Why do men earn so much more than women overall? A big part of the answer lies in job type. Men primarily hold many of the highest-paying types of jobs, like engineering, computer science, and business and finance. Women, meanwhile, hold a majority of teaching, social service and personal care jobs. You don't have to be a highly-paid rocket scientist to figure out that this contributes to overall pay inequity, but looking at the maps below will illustrate just how much trends in job type affect the uncontrolled gender pay gap.
Across the Country, Women Earn Less
The data visualizations above compare the most popular jobs for women to the most popular jobs for men, both nationally and in each state. And, as you can see, the jobs that women are more likely to hold pay significantly less than the jobs that men are more likely to hold. In fact, there are only six states (Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine, Montana, Iowa, and New Mexico) where the most relatively common job for women has a median salary greater than the most relatively common job for men.
Nationally, the most relatively common jobs for women are in administrative or secretarial roles, and all pay less than $46,000 per year. The most relatively common jobs for men, on the other hand, all pay over $64,000 per year, and are in technology, engineering, or construction management. State by state, most of the most relatively common jobs for women are Healthcare Support jobs, while most of the most relatively common jobs for men are Engineering jobs.
Different Pay For Different Jobs
A job's earning potential and its value to society are not one in the same. Software engineers, for example, earn more than three times as much as nursing aides, but nobody would ever say that software engineers are more important. Teachers, social service workers, and healthcare support occupations are all jobs that have a huge societal impact, but are not rewarded, monetarily, by our society in the same way that other jobs are. Unfortunately, these service-oriented, low-paying job types are all dominated by women, while men are the majority in higher-paying job types.
Fix the Pipeline
Even with the knowledge that the typical worker experiences a major career shift at least once in his or her life, we can't expect millions of administrative assistants to become highly-paid engineers overnight. If we want to see the gender pay gap close, we need to address the importance of career choice much earlier, especially to girls when they are still in school. We must educate all students about the fact that they can find jobs that pay well and make the world a better place, and help them understand the importance of financial security at an earlier age.