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Pay Equity & Discrimination

About Pay Equity & Discrimination

Women are almost half of the workforce. They are the equal, if not main, breadwinner in four out of ten families. They receive more college and graduate degrees than men. Yet, on average, women continue to earn considerably less than men. In 2013, female full-time workers made only 78 cents for every dollar earned by men, a gender wage gap of 22 percent. Women, on average, earn less than men in virtually every single occupation for which there is sufficient earnings data for both men and women to calculate an earnings ratio.

In 2013, female full-time workers made only 78 cents for every dollar earned by men, a gender wage gap of 22 percent.

IWPR tracks the gender wage gap over time in a series of fact sheets updated annually. According to our research, if change continues at the same slow pace as it has done for the past fifty years, it will take almost fifty years—or until 2058—for women to finally reach pay parity. IWPR’s annual fact sheet on the gender wage gap by occupation shows that women earn less than men in almost any occupation. IWPR’s Status of Women in the States project tracks the gender wage gap across states. IWPR’s project on sex and race discrimination in the workplace shows that outright discrimination in pay, hiring, or promotions continues to be a significant feature of working life.

Pay equity may also be impacted by other more subtle factors than workplace discrimination. IWPR’s research shows that, irrespective of the level of qualification, jobs predominantly done by women pay less on average than jobs predominantly done by men. Women have made tremendous strides during the last few decades by moving into jobs and occupations previously done almost exclusively by men, yet during the last decade there has been very little further progress in the gender integration of work. This persistent occupational segregation is a significant contributor to the lack of significant progress in closing the wage gap. According to a recent regression analysis of federal data by IWPR, the poverty rate for working women would be cut in half if women were paid the same as comparable men.

IWPR, in collaboration with The WAGE Project, Inc., examined consent decree remedies for sex and race discrimination in the workplace. Consent decrees are court approved settlements of law suits where the defendant does not admit guilt but agrees to the implementation of a set of measures to remedy and prevent future occurrence of potentially unlawful practices. In employment discrimination cases, in addition to individual relief (such as monetary damages for the person(s) who brought the discrimination claim), consent decrees typically mandate organizational remedies such as sexual harassment training, the introduction of new grievance procedures, supervisory training or revised performance management, and reward schemes. Click here for more information.

 

Resources

The Gender Wage Gap: 2013 | Fact Sheet

The Wage Gap by Occupation: 2013 | Fact Sheet

Ending Sex and Race Discrimination in the Workplace: Legal Interventions That Push the Envelope | Report

To see our experts on this and other initiatives, click here.

Visit our external resources page for links to more information on this topic.

Latest Reports from IWPR

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The Wage Gap: Women's and Men's Earnings
by Lois Shaw, Melinda Gish, Jill Braunstein, Sarah Allore, and Jodi Burns (January 1997)

 

Restructuring Work: How Have Women and Minority Managers Fared?
by (January 1995)

Have the employment opportunities of women and minorities been negatively impacted as a result of corporate and industrial restructuring? A new Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) study, The Impact of the Glass Ceiling and Structural Change on Minorities and Women examines how changes in the workplace in the 1970s and 1980s affected women and minority men.

 
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Pay Equity and the Wage Gap: Success in the States
by (January 1995)

By 1989, twenty states had implemented programs to raise the wages of workers in female-dominated jobs in their state civil services. According to a joint Institute for Women's Policy Research and Urban Institute study, of the fourteen states for which information was available, all succeeded in increasing the female/male wage ratio in their civil service. Statistical analysis of wages and employment in three states indicates that these adjustments were implemented without substantial negative side effects such as increased unemployment. These findings suggest that pay equity is an effective means of raising women's wages to levels that reduce the impact of discrimination or devaluation. This fact sheet answers many common questions about the wage gap and pay equity based on findings from this study. The data analyzed in the study were collected over a four-year period from the relevant state agencies.

 
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Pay Equity as a Remedy for Wage Discrimination: Success in State Governments
by Heidi Hartmann, Stephanie Aaronson (July 1994)

Testimony concerning the Fair Pay Act of 1994 before the Subcommittee on Select Education and Civil Rights, U.S. House of Representatives Based on findings from teh project The Economic Effects of Pay Equity in the STates. Argues that teh Fair Pay Act would be an effective way to raise women's wages to a level comparable to men's.

 

Exploring the Characteristics of Self-Employment and Part-Time Work Among Women
by (May 1993)

The quality of jobs created during the 1980s-- and whether these were "good" jobs or "bad" jobs-- has been the source of a highly charged debate. The quality of jobs is of increasing importance to women as their financial responsibility for themselves and their families has grown, and they have been seeking employment opportunities at increasing rates. Between 1970 and 1990 the labor force participation rates of mothers increased from about 40 percent to 67 percent, so that by 1990, 22 million mothers were in the labor force. Six million of these women workers were single parents. Because of family responsibilities, and for other reasons, such as requiring more education, many women may seek alternative, more flexible employment, both in part-time work and self-employment. As a result, the caliber of part-time jobs, self-employment, and other alternative forms of employment available to women workers in a pressing topic for research.

 

Exploring the Characteristics of Self-Employment and Part-Time Work Among Women
by (May 1993)

The quality of jobs created during the 1980s-- and whether these were "good" jobs or "bad" jobs-- has been the source of a highly charged debate. The quality of jobs is of increasing importance to women as their financial responsibility for themselves and their families has grown, and they have been seeking employment opportunities at increasing rates.

 
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The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978: A Ten Year Progress Report
by Roberta Spalter-Roth, Ph.D, Claudia Withers, and Sheila Gibbs (September 1992)

 
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Women in Telecommunications: Exception to the Rule of Low Pay for Women's Work
by Roberta Spalter-Roth and Heidi Hartmann (May 1992)

 
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Increasing Working Mother's Earnings: The Importance of Race, Family, and Job Characteristics
by Heidi I. Hartmann, Ph.D, Roberta M. Spalter-Roth, Ph.D (January 1992)

 
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Increasing Working Mother's Earnings
by Roberta Spalter-Roth, Ph.D, and Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D (November 1991)

 
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Improving Women's Status in the Workforce: The Family Issue of the Future
by Roberta Spalter-Roth, Heidi Hartmann (July 1991)

Testimony before the Subcommittee on Employment and Productivity, Committee on Labor and Human Resources, U.S. Senate. Presentation of research findings to dispel the "Myth of the Drop-Out Mom". Argues women's wages are becoming more, not less, important for families and provides policy strategies to help improve women's labor froce status and earnings.

 
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Improving Employment Opportunities for Women
by Heidi Hartmann, Roberta Spalter-Roth (February 1991)

Testimony on H.R. 1 Civil Rights Act of 1991, U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor. Describes the importance of women's earnings for family survival, the continued existence of wage and job discrimination, and the effectiveness of civil rights and anti-discrimination policies. Argues that ensuring equal employment opportunities for all workers is needed to strengthen the economy.

 

The Minimum Wage Increase a Working Woman’s Issue
by (June 1990)

Equal pay is a fundamental issue affecting working families. While the number of women workers in the labor force has steadily increased, the contribution of women's wages to family income has also grown, with women's earnings now providing a significant portion of total household income. Although the wage gap has narrowed over the years, pay inequity remains, and there continues to be a significant portion of total household income. Although the wage gap has narrowed over the years, pay inequity remains, and there continues to be significant differences in wages paid to women, minorities, men, and non-minorities. If women were to receive wages equal to those of comparable men, working families across the United States would gain s staggering $200 billion in family income annually, with each working woman's family gaining more that $4,000 per year. In a new joint study, the Institute for Women's Policy research and the AFL-CIO investigate the size of the wage gap in the United States as well as in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The study demonstrates the costs of pay inequity to both working families and individuals, and reveals some alarming figures as to how much family income is lost on account of the wage gap and unequal pay for comparable work.

 

Low Wages for Secretaries and Clerical Workers in Indiana: A State Without A Collective Bargaining Agreement
by (April 1990)

Secretarial and clerical work (now labelled administrative support occupations) is the largest women's occupational category in the U.S. Of the 14.2 million full-time workers in these occupations, 80 percent are women. Almost three-quarters are employed in occupations that are at least 70 percent female including typists, bookkeepers, general support clerks and data entry clerks. Of these female- intensive occupations, secretarial work in the largest with 3.2 million full-time workers. An additional 3.8 million workers are employed part time in these occupations. Of these part-time workers, 86 percent are women.

 
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Women in Telecommunications: An Exception to the Rule
by Heidi Hartmann and Roberta Spalter-Roth (April 1990)

 
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Recent Wage Developments in Telecommunications: An Example from the Northeast
by Roberta Spalter-Roth, Heidi Hartmann, and Linda Andrews (August 1989)

 

Child Care Worker's Salaries
by (January 1989)

 

High Skill and Low Pay: The Economics of Child Care Work
by (January 1989)

In the midst of a debate over the cost and quality of child care and the appropriate public role in its provision, this paper documents the current situation of child care workers. Using available data from the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and numerous salary surverys conducted by a variety of groups across the country, it describes who child care workers are, in terms of their gender, race, age, and education; the job titles, occupations, and settings in which they work; and the wages and benefits they receive.

 

OPM Comparable Worth / Pay Equity Study Overstates Women’s Progress In Federal Workplace
by (November 1987)

A recent report by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) contains numerous misleading conclusions about women's progress in the federal government and the impact of pay equity (also known as comparable worth) on women's future employment gains in this sector. The data the OPM report and its assessment of comparable worth/ pay equity are flawed. OPM overstates the progress of women in a few occupations and grades and ignores the continued predominance of women in low-paid, female-intensive occupations-- the exact problem that pay equity is meant to address. This paper uses data from the OPM report, and other unpublished data from the agency, to show why pay equity is still needed in the federal government.

 
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