The Massachusetts legislature just unanimously passed the strongest equal pay law in the country. In spite of a legal prohibition against gender-based pay discrimination passed by the state in 1945, the gender wage gap has persisted. Shirley Leung of the Boston Globe reports that currently
- Women in Massachusetts, in general, make eighty-two cents for every dollar a man earns
- Black women fare worse at sixty-one cents for every dollar a man earns
- Latinas fare even worse at fifty cents per dollar
Recently, during a women’s leadership program I was facilitating, a participant, Amy, had an insight. She had been complaining about being exhausted and stressed all the time while trying to juggle a full-time job and family life—she loved her demanding job and her family, but she had no time for herself and was tired all the time. What was her insight? She realized that her husband expected her to do almost all the work of maintaining their home and family and did not really do much to share this load. She had never seen so clearly that she was carrying an unfair share of the burden, and she had also taken it for granted that this was her role. She now began to question these assumptions.
To the surprise of many, a large new study found a persistent gender pay gap for female physicians. Catherine Saint Louis reports in the New York Times that contrary to previous studies of physician salaries, which drew from incomplete data and could be easily dismissed, this study draws on a large objective sample of ten thousand physician faculty members at twenty-four public medical schools in the United States. The researchers carefully controlled for a variety of factors that can influence income, such as volume of patients seen, years since residency, specialty, and age. Saint Louis reports that after adjusting for these factors, the researchers found the following discrepancies:
Why is the gender gap so persistently stalled at annual median earnings for women of about 20 percent below men’s? It has been 53 years since the Equal Pay Act was passed by the US Congress in 1963, yet women still don’t get equal pay for equal work. Claire Cain Miller of the New York Times reports on several new studies that reveal a core reason for the pay gap—work is valued less when women do it. Miller notes that a number of factors once thought to explain the gender wage gap are no longer true, yet the gap remains. For example:
I am encouraged about the wealth of new research on the gender wage gap. There seem to be new studies published every few days on this important topic. What’s encouraging is that the spotlight is finally on this previously invisible problem.
What’s not encouraging is that progress in closing the gender wage gap in the United States seems to be stalled. A recent article by Eric Morath in the Wall Street Journal reports that “the gender pay gap is widening again because men’s earnings are growing this year at twice the rate of women’s.” Consequently, the earnings of full-time female workers in the United State dropped to 81.1 cents for every dollar a man earned in the third quarter of 2015 from 83.5 cents during the same period in 2014.
New research from the University of Massachusetts Boston on workers in Massachusetts finds that while a gender wage gap exists across all occupations for women, the gap becomes a chasm for Hispanic women, especially for low-wage workers. Here are some facts from the research:
- White women make 83 percent of what white men make in the same occupations.
- Hispanic women make 56 percent of their male equivalents.
More specifically, here are some numbers for low-wage workers:
- Latinas who work as cleaners make 54 cents on the dollar compared to all male janitors and 59 cents compared to their Hispanic male counterparts.