Women make about 80 percent of what men earn, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is a big improvement over 30 years ago, when the number was 65.7 percent, but far from pay equity. PayScale’s research on the gender wage gap shows that some of the continued disparity between male and female pay is due to occupational “choice,” i.e. women opting for lower-paying jobs that give back and allow more flexibility. But lower pay for women can’t entirely be explained by job type. In fact, some of the highest-paying industries also feature the largest pay gaps.
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“According to Ariane Hegewisch, a study director at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, pay gaps between men and women are often wider in traditionally high-paying occupations,” write Thomas C. Frohlich and Mark Lieberman at 24/7 Wall Street. “…These relatively high-paying jobs tend to have much more flexible pay packages that can include such extra incomes as commissions, bonuses, and merit pay. These advantages frequently favor males over females.”
Using data from the Current Population Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Frohlich and Lieberman identified the jobs that have the largest pay gap between male and female workers. The top five are:
Women’s Earnings Compared to Men’s: 61.3 percent
Women’s Earnings Compared to Men’s: 62.2 percent
Women’s Earnings Compared to Men’s: 65.1 percent
Women’s Earnings Compared to Men’s: 67.4 percent
Women’s Earnings Compared to Men’s: 70 percent
If occupational choice affects the gender wage gap, why do these jobs in high-paying industries feature such unequal pay? In part, it’s for the same reasons that some women opt out of top-earning occupations — namely, women still do the bulk of the unpaid labor in the home, regardless of their job outside of the home, and are thus less available to do overtime and pass off sick kids to the care of their spouse.
Bottom line: until men and women put in equal time at home, it’s unlikely that they’ll put in equal time at the office, and earn the same wages for doing so.
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