San Diego International Law Journal

Library of Congress Authority File


Document Type



“[O]vert pay discrimination between women and men” is what typically comes to mind when one thinks about the gender wage gap. While women often ask for “equal pay for equal work,” gender discrimination is only responsible for a small amount of the pay gap. “The gender wage gap is also about choice and opportunity. . . . [It is] rooted in [global] social norms about women[,] family [and motherhood which constantly change and evolve—making it] much harder to solve.” It is grounded in the way our society has evolved over the last one hundred and fifty years, during which more women started to be employed in jobs traditionally held by men.

So, why are women around the world paid so much less than men? And what are countries doing to close the gap? This Comment will first present necessary background information about the evolution of women’s rights and the “motherhood penalty.” It will then evaluate the steps that Iceland and Rwanda have taken to create pay equity between men and women. Additionally, it will address the United States’ failure to implement mandatory family leave and efforts to “ban the box”, it will propose how the world can comprehensively combine these principles to reform global hiring systems and create equality for women in the workplace.