California, a beacon of workforce innovation, suffers a glaring disparity in its booming science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) sector: a gender wage gap. Women make as many significant contributions to STEM fields as their male counterparts, but their paychecks do not reflect this.
Is it ethical to pay men more than women for the same work? Is it legal? Is it discrimination? What can you do? Continue reading for more clarity on wage gap issues.
A California conundrum
Despite boasting the highest minimum wage in the U.S., California female STEM employees are paid substantially less than men. Studies show they earn 74% of what men make, which is a significant 26% shortfall.
The wage gap is more than unethical and unfair. It has tangible consequences, which stifle innovation and perpetuate systemic inequality. Worse, undervaluing talented women leaves their contributions untapped, hindering progress in crucial STEM fields.
Closing the gap: Legal protections
California boasts several laws that protect the right to equal pay. The California Equal Pay Act (CEPA) explicitly prohibits paying employees less based on sex, even if job titles differ slightly. Additionally, Government Code Section 12940 offers broader anti-discrimination protection.
Fighting the gap: Build a case
If you are ready to fight for your right to equal pay for equal work regardless of your skin color, religion or disability (just a few protected characteristics), you need evidence.
Gather documentation like paystubs, performance reviews, job descriptions and even internal communications. If possible, collect similar data from male colleagues doing comparable work. With evidence and experienced legal guidance, you can set an example for young girls dreaming of a future STEM career.