It's often cited that women make 79 percent that which white men do for working full-time in the U.S. But while that's a handy statistic to have up your sleeve, the full picture is far more complicated. A lot of things affect that pay gap besides gender, and acknowledging them is necessary toward keeping your feminism intersectional.
First of all, in addition to the gender-based one, there's also a huge race-based pay gap that affects people of all genders. For example, although the 79 percent statistic is accurate for white women, it's not for women of color — and, indeed, it's actually worse. Latina women, for instance, make only 54 percent of what white men make for full-time work. Age, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability status also play major roles in how much money people make.
The causes of the pay gap are many and complex, but what we do know is that it's not just the result of women's own choices. Employers will offer less money to women than to men even when all else is equal. In one Yale study, for example, people offered a job candidate $4,000 less per year when the resume had a female name. Even when factors like women working fewer hours play into it, there are also larger societal forces at work, like the pressure for women to be the primary caretakers in their families — so it's important to look at the big picture rather than victim-blaming.
Here are a few lesser-known factors that affect the wage gap.
Bisexual People Make Less Money Than Straight People
A new Indiana University study published in American Sociological Review found that bisexual men and women make less money than their straight counterparts. Gay men also make less than straight men, but unexpectedly, lesbian women make more than straight women. The authors think they can chalk up these two latter findings to one factor: Marital status. Perhaps because men are expected to be the primary breadwinners in their families, women make more when they're unmarried and men make more when they're married. The findings for bisexual people, however, appear to be due solely to discrimination, proving that sexual orientation itself plays a role.
The tech industry is known for being male-dominated, and one result of this is that men are getting paid more, according to a Glassdoor analysis. Women programmers on the site make 28.3 percent less than men, compared to 5.9 percent for female users in general. Women with other positions in the tech industry, including game artists and information security specialists, also experience a higher wage gap than the average woman.
After transitioning from male to female, trans people's wages decrease by a third on average, according to a B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy study. This provides proof that the gender wage gap really is due to discrimination — it's not just that women behave differently or have different priorities — and that trans people experience additional disadvantages.
A recent study by ZipRecruiter found that on job applications that ask candidates to enter their expected salaries, men put over $11,000 more than women. The gap was especially big in law, industrial goods and services, and business. But lest we take this to mean that the wage gap is women's fault, there's a reason they have lower expectations: They're taught by our culture from an early age that their work is worth less (also, see item #5).
In a study in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, women and men were instructed to read accounts of job candidates who negotiated. People of both genders were more likely to view women more negatively after they negotiated than to penalize men. So, to the extent that women's behavior contributes to the wage gap, the issue really is how women who ask for equal pay are received.
Images: Giphy (5)