(FinancialHealth.net) – Ask people about the gender wage gap and it tends to incite arguments. Depending on who you query, people will claim it doesn’t exist, claim it has always existed, rage against it, or shrug it off.
The truth is, as always, somewhere in the middle. Research shows that at a gap does exist, though the distance between the two sides is rapidly closing. What was once a chasm in the early 1900s is more like a small ditch today. — (Unless you’re one of those still in the ditch, of course). More importantly, some finance experts believe that the gap just might close within a much shorter period of time than was once expected – in fewer than 3 decades from now.
Why the Change?
Just a decade or two ago, researchers estimated that we wouldn’t see the end of the gender wage gap until at least 2080. They theorized that the working world would need time to adjust to the additional expenditure of increased salaries. It was also assumed that some women just wouldn’t move towards certain male-dominated industries. Both are true, but thanks to technological and societal advances, the change is coming much quicker than we once believed it would.
Telecommuting Changes Gender Issues
More employees than ever work from from home. Some experts believe that missing out on that face-to-face introduction could potentially increase the rate at which the gender gap disappears. Since it removes the initial face-to-face interview in many cases, it’s more difficult to judge someone on what they look like (and thus, their gender).
Others believe it has less to do with face-to-face contact and stereotypes than it does with digital fluency — in simpler terms, how effective the world is becoming at communicating from behind a screen.
Being behind the screen gives people time to think and craft the perfect persona or response, while face-to-face work allows for faster-paced assumptions, decisions, and even social faux pas.
Whichever of the above theories is true, technology is playing a major role in the gender wage gap (at least indirectly). Historically, women were always slower to adapt to new technologies. This isn’t a stereotype, but a result of the fact that most women prior to the 1950s stayed home to raise a family rather than working outside of the home.
But with high tech, like computers and smartphones becoming more common than ever, it also means that more women than ever are becoming tech-savvy. In return, tech-savvy women have access to more jobs than they ever did before. Some tech companies are jumping on this bandwagon by promising women the same rate as men when they work the same jobs.
A century ago, the general consensus was that some jobs were simply too dangerous for women. Working in a coal mine, a factory, or even at the dockyard was reserved for men under the erroneous assumption that women were “too delicate” and couldn’t handle the work.
That viewpoint began to change during WWII, when hiring women to staff arms factories became the only option available.
It’s only been in the last decade that improved working conditions and a loosening of stereotypes have really encouraged women to step into more male-dominated roles like construction, sailing, firefighting, and manufacturing. Today, some male-dominated industries employ nearly a 50-50 split of women and men, creating balance where it didn’t exist before.
The increase of women in the workplace is naturally resulting in more women making more money overall. That, too, contributes to the lessening of the gender wage gap, as does the fact that more women than ever are choosing to return to work after having children. What are your thoughts on the wage gap? Let us know in the comments.
~Here’s to Your Financial Health!
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