Aug. 12, 2014
-- Is there a signifigant gender wage gap in the American workplace, and if so, what can we do to fix it? According to the US Department of Labor, the raw gender wage gap in 2007 was 21.5%. That means that, in general, women earn 78.5% of what men do. But is that really the case? Preston Bukaty breaks down the methods used in a study comissioned by the Department of Labor designed to figure out exactly how big the wage gap is.
In sum, the study makes two arguments. First, the true gender wage gap is not nearly as bad as is portrayed by the raw data. Once the statistics are adjusted to account for variations in salaries based on industry, work experience, time off, etc., the gap shrinks considerably. Second, any growth in women’s salaries since the 1970s is attributable to women taking a larger role in the workforce. As more women attend college and enter the workforce, their salaries will be commensurate with their male counterparts. The central suggestion (although the study does not argue this), is that rises in women’s salaries may have less to do with the feminist movement or decreases in discrimination. Simply put, more women are going on to become doctors, lawyers, or engineers than they were in the 1960s.
To be clear, gender bias and overt discrimination is still very much alive and should be combated upon first notice. Keep in mind that even after accounting for all the explanatory factors and other measures of wage adjustment, the adjusted gender wage gap is still between 4.8 and 7.1 percent. You don't need to do math to figure out that's a lot of money. Nonetheless, overt gender discrimination is clearly not as rampant as it is portrayed in say, shows such as Mad Men
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