Why You Should Care About The 2023 Nobel Prize In Economics
“Why do we care about gender pay gaps?” was a question I was unable to answer. Despite being a woman, I somehow never resonated with the comparison of salaries between two genders, between two countries, and between two industries. My income is mine, and yours is yours. Period. Why do I care about how much you are paid for a job, that we both do?
However, when we quietly hold our questions, long enough, the answer appears from within. And so it did.
Here’s why I do care, and why we must all care. We must care about gender pay gaps because they systematically lead to men amassing greater wealth, and hence power. Greater wealth leads not just to higher purchasing power in our economies, but also greater decision-making power. In our world, in our economy, and also in our families. Decisions that affect us all but are made by a select few. That is the root of the problem.
When we live in a world shaped by decisions made by men, for men through systems that serve men, women lose out. In fact, over time, everybody else loses out too, including men. Creation only sustains when it emerges from “Shiva” and “Shakti” working in tandem. Creation is a balanced, and democratic process. And gender pay gaps are a threat to democracy, one of the core values of modern society.
Over time, if as Nobel Laureate Claudia Goldin has proven through her research, mothers end up systematically poorer than fathers, then the balance of power shifts decidedly towards men. Men accumulate greater ability to shape our world. If women, especially those who choose to balance careers with motherhood, want to have a chance at shaping the world too, we must care about and do what we can to bridge gender gaps everywhere. We must care.
Thank you, Professor Goldin, for building a body of evidence that spans 120 years of labour market data, and proving that women are indeed getting systematically penalised by our economic structure for choosing to raise families. And that general economic growth will hardly solve this problem on its own.
Congratulations! We must all care. And act. On your evidence-based research.