Is the Gender Pay Gap Your Fault?
A discussion about gender, childhood socialization, and financial inequality.
I recently came across a clip from Turning Point UK, a nonprofit organization that promotes right-wing politics in education, that had been posted on TikTok and had racked up over 35k likes. Candace Owens, an American author, political commentator, and talk show host, explains why the gender pay gap isn’t a difference in gender, but a difference in interest. Watch it here:
Debating the 'gender pay gap'
Debating the 'gender pay gap'. Charlie Kirk Candace Owens Turning Point USA
Owens states that women typically go into fields like fashion and earn less money, whereas men tend to go for engineering and medical professions which are known to earn more money, therefore justifying the gender pay gap. It’s not because of their gender, it’s because of their “natural interests.”
I see two problems with this perspective:
- The gender pay gap is referring to men and women working the same position (oftentimes at the same company), not a man in engineering versus a woman in fashion. Owens is simply missing the point here.
- Women do tend to be more interested in “feminine” fields and men in “masculine,” but it’s not natural, it’s because of the way they were socialized as children. Let me explain.
Imagine you are visiting your brand new nephew. Your sister gave birth last weekend and has invited the whole family over to meet him. A bold choice during a pandemic, but you go because it’s family and of course, you want to meet your nephew.
When you get to her house, you walk in and there is this perfect little baby in front of you. “Hey big man,” you say and smile as he slowly opens his eyes. “Oh actually, it’s a girl! The ultrasound was wrong,” exclaims your sister. “Hello pretty girl,” you say, introducing yourself for the second time.
Since a child is born, they are placed into these highly gendered environments. Girls are taught to take care of dolls while boys are taught to build with blocks. Girls get a kitchen set or a dollhouse as gifts, boys get a remote control car or a Lego set. It has nothing to do with the child’s needs but everything to do with their gender.
Check out this video from BBC released in 2017 where adults subconsciously choose gendered toys based on how the baby is dressed:
The reality is that modern society places a lot of pressure on people to act a certain way according to their gender. Sure, some women may be genuinely interested in “feminine” fields and that is totally fine! The same goes for men being interested in “masculine” careers! It’s not an attack on people’s interests, it’s a critique of how they became interested in the first place.
Feminine and masculine roles are much more likely to be due to how children are raised, not how they naturally feel.
So what does this have to do with a financial gap? Is there one?
While yes, studies show that on average for the same position and experience, women get paid about 16% less than men in the United States. Check out this research from the Pew Institute detailing the differences in work and pay between men and women for more information. So no, it is not your fault.
However, this is not the financial gap we should be worried about.
The most alarming gap is the difference between the wealthy and literally everyone else. Here is a video that visualizes the wealth gap in America:
The scariest part is this video was posted in 2012. Today we are dealing not only with a massive wealth gap (Jeff Bezos will make about $205 million today alone), but also the ramifications of the global pandemic and the potential end of the U.S. empire.
“The reason they call it the American Dream is because you have to be asleep to believe it.” — George Carlin
What should I do now?
Do what you can: wear a mask, get vaccinated, learn to monetize your hobbies, and plan on getting the hell out of here. That’s what I’ve been doing anyway.
Like what you see? Leave a comment letting me know your thoughts!