Many politicians, journalists and commentators, claim that this is due to females tending to be in lower-paid careers. Of course, the pay equality complaint is that females are paid less than males for the same work, but the discussion should also include the fact that females do tend to be in lower paid careers and why. The truth is that “women’s” careers are paid less because it’s females who tend to do the work. Don’t believe me? Just look at the history.
Femininizing Fields You might hear some people say that if females want to be paid more, they should work in higher-paying fields. This might seem like good advice, but the fact is that the more females who follow it, the less true it will become. This is because jobs are paid less as they gain popularity with females.
Look at recreation: As females began to outnumber men at gyms’, boot camps, as personal trainers and the like, jobs in that field saw a pay drop of 57% from the 1950s until today, even after adjusting for inflation. The same can be seen in more artistic careers as designers, artist, picture framers have seen their wages cut by 34% as the industry as seen more females employed. Biology, and Ecology used to be a highly-respected fields in science, but as more and more females became biologists and are employed, the wages fell by 18% and it’s now seen as a “soft” science, rather than the harder (more masculine) fields of physics and chemistry. Think of other fields, like psychology, teaching, disability care, etc. You can probably come up with dozens of careers and occupations that fit this pattern.
So, jobs are paid less when they become “feminized.” But the opposite is true when males start to take over a previously female-dominated field. A good example is computer programming. Most programmers and systems analysts were once females, and, at that time, the position was seen as menial. As males poured into the field, it began being paid substantially more. Not only that, it’s gained a lot of prestige; no one would say computer programmers have tedious, or menial jobs anymore.
Think that it just shows how priorities have changed over time? Consider doctors. While female doctors are paid less than their male counterparts in any specialty, we also see a massive pay gap between different kinds of specialists. Pediatricians, who are overwhelmingly women, are paid significantly less than most other specialties. There’s even a huge difference between cardiologists and pediatric cardiologists in terms of pay. We can also make comparisons between countries. In the United States, medicine has historically been a very male field and it’s highly paid. In Russia, medicine is a field dominated by women, and it is paid extremely poorly in relation to other professional field.
There is a argument and the evidence indicates that pay is largely determined by the gender build-up of the industry. Male-dominated fields pay, on average, 21% more than more “feminine” fields. It’s not that females choose lower-paying jobs; it’s that females work is paid less, no matter what that work entails.
Minimal Pay So, what about males in female-dominated careers? Answer: they’re still paid more. Male nurses earn more than female RNs in every specialty. About three quarters of public school teachers are women, which might explain why the field is so poorly paid. Even so, male teachers earn 10%+ more than female teachers. Even the titles change for very similar jobs. Janitors, who are mostly males, earn more than housecleaners, who are generally females.
And then there’s the minimum wage. Nearly two-thirds of minimum wage earners are females. When the minimum wage was introduced in Australia, the idea was that a man working 40 hours each week should be able to support himself and his family at a decent level of living. Today, working full-time on the minimum wage can do no such thing. Back then, the intended beneficiaries were men (and their families). Today, the minimum wage goes mostly to females, and now the minimum wage no longer fulfills its intended purpose. Coincidence? I think not.
It’s Time to Start Appreciating Females and the Work They Do
The simple fact appears to be that typically “feminine” careers are paid less because it’s women who do the work. Regardless of what type of work it is or what skills are necessary, the more females are in a occupation / profession, the less it gets paid. On top of that, males in all fields, including “feminine” industries, are paid more than their female counterparts. This bias in favor of males trickles down to our very minimum wage, which has seen drastically reduced buying power as females began receiving most of those minimum payments. All of this indicates that it’s not women’s work that is undervalued; females themselves are undervalued.
Working women deserve equal recognition, respect, and pay for the work they do. It’s long overdue that females be valued and appreciated, for their contributions to society and otherwise. females still aren’t treated – or paid – equally, and it’s about time they were. If the job is important enough to exist, it’s important enough to pay it fairly, whether male or female do it. It’s time to start valuing females and the work they do.
This article is meant to provoke thought,
I’m not pro female or anti male, i’m pro everybody in the workplaces of Australia. There has to be more discussion in the current difficult economic times, particularly as we start to reemploy people as we come out of the recession. There is no easy answer to the conversation outlined above, history shows us, in recessions, pandemics, that’s it’s the less advantaged, the working class poor, part time workers that are impacted the most. It’s well advertised that partners in accounting and law firms are taking pay cuts on their $400,000 to $800,000 jobs, but there is no doubt they will survive, maybe their lifestyle will have to be adjusted. Workers in lower paid positions, (in many cases females) who are the household dominate income provider, will lose the car, house etc, this will then impact on the physiology of the next generation of children as it did in the great depression.