Equal Pay: Women Still Lag Behind Men, Young Women Closing Gap

Fighting for wage equality tug of war concept

Image: iStockPhoto

It’s depressing to read that in 2013, women continue to be paid less for men for the same work. Weekly paychecks for full-time female workers are 82.4 percent of men’s earnings, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Pay inequality is lessening at the younger end of the age spectrum, thanks to the increased efforts of high-achieving women in high school and college. Incredibly, this tiny bit of success has led to sensationalist stories about high-earning young women who are out-earning, outpacing and rejecting their lower-income male counterparts.

Women Lead Men In Two Career Areas

The BLS identified only two careers out of the 500 it tracks where women earned more than men — counselors and health technologists and technicians.

It seems the stories about the disconnect between high-earning young women and men with modest salaries take place in cities. That’s because urban areas are where well-qualified women are more likely to earn as much or even more than her male colleagues — if she’s under 30 and does not have children, according to research by Forbes’ Susan Adams. “Most of the women in that age group are better-educated than the men,” Adams notes.

Young Women Invest in Education

Women are enrolling in higher education, earning better grades and graduating at higher rates than men, who tend to overestimate their abilities to land jobs regardless of their academic performances, according to Georgetown University. It’s no surprise that jobs have become more competitive for both sexes when women are, frankly, better prepared academically.

More Women Going Solo

More women, particularly younger ones trying to break into a difficult and uneven job market, are sidestepping corporate America and starting their own businesses. Women have started more small businesses at a higher rate than men in the past 20 years and have been particularly adept at starting micro businesses (five or fewer employees) run from their homes, according to InsideHigherEd.com.

Women whose businesses survived the Great Recession, says Forbes writer Natalie MacNeil, figured ways to control expenses and embraced the new economy. Outsourcing has long been used for routine skilled services such as web hosting and payroll. Many online services like Intuit small business payroll provide these services at reasonable prices for small businesses, which eliminates the need to (a) do it themselves and (b) hire a full-time staff.

Equal Pay Still Behind

Young women who enter the job market and find work still find a pay gap against male peers in age, experience and education. An October 2012 study by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) found:

  • Among business majors, women averaged $38,034 while men earned $45,143.
  • Women in engineering earned $48,493 and men earned $55,142.
  • Among computer and information science graduates, women earned $39,618 and men earned $51,296.
  • In social science fields, women earned $31,924 and men earned $38,634.

AAUW found no significant differences in pay only in hard sciences, education and humanities.

The Future Of Equal Pay

The wage gap has narrowed since the Equal Pay Act of 1963. Fifty years ago, women earned 59 percent of men’s earnings, and today it is 77 percent, according a White House white paper titled “Fifty Years After The Equal Pay Act.” Looking forward, one of the biggest obstacles in narrowing the wage gap is that women are not aware of salary discrepancies. The Department of Labor’s Equal Pay micro site provides a wealth of information for women — and employers. An 18 percent gap closure is good, but it’s not enough.

About the author: Karen Bloom was raised on a northern California farm, Karen is a freelance writer and certified life coach who writes about family, relationships and well-being.



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