Monday, May 25, 2015

Lack Of Confidence = Lack of Pay?

In class, we have been discussing income gaps and class differences in the United States. I recently saw an article with a possible explanation for income differences based on gender. Below is a graph showing the earnings of workers in 2009 by sex, race, and ethnicity. Clearly, the men (blue color) earn more money than the women, no matter the race or ethnicity. This shows that this income gender gap exists and calls for possible explanations to be discussed, with one being that women have lower expectations and lower confidence than men. This makes me wonder whether society's gender norms and stereotypes are depleting confidence in women and are truly affecting socioeconomic status and income disparities.

Median weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers, by sex, race, and ethnicity in 2009

According to the survey conducted online by job site Monster, only 33 percent of women believe they will earn more than $50,000 in their first job out of college, compared with 48 percent of men. Female college students were also less confident they would even receive job opportunities to begin with, as only 16 percent of women in Monster's survey said they were "absolutely confident" they would find a job.' Clearly, women expect less than men do, which may cause them to underachieve based on the role they believe they should have in society instead of striving for what they are actually capable of.

This caused me to ask myself, why do women expect less? It could stem back to history's traditional family gender roles in which men were the only ones working and providing for the family, therefore granting them the most power. Women were expected to be submissive and serve their husband by taking care of the kids and cleaning the home. Do you think this idea still exists in today's society?

How and why is this idea affecting the income gap? Authors Katty Kay and Claire Shipman for The Atlantic said that "success correlates just as closely with confidence as it does with competence." In other words, there’s a large advantage to having high expectations for oneself. If you want more money, you need to expect to make more money and be upfront in asking for it. According to the article, studies show that men are more likely than women to negotiate for and receive higher pay because of this reason. So clearly, there is evidence supporting the idea that lower expectations and lower confidence is contributing to the lower pay that women receive compared to men. 

As I think about this critically, I still wonder whether the confidence gap can truly be blamed for the income gender gap, or if this psychological explanation is used to simply blame the problem on something that may not actually be as influential as it’s perceived to be. After all, there are many successful and powerful women in our society today, such as Hillary Clinton, Melinda Gates, and Michelle Obama. Also, the author may be biased towards women, since she is a woman herself. This could generate greater empathy for women and therefore create a skewed point of view on the situation.

What do you think? To what extent do you believe this claim presented is true?

1 comment:

  1. Isabelle, Nice job blogging again this term. You use the form thoughtfully. This post is especially strong in its connection to large American themes, the link, pic you provide, and most of all the critical thinking you display even as you interrogate your own tentative conclusions. Good work!