Young Women Are Closing the Pay Gender Gap

Photo (cc) by M Glasgow

Here’s a bit of good news for young American women: They’re earning 93 percent of what their male peers make, says a new Pew Research Center report. Equality in pay isn’t here yet, but that’s a whole lot better than the 84 percent gender gap in the population overall. (Some reports put that number at 77 percent.)

It’s due to huge strides that women have made in educational achievement. Says The Associated Press:

Some 38 percent of women ages 25-32 now hold bachelor’s degrees, compared to 31 percent of young men. As a result, 49 percent of employed workers with at least a bachelor’s degree last year were women, up from 36 percent in 1980. That means more women in higher-skilled, higher-paying positions.

Despite their progress, young women may find themselves losing ground as they age, the report says. By their mid-30s, their hourly pay will slip — primarily as a result of taking time off or cutting back hours to take care of kids. Other factors are gender discrimination, a tendency to have less robust professional networks, and not pushing hard for raises and career advancement.

It appears that young women aren’t optimistic about their progress. According to the report, 75 percent of women between 18 and 32 say the U.S. needs to do more to encourage gender equality in the workplace — a sentiment echoed by a similar percentage of women between 49 and 67. Only 57 percent of men felt the same way.

The naming of the first woman CEO of a major U.S. car company this week likely won’t do much to improve women’s outlook about their career and pay prospects.

“This report shows we’re still very much in a stalled revolution when it comes to gender equality in the workplace — and young women see it, “ Pamela Smock, a University of Michigan sociology professor, told AP. “When we see our male CEOs taking off a day to care for a sick child, then we will be working in a more gender-equal workplace — and a more gender-equal world.”

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