Adwoa Yankee works a 9-5 job; she sometimes works overtime when she must meet deadlines.

The only uninterrupted time she gets with her kids is on the drives to drop them at school. She does not spend as much time with her husband as she would like.

She usually gets home physically and mentally exhausted because of all the time she spends inching through the thick traffic.

Whenever her mind wanders while she sits in traffic, it always lands on one thought, "I took this job to live a better life, but the job has become my life."

"I took this job to live a better life, but the job has become my life."

Now imagine you are Adwoa Yankee's husband, and the most time you get with her in a day is 4 hours at night while you both lie in bed waiting for sleep to wash over you. After work-over drinks with your boys, you find out that one of them in the same position as Adwoa Yankee, at the same organization, is making more than twice the amount your wife is making.

What is your reaction going to be?

You might be displeased or outraged, and these emotions would not be out of order.

In Ghana, women earn less than 30% of what men earn, making it one of just two nations in Sub-Saharan Africa to have such significant disparities.

This week we are standing in the gender pay gap as we discuss why this gap exists, especially in the informal sector, what society can do to bridge this gap and some economic benefits of gender pay equality.

Trying to identify the exact causes of gender wage disparities, in general, might be a shot in the dark; however, there are some common influences we see globally, including but not limited to:


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Sectoral/Occupational Segregation

Society has primarily influenced the types of jobs considered suitable for men and those for women.

From a very early age, children are conditioned to believe that certain activities are not supposed to be carried out by the other gender. This conditioning begins and occurs mainly in our homes; for example, boys are asked to help their dads wash the car and girls are asked to go and help their mums in the kitchen.

These activities or jobs that are considered women's jobs usually require minimum skills such as; care, health, culinary etc. These jobs tend to be undervalued and underpaid due to the common misconception that they are not "hard work".

Many women's personal and economic dignity suffer because of occupational segregation, which lowers pay and inhibits economic progress. Legislators and government officials should alleviate the effects of this labour market scenario by enacting laws that identify it and actively try to fix it.

"Women have other responsibilities at home that prevent them from giving their jobs all the time and attention required"

The patriarchal system has established that the man is the breadwinner. The woman must take care of the home.

It is not unusual to see a woman close 30 minutes earlier because they must go and pick up their kids from school and get dinner ready.

Although families are getting other people to help with these tasks in recent times, this situation persists in many homes.

The notion that men are breadwinners and women are homemakers has permeated the work culture that possessing the necessary qualifications and expertise is no longer enough to get equal pay.

Many multinational companies have taken a stand in this regard where they have redesigned roles such that men and women are allowed to balance ambition with caring responsibilities

For instance, Paternal Leave is now a thing. Fathers are allowed to go on leave when their wives give birth. This role redesign at all levels is something all employers must emulate.

"Women do not usually negotiate"

When we talk about unequal pay gaps, education, choice of occupation, sector, and years of experience are the general innuendoes.

A highly overlooked reason is that women hardly negotiate their salaries. In contrast, men frequently counter deals concerning their wages and position. Women are more liable to clinch the first proposal thrown at them without negotiation.

Be like Eugenia; let us educate ourselves on some strategies to negotiate a deserving salary.

We can go on and on about why the gender pay gap exists. The list is inexhaustive but before we look at ways of solving this issue, consider this short piece from Iris Bohnet, Harvard Kennedy Professor, on this issue.

"To move the dial on equalizing pay, we need to debias systems, not people.

Human resource management must be based on rigorous evidence of what works to level the playing field, treat everyone fairly and benefit from 100 percent of the talent pool.

Evidence-based design of hiring practices, promotion procedures and compensation schemes helps our organizations do the right and the smart thing, creating more inclusive and better workplaces.

This guidance is an important step towards helping employers know what works."

Iris Bohnet, Roy E. Larsen Professor of Public Policy and director of the Women and Public Policy Program, Harvard Kennedy School.

Some actions that will go a long way to bridge the existing gap include;

Ensuring that more than one woman is included in shortlists for recruitment of senior roles and promotions. A list with one woman decreases the chances of a woman being selected.

Employees must share salary ranges for roles-This would encourage salary negotiation. Women will end up with incomes comparable to men's if they negotiate their pay more.

Transparency is one of the ways we can evade gender pay gaps. Publicizing wages and salaries by companies or within aspects of industries makes it easier to bring unmerited wage differences to the fore.

Consulting with colleagues or the trade union is a clever option as well. Equivalently, you can refer to this salary checker by Looksharp Global to have a fair idea of how much people in your industry are being paid.

Encourage people to take advantage of shared parental leave.

Flexible working strategies must be inculcated into the work culture of organizations.

There are many more strategies that could help bridge the pay gap. Let us know what you think in the comment section.

Closing the gender wage gap has the added advantage of reducing poverty and strengthening the economy. Women earning the same salary as men would enhance household incomes countrywide since women's earnings account for a significant portion of annual household income.

If you think for a second, "this has no effect on me", the next time you want to complain about the roads being bad, or the cost of goods and services skyrocketing, I suggest you hold your tongue.

Everyone benefits when women are paid fairly, and their jobs are not undermined. The benefits may not be immediately apparent, but they are substantial and far-reaching.

As much as we have witnessed some efforts to close the gender pay gap, I believe there is room to be more radical in our efforts. Let us feel the outrage and displeasure of Adwoa Yankee's husband. Let us all be allies and stand in the gender pay gap.

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