Mody University is a SWE Affiliate located in India that recently conducted a roundtable discussion on the gender pay gap. The talk started off with a screening of an insightful documentary titled ‘Why Women are Paid Less?’ The documentary stars Hillary Clinton and Anne-Marie Slaughter and discusses the cultural norms at the center of the gender pay gap that exists across the world. Since women began entering the workforce in the 1950’s, the pay between men and women has remained unequal. In spite of changing norms and more women asserting their rights to be equal, pay discrimination persists because of what the film called the “motherhood penalty.” The motherhood penalty suggests that women who have children are penalized due to the perception that they value their kids more than their jobs and therefore deserve to not only be paid less, but hired and promoted less often.
After the film, a discussion ensued between the student at Mody University and was moderated by SWE Student President Ms. Aditi Singh. Everyone began to express their views on the probable causes behind the huge gender pay gap. One of the major reasons they agreed was behind the pay gap was that women are seen as caregivers, not breadwinners. Students also talked about how many recruiters that went to a girl’s college would offer a lower annual recruitment salary package than those going to a boy’s college. They also talked about how unequal participation of women in the workforce and lack of properly formulated laws also contribute to the pay gap.
The discussion then shifted its focus to the basic discrimination women experience in society every single day. They felt that women are always forced to prove themselves that they are just as capable in men, most especially in India where women are seen as second-class citizens. In a recent survey, India was ranked as the most dangerous place for women. That is a powerful statement that should make everyone shudder…that in the world’s largest democracy, women are treated with such disdain.
Other countries like Rwanda and Iceland that were mentioned in the film have tried to curb the gender pay gap using legislation. For instance, back in March of 2018 in Iceland, it became the first country to legislatively punish companies that do not pay women fairly. Iceland is now considered to have the lowest gender pay gap in the world. But in spite of this law and the lower gender pay gap, inequality still persisted in the country. Women in Iceland protested and walked out of there jobs in October 2018 because they thought the new law still wasn’t being implemented properly. This goes to show that regardless of progressive laws and politicians paying lip service to inequality in pay, women have to be ever vigilant.
Here’s a chart showing how pervasive the gender pay gap is across different countries:
The discussion between the women at Mody University came to an end with everybody agreeing on the fact that women have to stand up and fight in order to bring about change in society. Change starts with but a single voice that inspires hundreds and then thousands of other voices to ask for what they want as they all come together to say in one loud voice that they have had enough. Contact your local representative, talk to other women in your workplace, do what you can to organize and resist the gender pay gap and any form of discrimination in the workplace. SWE is here for you and will do its utmost to ensure that women in engineering are treated as equals.
Context for this article was contributed by SWE’s College Affiliate, Mody University of Science and Technology.