Walter Block thinks the wage gap is caused largely not by gender discrimination, but by marriage and starting a family (Block and Williams, 1981). In his Marriage Asymmetry Hypothesis he states that if a woman has childcare responsibilities, this means she may have less experience and is more likely to work part time – resulting in a lower wage (Block and Williams, 1981). The discussion of labelling and stereotyping in the work place is therefore irrelevant, as a woman is almost always more likely to take responsibility for the majority of childcare and housework. Although the study may be out-dated, this issue is largely underestimated when it comes to analysing the gender wage gap. Society needs to work towards abolishing the monopoly of men’s time for work, and toward recognising and allowing men their choice of lifestyle. This would allow them to equally contribute to, or take over, the responsibilities of the family and the household (Wheelock, 1990).
Davidson and Burke discuss the effects of the “Glass Ceiling Effect” upon the gender wage gap (Davidson and Burke, 2010). This invisible barrier stops women from achieving success and rising further up the corporate ladder (Cotter, Hermsen and Ovadia, 2001). This is another consequence of gender stereotyping in the work place. The characteristics of a successful manager: being agentic, decisive, and assertive are stereotypically male qualities (Prentice and Carranza, 2002). It is not enough if a woman shows leadership qualities, competency, and assertiveness; in order to achieve more in a managerial role, she must be more like a man, and present herself as an atypical woman.
Half a century has passed since the second wave of feminism and despite various legislative reforms, political lobbying, and women constituting half of the labour market; they are still subject to gender stereotypes. More and more women have begun assuming agentic positions since then, but unfortunately the ways in which women are perceived have not altered to reflect this (Diekman and Eagly, 2000).
Women earn less than men on average, but some claim that discrimination and stereotyping does not play a key role in that anymore. June O’Neil conducted studies in 2005, in which she claims that the wage gap is non-existent if we compare the income of unmarried men and women without children, or among men and women with similar family roles (Chiswick, Rapoport and Polachek, 2005). When cast in this light: the wage gap is down to the different reactions and decisions of men and women regarding parenthood, how the children will be cared for, and who does it (Chiswick, Rapoport and Polachek, 2005). It seems a larger change in behaviour, or human nature, is required to achieve gender equality. And this applies not only to the labour market.
Gender inequality does exist, and the wage gap is one of many manifestations of it. Women’s status in society has a huge impact on the overall wellbeing of both men and women (Wilkinson and Picket, 2011). To achieve higher socio-economical status women suffer greatly. Most struggle with the desire to have a successful career and a family life simultaneously. In order to combine these two they have to do twice as much as men, ending up with no free time. Each gender has its own unfairness to deal with. We don’t see many fathers at the school gates because men are still perceived as the breadwinner, due to gender stereotypes and hierarchy. We should show gratitude for what our society is capable of doing, and how far Britain has come in the past fifty years when it comes to equality. Half a century is not that long, compared to centuries of oppression of women; it may take centuries more to build an equal, balanced society. There is no doubt that equality produces greater trust, and that leads to material equality, and subsequently: a united, connected, coefficient community (Wilkinson and Picket, 2011). And that, above all, should be our goal.