Stats on Gender Pay Equality – Encouraging or Not?

It’s been 56 years since the US government passed the Equal Pay Act, but stats on gender pay equality reveal that though conditions have improved, we still have a long way to go to before the gender pay gap totally vanishes.

According to a study by the Institute For Women’s Policy Research, in 2017, full-time and year-round female workers earned only 80.5 cents for every dollar earned by men; representing a 20 percent gap. The gender pay equality stats by the US Census Bureau also reveal a similar scenario. In 2017, the median earnings of full-time and year-round male workers was $52,146 and median earnings of full-time and year-round female workers were $ 41,977 – representing a 20 percent pay gap.

The 2017 real median earnings of all male workers increased 3 percent from 2016 to $44,408, while real median earnings for their female counterparts ($31,610) saw no statistically significant change between 2016 and 2017.

If we compare the increase in earnings of all female workers with the increase in earnings of all male workers, the numbers aren’t entirely discouraging. The median earnings of all male workers from 2001 to 2017 increased by 1.9 percent, while median earnings of all female workers increased by nearly 8.5 percent.

The below chart shows the gender pay gap in median earnings of all workers between 1991 and 2017.

Gender Pay Gap

Gender Pay Equality Stats in Different Occupations

A study by the Institute For Women’s Policy Research reveals that women’s earnings are lower in almost all occupations. In 2018, the widest gender pay gap was in securities, commodities and financial services. The gender pay equality stats revealed that there are only 5 occupations in which women’s earnings are equal or more than that of men. Even in the occupations which have more women than men, the pay gap is in favor of men. The occupation – ‘Elementary and Middle School teachers’ is comprised of nearly 80% female workers. Yet, according to the study, there is a 9% pay gap in favor of men in this occupation.

The below given charts show the gender pay gap in the five most common occupations for women.

Gender Pay Equality

The Equal Pay Act is in place since 1963 but the benefits of the act are yet to be realized. Advocates for equal pay are calling for legislative changes and strict policy actions. States like California and Massachusetts have passed laws that bar employers from asking about previous salaries. Such laws are aiming to break the cycle of historic inequalities and discrimination. According to a study done on salary negotiation by the author of Women Don’t Ask, only 7% of women negotiate their salaries as compared to 57% of men. Why? Experts give different reasons as to why women don’t negotiate. Some say many women don’t negotiate because they are reluctant to ask for a higher pay. In order to break the pay gap, women must know the value of their skills and negotiate a salary that matches them.

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