August 03, 2016 | By NACE Staff
Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals
How can your organization overcome the gender pay gap and promote equal pay? It’s important first to understand the reasons that this gap exists. The gender pay gap is a multifaceted problem, with many factors contributing.
“The gender pay gap statistic most frequently cited—that women earn 79 percent of what men do, among full-time year-round workers—is a summary of the impact of all of these factors on American women in the work force,” explains Kevin Miller, senior researcher at the American Association of University Women (AAUW).
Miller says that the primary factors that contribute to the gender pay gap are:
“It's important to point out, though, that educational and career choices are influenced by gender norms,” Miller points out. “Ninety-seven percent of child care workers are women and 96 percent of truck drivers are men, and truck drivers make significantly more than child care workers, on average.”
He notes that women who choose to enter male-dominated fields tend to earn more.
“But research also shows that when women enter a field in large numbers, average pay—even for men—drops as the field is perceived to be less prestigious,” Miller says.
He explains that the factors above are tied up with gender norms and roles that change over time, but that change happens slowly. And these factors don’t account for all of the gap.
Social scientists—including the staff of AAUW—have attempted to estimate the contributions of the specific factors above to the gender pay gap. Miller explains that when statistically controlling for all of the factors that are typically included in economic or educational surveys—age, race, education level of one's parents, college major, industry, occupation, and so on—there remains some gap that is still associated with gender.
“This is what some refer to as the ‘unexplained’ gender pay gap, which some believe is the result of discrimination,” Miller says. “The estimates of this gap are smaller than the total gender pay gap, but are still significant. Among college graduates, AAUW estimates that, one year after college graduation, after controlling for numerous variables, women are still paid 7 percent less than similar men.”
Sarah Spencer, AAUW program associate, offers some recommendations for employers to consider when setting salaries:
For more information about the gender pay gap, see The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap.
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