Senior Shines Light on Gender Pay Gap
Published on April 22, 2014
In a perfect example of cross-cultural experiences giving students new perspectives on what’s going on in their own country, Susquehanna University senior Arianis Alvarez, an international studies and Spanish double major from New York, N.Y., had her eyes opened to the realities of a gender pay gap while on her Global Opportunities (GO) trip to Spain.
While overseas, Alvarez realized she had more opportunities as a woman than many of the Spanish friends she had made and wondered how drastic those differences were, both around Europe and back at home in the United States.
“One of my closest friends brought this to my attention when I was abroad. I had friends who were Spanish and did not have the same access to education or work,” Alvarez said.
When Alvarez returned home, she began to research what variables made the biggest difference in regards to the pay gap in respective countries. She presented her findings at Susquehanna’s Senior Scholars Day.
Alvarez’s research has timely findings and she acknowledged that the Paycheck Fairness Act, introduced in the U.S. Senate in January 2013, would be a big step in making things equal in the workplace between men and women.
“The idea that we need additional federal laws in order to help foster a more equal system interested me,” Alvarez said, “especially as a woman, because I want to enter the workforce and have the same opportunity as my male counterparts.”
Her research however looked at three variables: the availability of paternal/maternal/family leave, access to childcare and the number of laws aimed at enforcing fairness. What Alvarez found, which confirmed previous studies in the area, was that education tended to be the biggest eliminator of the gender pay gap—for educated men that is.
“The higher the percentage of men who are educated, much more than the percentage of women, would help close the gap,” Alvarez said. “In order for things to change, there has to be a change in attitude and opinion.”