The gender pay gap exploratory essay

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Introduction and motivation

The gender pay gap refers to the systemic differences that exist between the remuneration of men’s and women’s earning. The wage imbalance remains a contentious issue and topic for heated debate across the world. Studies establish that women are most likely to earn a fraction of the men’s salary for the same type and amount of work. The gender pay gap debate revolves around the two types of pay gaps that exist in the country which include adjusted and unadjusted pay gap. Unadjusted which reveals the largest wage disparity ignores some of the pertinent factors that may result in the disparity in the remuneration of both male and female employees. Adjusted pay disparity, on the other hand, considers such critical factors as the hours, job experience, occupation chosen and education among others that influence the pay of employees. However, even after adjusting all the factors a pay gap still exists a feature that is a cause for worry.

The gender pay gap in the United States is an interesting and equally contentious issue since. The United States Joint Economic Committee released a report explaining that despite a sustained reduction of the inequalities, the unexplained gap in wages persisted. As such, the report indicated that women in the United States are most likely to earn a fraction of the men’s salary despite having similar education and undertaking same roles as their male counterparts. The study revealed that the ratio of men’s and women’s median annual earnings for year-round and full-time workers was 80.5% in 2016. The figure was a 0.9% improvement from 2015. The median implied that the gender wage gap was 19.5%. The 2016 average for full time and all year-round female employees was $41,554 compared to $51,640 for the men. The women’s earning thus increased by 0.7% while the men’s declined by 0.4% (Hegewisch & Williams-Baron, 2017).

The gender pay gap is, therefore, an interesting topical issue for research since it baffles to realize that not even the state agencies among other stakeholders can explain the cause of the pay gap. My motivation to study the subject arises from my keen interest in human rights issues. It baffles me that women should earn less than their male counterparts for undertaking similar roles and duties. My understanding of leadership and human resource management points out that remuneration is a basic factor of motivation. As such, to pay women less than the men is most likely to affect their productivity. In my study, I would wish to explore such contentious issues as segregation, work-life balance, and stereotypes among others in influencing and sustaining the gap (Joshi & Paci, 2009).

The topic is of immense interest and worth studying since it is most likely to reveal some of the underlying social factors in the country. The United States prides itself on being a democracy with the citizens enjoying many fundamental liberties. However, the country’s history of racial segregation and sexism has often created room for the abuse of basic human rights. Paying women less than the men for undertaking a similar amount of work is an abject demonstration of the discrimination. Understanding the sources of the discrimination would help solve the issue thereby improving the welfare of citizens while promoting a society of fairness and equality.

Proposed methodology, data sources, applications, and research methods

The study is typical causal research that investigates the cause and effects relationship. The study seeks to determine the causes of the gender pay disparity which today stands at 19.5%. The research seeks to establish both the causes and effects of the phenomenon that has to remain a public and policy issue for years. As such, the study is a qualitative study that will discover and explain the potential causes of the gender pay gap and the possible ramifications of the phenomenon in the contemporary American work environment. The research will employ the grounded theory of qualitative research. The qualitative theory is a practical research methodology in social sciences that involves the creation of theories through methodic collection and analysis of data.

The research will use the city of Seattle in Washington State as a case study. The case study will revolve around analyzing the city’s work environment, the condition of both male and female employee and the remuneration of both genders. The research will reply primarily to existing data. Fortunately, various state and federal agencies have adequate data on pay disparities among other employment factors in the state. Existing data cover such fundamental aspects of the study as job types, average hourly rates, the longevity of employees in every sector, qualifications, and job experiences among others. Accessing and analyzing the data is most likely to paint a picture of the factors causing and sustaining the gender pay gap. However, they may not reveal the effects of the phenomenon a feature that will necessitate additional research.

Besides the existing data collected from various government agencies, the study will also utilize interviews as a critical data collection technique. Interviews are important since they provide adequate opportunity to investigate the issue by engaging stakeholders who understand the problem. The interviews will rely on structured questionnaires to establish some of the underlying demographical factors that may necessitate the disparity in remuneration of American workers along gender lines. Similarly, the research will employ various hypothesis testing tools. The hypothesis of the study which argues that female employees earn less than their male counterparts in various economic sectors will collate to other factors such as existing stereotypes, life balance and segregation among others to determine the effects. The tools will include the student’s t distribution and the P-value approach Martin & Bridgmon, 2012). The two will help evaluate the hypothesis against several factors to determine the prevalence of some of the contentious social factors that may determine the distribution of gender pay disparity in the country.

Proposed interviewees

The study will involve interviewing several key stakeholders including a random selection of employees of some of the predominant industries and companies in the city, government representatives, and scholars who have investigated the issue and developed books and papers about the socio-economic issue. A random selection of employees from various companies in the city will help reveal the state of affairs in the city’s labor market. I will select at least fifty employees from various industries in both the public and private sectors including public administration, banking, manufacturing, tourism, and entertainment among others. The respondents will have various titles including accountants, animal control specialists, auto engineers and capital projects’ coordinator among others. Questions for this category of respondents will include the manifestation of the topical issue in their places of work, a comparison of their salaries to their male counterparts, their races and cultural backgrounds and personal feelings about the issue among others.

Besides the selection of random employees from different companies, the study will also target specific individuals who understand and have immense interest in the issue. Key among such individuals will be Ariane Hegewisch, M.Phil. and Emma Williams-Baron. The two women are best placed to explain the phenomenon and the possible causative factors. They are employees of Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Williams-Baron is a policy and data specialist while Hegewisch is a researcher. The two have written several papers outlining the scope of the problem and some of the social factors that contribute to the problem. They, therefore, present a vast understanding of the topical issue and have the capacity to develop and evaluate policies that may help resolve the problem. They present a wealth of information. The interview will revolve around some of the factors they have observed, effects and possible solutions for the problem.

Finally, the researchers of the study will interview the mayor of Seattle, Jenny Durkan and a host of authors and scholars including Rebecca Wenglinski, Heather Joshi, and ‎Pierella Paci. A mayor is a person of interest since he manages the daily affairs of the city. Furthermore, he employs hundreds of people. As such, he is, therefore, a perfect individual to explain government policy on the gender pay gap and explain his opinion about the issue and possible attempts to address it. The three authors are also persons of interest who have studied the topical issues and written books and articles about it. As such, they have adequate information to explain the role of social and cultural factors like segregation and life balance in perpetuating the problem.

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  1. Hegewisch, A. & Williams-Baron, E. (2017). The Gender Wage Gap: 2016; Earnings Differences by Gender, Race, and Ethnicity. Institute for Women Policy Research, September 13, 2017. Available at    earnings-differences-gender-race-ethnicity/
  2. Joshi, H., & Paci, P. (2009). Unequal pay for women and men: Evidence from the British birth cohort studies. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.
  3. Martin, W. E., & Bridgmon, K. D. (2012). Quantitative and statistical research methods: From hypothesis to results. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
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