In Ohio, women earn an average of 79 cents for every dollar a man earns, according to 2019 U.S. Census Bureau data analyzed by the National Women’s Law Center.
In 2002, women working full-time and part-time earned 80% of what men earned. By 2022, that figure has risen to just 82%, according to the Pew Research Center.
“One of the main reasons we haven’t seen it go away is because a lot of the reasons it exists in the first place are structural,” said Sherry Jones, past president of the National Association of Women Business Owners in Columbus. .
According to experts, women tend to be responsible for caring for children, the elderly, and household chores. They also face discrimination at work, and because of these structural factors, they tend to work in low-paying fields, reducing their lifetime earnings.
“Historically—especially in American culture, but in most cultures—people have been taught that women have weaker qualities, that they’re less successful, that they’re less focused. All of this is completely untrue,” said Kelly Grismer. , president and CEO of the Women’s Foundation of Central Ohio. “And the biases are the same on the flip side. Men are expected to be very confident, very successful.”
Women are often expected to be good mothers and take care of their homes, even if they work full-time or part-time.
“Women still manage the mental burden at home by putting all that cognitive effort into running the household,” said Susan Fisk, an assistant professor of sociology at Kent State University. “They still do more homework.”
Some women quit their jobs to focus on home and family responsibilities, Jones said.
“Women have traditionally been so stressed trying to manage all these things that in many cases they just give up and it’s not worth it,” Jones said. “Until we’re willing to look at the structure and the way we ask women to work, they may continue to leave the workforce instead of working.”
Fisk explained two sources of the gender wage gap. One of them is horizontal gender segregation, where women are more likely to work in lower-paid jobs, such as kindergartens. The second factor is vertical gender segregation, where the further you go up the organizational ladder, the fewer women you see.
“People are just less comfortable with that kind of behavior [leadership] comes from women,” Fisk said.
Joining the professional environment can be overwhelming for women as they face many challenges beyond pay, such as discrimination, stereotypes and social stigmas.
“Women face negative stereotypes about their competence,” Fisk said. “This can make it more difficult for women to succeed in these fields and cause them to face bias in hiring, promotion and day-to-day work.”
Grismer also mentioned that there are reports that show that if you have two resumes that look the same with the same qualifications, but you put a female name at the top of the resume instead of a male one, research shows that people blindly reviewing those resumes tend to to think that a man is more qualified than a woman.
Women are coming into the workforce with more education, Jones said. By not paying women the same as men, we’re missing out on more diverse and interesting ideas and more innovation, she said.
“The patriarchal narrative continues because very often — white men, all men, but especially white men — it’s very difficult for them to admit that even though they’re decent people, they still don’t treat women fairly,” Griesmer said. “They want to believe they’ve already mastered it.”
The gender pay gap leads to the gender wealth gap. Grismer and Jones noted that if a woman was underpaid at a previous job and offered a new job, she might earn more, but a man who started earning more might face a bigger pay raise.
“It just haunts you for the rest of your career,” Grismer said.
Women of color were among the groups hardest hit by the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, while before the pandemic, the Women’s Foundation of Central Ohio’s wealth gap showed that women of color owned $0.02 for every dollar owned by a single man .
“The sad news is that the pandemic has probably caused women to lose almost a generation of achievements because so many programs that support women, support structures for women, have been removed or could not be given because of , how the world interacted during the pandemic,” Grismer said. “That’s why a lot of people are now calling the pandemic the ‘woman’s concession,’ because women were disproportionately affected by it.”
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