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The causes of the wage gap between men and women in the United States

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Different researchers have independently obtained results from statistical analyses of varying data sets, which consistently show that the gender wage gap is largely attributable to the differences in occupations chosen by male and female workers (Boraas & Rodgers, 2003). Female workers primarily dominate occupations that proffer relatively low salaries like teaching, nursing, secretarial positions, and clerks in retail outlets. In contrast, men principally work in occupations that offer comparatively high compensation hence most tend to be scientists, doctors, engineers, lawyers, and company executives, among other high-ranking professions. As a result of this disproportionate propensity to work in occupations that are notably different, the average wages earned by women are generally lower than the mean compensation accrued by men.

In further support of the occupational disparity theory, statistical analysis findings by Joy (2006) indicate that the selection of males and females among various professions starts with their respective choice of academic disciplines. While most men choose disciplines like engineering, medicine, and science, among other majors deemed relatively difficult, women mainly opt for enrollment in education and arts. This disparate enrollment of men and females in these disciplines lays the foundation for their respective dominance in affiliated occupations and the ultimate difference in the level of compensation.

The variance in occupation selection is undoubtedly a feasible explanation of the gender wage gap, as is further reinforced by the fact that it has narrowed over the years following continuous efforts by women to venture into male dominated professions (Mulligan & Rubinstein, 2008). This shows, however, that occupational difference cannot serve as the sole explanatory factor of the gender pay gap, since it fails to account for the current difference in compensation between males and females in the same profession.

Other potent causes are, therefore, explored further hereunder. Women Discrimination in Hiring Gender discrimination or prejudice in the recruitment process refers to the tendency of employers to prefer a certain type of worker, while excluding another, solely on the basis of a candidate’s membership to either sex. Such discrimination may occur in two forms, that is, taste or statistical prejudice. In case of the former, an employer may have a personal preference of men over women employees, whereas in the case of statistical discrimination, the employer could wield wrong information about potential female candidates.

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