The Wage Gap and Other Workplace Gender Equality Issues
In 2021, women are still paid less than men. Read this to learn more about gender equality progress in the workplace.
Overview of Gender Equality in the Workplace
According to the Department of Labor, while the number of working women has advanced from 43% in 1972 to 55.8%, female representation in the workplace is still lower than male participation. Even before the recent pandemic, women's rate of involvement in the labor force dropped for nearly a decade.
Another issue is pay. While top executive and political jobs have been open to women for decades, equal opportunity for career advancement remains elusive — women still only make 81% of the average male salary.
Major Gender Equality Laws
The Equal Pay Act of 1963 supposedly banned paying men and women differently for the same work, but exceptions have made its enforcement hollow. Employers can cite things such as experience, education, or different responsibilities for wage gaps.
Even as equal pay for equal work remains a fiction, policy progress has been made towards correcting imbalances. The following section highlights the three most significant federal laws that support women in the workplace.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964
This landmark bill signed by President Johnson outlawed discrimination and harassment based on sex. Though these protections are equally applicable to men, the vast majority of sexual harassment affects women. By giving women recourse against employers for a hostile work environment, the Civil Rights Act led to numerous changes. Corporate America developed human resource policies and training programs designed to protect the victims of harassment.
Pregnancy Discrimination Act
In 1978, Congress approved the Pregnancy Discrimination Act to help support working women. Under the law, employers are prohibited from discriminating against an employee because she is pregnant, gave birth, or suffered complications from the pregnancy.
Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
This 1993 law extended job protections for pregnant women, amongst other provisions. Under the FMLA, women are entitled to up to 12 weeks of annual leave for pregnancy, childbirth, or adoption. While the leave is unpaid, your job status cannot be negatively affected by seeking time off.
The Hurdles Faced by Women in Today's Workplace
As mentioned above, many women still are not paid the same as men for the same work. And there are other hurdles as well. Though many glass ceilings have been shattered, women are still vastly underrepresented in boardrooms throughout the United States. In fact, only 19.2% of the board seats for S&P 500 companies are filled by women.
Pregnancy and the lack of paid maternity leave continue to stall women's careers. Additionally, both the cost and time for raising children still fall predominantly to women. The lack of affordable, reliable childcare also affects the hours and responsibilities women are given by employers.
Another obstacle is continued pervasive sexual harassment. Despite investments in training and procedures, some organizations still prefer to ignore or dismiss women's complaints. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson are just two recent famous and powerful men facing multiple accusations of impropriety.
Progress Towards Narrowing the Pay Gap
March 24 is known as National Equal Pay Day. In 2021, this brought attention to the proposed Paycheck Fairness Act. One provision of this bill would ban employers from seeking an applicant's salary history. Supporters argue this will prevent a woman's past underpayment from justifying lower salaries in the future. It would also prohibit a company from retaliating against an employee for openly sharing their salary or wage information. This could create a more transparent pay environment and highlight those employers who continue to pay men more.
What Are Your Legal Options
If you are a woman who believes you are being discriminated against, harassed, or paid less than your male colleagues, you can seek legal assistance. The Miami employment attorneys at Remer, Georges-Pierre & Hoogerwoerd, PLLC have experience helping women secure what is rightfully theirs. Whether through a formal complaint, negotiation, or a lawsuit, our dedicated team can help protect you and your family.
Having a lawyer on your side when confronting your employer makes you stronger and less prone to mistakes.
Schedule a free consultation with our attorneys today at 305-416-5000 or rgpattorneys.com.