Dear President-elect Trump,
It has been fifty three years since The Equal Pay Act of 1963 was enacted, and seven years since President Barack Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. And yet, men continue to make eighty percent more money than women for the same job (AAUW Fall 2016). Why is the gender pay gap still an issue at all? Minority women face even more obstacles than their white peers. Inequality for women in the workforce should be resolved because women deserve equal pay, and representation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) related occupations.
The gender wage gap should be a thing of the past. Despite the effort made into reducing the wage gap, women are only expected to have equal pay as men in 2059 (Time, April 11, 2016). Consequently, the wage gap will affect my female classmates and I in the future when we join the workforce. Does this mean that people who are facing the wage gap are less competent than those who do not? A majority of women of color are facing even larger wage gaps. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Lisa Maatz states that Latina and Hispanic women get paid just fifty four percent of what men make (March 16, 2016). One way to reduce this wage gap would be to strengthen laws such as the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and the Paycheck Fairness Act so that women can fight back against unequal pay, and to ensure that employers are following the law (The Council On Women and Girls, June 2016). In reality, women get less pay raises, and are fifteen percent less likely to get promoted than men, because among other reasons, women have to take time off of work for family. This issue should be solved by making child care affordable and available. Giving all working women paid leaves and sick days would also help to address this matter. Lastly, raising the minimum wages of women will help to reduce the pay gap significantly, considering the last time the minimum wage was raised was in 2009 (National Women’s Law Center, September 19, 2015).
While several people have acknowledged the wage gap, it it also thought of as a myth by many. Americans who disagree with the gender wage disparity believe that it is caused by women choosing lesser paying jobs and not working as hard as men. In contrast, Harvard University professor Claudia Goldin reported that even if women were given the male distribution of jobs, only one fourth of their wage gap would be reduced (Freakonomics, January 7, 2016). As previously stated, one of the contributing factors of the gender wage gap is women’s need for work flexibility due to the demands of family life. In conclusion, the wage gap should not be ignored or thought of as a myth because it is one of the critical problems in the workforce.
One major setback for minority women is that they are scarcely represented in high paying Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) related occupations. The number of black and Hispanic people in STEM jobs are shockingly low. A report from the United States Census Bureau in September 2013 showed that in total, six percent of STEM workers are black and seven percent are Hispanic. While the numbers of black and Hispanic women enrolling in STEM courses have increased, many of them still do not complete their STEM majors because some believe that they cannot do as well as their male counterparts, and feel isolated being one of the few minorities. President-elect Trump, I strongly advise you to invest in programs like Black Girls Code and other groups that encourage minority girls to explore STEM subjects. If more organization make large fundings to support minority women, more women will be inspired to seek STEM career paths. In short, the representation of minority women in STEM jobs could increase by encouraging interest in STEM subjects.
Too many people believe that women are not competent enough to work in STEM jobs. This way of thinking is not rational; all women have the capability to work in STEM professions. If STEM programs are made available to underrepresented minorities from an early age and hence enabling them to build a stronger foundation in STEM related subjects, the number of minority women in STEM careers will increase.
President-elect Trump, I urge you to take these findings into consideration. The gender wage disparity and underrepresentation of minority women is highly upsetting. As a young minority woman, I hope that the wage gap issue can be eliminated and there will be more diversity in STEM careers. Thank you for taking your time to read this letter.
Alya Nabilah Samsudin