Yesterday, the adult immigrants I tutor were discussing an article about pay inequality and education disparities in some countries. The article stated, “In the US, women can expect to earn about 80% of their male counterparts’ salaries.” After a quick online search, I found the specifics in a Government Accountability Office report. In 2021, women working full-time had an estimated median pay that ranged from $0.69 to $0.85 for every dollar earned by men. The pay range depended on what sector women worked in.
Other countries have different cultural dynamics and economic opportunities, so the students offered a variety of views. I silently noted the range of perspectives could also be found among people born in the U.S. Here’s a cross-section of what the students said:
“In my home country, women get paid less than men, but I didn’t think that happened in the U.S. Are you sure?”
“Men need to make more money since they’re supporting a family, and the women take care of the children and the house.”
“School isn’t free in my home country. My parents had a big family and couldn’t pay school fees for all of them. So they paid for the boys’ schooling, since they’ll have to support a family.”
“I know pay differences between men and women happened in the past. You’re telling me it’s still going on?”
“In my culture, mothers and daughters are supposed to cook, clean, and take care of children. Fathers and sons don’t. They earn the money.”
“My mother wasn’t educated because her family didn’t have the money. My grandfather thought she didn’t need an education since she’d marry and have a husband taking care of her. But my father became disabled, and it was hard for my mother to support eight kids.”
“International Women’s Day? What—we only get one day?”
Interesting range of perspectives. I think we tend to forget that immigrants bring many other cultural mores into the United States, and that as a result this country will constantly be changing and stretching to fit, just as the immigrants themselves will change and stretch to fit.
Exactly. I was surprised so many students thought wage inequality was a thing of the past. I also didn’t realize schooling isn’t free in a number of countries, so educating girls isn’t a given.
That is a horrifying finding. (the second)
Yes, the inequality goes on… part of the problem is women accepting the status quo. We have to speak up!
It was so interesting to me to hear my young students thinking the problem was solved already.