The Pay Bias Between the Sexes Lingers On

December 20, 2011  |  

Women may be earning college degrees more than ever, but the pay gap between genders reveals that the average salary doesn’t equal the enthusiasm for education.

The US Census Bureau estimates that across the nation, women earn 78 cents for every dollar men make.  And Jennifer Tucker, the vice president at Center for Women’s Policy Studies, tells Penn Live that according to reports that she’s seen, equal incomes may not take place until 2060.

“One would think the disparity would not be so deep as it is,” Tucker said to Penn Live.

The National Committee on Pay Equity reports that younger women have been able to earn more comparable rates to their male counterpoints. It also reveals that the pay gap doesn’t take place upon the start of a woman’s professional career. It differs depending on education level and adds up over time. For a high school graduate a woman may have earned about $700,000 less than a man over the course of her professional career. The gap increases to $1.2 million for women college graduates and goes up to $2 million for those who earned professional degrees.

The reason behind the pay difference can be partially attributed to job choice and family obligations. Educated women tend to take on jobs in fields with less competitive pay such as teachers, nurses and social workers. Men still tend to take on the business executive roles, doctors and lawyers. Women are also more likely to take off time from work to take care of young children, a move that can hinder pay raises.

Lu Zhang, a management professor at Penn State Harrisburg also notes that women are “less likely than men to negotiate aggressively for a raise because they’re more concerned with maintaining good relationships than pushing into a better pay bracket.”

The old fight for gender equality still has some part to play in the discrepancy as well.

“A study a few years ago showed when women and men get out of law school they earn the same amount, but somewhere along the line, in the first five years, the men start earning a lot more and the women never catch up,” Tucker said to Penn Live.

“While a lot has changed for working women, a lot has stayed the same in terms of treatment and opportunities.”

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