April 8, 2014

On Equal Pay Day, key facts about the gender pay gap

Today marks “Equal Pay Day,” the date that symbolizes how far into the new year the average American woman would have to work to earn what the average American man did in the previous year. With a new executive order issued today, President Obama and Democrats are hoping to peg the gender wage gap as a major issue ahead of the 2014 elections. This week, Senate Democrats also plan to again bring forward the proposed “Paycheck Fairness Act,” a bill that aims to eliminate the pay gap between female and male employees.

Both men and women see a need for moves such as this – 72% of women and 61% of men said “this country needs to continue making changes to give men and women equality in the workplace,” according to a Pew Research Center survey last fall.

According to the White House, full-time working women earn 77% of what their male counterparts earn. This means that women have to work approximately 60 extra days, or about three months, to earn what men did by the end of the previous year. However, our own estimate, which is based on hourly earnings of both full- and part-time workers, finds women earn 84 percent of what men earn. Based on our estimate, it would take approximately 40 days, or until the end of February for women to earn what men had by the end of last year.

But for young women, the wage gap is even smaller – at 93 percent – meaning they caught up to their same-aged male counterparts by roughly the last week in January of this year.

As our video explains, the estimated 16-cent pay gap today has narrowed from 36 cents in 1980. Back then, the average woman would have had to work approximately 90 days, roughly into the beginning of May, in order to catch up with men’s earnings from the year before.

In spite of its narrowing, the gender pay gap persists. Why is this? In our survey, women were more likely to say they had taken career interruptions to care for their family. And research has shown that these types of interruptions can have an impact on long-term earnings.  Roughly four-in-ten mothers say they have taken a significant amount of time off from work (39%) or reduced their work hours (42%) to care for a child or other family member. Roughly a quarter (27%) say they have quit work altogether to take care of these familial responsibilities. (Fewer men say the same. For example, just 24% of fathers say they have taken a significant amount of time off to care for a child or other family member.)

Even though women have increased their presence in higher-paying jobs traditionally dominated by men, such as professional and managerial positions, women as a whole continue to work in lower-paying occupations than men do. And some part of the pay gap may also be due to gender discrimination –women are about twice as likely as men to say they had been discriminated against at work because of their gender (18% vs. 10%).

Topics: Gender, Work and Employment

  1. is a Research Analyst at the Pew Research Center.

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49 Comments

  1. Anonymous1 day ago

    I was just offered a professional position at 18% less than the man who recently held the job was making when he started 2 years ago. My credentials are better and I was recruited to the position. In addition, the man had full benefits, and if I take the job, I will not have health insurance benefits. At 50 years of age, with 20 years in this profession, and a good 15-20 good years in me, this is appalling.

    Reply
  2. smitty3 days ago

    “Roughly four-in-ten mothers say they have taken a significant amount of time off from work (39%) or reduced their work hours (42%) to care for a child or other family member. Roughly a quarter (27%) say they have quit work altogether to take care of these familial responsibilities. (Fewer men say the same. For example, just 24% of fathers say they have taken a significant amount of time off to care for a child or other family member.)”

    So apparently women are earn less because they’ve worked less

    Reply
  3. Angelofnv3 days ago

    If that were the case, and that’s make or break for a woman, you wouldn’t want to be with her, anyway. I never sought a man based on his income and though some do, there are plenty that don’t.

    Reply
  4. Sue Perry4 days ago

    Many reasons for gender pay gap.

    Reply
  5. chris2 weeks ago

    Women will always seek men who earn more money than them when it comes to finding a partner. If we get equal pay a lot of men will become disqualified for the woman and end up alone. I really feel uneasy about that.

    Reply
  6. shaun w1 month ago

    If there were any truth to this very distorted claim, women would trend towards jobs that are commission-based. I’m a supporter of Obama and I like Maddow, but this is the most dishonest statistic being (mis-) quoted by both of them, and others.

    Reply
  7. Team Punishment2 months ago

    great article. thanks for sharing. aware.

    Reply
  8. declan2 months ago

    Well no, there is no “pay gap”. This has been disproven time and time again, a company would be sued for discrimination if it paid a male higher than a female for the same job. The fallacy in this whole argument for pay gap is that it simply compares the average earnings of all women, against the average earnings of all men, and we arrive at the “women earn 77 cents for every dollar men earn, therefore discrimination and patriarchy” lies.
    If you account for:
    A. the time women take off work for maternity leave or to raise children, or stay at home mothers.
    B. the higher portion of women who work part time or casual compared to men, who have more full time workers.
    C. the different career choices men and women make which lead them to higher or lower paying industries, eg. men are more likely to go into STEM fields, whereas women are more likely to go into say education or nursing.

    the so called “wage gap” is nullified and essentially 100% accounted for, instead of promoting the spread of lies that are detrimental to society as a whole, please do some of your own research instead of taking misleading articles written by idiots and/or feminists as truth without looking into it.

    Reply
  9. Annett2 months ago

    What i do not realize is in fact how you are not actually much more well-preferred than you may be now. You are very intelligent. You know therefore significantly in relation to this subject, produced me in my view consider it from numerous numerous angles. Its like women and men are not involved until it is something to do with Woman gaga! Your own stuffs great. Always maintain it up!

    Reply
  10. Skyler2 months ago

    Yup! Can you agree more? So unfair! Men get more pay than woman? That’s just ding-dong wrong!

    Reply
  11. Hamilton4 months ago

    And women work twice as hard ,receiving even less pay. Demoralizing, patronization of women make for desultory work environment. Wells Fargo did not promote women
    in 1969-70 when I worked For them.

    Reply
    1. Chuck4 months ago

      Seriously? Women work twice as hard?

      Reply
  12. miK5 months ago

    Eileen, is the gap 23% or 2-5%? Comparing similar jobs and experiences, it seems 2-5% is more plausible. I mean, how can any company survive paying their workers 23% premium over others of same ability?

    Reply
    1. Eileen Patten5 months ago

      miK,

      The gap the White House usually discusses is 23%, not 2-5%, but what you have to keep in mind is that this is comparing all working women to all working men — and as we discuss in the second half of this post there are many factors contributing to this gap — for examaple, differences in time out of the workforce, hours worked and occupations all contribute to the gap, among other things. We do not have data on an individual workplace and position level that would allow us to look at exactly what women and men in the same position at the same companies earn.

      Eileen

      Reply
      1. Teh BuG3 months ago

        hey while were at it Eileen, lets compare Deaths in the workplace by gender with the gender pay gap, and see if we can correlate any information out of it.

        bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/cfch0004.pdf

        Reply
        1. Teh BuG3 months ago

          Page Six is the one you want to look at.

          Reply
  13. TAG5 months ago

    Where are the direct results. Like, same job, same experience, same hours, same production, same ability, same skill, and same knowledge. If all things are equal then yes, the pay should be equal no matter what sex, race, or age. I believe when all things are considered, pay is equal.

    Reply
  14. Susan LIndquist5 months ago

    thanks Eileen! This is a very interesting and well researched study. But I’m concerned about two things.

    First, the “quick glance graphic” associated with the video broadcastsan immediate message: “Hey! things aren’t so bad!”. Women have narrowed the gap till it almost seems to disappear. Only when you look further do you find that the gap is much broader when looked at in depth. This is great research! But the small font “there is more to the story” is not going to lead many people into it. Worse, given how quickly everyone moves through the internet, grabbing and keeping first impressions, this article seems likely to have an over-all negative impact simply simply due to the choice of graphic. Please consider changing it.

    Second, what do you mean by “male counterparts”? do you mean that in a job-by-job comparison, as they move up the ladder women make less and less? Or is it a simple age-binned average, where the pay numbers suffer in later years primarily from women not reaching the same rung in the ladder? Both are a shame, but deciphering what drives the numbers is important in trying to find the best way to fix it.

    Reply
    1. Eileen Patten5 months ago

      Hi Sara,

      This analysis was meant to be more overarching and does not take into account job-by-job comparisons, so in this case “male counterparts” simply means men of the same age, regardless of work history or occupation. We account for some of the differences in full- vs. part-time work between men and women by using hourly earnings rather than weekly or annual earnings to make our comparisons. We do not have a way of calculating these figures based on what rung in the ladder men and women have reached in their jobs.

      The BLS has a table that includes some occupation-level analysis by gender among full-time workers that you might be interested in: bls.gov/cps/cpsaat39.pdf. However, this table is based on weekly earnings so it may be reflecting a difference in hours worked between men and women. For example, an analysis of American Time Use data by the BLS found that among full-time workers, men worked an average of 8.5 hours on days that they worked compared with 7.9 hours for women (bls.gov/news.release/atus.nr0.htm).

      Eileen

      Reply
  15. JayB5 months ago

    Eileen – assuming that a portion of the pay gap is due to discrimination, the implication is that men making pay decisions are the cause. Can you look at the data comparing pay differences for companies run by women or woman owned businesses? The gap should be measurably less between women and men for those companies.

    Reply
    1. Eileen Patten5 months ago

      JayB,

      We have not done any analysis on differences based on the gender of the leadership at a company or business — it is not a detail that we can get using the Census data that we typically use to run these analyses. If you know of any good analysis on this topic, I’d love to see it.

      Eileen

      Reply
  16. JD5 months ago

    For all the reasons given for why women make less than men, I never see anyone talk about biological ability except for in the context of physical strenght. Isn’t it completely possible that the male human brain is more logical than the female human brain? It is a scientific fact that in male human infants, testosterone fundamentally changes their brain to be different from the female baseline unchanged human brain.

    Also, the article says that younger women have closed the wage gap making 93% of men. Couldn’t this be due to men giving the younger and more attractive women a better position and pay? It may have nothing to do with ability, but instead be all about sexual dynamics. Those younger women shouldn’t count on that advantage always being there for them. If we factor out the young women, then the pay gap actually increases to around 60%. Meaning that women are only capable of being 60% as productive as a man.

    And that doesn’t include all the high paying bureaucratic government desk jobs that are mainly filled by women. At the end of the day, we may find that women are only half as productive as men.

    For some reason, we want to think that humans are the only creatures without gender differences that influence behavior and ability. Seems very unscientific to me.

    Reply
  17. Dennis Maher5 months ago

    What is missing here is recognition of misogyny. The comments here express an amazing amount of dislike, dismissal, and hatred of women by men. Too many men talk trash about women, especially in fields where there are few women. In those fields women will not be welcome and will experience daily insults and efforts to keep them down or get them out. It is called discrimination.

    Reply
    1. Suzette Galope Garcia5 months ago

      I agree!

      Reply
  18. Jean Valjean5 months ago

    I’m sorry that the Pew Research Center is damaging their credibility by regurgitating this half-century old myth about unequal pay.

    Go to the Department of Labor and look at the way they compile wages. The only criteria they use to compile full time wages is whether the person is male or female. That’s just fine for feminists and politicians who want the female vote because this method shows that women make 23% less than men.

    But this is both inaccurate and unethical. Well, to be frank it’s a darned lie. Comparing the aggregate income of a group of women to a group of men may show that women make less income per year but it does not show that women are being discriminated against or that they are making less money in the same job and working the same hours with the same experience.

    In fact, when the 77% figure is controlled for type of job, number of hours worked each week, job experience, education, and job risk, the actual difference in wages drops to between 2 and 5%!

    And those who have compiled this data say there is no evidence that even the 5% is caused by discrimination. In fact, given the independent and autonomous choices of women that have led to them making less it’s entirely plausible that the remaining 5% is caused by other choices that have not been factored rather than some ethereal patriarchal discrimination.

    What ideologues and their cowardly lackies like Pew Research also fail to address is why would anyone ever hire a man if they could pay women 77cents on the dollar and get the exact same work? What company wouldn’t want to reduce their labor costs by 23%?

    Feminists and other people who parrot this wage gap myth never address this problem because the only possible answer is that either women are not being discriminated against OR women aren’t doing the same quality work as men.

    Whichever you choose, both invalidate the wage gap myth.

    Reply
  19. Luke5 months ago

    My mother and I were discussing the differences as well… I nake a 60k salary a year with bonus potential upwards of 150k totalling anywhere between 60k and 210k… I am a supervisor in the oilfield. She makes a salary at 42k a year as an office manager in the oilfield. I work in the area of 100-140 hours a week, my mother 36. I have seen women in my field but few. I know the national average pay for my age is around 25k.

    Could it be that most women choose the lower paying jobs for the “french benefits”, being able to miss work for the kids. Im not saying all. But due to the law of averages if women on average makke 16 cents less than men, and say even 25 % have chosen to be moms not just mothers, women make more.

    I think for reasearch purposes of the propseed executive and managerial position, both the males and females whom have chosen lower paying jobs should all be left out, then the comparisons should be based on a say 50 hour work week. I have a feeling we would find that men and women are paid equallly.

    Economics says equis parrabellum or something like it. Means all the remain equal. For true comparisons measurement should be taken from exactly alike catagories where they is no side mathematics to make figures match or seem as they do.

    Reply
  20. Julian5 months ago

    One of the things not mentioned in the article is the difference in education, particularly with respect to those workers attending graduate school. With the average MBA class comprised of only 17% women, the pay gap is typically going to persist in fields where the degree is beneficial. A number of schools are reaching out to recruit more women, but are competing with life priorities of candidates at the 27-31 year typical age range of an MBA student.

    The other concern is maternity or paternity leave impact. Recently, I noted than an employee out for 4 months on maternity leave, saw her responsibilities reduced when she returned. The reason was that her temporary replacement took the opportunity to shine in her absence and clearly outperformed her, while she was out on maternity leave. If the work place is a meritocracy than shouldn’t the replacement get to keep the new responsibilities? From the perspective of the business, the improved performance is clearly welcomed. I think that whenever someone is away from their job long enough to require a temp, that they run the risk of this happening. If it makes any difference in this situation by the way the temp who stepped in and did a better job was another woman. However, the gender isn’t the important piece, its the question of whether or not positions and roles can and should be guaranteed when someone leaves for an extended period of time including maternity or paternity leave.

    Reply
    1. Eileen Patten5 months ago

      We have more on the differences in educational attainment among men and women in our longer piece from December (pewsocialtrends.org/2013/12/11/o…).

      In the overview and Chapter 1, you can see that among Millennials ages 25-32, more women than men have at least a bachelor’s degree (38% vs. 31%), and among Millennials ages 18-24, more women than men are enrolled in college (45% vs. 38%). Today women make up about half (49%) of the college-educated workforce, compared with 36% in 1980. As this new group of young women emerges into adulthood with higher educational attainment than their male counterparts and an almost closed pay gap — at 93% — it will be interesting to see how gender pay gap story plays out over their working lives.

      Also of interest from the survey chapters of that report is the attitudes and opinions of college-educated women. Women with a bachelor’s degree or higher are much more likely than women with less education to say men generally earn more than women for the same work (73% vs. 55%). They are also more likely than men with a college education (55%) to say this. And a larger share of college-educated women also see barriers for women in getting top executive jobs in business and government — 71% say this is easier for men, compared with 47% of less educated women and 50% of college-educated men. And looking just at the college-educated Millennial women alone, they largely agree — 72% of college-educated Millennial women say it is easier for men to get top executive jobs in business or government these days and 69% say men generally earn more than women for the same work.

      Reply
      1. Jean Valjean5 months ago

        So you are saying that college wage women are saying that they believe they are making less? Why wouldn’t they say that? The wage gap myth has been repeated a million times over the last 50 years. When anyone says it’s a lie they are called a misogynist and what interest would a woman have in refuting it if it means she can get something she didn’t earn or explain away her own failures and choices?

        Let’s be frank here. Nearly every problem women face is ALWAYS someone elses fault. Why is that? No matter how much control and opportunity a woman has, if things don’t work out she’s a victim. Have you or anyone else ever considered that this mindset is actually what reinforces the idea that women are not as good as men?

        Also, you are attempting to insinuate that all the college educated women should be making as much or more than men. That would be true if not for two very important things.

        1. The US has a glut of college educated people who work in coffee shops and bag groceries.
        2. Women overwhelmingly avoid STEM fields and choose sociology and psychology majors which rarely pay well whereas the males in their cohort choose STEM and then go into those occupations.

        Even men who never go to college will make more than many college educated women because of some very good reasons.
        1. They choose jobs that are more risky and therefore pay more.
        2. They choose jobs that have more hardship like travel or work outdoors.
        3. They work longer hours. On average men work more hours per week and are paid more overtime hours.
        4. Women demand it! Women are still hypergamist and 50 years of feminism has done nothing to change the fact that almost every woman wants to marry a man who makes more money than she does. This innate and widespread discrimination against men on the part of women is the reason why men work harder and make more money because they know women won’t want us if we don’t. It’s also one of the reasons women do most of the child care because men are more reluctant to give up the identity that women insisted we have as a prerequisite to them choosing us in the first place. That’s already an easy choice to make since almost always the husband is making more than the wife. His hard work affords her the opportunity to slow down and enjoy a balanced life.

        And feminism allows her to throw that back in his face years later when she wants to cash out of the marriage and claim she’s been oppressed and forced to give up her career.

        There is no wage gap. There is just women who complain about everything and blame men for it because that has always been the way women got things they didn’t actually want to earn themselves.

        Reply
      2. thomas5 months ago

        It will be interesting indeed, especially when the value of a university or college degree is not the guarantor of a ‘richer’ life these days. As Ken Robinson said in a TED talk, we have academic inflation where you need to a Masters degree as a minimum to take on entry jobs.

        I feel sorry for these women who are supposedly academically superior to men because of their higher post-secondary education attainment. Soon women will realize they dropped a hundred and fifty grand on an education they could have obtained for $1.50 in late chahges at the public library!

        Reply
  21. Joel5 months ago

    Who the heck taught these people how long months are?
    Case 1: “…work approximately 60 extra days, or about three months…”
    Case 2: “…it would take approximately 40 days, or until the end of February…”
    Case 3: “…had to work approximately 90 days, roughly into the beginning of May…”

    Actual numbers. 1: 3 months is about 90 days. 2: The end of February is 31+28=59. 3: The beginning of May would be 31+28+31+30=120 days.

    Reply
    1. Eileen Patten5 months ago

      For this analysis, we are calculating months it would take for women to close the gap using only the working days in that month. So January, for example, has 31 days, but 8 of those days are weekends and two more (NYE and MLK) are typical work holidays, so only 21 of the days in January counted towards the number of extra days women had to work into the new year to earn what men did in the previous year since they were likely only working those 21 days.

      Reply
      1. Jean Valjean5 months ago

        Eileen, even if that’s so then they should have chose a different analogy. When they decided to stretch the perception of time out to make it seem more serious they stopped being honest and ethical researchers and started being ideologues engaged in hyperbole and propaganda.

        Reply
    2. Jean Valjean5 months ago

      These are feminists friend. They make these numbers up.

      There is a reason why women avoid STEM.

      It’s because you can’t get the answer to complex mathematics by crying or blaming the patriarchy.

      Reply
    3. Edward4 months ago

      The math isn’t wrong its based of a 5 day work week… so if you work 6 its less days.

      Reply
  22. michael5 months ago

    I agree with Kathleen.

    I wonder what happens to the wage data when comparable number of actual work-months is factored in? That is, if you were to compare women with 240 working months in their history to men with the same number, what would the wage difference be?

    SSA has this data. I wonder if they have a way to aggregate it for researchers.

    Reply
  23. Kathleen5 months ago

    The point that a lot of people seem to be missing is that it is EQUAL pay for EQUAL work that women like myself are after. If two people of different genders have the same job, same work experience, work the same number of hours, and contribute the same amount, then why are women statistically paid less than men? It’s great that the gap is decreasing, but the fact of the matter is it shouldn’t exist at all.

    At the same time I believe men should have paternity leave when they have a child, should not be penalized if they need to take time off to care for their family, and should not be passed up for promotions, raises, ect. if they prioritize their family over their job. The name of the game is equality. Neither women, men, nor minorities should be discriminated against in the workplace. Period.

    Reply
    1. Shawna5 months ago

      O_O do you understand the problem at all?? Women are not paid less than men for equivalent work. A male security officer working ten hours makes the exact same wages that a female security officer does.

      The problem being addressed here is that on average women’s annual income is lower than the average man’s because a higher number of women choose fields that pay less.

      A woman working as a secretary is going to make less than an engineer who is making skyscrapers.
      There is a real problem if a secretary who gets coffee and writes up memos, makes the same annual salary as the highly educated engineer who has to design and supervise the building of a multimillion dollar building.

      This is called reality, stop making women out to be victims or we’ll never be equal.

      Reply
  24. Anthony Barnes5 months ago

    One of many things that needs to happen is that men should be allowed as much time off as women after their mates have had a child. Another is that women should be encouraged to go into higher paying fields. Also, employees should be allowed to compare pay without facing retaliation by employers. That way they’ll be better able to detect pay discrepancies. Furthermore, the government could offer more childcare services to women so that caring for their children won’t impact their jobs and careers as much. Things like this will reduce whatever the gender pay gap may be. It’s not enough to say it’s their own fault women earn less. Let’s help them.

    Reply
  25. JohnnyK5 months ago

    There has been equal pay in my work world since I entered it in 1972. First in the military and then in sales. I contend that it is the work field women chose that holds them back financially. When I sold furniture at the same time as my wife she outsold me every day. Consequently her pay was higher than mine. Professional positions will pay the same no matter the gender when all other factors are equal. Taking time off definately impacts earning potential.
    Once again the government wishes to inject “fairness” through legislation instead of looking at reality. The chart in the article is quite encouraging in that younger women (at 93%) have received the message – get into professions that pay more and succeed. Success is the key, excel at what you do and the income will follow. My 36 year old daughter is an example of this.
    This movement is nothing more than an attempt by the Democrats to inject another wedge issue into the 2014 mid-term elections, thereby countering some of the lost votes from the Obamacare debacle by garnishing a higher percentage of the female vote. This is why you see the 77% number coming out of the White House. They will skew the numbers any way they can every time.
    I am glad Ms. Patten shares the facts with the charts and text and not just echo the administration’s numbers. That is journalism and not propaganda.

    Reply
  26. Kevin5 months ago

    An excellent article! You can find even more statistics on the reasons behind gender-based pay differences at work-equity.org. Women work significantly fewer hours than men, especially during the years between 25-40.

    If there was an “Equal Work Day” in 2014, statistics show that it would fall on April 10!

    Reply
    1. Eileen Patten5 months ago

      I hadn’t thought about measuring the time into the new year based on the difference in hours worked — very interesting! Thanks for sharing that perspective.

      Reply
  27. Rich5 months ago

    Men and women do different jobs. For instance men do more dangerous jobs as they make up over 90% of workplace deaths and accidents. To take something like gross income and not examine the many variables that leads to an outcome is irresponsible

    Reply
    1. steve davis5 months ago

      This doesn’t explain why men and women are paid differently while doing the SAME JOB.

      Reply
      1. Jac5 months ago

        Maybe you missed the part about taking extended absences from their job for various reasons….this affects pay which is often increased by a small percentage each year…

        Reply
        1. Sarah1 month ago

          Lots of women don’t do this, and they *still* earn less. Many don’t get these small increments each year either!

          Reply
  28. Article Comment5 months ago

    This is an incorrect conclusion from the facts:

    “This week, Senate Democrats also plan to again bring forward the proposed “Paycheck Fairness Act,” a bill that aims to eliminate the pay gap between female and male employees. Both men and women see a need for moves such as this – 72% of women and 61% of men said “this country needs to continue making changes to give men and women equality in the workplace,” according to a Pew Research Center survey last fall.”

    The author has not shown that people approve of *this* particular method. People approve of equality in the workplace, but that doesn’t mean unequal treatment if women are more likely to take time off to raise children. How would a women without children feel if her counterpart who took 5 years out of the workforce to raise kids got compensated the same despite different experience levels?

    Reply
    1. Bill5 months ago

      Excellent point!

      Reply
    2. David Stout4 months ago

      “How would a women without children feel if her counterpart who took 5 years out of the workforce to raise kids got compensated the same despite different experience levels?” – I’m embarrassed to say that I’d never thought of it like that. I’d thought in terms of men staying versus women leaving for child rearing and returning to their careers. It’s a fair point that NOT leaving the workforce is a choice women make too – and should be able to reasonably be expected to be better compensated for making.

      Reply