Christine de Pizan

Christine de Pizan
The Writer Christine de Pizan at Her Desk

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Back to the Future, Part 12: More Great News on Pay Equity!

Back to the Future, Part 12: More News on Pay Equity (or, More Good News for Women--How Can You Stand All the Winning?)

The Institute for Women's Policy Research has just issued a reassessment of the gender wage gap. In Still a Man's Labor Market: The Slowly Narrowing Gender Wage Gap, researchers Stephen J. Rose and Heidi I. Hartmann have undertaken a "multiyear analysis" of wage data that "provides a more comprehensive picture of the gender wage gap and presents a more accurate measure of the income women actually bring home to support themselves and their families."

In the "Highlights" section of the report (really, that is just about the worst title imaginable), Rose and Harmann note their findings: 
  • Women today earn just 49 cents to the typical men’s dollar, much less than the 80 cents usually reported. . . . Progress [in achieving pay equity] has slowed in the last 15 years relative to the preceding 30 years in the study. 
  • The penalties of taking time out of the labor force are high—and increasing. . . . 
  • Strengthening women’s labor force attachment is critical to narrowing the gender wage gap. . . . 
  • Strengthening enforcement of equal employment opportunity policies and Title IX in education is also crucial to narrowing the gender wage gap further. . . . 
So, yay! Did you see the great news! Instead of, on average, women earning 80 cents for every dollar made by men, in actuality, they earn less than half of what men do!

Rose and Hartmann outline what makes this report distinctive, emphasizing its more comprehensive analysis:
In 2017, the most recent year for which year-round earnings data are available for full-time workers, the gender earnings gap was 20 percent; that is, women earned 20 percent less than men. . . . This figure is based on the ratio of women’s to men’s median earnings for full-time, year-round work and is derived from the annual Census Bureau report on income and poverty that is released every fall using data from the Current Population Survey. . . . This commonly used annual figure, however, understates the problem, especially for women workers, since it leaves so many of them out of the picture. The authors’ 2004 report, which pioneered the analysis of the earnings gap over 15- year periods, found an earnings gap of 62 percent for all women compared with all men (of prime working age) in the period studied, meaning that women made just 38 percent of what men made. . . . The current analysis updates and revises the analysis from the authors’ 2004 report and finds that a wide disparity exists between all workers and the smaller group of workers who work full-time, year-round. Although the earnings gap across the most recent 15 years for those who generally work full-time, year-round in this study is similar to the more commonly used one-year numbers from the same years (23 percent), the earnings gap across all 15 years for all women and men with some earnings is very different, a gender earnings gap of 51 percent (meaning that women earn only 49 percent of what men do across a 15-year period). Among women workers in this study, 43 percent had at least one year with no earnings, while only 23 percent of men did, indicating that being out of work for a year is still a common experience for women but unusual for men. (1)
And, of course, "The long-term gender earnings gap has narrowed since 1968, but it has by no means disappeared." 

This year just keeps on getting better! And we still have a month to go!

For more on issues of pay equity and the gender wage gap, click on the label "pay equity," below. And for more in this Back to the Future series, click on the label below.