The article entitled The Gender Gap in Wages, circa 2000 by June O’Neil discusses the existence of gender pay gap between men and women, despite the considerable social and economic growth that occurred during this century. Accordingly, the participation of women in the labor force has dramatically increased in the turn of the century, yet the labor force activity does not seem to narrow the gender wage gap. O’Neil argued that the wage gap between men and women is spelled out by non-discriminatory elements which “are unlikely to change radically in the near future unless the roles of women and men in the home become more nearly identical”(O’Neil, 2003 p. 3014). The author’s argument suggests that the gender pay gap in our society today is attributed to the household roles of women and men, however, he moderated on the premise that it all boils down to the presence of discrimination in our midst that puts the women at a disadvantage.
June O’Neil started the essay by discussing how the increased number of women in the labor force during the 20th century is a profound transition both in the social and economic aspects, yet the gender pay gap between men and women still exists. He presented his discussion by using evidence gathered from the Current Population Survey (CPS) and the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79). The author emphasized that the main source of the gender pay difference resulted from the lesser time and effort spent by women in shaping and committing themselves up for a long term career. On the other hand, he toned down on the likelihood that education, race and discrimination play an important role in the gender pay gap. He cited the significant impact of home responsibilities to the lesser probability of women to have a continuing career and to acquire on-the-job experiences. O’Neil validated his argument by further discussing the data provided by the survey where it points to the effect of having children on the participation of women in the labor force. He posited that the less time spent at work leads to the inability to acquire skills that command higher pay and he corroborated this argument by showing the NSLY table where it showed that “actual experience accounts for much of the gap” (O’Neil, 2013 p. 313). The author also pointed out that women tend to choose jobs that are compatible with their role as homemakers, and the “adaptive occupational choices will tend to lower the market earnings of women relative to men” (O’neil, 2013 p. 310).
Further, O’Neil contradicted himself when he toned down on the influence of factors such as discrimination, while cited the fact that “many women make different choices than men regarding the extent of career attachment” (O’Neil, 2003 p. 310). This statement is contradictory to his other claims where he suggested that women cannot readily decide on their career due to their inherent duties at home. Another conflicting statement was his discussion about the adaptive tendencies, where women are likely to work on jobs that are compatible with their role as housekeepers.
Some of O’Neils arguments have similar implications with other studies concerning gender pay gap. In his article, he claimed that “actual work experience accounts for much of the gap” (O’Neil, 2003 p. 313). This claim is corroborated by another research where it referred to work experience as the major reason for gender pay. That is, women are likely to be out of the labor market more often due to other pressing concerns, such as in cases when “it may make economic sense for them to be the ones to scale back to provide family are for children or aging relatives” (Glyn, 2014 p. 4). The amount of time spent on non-career related obligations puts women at a disadvantage in terms of acquiring better skills.
When O’Neil talked about the non-discriminatory factors that affect the gender wage gap, critics might note that these factors are in fact discriminatory in nature. For an element that hinders an individual to freely act on her goal due to callings that are considered biological such as mothering and taking care of children are prejudicial in most instances. Accordingly, the subtleness of discrimination does not eliminate the prejudice associated with it.
In his conclusion, O’Neil suggested that the gender gap may still persist in the future, mainly due to the inequality of job responsibilities at home. This was corroborated in the article of Linda Levine where she noted that women “expend more effort than men on these family duties, it arguably reduces the effort that women can put into market work” (Levine, 2004 p. 5). Based on O’Neil’s discussion, the gender wage gap has not been narrowed in the past several decades and this is because women have been doing their traditional duties as homemakers. He was right, however, in suggesting that further studies should be done to further understand the reasons behind the gender wage gap.
Gender pay gap, as explained by June O’Neil has not been narrowed during the past several decades. He suggested that the elimination of such inequity will not be realized unless there is a considerable transition in the household role of men and women. Despite the increased involvement of women in the labor market, O’Neil observed that it has done nothing to lessen the gap. While the author claimed that the gender pay gap is due to the unequal distribution of household roles of men and women, other facts would explain that the unequal wages can be traced to the existence of discrimination in the workplace. A further understanding of the gender wage gap is needed to lessen if not eliminate it all together.
Blau, F., & Kahn, L. (n.d.). The gender pay gap: Have women gone as far as they can?
Levine, L. (2004). The gender wage gap and pay equity: Is comparable worth the next step? Washington, D.C: Congressional Research Service
O'Neil, J. (2003). The gender gap in wages, circa 2000. AEA Papers and Proceedings, 309-314.