by Frank Burtnett, Ed.D., NAPS Certification and Education Consultant
The dictionary definition of the word myth is that one is a well-known story or fabrication made up over time to explain a natural or social phenomenon. Myths are often exaggerated and repeated to the point that they become accepted as fact. Such has been the destiny of the myths associated with the continuing gender wage gap in the United States.
A research study conducted at Rice University and published recently in the Industrial and Organizational Psychologyjournal takes a present-day look at five myths that have been incorrectly accepted as contributing to the continuing gender wage gap in America. The researchers add that women, considered in some quarters---a part of the problem---should in no way be blamed for the wage disparity that lingers in America.
According to the study findings, those myths include:
- "Women are not doing equal work.
- Women leave the workplace to have and raise children.
- Women choose less lucrative professions.
- Women don't ask for what they want.
- Women don't have as much education or experience as men."
The full study offers details that dispel these faulty conclusions, but it doesn't stop there. Also included are six recommendations that need to be implemented to ensure that gender wage gap disparities are eliminated. Those recommendations are:
- "Organizations must identify and remove barriers. This can be accomplished by investing more resources in training to fast-track lower managers and conducting focus groups with women.
- Organizations must provide equal growth opportunities. They must offer accurate feedback for women and give them opportunities to connect with influential people in the organization.
- Organizations must take action toward implementing better work/life balance. They must encourage women and men to take time off by providing maternity and paternity leave and not penalize people who choose to do so. They must also consider day care services or subsidies, as well as flexible schedules, remote work and/or job sharing.
- Organizations must provide ongoing training. They should have women represented across all levels of the organization. In addition, employees should be educated to behave in non-sexist ways, and diversity training should be designed according to research.
- Organizations should have anti-discrimination policies and share salary ranges and the data on which they are based.
- Organizations should have and promote male allies (men who are in positions of influence who advocate for women)."
Until these and other workplace equity practices become commonplace, however, the Equal Pay Act will not be realized. President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law on June 10, 1963. Fifty-five years later working American women are still waiting for equity to be realized.