Collegeceunsus.com recently posted a list of the highest paying jobs for women in 2019. Choosing a career path as a female is an already difficult task without taking into account the gap in pay from their male counterparts. Young boys are encouraged to work in business or construction or something “manly” whereas women are pushed towards the more caring fields such as nursing or teaching. However, in 2019 not all women yearn to nurture. We enjoy “getting our hands dirty” and we have ambitions of being the boss. Yet we are deterred from these fields because they are male dominated, require more work for a woman to come on top, and supply women a much smaller pay than men. The issue of gender pay gap is not simply an issue regarding pay. The gender pay gap grows from the sexist division of work in our country and the fields that have male dominance so ingrained in them that it is an enormous struggle for women to thrive. Women breaking into these male dominated fields and gaining power positions will undoubtedly shrink the gender pay gap.
Pay disparity greatly differs through the career paths chosen by women. From the very beginning of women in the work place, fields that women have flocked to, and been ushered toward, have received pay cuts. Women in counseling stand to make 99% of that made by a man while female physicians stand to make 71% of a male’s salary. However, male dominated fields that women happened to work in were not affected. These fields retain their high wages but put glass ceilings in place that restrict women from attaining growth. As of 2017, only 16% of financial advisers were made up by women. This lack of female representation in the career field has led it to hold the biggest pay disparity with women at a measly 58% of earnings of men. A career so completely dominated by men creates an environment with only men making decisions. The long standing “boys’ club” of the financial sector gravitate toward other male employees when considering raises and promotions. Inserting women into this dynamic leads to more opportunity for other women in these fields.
As a woman entering a traditionally male dominated field, I understand the trepidation that accompanies making this decision. I once took a calculus class where only six of the thirty students were female. I have witnessed in this small, insignificant setting how the majority flocks together. It is inevitable that most men lift each other up before considering a woman for the same position. Women in power positions have the potential to influence the fate of other women. The dynamic of women lifting women just as men traditionally do is dire for the shrinking of the gender pay gap.
Many say that a woman’s choice in career should not affect their expectant pay, and I would agree that it should not, but this is simply not the reality of the world. The options presented to women are join a field where there is potential to earn the same as a man or join a field where you must work three times as hard to earn half of your male coworker’s wage. While this is not fair and is frankly insulting, it is the reality of life. However, women putting in the extra work and gaining positions of power will make it possible to hire other women and raise them up and eventually leave the gender pay gap behind us. Should closing the gender pay gap fall solely on women? Obviously not, but as Isabel Allande once said, “a man does what he can; a woman does what a man cannot.”