit the floor as soon as they said it.
The pay gap is the difference in pay between men and women holding the same position, and extensive research shows that men make more money than women do. Period. This is without going into the race of the women and men. Up until I learned that someone could choose not to "believe" in the pay gap, I had assumed that people took it as fact because of the evidence and chose to do nothing about it.
Now that I realize that people can choose not to accept scientific fact, I want to break down the pay gap for everyone.
To start, I want to reiterate that the gender pay gap does not qualify as a belief. There is rigorous proof to back it up, so it exists. To everyone sending me the Equal Pay of Act of 1963 trying to use that as proof that it doesn't exist, you must have the utmost faith in humanity that everyone follows the law. Murder is illegal, so people totally don't do that, right?
Yes, on paper, we have the Equal Pay Act.
Yes, on paper, men are equal to women.
Yes, on paper, slavery has been abolished.
Yes, on paper, institutionalized racism doesn't exist anymore, but games aren't played on paper. If they were, everybody would win.
According to research done by the American Association of University Women, women were paid only 80% of what men were, creating a 20% pay gap. While this is a narrower gap than it has been in the past, the rate of change has slowed since 2001. At this rate, men and women will be paid equally by the year 2119.
You may be asking yourself, "Why is the pay gap even a thing?" Well, it's true that men and women traditionally choose different majors and occupations, but part of that has to do with gender roles and discrimination from more than 50 years ago.
If you don't recall, women were subjected to jobs that fit with their traditional gender role, like a caregiver, administrative positions, and education. This created male and female dominated areas of work called occupational segregation. While women have entered male-dominated fields, they are not getting paid the same for the same work.
Having kids has even become a disadvantage. Employers are less likely to hire women with children, and if they do, they pay her less than a child-free woman. In fact, men with children have a higher salary, known as the "fatherhood bonus."
Women are more likely to take time off to raise a family, and they are penalized for it because employers tend to lean towards long, traditional work schedules as opposed to flexible ones.
We can't forget about straight up gender bias and discrimination either. A study by AAUW found that after accounting for college major, occupation, GPA, economic sector, hours worked, months unemployed since graduation, type of undergraduate institution, institution selectivity, age, geographical region, and marital status, there was STILL a seven percent difference between the earnings of male and female college graduates a year after they graduated college.
This became a 12 percent gap 10 years after graduation. For no reason.
If you think this is bad, think of all of the women of color. The intersectional pay gap is much, much worse. For every one dollar a man makes, a white woman makes 77 cents, a black woman makes 64 cents, and a Hispanic woman makes 56 cents.
The gender pay gap has severe consequences for women. As a result, women who took out loans for their college education are less able to pay off their student loans promptly. Therefore, they have to pay more in interest for a longer amount of time.
On average, more women (of all races and ethnicities) pursue higher education and have undergraduate or post-graduate degrees than men, but studies show that this doesn't matter. Across every level of academic achievement, women have a lower median salary. As women get older, the pay gap increases, making retirement harder to achieve.
Families are also becoming increasingly dependent on women's wages. 42 percent of mothers of children age 18 or younger are their families primary source of income or are the sole source of income. Then, if the pay gap were to close, the economy would improve because there would be more disposable income to funnel back into the economy, increasing GDP.
The bottom line is that the gender pay gap is not something you choose to believe in (neither is climate change, but that's another argument for another time). It exists. It's real, and it's impacting women everywhere. Apparently, equal pay isn't for everyone.