American Women and the Gender Pay Gap: A Changing Demographic or the Same Old Song

By Perry, Jennifer; Gundersen, David E. | Advancing Women in Leadership, January 1, 2011 | Go to article overview

American Women and the Gender Pay Gap: A Changing Demographic or the Same Old Song


Perry, Jennifer, Gundersen, David E., Advancing Women in Leadership


Women have made great strides in education and career opportunity selections since the passage of the Equal Pay Act in 1963. Despite these many gains, female remuneration has not kept pace. The gender pay-gap continues to exist with serious consequences for women and the families that depend on their earnings. The gap is presented and framed historically and legislation is presented that has influenced women's pay. A variety of explanations for why the gap continues are explored and debunked. The effects of the pay gap are presented and analyzed with policy initiatives offered underscoring possible solutions.

Keywords: pay, compensation, gender, inequality

Introduction

The working world has changed dramatically for women over the past several decades. Societal attitudes have changed regarding the role of women in the house and at work. Aided by laws that have provided increasing opportunities, women's presence in the labor force has steadily increased. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2010a), 47% of all employees are women with an unemployment rate of 8% compared to men who comprise 53% of the labor force with an unemployment rate of 9.8%. Men's occupations have been especially hard hit with job losses during the recent recession with construction and manufacturing taking inordinate job losses thus explaining some of the differences of unemployment rates by gender (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010a). The coined term "Mancession" has even been used to show the disproportionate impact of job loss on men compared to women during the recent recession (Baxter, 2009; Thompson, 2009; White, 2010). Consequently, the importance of women's earnings has never been more significant to the financial health of family households.

In educational attainment, women still hold fewer university degrees than men when comparing the total population over 25 years of age. However, for the age demographic of 35 to 44 years, women earned Bachelor's degrees or higher at a rate of 31.7% compared to men with similar educational achievements at only 29%. This trend appears to be continuing where the age range of 18 to 24 years showed women earning bachelor or higher degrees at a rate of 10.9% compared to men who had a rate of only 7.2% (U. S. Census, 2010a).

Women have made inroads earning law, business, and medical degrees but still lag men in these fields (U. S. Census, 2010a). Despite trailing men in these fields, women are no longer restricted to working jobs only in domestic work, nursing, clerking, or teaching. It might be said that we currently live in the age of great women role models where Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotamayor, Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lead the way. With these achievements, many feel that the battle for gender equality and gender discrimination no longer exists. With men's job losses grabbing headlines, the gender gap measured by many metrics has shrunk to the point that the issue appears irrelevant and not even referenced on most literary forum's back pages.

The relevancy of the topic is the focus of this investigation. First, the gender earnings gap will be explained. This will include a discussion on the current state of the gap and some historical reference to where the issue of equal pay began. This will be followed by a brief discussion on legislation that has influenced the issue of gender pay equality. Next, some critical analysis and discussion will be devoted to why the pay gap still exists including the impact of gender pay inequality where the dominance of single parent households is women. Finally, we present policy and employment practice suggestions that could be used to help address the pay gap issues.

Pay Gap Explained and the Historical Context

The gender pay gap refers to pay discrepancies between men and women where women bring home smaller paychecks compared to their male counterparts (Income Gender Gap, 2010). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

American Women and the Gender Pay Gap: A Changing Demographic or the Same Old Song
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.