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Report Wages, Incomes, and Wealth. Download PDF. Press release. What this report finds: Women are paid 79 cents for every dollar paid to men—despite the fact that over the last several decades millions more women have ed the workforce and made huge gains in their educational attainment.

Too often it is assumed that this pay gap is not evidence of discrimination, but is instead a statistical artifact of failing to adjust for factors that could drive earnings differences between men and women. However, these factors—particularly occupational differences between women and men—are themselves often affected by gender bias. For example, by the time a woman earns her first dollar, her occupational choice is the culmination of years of education, guidance by mentors, expectations set by those who raised her, hiring practices of firms, and widespread norms and expectations about work—family balance held by employers, co-workers, and society.

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Why it matters, and how to fix it: The gender wage gap is real—and hurts women across the board by suppressing their earnings and making it harder to balance work and family. Serious attempts to understand the gender wage gap should not include shifting the blame to women for not earning more.

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Rather, these attempts should examine where our economy provides unequal opportunities for women at every point of their education, training, and career choices. Women are paid 79 cents for every dollar paid to men Hegewisch and DuMonthier This is despite the fact that over the last several decades millions more women have ed the workforce and made huge gains in their educational attainment. Critics of this widely cited statistic claim it is not solid evidence of economic discrimination against women because it is unadjusted for characteristics other than gender that can affect earnings, such as years of education, work experience, and location.

Many of these skeptics contend that the gender wage gap is driven not by discrimination, but instead by voluntary choices made by men and women—particularly the choice of occupation in which they work. And occupational differences certainly do matter—occupation and industry for about half of the overall gender wage gap Blau and Kahn To isolate the impact of overt gender discrimination—such as a woman being paid less than her male coworker for doing the exact same job—it is typical to adjust for such characteristics.

Take one key example: occupation of employment. While controlling for occupation does indeed reduce the measured gender wage gap, the sorting of genders into different occupations can itself be driven at least in part by discrimination. By the time a woman earns her first dollar, her occupational choice is the culmination of years of education, guidance by mentors, expectations set by those who raised her, hiring practices of firms, and widespread norms and expectations about work—family balance held by employers, co-workers, and society. This paper explains why gender occupational sorting is itself part of the discrimination women face, examines how this sorting is shaped by societal and economic forces, and explains that gender pay gaps are present even within occupations.

This report examines wages on an hourly basis.

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Technically, this is an adjusted gender wage gap measure. As opposed to weekly or annual earnings, hourly earnings ignore the fact that men work more hours on average throughout a week or year.

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Thus, the hourly gender wage gap is a bit smaller than the 79 percent figure cited earlier. Examining the hourly gender wage gap allows for a more thorough conversation about how many factors create the wage gap women experience when they cash their paychecks. Those keen on downplaying the gender wage gap often claim women voluntarily choose lower pay by disproportionately going into stereotypically female professions or by seeking out lower-paid positions.

But even when men and women work in the same occupation—whether as hairdressers, cosmetologists, nurses, teachers, computer engineers, mechanical engineers, or construction workers—men make more, on average, than women CPS microdata — For example, if 2 percent of men are carpenters, suppose 2 percent of women become carpenters. What would this do to the wage gap? After controlling for differences in education and preferences for full-time work, Goldin finds that 32 percent of the gender pay gap would be closed. However, leaving women in their current occupations and just closing the gaps between women and their male counterparts within occupations e.

This means examining why waiters and waitresses, for example, with the same education and work experience do not make the same amount per hour. To quote Goldin:. Another way to measure the effect of occupation is to ask what would happen to the aggregate gender gap if one equalized earnings by gender within each occupation or, instead, evened their proportions for each occupation.

The answer is that equalizing earnings within each occupation matters far more than equalizing the proportions by each occupation. Goldin This phenomenon is not limited to low-skilled occupations, and women cannot educate themselves out of the gender wage gap at least in terms of broad formal credentials. Furthermore, women earn less per hour at every education level, on average. As shown in Figure Amen with a college degree make more per hour than women with an advanced degree. Likewise, men with a high school degree make more per hour than women who attended college but did not graduate.

Girls can be steered toward gender-normative careers from a very early age. At a time when parental influence is key, parents are often more likely to expect their sons, rather than their daughters, to work in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics STEM fields, even when their daughters perform at the same level in mathematics OECD Expectations can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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While this only establishes a correlation, there is no reason to believe gender aptitude in reading and math would otherwise be related to geography. By the time young women graduate from high school and enter college, they already evaluate their career opportunities differently than young men do. While women have increasingly gone into medical school and continue to dominate the nursing field, women are ificantly less likely to arrive at college interested in engineering, computer science, or physics, as compared with their male counterparts. These decisions to allow doors to lucrative job opportunities to close do not take place in a vacuum.

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Many factors might make it difficult for a young woman to see herself working in computer science or a similarly remunerative field. A particularly depressing example is the well-publicized evidence of sexism in the tech industry Hewlett et al. Young women may be discouraged from certain career paths because of industry culture. As compared with men, more than twice as many women engage in housework on a daily basis, and women spend twice as much time caring for other household members BLS Because of these cultural norms, women are less likely to be able to handle these extreme work pressures.

In addition, 63 percent of women in SET workplaces experience sexual harassment Hewlett et al. To make matters worse, 51 percent abandon their SET training when they quit their job. All of these factors play a role in steering Can i compensate any ladies for their time away from highly paid occupations, particularly in STEM fields. Those seeking to downplay the gender wage gap often suggest that women who work hard enough and reach the apex of their field will see the full fruits of their labor. In reality, however, the gender wage gap is wider for those with higher earnings.

Women in the top 95th percentile of the wage distribution experience a much larger gender pay gap than lower-paid women. Again, this large gender pay gap between the highest earners is partially driven by gender bias. Harvard economist Claudia Goldin posits that high-wage firms have adopted pay-setting practices that disproportionately reward individuals who work very long and very particular hours.

This means that even if men and women are equally productive per hour, individuals—disproportionately men—who are more likely to work excessive hours and be available at particular off-hours are paid more highly Hersch and Stratton ; Goldin ; Landers, Rebitzer, and Taylor It is clear why this disadvantages women.

Social norms and expectations exert pressure on women to bear a disproportionate share of domestic work—particularly caring for children and elderly parents. This can make it particularly difficult for them relative to their male peers to be available at the drop of a hat on a Sunday evening after working a hour week. And this disadvantage is reinforced in a vicious circle. Imagine a household where both members of a male—female couple have similarly demanding jobs. This perpetuates the expectation that it always makes sense for women to shoulder the majority of domestic work, and further exacerbates the gender wage gap.

Many women do go into low-paying female-dominated industries. Home health aides, for example, are much more likely to be women. But research suggests that women are making a logical choice, given existing constraints. This is because they will likely not see a ificant pay boost if they try to buck convention and enter male-dominated occupations.

Exceptions certainly exist, particularly in the civil service or in unionized workplaces Anderson, Hegewisch, and Hayes However, if women in female-dominated occupations were to go into male-dominated occupations, they would often have similar or lower expected wages as compared with their female counterparts in female-dominated occupations Pitts Thus, many women going into female-dominated occupations are actually situating themselves to earn higher wages.

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These choices thereby maximize their wages Pitts This holds true for all of women except for the most educated, who are more likely to earn more in a male profession than a female profession. There is also evidence that if it becomes more lucrative for women to move into male-dominated professions, women will do exactly this Pitts In short, occupational choice is heavily influenced by existing constraints based on gender and pay-setting across occupations.

To make matters worse, when women increasingly enter a field, the average pay in that field tends to decline, relative to other fields. Levanon, England, and Allison found that when more women entered an industry, the relative pay of that industry 10 years later was lower. Specifically, they found evidence of devaluation—meaning the proportion of women in an occupation impacts the pay for that industry because work done by women is devalued.

Computer programming is an example of a field that has shifted from being a very mixed profession, often associated with secretarial work in the past, to being a lucrative, male-dominated profession Miller ; Oldenziel While computer programming has evolved into a more technically demanding occupation in recent decades, there is no skills-based reason why the field needed to become such a male-dominated profession.

When men flooded the field, pay went up. In contrast, when women became park rangers, pay in that field went down Miller Further compounding this problem is that many professions where pay is set too low by market forces, but which clearly provide enormous social benefits when done well, are female-dominated. If closing gender pay differences can help boost pay and professionalism in these key sectors, it would be a huge win for the economy and society. The gender wage gap is real—and hurts women across the board. Too often it is assumed that this gap is not evidence of discrimination, but is instead a statistical artifact of failing to adjust for factors that could drive earnings differences between men and women.

However, these factors—particularly occupational differences between women and men—are themselves affected by gender bias. Peterson Foundation. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the authors. Can i compensate any ladies for their time Schieder ed EPI in Prior to ing EPI, Jessica worked at the Center for Effective Government formerly OMB Watch as a revenue and spending policies analyst, where she examined how budget and tax policy decisions impact working families.

Elise Gouldsenior economist, ed EPI in Her research areas include wages, poverty, economic mobility, and health care. The Union Advantage for Women. Blau, Francine D. Kahn American Time Use Survey public data series. Census Bureau. Corbett, Christianne, and Catherine Hill. Survey conducted by the Bureau of the Census for the Bureau of Labor Statistics [ machine-readable microdata file ]. Goldin, Claudia. Hegewisch, Ariane, and Asha DuMonthier.

Can i compensate any ladies for their time

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