Women are still falling behind men in terms of equal pay.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women only earn an average of 82 cents for every dollar a man earns. Despite the fact that this is an ongoing problem that has been in the new cycle for years, little progress seems to be happening. While excuses are usually made that women work less as they tend to look after children, the fact that graduates already see a disparity in pay shows that this isn’t the case.
Is there an explanation for this disparity? Some researchers seem to think so, while others argue that their hypotheses have been outright disproven. With International Women’s Day on March 8 and the theme being #EmbraceEquity, we thought it was high time we highlighted some of the inequality women in education are still facing and what can be done about it — let’s take a look at that data.
Women in Education
Women outnumber men in all levels of education, but some argue there’s more to it than that. One current explanation that many point to is that women are, “historically pursuing degrees and careers in lower-paying fields.”
Others say that women, “are more likely to prioritize family responsibilities throughout their careers.” But is there any truth in either of these statements? Not really.
The National Association of College and Employers (NACE) recently revealed average salary figures for the college graduating class of 2020. Women earned an average of $52,266 per year, while men earned $64,022. We’ll do the math for you — that works out to women earning 82% of what men do for the same job. Sound familiar?
“That gap — with women earning approximately 82% of what men do — is in line with the figure the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported as the pay difference between men and women,” says Shawn VanDerziel, NACE executive director.
VanDerziel made an important distinction, as well. “Consequently, our study dispels the myth that the gender pay gap results from women prioritizing family over career and thus begins later. We’re seeing the disparity right at the beginning of a woman’s career.”
There is some truth in the idea that women tend to pursue degrees in fields that pay less, but the decision to do so isn’t as clear-cut as some think. The term used to describe this phenomenon is “occupational segregation.”
Nicole Smith, research professor and chief economist at the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, explained the concept perfectly. Occupational segregation is, “driven by socioeconomic challenges, and it is also driven by expectations about what roles women should play in society.”
But even if a woman does decide on entering a field that tends to be more male-dominated, the wage gap is ever-present. Smith’s findings revealed that women with the same jobs and exact same education as their male counterparts still only earned 92 cents for every dollar a man did.
Progress is still being made, however. VanDerziel called on companies to, “standardize pay and eliminate the discretion to set salaries for new hires.” He also noted that businesses need to, “conduct an annual pay-equity analysis to determine if there are salary differentials correlated to gender or race/ethnicity, and, if so, take immediate action where needed.”
This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is “Embrace Equity.” Particularly fitting since it’s clear that women are still fighting to be seen as equals in the workplace. IWD, however, is ready to help you take the charge and start making changes to boost women up.
So what can you do to help the cause and empower women in the workforce? Check out these resources for way to champion women everywhere:
- Check out the resources available on the International Women’s Day website. From planning an event to social media templates, there’s a way for you to make your voice heard on a big or small scale.
- Donate to a charity where the funds go directly to help women’s equity. There is a list of IWD’s charities of choice available on their website.
- If you’re a recent woman graduate looking for a job, apply to one of IWD’s Prime Employers. These chosen workplaces have things in place to help women thrive in their careers.
If you’re looking for a part-time job to help you earn some extra cash, check out our guide on how to get paid $100 an hour to be a virtual assistant.