By InformHer Staff Writer
“Mawwiage. Mawwiage is what bwings us togethew today.”
But Princess Bride, is marriage really bringing all of us together?
When it comes to salary and income earnings, marriage helps men a lot more than it helps women, according to Claudia Geist’s 2006 article titled “Payoff or Penalty? A Comparison of the Marriage Wage Differential for Men and Women across 15 Nations.”
Her examination of the hourly wages of married and unmarried men and women, between the ages 25 and 55, revealed something interesting, and a little upsetting. Men in the 15 countries studied (including the United States) earn noticeably more when they are married than when unmarried. On the other hand, women earn about the same as they would married or unmarried in a majority of the countries examined. Geist explains that this may be because of the types of jobs married women work, and the consistency of the cross-cultural belief that men are breadwinners. Further research is needed to confirm if this data is evidence of either of those claims.
“Chin-up, Buttercup,” because this study does not mean that women will suddenly be payed less at their job when they get married. Instead, the marriage wage gap points to a few likely problems, for example the harmful social pressure on men to be the breadwinner in a partnership. Finally, this also illustrates how women’s work is undervalued and confirms that women’s potential for wage-earning is less than men’s.
Wait, women have a lower earning potential?
If this sounds sexist to you, it’s because it is. Women’s work is generally undervalued in comparison to men’s due to the fact that women make up the majority of the care-work workforce (think nurses, day care workers, maids, stay at home moms). Care workers do not receive comparable (or even adequate) pay. The solution is not to avoid being a careworker yourself, but to value care work and care workers, and to shape the dialogue that surrounds care work in a more positive way. Other factors that could explain why women earn less may be their negotiation ability and the amount of work they must take on at home.
The pay gap for married women is widespread, with numerous problematic causes, and numerous solutions. “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, now prepare to” forget about discovering a one-size fits all solution to this problem. Instead, we need to wholistically re-evaluate the roles of women in our workforce and the value we place on care work in our culture if we want to ever close the marriage pay gap.