Sunday, 30 August 2015

The Outcome of Outcome Feminism – Part 2: Assumptions

Author: Blaise Wilson

The Outcome of Outcome Feminism Series:
Part 1 – Factors to be Controlled:
Part 2 - Assumptions - this article
Part 3 - Freeing women's time and money:
Part 4- Cultural Pressures:
Part 5 - Discrimination:
Part 6 - Discussion of Assumption 6:
Part 7 - Discussion of Assumption 1:
Part 8 - The Outcome of Outcome Feminism Conclusion:
Part 9 - Campaigns and Action:

By comparing the assumptions of Outcome Feminism and the factors highlighted previously, there are three areas in which solutions to the Gender Wage Gap must address:
  • Freeing up women's time and money
  • Cultural Pressure
  • Discrimination

In the second part of the 'Outcome of Outcome Feminism' articles I will investigate the assumptions that support the factors of the Wage Gap, on which to frame the solutions. I will not investigate how valid these assumptions are, simply state that these are Outcome Feminist assumptions when considering the Economic Outcome Equality between men and women.

Assumption 1: The Wage Gap is a problem that needs to be fixed [4,5].

It assumes that the correct result Wage Gap should be zero, and that all women should be earning the same as all men, regardless of any other factor. It also highlights that there is a need to “recognize best practice and success stories” [5] from others that have a minimal wage gap.

Assumption 2: According to the UN WOMEN's report [3], there are three dimensions to women's rights around the world, which impact the economic outcome of the wage gap [p42, 3]: 1. women’s socio-economic disadvantage. 2. stereotyping, stigma and violence. 3. women’s agency, voice and participation.

Assumption 3: Women's work is less valued than men's and is paid less as a result [6, 10].

This assumes certain jobs pay less because it is primarily women who do them.

“The wage gap is also perpetuated by occupational segregation by gender. IWPR’s research shows that “irrespective of the level of qualification, jobs predominantly done by women pay less on average than jobs predominantly done by men.” [6]

“In the not-so-distant past, employers explicitly assigned “female” jobs lower wages than “male” jobs simply because women held them. Inertia in wages and gender ratios within occupations contributes to the persistence of lower wages in “female” jobs (England, Allison, & Wu, 2007; Kim, 1999).” [10]

Assumption 4: Women do not receive equal pay for largely equal work [3, 4, 5, 6, 10].

Despite being a legal requirement in some countries, including the UK and the US, there is an assumption that these laws are not being enforced.

“Consider a hypothetical pair of graduates—one man and one woman—from the same university who majored in the same field. One year later, both were working full time, the same number of hours each week, in the same occupation and sector. Our analysis shows that despite these similarities, the woman would earn about 7 percent less than the man would earn.” [p2, 10]

Assumption 5: Women should not be penalised for their choice of being the main caregiver to dependants, or for their choice of occupation. [3, 7, 8]

“Closing the gap will require multifaceted solutions that together help ensure that the work women perform is valued fairly, that women are not penalized unfairly for their caregiving responsibilities, and that there is greater transparency in workplace pay practices.“ [7]

“Because caregiving responsibilities most often fall to women and mothers, women are more likely to have to leave the paid labor force to provide family care. Furthermore, working women can be targeted for discrimination and denied job opportunities altogether because of negative stereotypes about their caregiving roles—stereotypes that men are less likely to face.” [7]

“The primary reasons women work fewer hours are largely due to child-rearing responsibilities.” [8]

Assumption 6: Gender is a social construct. There is no biological sexual dimorphism in humans [3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10].

This assumes there is no difference between the wants and needs of men and women. All women want the same jobs, and hours as men. Women don't choose to be stay at home mothers or jobs that earn less, or to work less hours – they are forced into these roles though old fashioned cultural pressure and discrimination.

“It’s been identified that the wage gap is caused by outdated societal attitudes and beliefs about the place and value of women in the workplace.” [p1, 5]

“Both discrimination and cultural gender norms can play a role in the “explained” portion of the pay gap. With that in mind, we find that college major is an important factor driving pay differences. Men are more likely than women to major in fields like engineering and computer science, which typically lead to higher-paying jobs. Women are more likely than men to major in fields like education and the social sciences, which typically lead to Graduating to a Pay Gap lower-paying jobs” [p1-2, 10]

“One year after graduation, a pay gap exists between women and men who majored in the same field. Among business majors, for example, women earned just over $38,000, while men earned just over $45,000.” [p2, 10]

“Gender discrimination is one potential contributor to the unexplained pay gap” [p2, 10]

“The root causes of these inequalities lie in unequal power structures that are sustained by laws, social norms and practices, market forces and public policies within both the ‘private sphere’ of home and family and the public arena.” [p44, 3]

“Gender stereotyping translates into gender segregation first in the education system and subsequently in the labour market. Girls are still less likely than boys to choose scientific and technological fields of study and, when they do, are less likely to take up high-paying jobs in those fields. These ‘choices’ are informed by stereotypes about suitable occupations for girls rather than based on ability.” [p49, 3]

Factors and Assumptions

Combining the factors previously identified with these assumptions the solutions boil down to three main areas:

Firstly, women must have their time and money freed up in order to pursue a long term career. This combines previously highlighted factors of full or part time work, hours and overtime, and the experience within a chosen career.

Secondly, women must be freed from the cultural pressures of stereotyping that force them into traditional roles, which pay less or not at all. This includes factors of the choice of education and occupation, and choosing to be the main caregiver to dependants.

Thirdly, once a women has chosen a career, discrimination must be eliminated.


These assumptions are not exhaustive, but a result of researching wage gap solutions. No analysis has been done on their validity. Additional factors that might play a role in these assumptions has not been considered.

The factor of location has not been included in this analysis. People of Colour (PoC) have not been considered separately at this point.

Assumption 6 is a KEY assumptions. Without this assumption many of the proposed solutions may be ineffective as women continue to knowingly choose to be stay at home mothers or go into lower paying careers.


Therefore the solutions to the wage gap need to centre on three main points:
  • Freeing up women's time and money
  • Cultural Pressure
  • Discrimination

[1] UK Government request companies publish gendered wage data: accessed 29/08/2015

[2] Wage Gap in Rwanda, Burundi and Nicaragua is almost non existent: accessed 29/08/2015

[3] UN Women Progess Report 2015 – 2016 accessed 29/08/2015

[4] New Republic – How to Equalize the Female Pay Gap accessed 29/08/2015

[5] New Brunswick: The Wage Gap Action Plan 2005-2010 accessed 29/08/2015

[6] Roosevelt Institute: How to Fix the Gender Wage Gap: Going Far Beyond an App accessed 29/08/2015

[7] American Progress: Seven Actions that could shrink the Gender Wage Gap accessed 29/08/2015

[8] Policy.Mic: Norway Has Found a Solution to the Gender Wage Gap That America Needs to Try accessed 29/08/2015

[9] IMF STAFF DISCUSSION NOTE: Women, Work, and the Economy: Macroeconomic Gains from Gender Equity accessed 29/08/2015

[10] Graduating to a Pay Gap The Earnings of Women and Men One Year after College Graduation: accessed 29/08/2015

[11] Quotas in the EU: accessed 29/08/2015

[12] Pros and Cons of Quotas: accessed 29/08/2015

[13] Gender Wage Gap within the same job: accessed 29/08/2015

[14] Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development: Closing the Gender Gap: Act Now accessed 29/08/2015

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