Equal Pay for Equal Work? It’s Almost a Reality for Young Women, Research Says
The disparity in pay between men and women is a recurring hot-button issue, but a new report shows a mixed bag of trends.
According to research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, young female college graduates have narrowed the gap with their male counterparts, earning an average of 97 cents for every dollar made by men with the same degrees in the same jobs.
While that is progress, Dr. Terry Boyer, executive director of the Rutgers Center for Women and Work, is not ready to throw a parade just yet.
"It says a lot about the trend in that we're excited it's not quite equal yet," she said. "It's still three percent less than what their male counterparts are earning."
The data shows the near-parity in pay for new workers between ages 22 and 27.
She attributes that narrowing to less discrimination, the stellar performance by many young woman academically in college, and an increase in salaries for females in under-represented fields.
"Those sorts of things are advances that are creating a better situation for women in the workplace," Boyer said.
But, that trend changes quite a bit in the years after.
"That pay gap does continue to get greater as they spend more time in the workforce," Boyer said.
The gap increases exponentially as workers enter their 30s to mid-30s, and more decisions are made about starting families. Unfortunately, many women are often penalized for the perception that they will have children, even if they have none or have plans to do so.
"Certainly, about the 30s is where that gap tends to widen even greater," she said.
The current overall wage gap is 77 cents on the dollar for full-time employees of both genders in the workforce. Very little progress has been made over the last few decades to really dent that 23 percent or so divide.
Boyer also noted an interesting trend in the compensation divide.
"In fields where you have a majority of women, the wage gap tends to be greater, and vice versa," Boyer said.
She mentioned fields, such as education and nursing as examples.
Boyer believes there is no one silver bullet to rectify the issue, and that it is one that needs to be continuously addressed by public policy and corporate awareness.