The Gender Pay Gap Is More Complex Than You Think

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The so-called "gender pay gap" is affected by several factors, and not all have to do with bias, a new analysis finds.

The so-called gender pay gap is more complicated than the oft-cited statistic that women earn about 78 cents for every dollar men earn, a new analysis shows.

PayScale has identified several factors that affect this wage gap, including the following:

Job type

Higher-paying jobs and industries are usually dominated by men.

For example, office manager and administrative support staff positions are among those most commonly held by women, who earn a median pay of $45,100 in such positions.

By contrast, computer software engineer positions are among those most commonly held by men, who earn a median pay of $88,700 in those positions.

Job level

The gender pay gap increases as employees climb the corporate ladder, becoming widest among executives. Male executives earn 32.8 percent more than their female counterparts.

Earnings also level off earlier in life for women. PayScale found that women’s earnings peak at $49,000 between ages 35 and 40, while men’s earnings peak at $75,000 between ages 50 and 55.

Marriage and family

Not only do women as a whole earn less than men as a whole, PayScale reports that women earn less within all of the following demographics:

  • Married with children
  • Married without children
  • Not married with children
  • Not married without children

The pay gap is widest among married people with children despite the fact that men were more likely to say they prioritize family over work once or more times a week (24 percent) compared with women (21 percent).

Unconscious bias

According to PayScale, discriminatory behaviors and policies are often the result of “beliefs that we don’t even know we hold.”

For example, Heidi Hartmann, president of the Washington, D.C.-based think tank Institute for Women’s Policy Research, explains to MarketWatch:

“There’s discrimination. I think that a lot of pay is still based on the head of household model. … There’s a heck of a lot of inefficiency the way supervisors set wages.”

Has the gender pay gap affected your household? Sound off in our Forums. It’s the place where you can speak your mind, explore topics in-depth, and post questions and get answers.

Stacy Johnson

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