Despite women outnumbering men in U.S. colleges and the implementation of legislation like the 1963 Equal Pay Act the pay differences persist. According to some the pay gap persists because:
• Men are more likely to pursue college majors and advanced degrees in fields that lead to higher-paying careers.
• Women are getting graduate degrees, but not necessarily in fields that give the best salaries.
• Discrimination remains a factor and it is difficult to document and measure.
• Women on average are working fewer hours than men, often to care for children or other family members.
The wage gap narrowed steadily through the 1980s and 1990s but the convergence slowed in the early 2000s. In 1980, women earned 60.2 cents for every $1 men earned which increased to 71.6 by 1990. In 2011, women earned 77 cents for every $1 men earned which decreased to 76.5 cents in 2012. The younger women in the work force might have a fighting chance according to the most recent data reflect that younger workers are making inroads. In 2012, women between 15 and 24 years old earned 88 cents for every dollar that men did; the amount fell to 81 cents for women ages 25 to 44, and 74 cents for women ages 45 to 64. However, analysts caution that the raw wage-gap figure inadequately reflects other factors that impacts the wage gap. According to them the pay comparison fails to capture instances where a man might negotiate for high salary than women, or instances when women decide to forgo salary in favor of fulfilling work and more flexible schedules.
Case in point -A 30-year-old web designer, said she experienced such discrimination early in her career. In 2007, she and her male friend with similar education and experience both landed jobs designing web sites and creating software applications for a firm, however four years later, she learned from the colleague that he earned $20,000 more a year than she did. She could bring up the matter, because the company’s guidelines prohibited employees from discussing wages among themselves however she later decided to leave the firm for another firm that offered her a fair wage. So while women’s increasing education is certainly a plus, it’s not enough to totally change these trends according to Francine Blau, an economics professor at Cornell University.
Earnings Differences by Gender
The first step to analyzing earnings differentials is to think of potential sources of the difference and then proceed to measure the difference if it is measurable. The most common measurable and explained differences are age, education, hours and experience, however, some differences remains unexplained even if an analysis includes all measureable factors. Differences are usually unexplained as a results of factors affecting production are different by gender cannot be observed by researcher and discriminatory treatment.
Understanding the sources of differences is critical to a determination of what policies, if any, might be needed to...