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Equal Pay Debate Worth Another Look

What are we aiming for when it comes to equal wages these days? Sometimes it seems like a moving target. 

For example, should two workers doing the same job get the same pay? Or should the person who performs better receive more income, and is that judgment arbitrary or based on strict, measurable criteria? Should a worker be paid based on his or her market value, such as one movie star’s box office pull versus another’s? 

Using those criteria, there might not be a more interesting case study than the U.S. women’s soccer team. Male athletes generally make more in this country because they generate better TV ratings, sell more tickets and pull in more advertising dollars. But compared to their counterparts on the men’s national team, these numbers all fall in favor of the women’s squad. 

Following the women’s 2015 World Cup title and qualification for the 2016 Olympics, something the men’s team failed to do, the disparity in talent may be greater than ever. Yet the men are still making more, leading the women to speak out against the unequal pay and consider a strike. 

The controversy mirrors one that has been growing nationwide as a result of pay difference between genders. As debates continue over raising the minimum wage and instituting equal pay, it’s interesting to consider how we value people within the work landscape. 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “California on track for $15 minimum wage,” from BBC News, March 31, 2016.] 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Stars Allege Pay Discrimination,” from The Wall Street Journal, March 31, 2016.] 

The issue of women’s worth is not going away any time soon. Some experts have identified that women in the workplace face obstacles in three areas: Struggling to get hired at entry-level positions in certain industries, getting stuck in mid-career roles and simply getting locked out of top executive positions. In essence, some women must overcome obstacles at every stage of their career, no matter how successful they eventually become. 

Economists are now engaging in studies demonstrating that gender inequality impacts everything from household incomes to economic growth. One study estimated that advancing women’s equality in both social and economic realms throughout the world would add $12 trillion to the global GDP by 2025. 

We believe we’re fortunate that the treatment of women in the U.S. is more advanced than many other countries, but there’s still a ways to go when it comes to equal pay. Whether in Hollywood or soccer stadiums, American women have proven that they are no longer willing to wait to be paid less than what they deserve. 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Breaking down the gender challenge,” from McKinsey & Company, March 2016.] 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “As Emerging Multinationals Take Off, Are They Leaving Women at the Gate?” from Knowledge@Wharton, March 25, 2016.] 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Does gender discrimination in social institutions matter for long-term growth?” from OECD, March 2016.] 

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