Why do women still make less money than men? It’s not all about overt prejudice on the behalf of employers. PayScale’s data show that part of the issue is that women tend to gravitate toward careers that give back — and pay less. While socially conditioned altruism might be part of the reason for that choice, another factor also influences women’s career decisions: the need for a flexible schedule. Recent research shows that women are 10 times more likely than men to stay home with sick kids.
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New data from a recent national Kaiser survey of women and men about their health care experiences reveal some interesting facts about women and family health and the impact that managerial roles at home have on women’s professional lives.
Here are a few points to consider from the study.
1. When kids are sick, moms stay home.
Thirty-nine percent of women report missing work to care for sick children, while only 3 percent of men say the same.
“American workers who have children not only have to worry about missing work when they are ill, but also when their kids get sick,” writes Bourree Lam at The Atlantic. “A sick child can often mean having to call into work to take a day off, which matters a lot to the 59 percent of married couples with children in the U.S. who report both parents working.”
2. Women are the primary decision makers when it comes to their children’s health care.
About three-quarters of women report that they take charge when it comes to this responsibility. They choose the children’s health care provider, take them to appointments, and follow through with recommended care. Only one-fifth of fathers assume the primary responsibility in this area.
3. Working mothers who are low-income or have part-time jobs have fewer workplace benefits and more childcare responsibilities.
More than half of these moms report that they must take time off when their children are sick, compared to about a third of higher income and full-time working women. And, paid sick leave and paid vacation time is significantly lower among this group.
It is also important to consider that the gender wage gap varies with geography throughout the United States. Interestingly, regions where earnings are low across the board see the slimmest gap in wages by gender. Unemployment rates are often high in these states as well.
Many factors contribute to gender inequality in the American workplace. In order to better understand these issues, we must look at the wage gap within the context of the responsibilities and challenges working women and mothers face, as well as at other complex influences. Gender inequality is not a thing of the past, and it deserves our continued attention and a more thoughtful approach.
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