Gender Bias in Terms of Pay Continues – Women Still Earn Less than Men
Each year March heralds the celebration of women with National Women’s History month. This year, the National Women’s History project picked, "Women Inspiring Innovation through Imagination" as its theme (visit here to learn more http://www.nwhp.org/whm/index.php).With the subtext of celebrating "women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics," we thought this would be a good opportunity to explore how women fare in terms of pay as compared to men – and the news is not good Decades after the passage of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, and despite the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 signed into law by President Barack Obama, the pay gap between men and women’s earnings continues.
While women make up nearly 50 percent of the labor force [ii], according to the U.S Bureau of Labor’s most recent Weekly Earnings Wage and Salary Workers report, released January, 2013, the median weekly earnings for men overall was $875. However, women held median weekly earnings of $692, or 79.1 percent of their male counterparts. [i] While disparities in pay scales decreased when looking at race, women still earn less than men regardless. African American women working at full–time jobs earned $594 weekly (compared to $680 for African American men – or 87% of male earnings), and Hispanic women earned $519 weekly, compared to $599 for Hispanic men, or 85% of male earnings. [i]
Why, in 2013, does the pay gap continue? Some studies suggest that women begin to earn less when exiting college [iii], while others state that women taking time off to raise families also has a material impact. Even if these factors do not impact you, disparities in pay practices are still at the heart of the matter.
Not to end on a totally negative note, there is some good news for women. Programs such as the Equal Pay Task Force set up by the President in 2010 (visit here (PDF)), and legislation from government agencies, like the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) to increase efforts to addressing pay discrimination, this matter is sure to be top of mind for women – and men – everywhere.
- [I] Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table 2. Median usual weekly earnings of full–time wage and salary workers by selected characteristics, quarterly averages (PDF)
- [II] Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table B–5. Employment of Women of non–farm payrolls
- [III] The American Association of University Women ("AAUW")