Last Updated 04 Jan 2023

Labor Market Discrimination in Explaining the Gender Pay Gap

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A current issue that is very prevalent in today’s society is inequality against women. We see this through things like the pay gap between female and male workers. These stereotypes are also implemented into people’s minds so much that it reflects in the types of jobs preformed by women versus the ones that men commonly hold. More recently, women have come together and formed movements, such as the Heforshe campaign and numerous women’s marches, to combat the issue and work towards greater equality. “Just a Girl” is a song by the band No Doubt that was released in 1995. This essay will argue how Just a Girl song discusses sexism and misogynistic viewpoints and stereotypes that our society places on women. The song “Just a Girl” makes various references to numerous stereotypes placed on women in society today. One part of the lyrics state, “This world is forcing me to hold your hand ‘cause I’m just a girl, little ‘ol me. Well, don’t let me out of your sigh”

This line is describing the belief that women need men to protect them and keep them safe, because men are seen as stronger and more powerful. Another line from the song says, “The moment that I step outside, so many reasons for me to run and hide. I can’t do the little things I hold so dear…” (No Doubt 1995) This stereotype relates to the pervious, about how women are viewed as people who need men in their life. However, this goes deeper and also touches on the belief of how that stereotype causes women to be scared of the world and feel like they are unable to do certain things. I believe this line of the song was meant to be sarcastic by saying women should be scared to go out into the real world when they do not have a man with them to protect them. I think the sarcasm was used to prove a point and mock these stereotypes by saying that women are very capable to live life on their own and would be equally as fine without a man there for “protection”.

In the middle of the song, they have a line that says “ ‘cause I’m just a girl, I’d rather not be ‘cause they won’t let me drive late at night…” In this line she is saying how she hates all these stereotypes that are attached to women because it prevents her from doing things in her daily life that she would be otherwise very capable of doing. This is how many women feel in society today because these preconceived ideas of females are so ingrained in people’s brains because they have been around for a while and they are often show in various television shows and films that cause some people to think that is normal or correct. In each part of the chorus and in the title, she states “I’m just a girl…” (No Doubt 1995) I think by adding the word “just” into that phrase, it is also meant to be sarcastic and mock the inequality and sexism seen in society. The word “just” implies that women will always be inferior and that there will always be certain things that women can’t accomplish because they are “just a girl”. One lyric also states, “Take a good look at me, just your typical prototype…”

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This line touches on the fact that some people look at all women the same and bind them all into preconceived notions of what females can and can’t do. This line is also mocking those statements and reveling to people that not all women are the same. All females have various different capabilities, skills, strengths, weaknesses, etc., as do men. Toward the end of the song she repetitively sings the line, “oh, I’ve had it up to here.”  By doing this, she is making a statement about how this inequality and sexism needs to end. Also, I think the point of it being so repetitive is to emphasize how big of an issue this is and how it is affecting the lives of many women. It's attempting to break those stereotypes that are fixated in many people’s heads and challenges them to look past what those say about women. These sort of empowerment lyrics that speak out about how these things need to change was her way of putting the issue out into society and making it more know.

Many people today also have a goal of informing people of this issue and are spreading the word through other platforms, such as women’s marches and the HeforShe movement. These are just a few examples of stereotypes placed on women, but there are many more and they greatly impact females in our society. One huge way that this sexism and inequality has a negative impact on women in through the pay gap we see in the workforce. It has been noted that in some instances women and men can be completing the same job, yet women get paid less. An article called “Gender Differences in Pay” says, “the gender pay gap may then be statistically decomposed into two components: one due to gender differences in measured characteristics, and the other 'unexplained' and potentially due to discrimination. Such empirical studies provide evidence consistent with both human capital differences and labor market discrimination in explaining the gender pay gap.”

A statistic from the research journal titled “Sex Roles” states, the “median annual earnings of women fulltime workers in the United States are currently reported to be 75.7 % of men’s earnings.” (Lips) That statistic alone shows the inequality in our society. Another statistic they found reads, “almost 23 % of full-time employed women work in office and administrative support occupations, in which they earn a median weekly salary of $612 and men earn $656. Thus, even within occupations dominated by women, women are more poorly paid than men.” (Lips) With this finding, they are showing how no matter what the occupation is, women are still getting paid less. Even if the job is stereotypically performed by women, men get the upper hand when it comes to salaries.

People that do not believe in this gender pay gap counterargue that the reason there is a discrepancy between the salaries of males and female is due to other factors and has nothing to do with gender. Through the research they performed for this journal they reported that “using the human capital approach, analysts have variously determined that the portion of the gap that might be attributable to discrimination (at least until some new explanatory factor is discovered) may range from 38 % (Blau and Kahn 2000) to 40 % (Kunze 2005).” (Lips) This shows discrimination and sexist attitudes definitely play role in this. Another example of how these effect women in society is through stereotypes of which jobs women can and cannot execute. There are many jobs that women are equally as capable of doing, but don’t because it is perceived as a man’s jobs. The research journal also found that many of these occupations are some of the most highly paid.

A quote from them reads, “on the other hand, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2011, Table 39) also reports that women are a distinct minority in more highly-paid occupational categories such as architecture and engineering occupations (12.38 %; median weekly salary for all workers, $1,255), chief executive officers (25.6 %; median weekly salary for all workers $1949), protective service occupations (19.78 %; median weekly salary for all workers, $747), construction and extraction occupations (2.03 %; median weekly salary for all workers, $709), installation, maintenance and repair occupations (3.69 %; median weekly salary for all workers, $794) and production, transportation, and material moving occupations (19.8 %; median weekly salary for all workers, $599).” (Lips) This is all due to the ideas implemented into people’s heads that women are not capable of doing these jobs, or cannot execute them as well as men. These sexist viewpoints prevent women from doing certain jobs they may otherwise enjoy, and it prevents society from having women in those fields, when they could greatly benefit from their ideas. Just like No Doubt did in their hit song “Just a Girl”, many women are starting to challenge these sexist attitudes and try to break the stereotypes.

Instead of doing it through song, many women are raising awareness through women’s marches and other movements. Celebrity Emma Watson created a movement called HeforShe. The goal in this movement is to work together to gain gender equality and break the double standards and stereotypes in our society. This is another example of a celebrity using their platform to spread awareness like No Doubt did through their song. Also, since our new president has taken office, it has spiked a large amount of women’s marches taking place for women to come together and work towards change in our society. The song “Just a Girl” was a great way to get people talking about this issue when No Doubt released it and a great way to get people thinking about the misogynistic views many people hold, even if they didn’t already realize it.

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