24/10/2017 -
Edition 727

Women’s hourly wage is 3% higher than men’s

Labor discrimination against women is a reason for concern. Evidence shows that the phenomenon is not explained by an undervaluing of women’s labor contribution, but by the atavistic tradition of assigning women central roles in domestic tasks. For this reason, gender equity will not be achieved only through new labor regulations. It is also necessary to promote a cultural change that distributes more equitably the roles within the household.

Harvey Weinstein, producer of major hollywod films –such as Pulp Fiction, The English Patient and Inglourious Bastards– has been accused of sexual harassment by several actresses. After speaking out, Weinstein did not deny the allegations. He stated that these were consensual acts and that he never carried out reprisals against the actresses who rejected him. Quentin Tarantino, his star director, admitted to know about these behaviors and regretted not having taken more active attitude against them.  

The case reveals to which extent there is a silent cultural complicity that tolerates hostile situations in female labor activity. In line with these trends, many studies continue to point out the underrepresentation of women in senior positions.

A recent study by the Ministry of Labor entitled "Women in the Labor World" sheds light on some of the relevant aspects of women's work. According to this source, among the formal salaried workers in Argentina it can be seen that:

  • Male workers earn an average monthly salary of $ 17 thousand, while female workers have a salary of $13.5 thousand, this is, 21% lower.
  • Men work 42 weekly hours on average, while women do so 32 hours a week.
  • This implies that in terms of hourly wages, men earn $101 per hour while females earn $104 per hour, or 3% higher.

This data shows that men earn higher monthly wages because they have a more dedication to paid work. However, once measured on an hourly basis, women have a higher hourly wage. It is very suggestive that the informal labor market, were labor contracts are not regulated, the same phenomenon occurs. Women have higher hourly wages than men, but since they work fewer hours the total remuneration ends up being lower.

The study shows that 90% of women carry out unpaid domestic work and spend more than 6 hours a day doing so. Among men, only 60% carry out unpaid domestic work and do so for 3 daily hours. Such a disproportional allocation of domestic work affects the women possibilities of engaging in paid work. The fact that in the majority of households it seems natural that women take the central role in domestic tasks, especially in children and elderly care, conditions their participation in the labor market. This means a lower proportion of women with paid work (among those over 15 years of age, 72% of men work, while only 48% of women do) and those who do work, dedicate substantially less hours.

Therefore the evidence suggests that discrimination does not originate in the labor market, but in the family organization. Allocating to women most of the domestic responsibilities and the care of the children, conditions their possibilities of labor insertion and job progress. Although changes in labor regulation mitigating different treatments based on gender may help, gender equity depends on a cultural change. The key is to ensure a more balanced distribution of household responsibilities in the organization of families and to assume in working places that men also have duties at home.

Hollywood also offers another excellent look at the incidence of domestic roles in job development. Taking advantage of the significant value of the art, the famous film Kramer versus Kramer shows the collapse of a successful job career of a male worker when he must take care of his son because his wife leaves them. The story, although fictitious, is very illustrative of how equity in the labor market depends deeply on equity in the distribution of roles within the household.

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