Over the years, women have faced many obstacles and barriers to overcome discrimination and receive the same opportunities available to the opposite sex. Women have had to fight for their right to vote, obtain a college education, and more recently, equal pay and employment opportunities. Although we have made great strides in narrowing the wage gap, women today have yet to gain the same respect and equal pay as men in the workplace.
The Equal Pay Act, also known as the EPA, was passed by Congress in 1963 to provide a remedy to discriminatory wage structures that reflect "an ancient but outmoded belief that a man, because of his role in society, should be paid more than a woman”. (Equal Pay Act) “According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women’s salaries in comparison to men’s have risen dramatically, from 62% of men’s earnings in 1970 to 80% in 2004”. (Equal Pay Act) However, while this increase is significant, the EPA has not been able to achieve its intended goal, equal pay for equal work.
Since the enactment of the EPA, women have been narrowing the gap with each generation, and although each generation has improved over the previous generation, the pace of improvement has slowed down with more recent generations. One reason that might explain the slow progress is the unstable job market we have experienced in the past decade. Another reason may be that it would be difficult to replicate the initial impact the EPA had on the labor market in the 1960’s. While discrimination against women in the workplace still exists, it was much more evident in the 1960’s and therefore, the initial impact of the EPA on women’s wages then was far greater than what we could achieve today. (Manning)
Additionally, women face the inevitable consequence of childbearing. Women in their childbearing years experience a wider wage gap than young single women. The reason for this mid-career disadvantage is that at some point in her career, a woman must make a choice between work and family. Many times, this choice involves a period of time in which a woman must take time off from work to have children. Furthermore, with the rise in cost of childcare and the fact that many women today still carry the burden of the household responsibilities, some women are choosing to stay home or work part-time rather than going back to work full-time. This career break inevitably creates a gap in wages due to lost experience in the field in comparison to male counterparts that continue to gain experience while the female worker stays home to raise a family. To further implicate the consequences of choosing family over a career, should a woman choose to work part-time while raising a family, she will likely face a significant reduction in pay since part-time jobs are usually lower in status and pay lower wages. (Manning)
Nonetheless, should a woman remain single and childless, she will still experience a widening wage gap in her late twenties and thirties. ...