Communications and Media

Question

Option Two: For the second option, you have the opportunity to research the law. This can be statewide, or national law regarding the inequities between men and women. You will write about the complexities of law making, and how this law relates to gender. You will analyze why you chose this law, and its relevance. In addition, you will explore if anything is being done to change the law.

Focus in on the connections between communication, gender, and voice.

Some tips from strong writing:
• Avoid generalizations by being specific. Use “I” statements.
• Stay focused – outline or brainstorm before writing and know the direction you want to take.
• Go over every word carefully – don’t just trust spell check – make sure you have the word you want to use!
• Make sure to use Times New Roman, font 12, double spaced
• Staple your work
• This assignment should be between 4 – 6 pages

Answer

Title: Connections between gender and voice

Contents

Introduction. 2

Gender inequality in pay in the post-World War II era and the enactment of the Equal Pay Act 2

Efforts to strengthen and expand the Equal Pay Act 4

Ongoing efforts to amend the Equal Pay Act 5

Self-reflection. 6

Conclusion. 6

References. 7

Introduction

In the contemporary world, I see a very close connection between gender and voice. Men seem to have a bigger voice than women. The problem of gender inequality continues to persist in the workplace, at home, in society, and in government appointments. Many efforts are being made to give women a voice as loud and as audible as that of men. One of these efforts entails the enactment of appropriate legislation. One of the landmark laws enacted in the U.S. with a core objective of dealing with gender inequality in terms of pay is the Equal Pay Act.

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I chose the Equal Pay Act because it marked a turning point in the struggle for gender equality in the United States. With enactment of this law, women no longer needed to fear a phenomenon in which gender was the main criteria for disqualifying them from most jobs. Moreover, the events that culminated in the enactment of this law demonstrate the complexities of the law-making process. Finally, it is important for an investigation to be done on whether any meaningful efforts to amend the law are being made.

Gender inequality in pay in the post-World War II era and the enactment of the Equal Pay Act

One of the most dominant ways in which inequalities between men and women have been demonstrated is through salaries and wages. In the U.S., the clamor for equality in pay for men and women dates back to many decades ago. For instance, during the World War II, a growing population of women started seeking jobs in war industries. They were joining the labor force at a time when women were expected to stay at home or work in highly restricted environments where their jobs were shroud in negative stereotypes.

Following a sudden increase in the number of women working in traditionally male settings, the issue of equality in pay emerged. Women were traditionally receiving less pay than men for similar work done. The National War Labor Board made an announcement requiring employers to adjust salary and wage rates to ensure that women and men received equal pay for comparable quantity and quality of work within similar operations. Employers refused to heed this instruction, which had been made voluntarily. By the end of the war, many women had to move out of their jobs in order to create opportunities for war veterans. In this case, it is evident that based on their gender, women were denied a voice in their place of work. This lack of voice has been reflected in the arduous law-making process aimed at promoting gender equality. One of the laws that were enacted after a protracted struggle by equality activists is the Equal Pay Act.

During the early 1960s, media outlets used to provide separate job listings for women and men. It was normal for jobs to be categorized based on sex. Higher-level jobs were almost exclusively put under the “male” category. It was also common for some advertisements to run identical adverts under female and male listings, with the only difference being salary scales. The act of separating pay scales on the basis of gender was a euphemistic way of perpetuating pay inequalities to favor male applicants. There was a need for a new law that would pave the way for a level playing ground for both men and women with regard to salary scales.

Eventually, the Equal Pay Act was passed in June 1963. However, the new law did not come without a fight. The law-making process was lengthy, tedious, and highly contentious. Women hoped that in the end, they would have a voice. The efforts that were undertaken following the enactment of the Equal Pay Act best demonstrate the complexities of the law-making process. Women had to wait for over a decade for the act to be expanded gradually with a view to incorporate a larger section of the workforce. Fortunately, women also made some significant gains during this time. For instance, between 1964 and 1972, 71,000 women received $26 million in back wages (Garcia, 2012).

Efforts to strengthen and expand the Equal Pay Act

It is normal for acts to be strengthened or weakened by court cases. In the case of the Equal Pay Act, court cases had a strengthening effect. One of these cases is Schultz v. Wheaton Glass Co. (1970), which was heard and determined by the U.S. Court of Appeals (Lips, 2003). The judges ruled that jobs should be “substantially equal” as opposed to being “identical” if they are to be categorized under the protection of the act (Lips, 2003). This ruling meant that employers were restricted from changing the job titles of female workers with the objective of paying them lower salaries than their male counterparts. In a different case, Corning Glass Works v. Brennan (1974), which was heard and determined by U.S. Supreme Court, employers were prohibited from justifying lower wages for female employees using the traditional “going market rate” argument (Lips, 2003).

The court rejected the practice of creating salary differentials simply because male employees were unwilling to work for rates as low as those offered to women. This ruling brings into perspective the negative stereotypes that the male-dominated society has traditionally promoted as far as women’s abilities are concerned. By refusing to work for salaries similar to those of women, men were creating the impression that they were more superior to women. They were also attempting to assert their voice by creating the perception that they were better bargainers than women.

This law is of utmost relevance for women who look forward to a day when they will have a voice. It provides hope for female employees who continue to face blatant gender discrimination at their places of work. A lot has changed since the act was enacted. A lot of awareness has been created on the need to maintain gender equality at the workplace especially with regard to pay. Unfortunately, five decades after the passing of this law, gender disparities in salary scales have not been dealt with summarily. Although the wage gap between men and women is narrowing, it remains significant. In 1963, women were earning 59 percent of the wages that were being earned by men (Farrell, 2005). More than four decades later, they earn 89 percent of men’s wages (Farrell, 2005). In my view, this disparity is still too large; women deserve equal pay today just like they did in 1963 when the act was being passed. They deserve to be given a voice to be able to access pay opportunities similar to those of their male counterparts.

Ongoing efforts to amend the Equal Pay Act

As different reasons continue to be offered to explain why gender disparity in pay has persisted, efforts are being made to amend the Equal Pay Act. As one would expect, gender equality advocates hope that these reasons are being put into consideration in amendment efforts. One of the reasons given is that older women are still being factored into the contemporary wage-gap equation. These women belong to the older generation and are therefore still being affected by conditions and perceptions of yester years. If analysis was restricted to the period between the early 1990s and today, many advances would be seen to have occurred.

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            Several efforts have been made in recent times to expand or amend the Equal Pay Act. For example, in January 2009, President Obama assented to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act (Garcia, 2012). This act provides guidelines on how victims of pay discrimination can file a complaint with federal authorities. In this law, the employee can lodge complainant within 180 days after the issuance of the first unfair paycheck (Garcia, 2012). This act even highlights the case of a complainant who worked for Goodyear, a company that she accused of paying her up to 40 percent less than her male colleagues (Garcia, 2012). Upon further investigations, these accusations were found to be accurate. In fact those who drafted the bill named the act after this former employee. While giving his assent, President Obama reaffirmed his commitment to reduce the gender-wage gap, which, he pointed out, gives a female employee 80 cents for each dollar that her male counterpart earns (Garcia, 2012).

Self-reflection

This topic is of great significance although it has not changed my perspective on the issue of gender and voice. Rather, it has only confirmed what I already knew to be the case as far as gender inequality in the workplace is concerned. I am aware that women continue to receive slightly lower salary scales than men. I am also aware that gender equality advocates have for decades been clamoring for gender equality. Their main clarion call has been for women to be given a voice not just in the workplace but also in all aspects of socio-economic and political life.

Conclusion

            The choice of the Equal Pay Act has proven to be the right one in efforts to explain existing connections between gender and voice. The act provides a platform on which to analyze the problem of gender differences in pay that have continued to put women at a position of disadvantage for decades. Despite the enactment of the Equal Pay Act, the basic goal of bridging the gender-based wage gap has not been achieved. This implies that by virtue of their gender, women still lack a voice.

References

Farrell, W. (2005). Why men earn more: the startling truth behind the pay gap–and what women can do about it. New York: Amacom

Garcia, R. (2012). The workplace law agenda of the Obama administration. Employee Rights & Employment Policy Journal, 16(1), 107-118.

Lips, H. (2003). The Gender Pay Gap: Concrete Indicator of Women’s Progress Toward Equality. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, 3(1), 87–109.

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