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Academic Journal of Humanities & Social Sciences, 2021, 4(6); doi: 10.25236/AJHSS.2021.040617.

The Gender Wage Gap: Obstacle to US Pay Equity


Amanda Zheng

Corresponding Author:
Amanda Zheng

Brooklyn Technical High School, New York, United States


When President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act of 1963, pay discrimination on the basis of gender was made illegal in the US. However, nearly 70 years later, women today are still earning less money than their male counterparts, only 79 cents for every dollar a man makes, indicating the existence of a gender wage gap. This 21 cent difference in the earnings of women compared to their male counterparts not only negatively impacts the wealth accumulation of women, it also has a direct impact on the emotional wellbeing and mental health of women in that women are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety as opposed to their male counterparts. One study that followed the careers of female and male MBAs found a $150,000 difference in earnings just 9 years after the students had graduated. Another study found that when a female’s income was less than their male counterpart’s, the odds of experiencing depression within the prior year of answering the survey was 1.96 times higher in women and they were 2.5 times more likely to experience anxiety compared to men. One theory that tries to explain an aspect of the gender wage gap is the “Motherhood Penalty” which implies that as women become mothers, they often work less hours and therefore earn less money. As a result, fathers will often step up and compensate for the missed hours and experience the “Fatherhood Premium”. However, research shows that the difference in hours mothers and fathers worked accounts for at most 15% of the Fatherhood Premium which therefore suggests that the discrimination of mothers and upholding of “old fashion notions about parenthood” are to blame for the “Fatherhood Premium” fathers experience. Overall, the systematic discrimination of women in the work field should be combated with legislation, specifically the Paycheck Fairness Act which would bolster women’s equal pay protections.


Gender Wage Gap, Inequality, Mental Health, Depression, Anxiety, Pay Gap

Cite This Paper

Amanda Zheng. The Gender Wage Gap: Obstacle to US Pay Equity. Academic Journal of Humanities & Social Sciences (2021) Vol. 4, Issue 6: 109-113. https://doi.org/10.25236/AJHSS.2021.040617.


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