okay i am going to reach into my sociology knowledge bank to try and briefly explain a thing because a lot of understandings seem to be, to some degree, misinformed:what the wage/pay gap isn’t: an employer literally handing seventy-seven cents to a (white) woman and one dollar to a (white) man. i mean, c’mon. think a little harder.
what the wage/pay gap is: the consistent pattern of the average of men’s incomes (both in general and in specific fields) being higher than the average of women’s incomes (this is the basis of the seventy-seven cents to a dollar model). no, this pattern is not caused by ~women’s choices.~ it is linked to several different (STRUCTURAL; again, NOT choice) factors, including (but not limited to): men being more likely to receive promotions and therefore move higher up the ladder (glass ceiling [glass escalator in female-dominated jobs]); occupational sex segregation, which sees men and women within the same field tracked towards different roles that typically place men higher up in terms of status and pay than women; gendered socialization forces that encourage men towards subjects that lead to higher paying fields (such as STEM fields) and women towards subjects that lead to lower paying fields (such as humanities, liberal arts, et cetera); the devaluation of “feminized” (read: female-dominated) jobs that results in lower pay in those fields (check out the history of teaching for very stark proof of this); continued gender expectations rooted in traditional patriarchal roles that encourage (and, frequently, push) mothers to take more time away to raise and care for children while encouraging fathers to do the opposite; the motherhood penalty, which is the phenomenon of employers seeing mothers as automatically less dedicated to work and therefore choosing not to hire/promote them (there is no fatherhood penalty; studies have found that fathers are actually seen as better job candidates)(this also affects women who are not mothers because employers view them as people who will inevitably become mothers and will therefore be less dedicated, etc) and so on and so forth.
(it’s also super important to remember that the gaps become even wider when race is factored in, meaning that women of color earn even less than white women in comparison to white men).