The Gender Pay Gap in The United States
The gender pay gap has reduced drastically since the Equal Pay Act of 1963.
However, in recent years the gap has been closing much slower. This video and post explores what factors influence the gender pay gap, like race, disability, education, and cultural norms. As well as what we need to do to accelerate equality.
Factors that Influence the Gender Pay Gap
Depending on which state you live in, the gender pay gap may be narrower.
5 States With the Narrowest Gap
- New York (88%)
- California (88%)
- Maryland (86%)
- Nevada (86%)
- Florida (85%)
5 States With the Largest Gap
- Louisiana (69%)
- Wyoming (70%)
- West Virginia (71%)
- Alabama (73%)
- Utah (74%
Why it Was Important to Holiday to Create this Map
“I created this resource page on behalf of The Zoldan Law Group PLLC, an Arizona employment law firm that specializes in handling workplace discrimination cases. It was important for me to create this resource page because while many women may personally experience discrimination or harassment at work, they may not always be aware of the laws and policies that exist to protect their rights as an employee. Many instances of gender discrimination go unreported because the victims are afraid of retaliation/losing their job. There are many organizations that exist specifically to help women and people of all gender identities understand their legal options and combat workplace discrimination.
The interactive map was created to provide a visual reminder we are still far from achieving gender equality in our society, and on an economic level gender discrimination has a very real effect on people’s lives. I hope the map serves to not only bring greater awareness to this reality but also encourages women and allies to speak up when they witness unfair pay discrepancies and demand fair wages in their industry.”
Wage gaps grow for women of color. Women of color saw only small change in the wage gap when their wages were compared to to that of white men from 2017 to 2018. As women of color are not only faced being discriminated against as a woman, but also on the basis of race. Just as disabled women, face discrimination on the basis of gender and ability status, and possibly race. Intersectionality always comes into play when dealing with inequality.
If the current trend within the gender pay gap continues, Hispanic women won’t see equal pay for another 232 years, and Black women won’t see equal pay for another 104.
Disability also has large impacts on the gender pay gap.
Disabled individuals already face large rates of under and unemployment because of ableist discrimination.
For instance, in the United States, it’s legal to pay disabled people below the minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Disabled people earn 37% less than non-disabled people, and this gap increases with education levels.
"The Motherhood Penalty"
Another factor influencing the gender pay gap is that in addition to having jobs, women are often also responsible for caregiving and domestic duties within the home.
The “motherhood penalty” has many consequences.
It doubles the work that a woman is expected to do. After working a full day, women often come home to their “second-shift.“
This “second-shift” includes caregiving and other household responsibilities. The “second-shift” is a result of domestic duties still being highly placed on a woman’s shoulders.
With double the workload, women tend to seek careers that are compatible with their “second-shift.”
Research also shows that employers are less likely to promote or even hire a woman with children, or one in her “childbearing years” in expectation of pregnancy.
Women who are mothers are often seen as less competent simply because they are mothers. While fathers face no repercussions, or “fatherhood penalty”(Correll et al., 2007).
In fact, quite the opposite. Men who are married or have children are perceived to be more warm and friendly and face no negative consequences about their competency.
The amount of education a woman has also influenced the gender wage gap.
Research shows that as education levels increase, amongst these individuals, the gender pay gap increases as well.
Individuals with a bachelor’s degree earn almost double the earnings of those without a college education. However, the gender pay gap only widens with more education.
Women with a bachelor’s degree on average are paid more than those without one. However, the gender gap widens between women and men with bachelor’s degrees.
Some Factors that Influence the Gender Pay Gap:
- Occupational Segregation
- Discrimination and Cultural Norms
So What Do We Do to Decrease the Gender Wage Gap?
Raise the Federal Minimum Wage and Tipped Minimum Wage
Though the wage gap persists, raising minimum wage could help address this problem because of the high concentration of women working minimum wage positions.
Support Fair Scheduling Policies
Due to the “second-shift,” many women need greater flexibility and higher predictability in their work schedules.
Having greater flexibility and predictability will allow women to better navigate their “second-shift” responsibilities. Such as finding child care or caring for a sick child.
Support Pay Transparency
Pay transparency will help hold employers accountable. Often, women aren’t allowed to discuss salaries, which allows for inequality to foster.
By eliminating pay secrecy, women are better equipped with the knowledge to fight pay discrimination and advocate for pay equal to their male peers.
Ensure Access to Affordable Child-Care
Access to quality, affordable child-care then seems imperative to reduce the gender wage gap. To help ensure that parents can work while their children are safe. In addition to having the ability to allocate what would have been spent towards unaffordable child-care, elsewhere.
Support Paid Family Leave Policies
While flexible and predictable scheduling will help reduce the gender pay gap for working mothers, so will paid family leave policies.
As established already, caregiving responsibilities often fall to women. Meaning that women are more likely than men to miss work to care for children or fulfill other caregiver duties.
By having a paid family leave policy in place, women will be able to take the necessary time off for caregiving responsibilities while still being compensated. Paid leave has also been shown to reduce time away from work, and also ensures job and wage security.
Adjust Cultural Biases
Many of these solutions center on accommodating women as they fulfill expected gender roles within today’s society. However, these are tangible solutions that would have lasting impacts on establishing pay equity.
However, we must also address the root problem of these gender roles and stereotypes to truly establish a gender pay balance. Such as cultural beliefs that inherently value women’s labor in the workplace less than men’s.
In addition to accountability in the workplace, there needs to be accountability in the home. Domestic and caregiving responsibilities need to be split equally so that women have the same opportunities for economic success as men do, as well as the energy to pursue them.
What are other strategies we should pursue to reduce the gender pay gap?