Looking for ‘Parity’ in the Gender Pay Gap Introduction Researchers have reported that much of the basis of the gender pay gap depends on the pervasiveness of gender segregation. The gender pay gap is essential for it remains an integral contributor to gender inequality. The gender pay gap remains a major hindrance to gender equality. There are a number of theoretical explanations of this phenomenon that help identify the various forces contributing to the gender segregation process. These theories can be classified into three: institutional, structural, and individual. This essay discusses these three theories, but it is the contention of the author that no particular explanation is adequate to completely give explanation for the presence of gender segregation.
Every theory provides a distinctive explanation of how gender segregation works. The first section briefly discusses the historical roots of gender pay gap, particularly in the UK. The discussion then focuses on the theories, the supply- and demand-side. Basically, this essay critically assesses the argument that gender pay gap is fair in that it reflects the differing work and care priorities of men and women.
Historical Roots of Gender Pay Gap In the 1940s, the post-war welfare state in the UK was rooted in the idea that men are the breadwinner while women are the housekeepers. Both the occupational system and the benefit system relied on this idea of a male breadwinner. Nevertheless, the idea was subjected to heavy scrutiny in the 1960s and 1970s, driven by the evolving labour market conditions and by the demands of the Women’s Movement (Bagilhole, 2009, p. 11). By the 1990s, women were already entering the labour market, and alongside was the emergence of the gender pay gap.
The very first gender-based employment legislation was the Sex Disqualification Act, which was ratified in 1919 (Morris & O’Donnel, 1999, p. 91). Even though this legislation was supported by advocates of equal rights, its useful impacts were negligible. According to Shackleton (2008), it was only during the post-war years, after a substantial growth in the number of women in the labour market, that major instruments of redress were deliberated, endorsed and implemented. Supply Side Theories: Individual Researchers have discovered several individual, structural and institutional factors the influence the gender pay gap (GPG).
The differences between the occupational profile of men and women, the comparative gap between full-time and part-time employment, and the level of participation of women in the labour market are commonly emphasised as having a considerable effect on the GPG (Grimshaw & Rubery, 2007; Blau & Kahn, 2001).