Are We Closing the Gender Gap at Work?

Jessica Miller-Merrell, blogging4jobs

More than 50 years ago women earned about 60 percent on average of what men earned when working year-round full time. That percentage was steady up until the 1980s when there was considerable progression in the movement. The percentage then increase to about 72 percent where it has remained for nearly two decades only rising by 5% in the past 20+ years.  

More women are entering school and the workforce in numbers like never before. Still, women only make 77% of what their male counterparts make according to Bloomberg Businessweek. I hadn’t thought much about the gender gap at work until the birth of my daughter. I was blissfully unaware. How I managed my day, multi-tasked and prioritized my life are different because of being a woman. Does this have anything to do with the gender gap at work? Absolutely not. 

Because of the gender gap women miss out on over $431,000 dollars over the span of a 40-year career. That is twice the amount of an average priced home. At the current rate of the gender gap it will take nearly 38 years for the gap to be closed and both men and women being paid equally. This timeframe is disturbing especially because women have higher GPAs and leave college with the same amount of debt.

In 2012 an effort was made to help close the gender gap faster by the creation of the Paycheck Fairness Act, that would have required employers to disclose salary data to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This act was shot down by the U.S. Congress, which is made up of 90% males. Other efforts to close the gap were enacted by President Obama who quietly issued a compensation survey to research federal contractors and enacted the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

Big pushes for equal pay for women were hot topics during the 2012 Presidential Debates and both candidates made promises to make huge strides in the arena. Unfortunately even with the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act wages for women still suffer and are less than their counterparts. Struggling to gain 17 percent in 60 years is unacceptable and there must be more done in the world of work to fix this issue. So to answer the question initially posed, Are We Closing The Gender Gap at Work? My answer is, not fast enough. 

What will it take for women to see a final push to make up for that last 23 percent? 

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media. She’s an author who writes at Blogging4Jobs. You can follow her on Twitter @blogging4jobs


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