My Beautiful Wickedness

Women and the Gender Wage Gap
September 18, 2008, 7:53 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Democommie asked about where to find some accurate data on the continuing wage gap between women and men.

You can get the research you are looking for at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research ( or the Women’s Pay Equity Center ( Both do wage surveys fairly regularly. Here’s the one for last year:

Three things jump out of the recent data. First, the wage gap is persistent and progress on closing it has pretty much come to a standstill in the last 10 years.

Second, race matters a lot. In 2002, Af-Am women earned 63 cents on the white man’s dollar and Hispanic women earned 53 cents. White women made 70 cents, while Asian-American women, as the highest earners, made 75 cents on the male dollar.

Here’s a great set of tables breaking down the position of women of color in the US labor force:

Here’s a good brief article (a little dated, from 2002):

Third, motherhood is another huge variable in equity in women’s wages. The salient place to look is at the wages of married women with children, since that’s the bulk of the labor force (77% of full-time women wage earners have kids between the ages of 6 and 17). Juliet Schor (Sociologist at Boston College) has this to say:

“The narrowing of the wage gap between men’s and women’s earnings has been widely reported. But the evidence is not as optimistic as many have suggested. While women are now earning 95% of what men earn at the beginning of their careers, earnings paths diverge as women attempt to combine work and family. As researcher Jane Waldfogel (1997) has argued, the gender wage gap is now a family wage gap. For example, while the gender gap between single men and women is .88, the gap for married persons is .57. Than is, married women earn only 57% of what men earn. Controlling for work experience and other characteristics, researchers currently estimate a motherhood wage penalty of between 10 and 15%. It is important to note that the effect for fathers is much smaller.”

Naturally, since the vast majority of women who work full-time are mothers of children under 17, you can see why this isn’t a “does Barbie make as much as Ken” question. The refusal to connect the dots between the shop floor and the household obscures the inequity.

Schor does a very good job of outlining why it’s a combo of marital status, child-rearing, and age that needs to be factored in when making calculations about whether men and women are actually growing more equal in the workplace.

Here are some other readings that I would suggest:

Mishel, L., Bernstein, J., & Schmitt, J. (2001). The state of working America: 2000-01. Washington DC: Economic Policy Institute.

Waldfogel, J. (1997). The effect of children on women’s wages. American Sociological Review, 62. 209-21

Budig, M., & England, P. (2001). The wage penalty for motherhood. American Sociological Review, 66, 214-225.

The problem with blog discussions of this is that the blowhards lack sophistication in the way they want to talk about “women” and “men” (like they have no age, race, family, or geographic location). Do some women in some professions start at the same salaries? Oh yeah. Are there substantial structural barriers to women’s equal advancement that have to do with how we organize our domestic lives? Yes, who can doubt it? Are there boggling disparities in what women are paid if they are black or Hispanic? Yesserootie.


4 Comments so far
Leave a comment


Wonderful, thanks. May I send this entire piece in an e-mail to Ed Brayton? He strikes me as a guy who will take the time to educate himself and he is generally even handed.

I don’t need convincing. I worked at Verizon for 7-1/2 years and saw a lot of really smart, hard working women stuck in first and second level management positions (not really management, at all) while younger, less experienced men were promoted over them.

Comment by democommie

Sure, you can send it to him. The research says what it says and it’s not like it’s some sort of “fringe” operation collecting the data and publishing the results. The core data in most (maybe all) of these studies comes from that well-known lefty-feminazi organization, the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It pisses me off that people (ok, men usually) spout off about how it’s an “error” to say that men and women have not achieved wage parity when even a passing look at the data (which is regularly collected and easily retrievable) would demonstrate that they have not. This is usually followed up with some version of how women just don’t have a basic grasp of economics or they’d know that they are making the same amount as men. (Even though you can look at any regional census and notice the $10k to 20K difference between what male and female heads of households earn.)

Comment by bridgett

Ah research. 🙂

Nothing more refreshing…

Comment by imfunny2


Thanks again.

Comment by democommie

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: