Bridging the Pay Gap Between Genders

Wasn't the battle of the sexes won long ago?

Maybe the battle was won, but not the war. The wage war, that is. Even though federal laws protect women against discrimination, a pay gap persists. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics attests to the fact that women get paid less than men. How big the gender wage gap is, and the reasons for it, depends on who you talk to.

Estimates on what women earn vary anywhere from 65 cents on up to 98 cents for every dollar that men make. The BLS released figures last year from 2004 -- the most recent year for which statistics are available -- showing that women's median weekly earnings were 80 percent that of men. That's an improvement over their earnings in 1979, when they brought home 62 percent. But it's still a significant gap.

Some reasons why women get less pay:

  • Women are more likely than men to suffer job interruptions to care for family, and these interludes keep women from advancing at the same pace as men.


  • Historically, men have had a higher level of education than women, so their higher compensation reflects that. This is changing, though. Nearly one-third of women ages 25 to 64 held a college degree in 2004, compared with about 11 percent in 1970. The future looks more promising: Today more women than men are graduating from college, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Only three in every 10 men who enter four-year colleges graduate, compared to four out of every five women. In addition, more than half of all bachelor's and master's degrees are awarded to women.


More men are in jobs that pay more, so women, on average, get paid less. Only eight women served as Fortune 500 CEOs last year, and women held only 6.4 percent of "top-earner positions," according to Catalyst, a New York City-based nonprofit research and advisory organization that focuses on women and work. Catalyst estimates it could take 40 years for women to achieve parity with men in corporate officer positions.  Women gravitate to jobs that traditionally pay less than the careers where men dominate. For example, doctors make more than nurses and construction workers make more than clerks.  Women voluntarily exchange flexibility for salary by working part-time, flex-time or otherwise limiting their promotions or career advancements. This translates into smaller paychecks.Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.The picture is even bleaker if you look at the money made over an entire career in the work force. According to Jill Miller, chief executive officer and president of the advocacy organization Women Work!, a woman who only completes high school will make $700,000 less than a similarly educated man over the course of her work career. That discrepancy widens to $1.2 million for college-educated women compared to educated males.The Numbers Game 1. Women have come a long way. The percentage of women in the work force, age 16 years or older, grew to 59.2 percent in 2004, up from 20 percent at the turn of the century.
And while men do get paid more, both sexes have been feeling a pinch lately. According to the U.S. Census Bureau's report for 2005 -- released in August -- wages and salaries for those under age 65 declined last year. The scales are still tipped in favor of men, though. Their salaries declined in 2005 and 2004, while those of women declined both those years, in addition to 2003.It's hard to get a handle on the gender pay gap and how big it is since so many variables are involved.Some experts point out that it's nearly impossible to get true apples-to-apples comparisons between men's and women's pay unless the exact same job is measured in the same region.Next: "... you can ask friends and co-employees what they are being paid." > is the Web's leading aggregator of information on financial products including mortgages, credit cards, new and used automobile loans, money market accounts, certificates of deposit, checking and ATM fees, home equity loans and online banking fees. Visit to get the tools and information that can help you make the best financial decisions. writeCareer(); scroll(0,0);
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Source: Money & Work

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