If there’s one thing that I learned this week it’s that the pay gap is real. That was the only thing that one of my readings wanted me to take away from it. I have never doubted that the pay gap did not exist however, so the author may not be able to take credit for completely swaying me. I am probably not going to be the reader the author chooses to demonstrate what facts can convince someone of. I am not a middle-class white man who is completely ignorant to the pay gap, although my father is. I am a twenty-year-old white female who has worked several part-time jobs since the age of sixteen. I have worked all of these jobs in addition to being in school. My family did not ask me to work because we needed the money, they did not threaten to stop paying for things if I refuse to take a job, they simply stated that, since I had decided to quit playing field hockey for my high school, it was time that I got a job. Both of my parents grew up in urban Baltimore and had been working (at least a part-time job) since the age of twelve (for my father) and fourteen (for my mother). The difference is that my dad’s family needed the money as his mother could never earn a position above a secretary, despite graduating high school, and his father worked in the seafood industry. His family also consisted of five children. My mother has always told me stories about her first part-time job working in an office. She was saving up to buy contacts because her family’s insurance didn’t cover them and they were too expensive for her single-working-mother to afford. She would always tell me how great it felt to be able to buy her own contacts with her hard-earned money as encouragement to make my own money. I have also never really looked at my pay checks as they are all direct deposit and my mother is an accountant so she takes care of all that for me. I have seen them when something went wrong and my mother would bring it to my attention and tell me what I need to address with my boss. I am actually quite embarrassed to state that. I like to pride myself on being an independent adult but I am, obviously, not as independent as I think that I am.
I was very interested to learn of the existence of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). I learned that they were founded in 1913 and that they “were members of the oval office when President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act of 1963 into law, and more than 50 years later, (they) continue to lead the push for policies and legislation to encourage and enforce fair pay in the workplace,” (AAUW, 2). Learning that the AAUW even exists was quite empowering, let alone to learn that they were part of the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and are still prominent in American politics today. I continued to learn that a gap of 21% existed between male and female pay in the United States in the year 2014 (AAUW, 3). That’s ridiculous to me. 21% is almost a quarter. Also, the fact that it’s the year 2014 is just ridiculous to me.
I learned that family may have an affect on how much a woman’s income is. I learned that,”a recent study suggests that family resources make it easier for women to remain at work, not to leave it,” (Pedulla and Thebaud, 132). By this, I believe it is meant that women in egalitarian relationships who work jobs, even part-time ones, find it more advantageous to remain in their relationship and working in a financial way. It was also stated that, “working-class women are more financially vulnerable in a neotraditional relationship, given their relatively less lucrative and less stable job prospects,” (Pedulla and Thebaud, 132). I found both of these facts quite interesting as I had no idea that my marital relationship could have such a large affect on my income. In addition, it’s no secret that a stereotypical gender role is for a woman to become a housewife. As this goes, I would like to share the following information I obtained this week: “Socialising women into accepting the “housewife” role as the only possible/acceptable role for a women. Indeed it was the only way to be feminine/to be a woman. Essentially, feminists viewed the function of the family as a breeding ground where patriarchal values were learned by an individual, which in turn created a patriarchal society,” (Feminist Perspectives on the Family). I had never thought about being a housewife in such black and white terms before. I do stand by this theory, now that my eyes have been opened to it however. It seems that you are more likely to do whatever your parents do. If a family has two children, a boy and a girl, and the mother is a housewife and the father is a doctor it may be argued that the boy is likely to become a doctor and the girl is likely to become a housewife. These two jobs are quite oppositional in terms of their income. In conclusion, I learned that I need to pay more attention to my income and educate myself more on what it means to be a woman in the workplace in order to protect my rights.
“Feminist Perspectives on the Family.” Revise Sociology. WordPress, 10 Feb. 2014. Web. 26 June 2016. https://revisesociology.com/2014/02/10/feminist-perspectives-on-the-family/
AAUW. The Simple Truth About The Gender Pay Gap. Washington, D.C.: AAUW, 2016. Print.
Pedulla, David S., and Sarah Thebaud. Can We Finish the Revolution? Gender, Work-Family Ideals, and Institutional Constraint. American Sociological Review. Vol. 80. N.p.: Sage, 2015. Print. 116-139.