Gender Gaps in Labour Markets

 5/14/2017  467

Factors resposible for gender gaps in labour market

This gap is visible in terms of wage differentials, lack of oppurtunities, glass ceiling etc

a. Very few women work in India, with the proportion of working women being lower in urban India than in rural India. Those who do work face lower wages and other kinds of discrimination.

b. once new industries come into existence, men will move up the ladder quickly, reducing female labour market participation.
c. Also, with greater urbanization, and movement out of agrarian occupations by men, more women are likely to drop out of the labour market mainly because of prevalent social norms.

d. Non-linearity in wages is a reason. This means there are disproportionate rewards associated with working longer hours, with adverse consequences for women, who still account for a lion’s share of home-related and unpaid work in most parts of the world.These gaps are largely because once a woman has a child, her working hours drop and the non-linearity in wages kicks in.

e. labour market is beset with different kinds of discrimination along lines of gender, caste and ethnicity.

f. Theory of pollution(by Goldin) explain why it is so difficult for women to break into occupations that have been dominated by men. Goldin argued that discrimination is a “consequence of a desire by men to maintain their occupational status or prestige”.

“... prestige can be ‘polluted’ by the entry of an individual who belongs to a group whose members are judged on the basis of the group’s average and not by their individual merits,” wrote Goldin. “Men in an all-male occupation might be hostile to allowing a woman to enter their occupation even if the woman meets the qualifications for entry. The reason is that those in the wider society will not know that the woman was qualified and might, instead, view her entry as signalling that the occupation had been altered. She will be seen as ‘polluting’ the occupation.”

Goldin cited the example of firefighters to explain her theory of pollution in an interview later.
“Let’s take an example of firemen, and let’s say we begin not that long ago when there were no women who were firemen—which is why they’re called firemen. And to become a fireman you have to take a test, lifting a very heavy hose and running up many flights of stairs. And every night, the firemen get off from work and go to the local bar. Everyone slaps them on the back and says what great brawny guys they are and what a great occupation they are in, and everybody knows that to be a fireman requires certain brawny traits and lots of courage.
“But nobody knows when there’s a technological shock to this occupation. And in this case it might be that fire hoses become really light or the local fire department changes the test. There are information asymmetries. But they do note that for this ‘brawny’ characteristic, the median woman is much lower. So if we observe a woman entering the occupation and we don’t know how to judge women, we’re going to assume that her skills are those of the median woman.
“... chances are we’re going to assume that some technological shock has happened to this occupation. And so her entry into the occupation is going to pollute it. Then when they go to the bar, people will say, ‘Oh, you’ve got a woman in the firehouse; now firefighting has become women’s work.’ That’s where the pollution comes in.”

g. The Global wage report 16-17 noted that typically, women’s educational choices produced occupational segregation. For instance, since the majority of those who studied nursing were women, “this profession is over-represented among women”.

h. Moreover, at the same time care work is undervalued because it may be seen as a natural female attribute rather than a skill to be acquired. Thus, a higher representation of women in sectors where their work is undervalued results in a gender pay gap.

What could be done to fix the gender gaps?

a. One obvious and popular candidate is market competition. If the market is competitive, the costs of engaging in discriminatory practices are much higher.

b. The best way to reduce gender disparities is to introduce flexibility in working hours so that remuneration structures are not influenced heavily by the number of hours’ employees put in.

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