It's 2008, and the Income Gender Gap Is Still Alive and Well


Several of you have asked for a post about the wage gap. I’ve held off, because it’s a huge topic –- really, most of my own blog circles back to income one way or another. But I get that not everyone feels like spending a few weeks, months, or years on this stuff, so I’ll try to quickly bring you up to speed.

The bottom line is that researchers haven’t been able to account for all of the pay gap between men and women. We know that part of it is about informal caregiving, which still overwhelmingly falls to women. On average, thanks to our other commitments, we have less formal work experience, and that translates to lower income, though in many cases it means that we work more hours in total.

Nonetheless, even when researchers try to correct for differences in education and work experience, the gender gap persists, suggesting that something else is at work. Feministe commenter Sappho pointed us towards this US Census report, complete with a dizzying number of charts and graphs. It quotes a GAO report:

When we account for difference between male and female work patterns as well as other key factors, women earned, on average, 80 percent of what men earned in 2000… Even after accounting for key factors that affect earnings, our model could not explain all of the differences in earnings between men and women.
What’s the source of that additional 20 per cent gap? I’d say it’s some part straightforward sexism –- unequal pay for equal work –- paired with workplace atmospheres that discourage women from excelling. Unfortunately, this stuff is tough to measure. Part of it also probably has to do with negotiation.

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