half the human race: more in depth


Pennies on the Dollar If a Woman Does the Job


As described in “The Role of Gender in Upholding Capitalism,” any unpaid labor females perform in service to their husbands and families is deemed to have no value, and that fact is critical to maintaining the imbalance of power inherent in any patriarchal economic system. It not only ensures the secure position of power and wealth by men, but it establishes the social and economic paradigm of women’s work being of less value than men’s work. This bigoted and skewed system extends also to undervaluing all paid labor performed by women.

The two most common ways that women’s paid work is undervalued is (1) in the form of paying lower salary rates for jobs considered “woman’s work” and (2) simply paying women less than men for the same work.

In the U.S. in 2012, women overall earned 77¢ for every man’s dollar for the same work.13 For African American women in comparison to African American men, the average was 89¢, for Asian women in comparison to Asian men, the average was 79¢, for Latina women in comparison to Latino men, the average was 89¢, and for white women in comparison to white men, the average was 78¢.a, 14

Though women’s work is devalued across all races, there is also a racial component to wage disparities in this country, and the differences in pay become most glaring when compared to white men. In 2012, black women earned 64.5% of what white men earned, Asian American women earned 86.8%, Latina women earned 54.1%, and white women earned 77.9% of what white men earned.b, 15

The institutionalized undervaluing of women’s paid labor was also documented in a very interesting way through a 2008 study by sociologist Kristin Schilt and economist Matthew Wiswall on the pay gap among transgendered people. Men who underwent sex change operations found that after their surgery, they earned an average of 32% less than before their sex change, while women who transitioned to men experienced a 1.5% increase in pay.16

Of the 1.3 billion people living in absolute poverty around the globe, 70% are women and girls.17,18 Women work two-thirds of the world’s working hours, yet earn only 10% of the income.17,19 Women produce 90% of the world’s food,20 yet own only 1-2% of the world’s land.21,22 70% of the world’s farmers are women,20 yet they are often excluded from agricultural aid and development programs because these programs usually deal with the landowners.

After the 2008 global economic crisis, the situation for the world’s women dramatically worsened, especially in the Global South, where the neocolonial economies have been made deeply dependent on export industries like electronics, textile and clothing manufacture, food processing, and outsourced service-sector jobs.23,24 In all cases, women make up anywhere from 60% to 90% of these low-wage, no-benefit, insecure jobs because women have become the primary “flexible” labor source across the globe: Since women have fewer political, human and legal rights than men in nearly every nation, they are viewed by international capital as the ideal cheap, disposable worker.17,25,26,27,28

The economic crisis meant that literally millions of women were fired from these export-dependent jobs throughout the Global South as the sweatshops, farms, and factories shut down.29,30

Though huge numbers of sweatshops have reopened and rehired, and though exact figures on what women earn, own, and produce fluctuate by a percentage point or two from decade to decade, the fact still remains that females, as a class, are kept deliberately impoverished, disempowered, illiterate,c terrorized, and without legal, social, or political protections. Women and girls still make up 70% of the world’s most poor.6

Image from World Poverty Day, October 17, 2007, Nairobi, Kenya. WUNRN (Women’s UN Report Network). Photo by Lorena Pajares.31

Beyond all the mountains of reports and statistics and studies, and behind all the NGO and governmental and World Bank officials calling for lifting women and girls out of poverty and subjugation—calls that are repeated year after year, decade after decade—is the glaring reality that no World Bank, UN or USAID official will ever own up to: That capitalism would collapse, patriarchy would be routed, and the elaborate structures of exploitation would be undone if women were not the permanent and ceaselessly working serving class of the world.

even more in depth…..

Related pages:

Human Rights Discussion: “What If All the Secretaries Went On Strike?”


The Notes to Pennies on the Dollar If a Woman Does the Job:

a: The gendered wage gap is not calculated for many countries, but even in Sweden—considered to be the most egalitarian for women—women earn 13% less than men for the same work.32 Overall across the globe, women earn approximately 20% less than men.33

b: All of these wage statistics are based on full-time, annual earnings. If part-time, part-year, and temporary work were also included, the overall wage disparities would be even greater because women are more likely than men to hold these lower-paying jobs, partly by necessity in order to deal with family care and partly because employers are more likely to hire men to fill the full-time positions, while women are more likely to be the disposable workers.15

c: In 2007, of the 876 million adults who were illiterate across the globe, 75% were women, and two-thirds of the children denied primary education are girls.6