Gender Pay Gap: A social inequality problem

The narrowest perception on gender equality is about payment. Simply giving the same wage to the same type of job for both women and men does not solve the entire issue of gender inequality in the workplace. Gender inequality is the outcome of persistent gender norms that put women in a disadvantage position instead of the root cause of the problem.

Gender pay gap is a long-standing issue in the workplace realm. It is rooted from the concept of women’s complementary position in the society compare to men. Generally, society perceives women primary responsibility is at home, as homemakers and caregivers. This role does not automatically amended when women entering the paid work sphere. Thus, women income is continued to be seen as complementary to men breadwinner’s income.

Some likely argue that in this modern era, women and men are equally valued based on their competence/merit. Also, in practical reality in countries where minimum wage apply, there is no room for providing lesser wage for women. These arguments likely ring true in some contexts. Nonetheless, the arguments could not be used to answer the broader questions about gender pay gap. It has been asserted worldwide that in a situation where women education participation rate is higher than men’s, gender pay gap is still existed. In Indonesia, for instance, even the education participation of women is higher than men, on average Indonesian women are paid around 30% less than the similarly qualified men.

Record shows that in Indonesia, women who have primary education level earn on average 43 percent less than of men’s. While, in the junior and senior high school level women average earning is 26 percent and 25 percent respectively.  Women and men in these groups of educational level are often perceived as those who earn at least the minimum wage; thus, gender pay gap likely apparent. It is also worth to mention that at the doctoral level, Indonesian women average earning is still 16 percent less than men.

So what is the real issue of gender pay gap? Is it because of socially construed norms of gender roles? Is persistent gender roles only about operational side of family responsibility? Or is it about how society pressures that distort, even more, women own perception of their monetary value  and rights in the paid work realm?

In practice, these question may simply disregarded when organizations apply equal payment policy. Whether or not after this type of policy applied across the board, in all types of industries, the problem still persist is the next question. I, myself, argue that if the above questions left unanswered; if society continue to judge women roles in paid work, any equal payment policy would not crack down the problem of gender pay gap. Let alone, gender inequality.


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