It’s a bit mind boggling, but it encapsulates how much work needs to be done to achieve equal pay in the U.S.
A new study by AAUW found that in a comparison of occupations with at least 50,000 men and 50,000 women in 2017, 107 out of 114 occupations had statistically significant gaps in pay that favored men; six occupations had no significant gap; and just one had a gap favoring women. Just one.
Women outperformed men in earnings as wholesale and retail buyers, with the exception of farm products. Women’s annual earnings for this occupation were reported to be $45,496 as compared to $41,903 for men. And that was it. For all other occupations, women made less than men.
Men and women earned comparable salaries in the job categories of food preparation and serving workers, writers and authors, pharmacists, counselors, clinical laboratory technologists, and social workers. Men earned considerably more than women in jobs involving securities trading, financial management, and personal financial advice. Insurance sales agents also had a significant pay gap between men and women.
The study found women collectively are receiving billions less than they would with equal pay. The study cited, as an example, women working as physicians and surgeons are paid $19 billion less annually than if they were paid the same as men in that occupation.
The issue grows even more when racial bias becomes involved. Women of Hispanic or Latina descent earn 53% of a white male’s earnings. American Indians/Alaska natives follow closely behind at 58%. African Americans at 61% and slightly above them are Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islanders at 62%. White women earn 77% of a white male’s earnings and Asian women earn 85%.
Each year the gender pay gap results in $513 billion in lost wages for women, says the AAUW report.Kim Churches, the CEO of the AAUW stated, “The gender pay gap is persistent and stagnant… we’ve barely moved a nickel in two decades.”
AAUW notes that if the trend of 2001 through 2017 continues, equal pay will not be achieved until 2106.
To view information on the AAUW study, click here.
The AAUW study highlights how much work needs to be done to achieve equal pay in the U.S.
Perhaps studies like this one could trigger a renewed effort in Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would amend and expand on the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. Already, several states have taken action to more aggressively advocate for equal pay and remove barriers to achieving that goal.
And we are seeing more women become involved in the political system. According to ABC News, there are more than 262 woman candidates for Congress and another 16 running for governor, which could increase the current number of 107 women serving in Congress and six that are sitting governors. An increase in the number of elected women officials in government could help move the needle on equal pay. Significant equal pay laws were passed in Iceland after a 2016 election that saw women win 30 seats in Iceland’s parliament, bringing the split between men and women legislators to about 50%. By comparison, women make up about 20% of the U.S. Congress.
Businesses can play a part as well by proactively taking steps to identify problematic pay disparities within their organizations.
Working together, we can and should make equal pay a reality in the U.S. sooner rather than later.