wage gap

(WOMENSENEWS)–The American Association of University Women served up fresh data analysis last week to bolster the argument behind Tuesday’s Equal Pay Day observations.

The April 23 report by the Washington-based equal rights advocacy and research center looked at U.S. Census Pay Data for 2007 on a state-by-state basis and found women’s wages–whether or not they held college degrees–lagging behind men’s across the map.

Women with college degrees earn more than those who don’t. But compared with college-educated male counterparts they were also stacking up major lifetime gaps.

When U.S. women’s annual incomes were averaged, it came out to $34,400 compared with $44,300 for men. Over four decades that average $9,900 gap can mean anywhere between $500,000 and $1 million in lost income for an individual woman.

Women in some highly paid professions–such as law–stand to lose $2 million or more in full-time careers.

The wage gap was widest in Wyoming, with women earning 62 percent of male income. It was narrowest in the District of Columbia with women earning 85 percent.

Among college-educated workers the gender wage gap was widest in Nevada, where women earned 75 percent compared with male counterparts. The college gap was tightest in Vermont, with women earning 87 percent.

Fighting Disparities Locally

The New York Women’s Agenda and Equal Pay Coalition met at Women’s eNews on April 24 to review the numbers and sign petitions calling on U.S. senators to pass the Federal Paycheck Fairness Act, which builds upon the Equal Pay Act of 1963 by providing legal clarifications, new incentives for fair pay and penalties for wage discrimination.

Participants also signed petitions calling on New York State legislators to pass the Fair Pay Act, which requires comparable compensation for similar job titles and enables employees within a company to compare salaries and raises without fear of reprimand.

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney of New York, a co-sponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act, pushed the gathering to go further. "Why stop there? Let’s pass the Equal Rights Amendment," said Maloney, who is also the first female chair of the Joint Economic Committee, which issues economic policy recommendations.

In New York, college-educated women earn an average annual salary of $58,700 compared with $74,900 among male peers. The earning divide in the overall work force–which includes college-educated earners–is smaller and closer to the national average, with full-time female workers making $38,500 and men making $47,600.

A Look at Demographics

The study also took a look at demographics, finding that women earn 78 cents for every dollar earned by a white male worker, the highest-paid group in the work force.

The income disparity widens for minority women, with African American women earning 67 cents on the white male dollar and Hispanic women getting only 58 cents. The study did not include data on Asian American and Pacific women, a federally recognized minority.

Maloney said that gender pay disparity is so ingrained that even among employees of the federal government–which could be expected to serve as a model for the rest of the nation–a 7 percent wage gap separates men and women.

The gender pay gap is greatest in the private sector, Maloney said, with the arts and communication sectors showing the widest gulf, at 17 percent.

In her 2008 book "Rumors of Our Progress Have Been Greatly Exaggerated," Maloney coined the term the "mom bomb" to dramatize the price women pay for maternity. "When a man becomes a father, he gets a promotion," Maloney said last week. "But when women become mothers, they are demoted, fired, paid less."

Dominique Soguel is Women’s eNews Arabic editor.

For more information:

American Association of University Women
The Gender Pay Gap
State by State Gender Pay Gap Data


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