Women’s History Month is a time to reflect on the battles won on the road to gender equality in our country. Though many things have changed, a recent Wall Street Journal article (cross-posted below) reveals that men still earn more than women. Are women failing to demand salaries that they deserve? Have you ever successfully negotiated a pay raise?
Strides by Women, Still a Wage Gap
Women are gaining ground educationally and economically, but men still make more money on average and women are more likely to live in poverty, according to a White House report expected to be released Tuesday.
Women have made great strides in the workforce and in areas like education, but gaps in pay between the sexes remain. Kelsey Hubbard talks with WSJ’s Conor Dougherty about a new White House report detailing changes in women’s roles over recent decades.
The report compiles data from a half-dozen U.S. government agencies on topics including women’s educational attainment, employment, earnings and experience with crime and abuse.
Many of the figures have been released previously by different parts of the government, but now have been put pulled together into one document, billed by the White House as its most comprehensive report on the state of women in 50 years.
“Women have not only caught up with men in college attendance but younger women are now more likely than younger men to have a college or a master’s degree,” wrote Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to President Barack Obama, and Christina Tchen, chief of staff to first lady Michele Obama, in a foreword. “Yet, these gains in education and labor force involvement have not yet translated into wage and income equity.”
Women have made great strides to catch up with men economically, and are surpassing them in crucial areas like education. Yet there remain big gaps between the sexes.
The report depicts a sea change in women’s roles over the past few decades, away from child-rearing and housekeeping to serving as a pillar of family finances and America’s economy. Still, single-mother households are more common than those with single fathers, a big reason why women are more likely than men to be poor, despite higher unemployment among men. And women continue to lag behind men in science and math-oriented occupations, as well as in earnings.
Perhaps the biggest change for women has been their large gains in education and movement into the work force, which in turn has had significant implications for when—and whether—they start families.
Both women and men are getting married about five years later than in the past. College-educated women get married around age 30, on average, compared with 26 for women with a high school diploma.
This shift is a big reason why the share of women who are married has declined over time, to 62% in 2009 from 72% in 1970, while the portion of women who haven’t had children has climbed. In 2008, about 46% of women between 25 and 29 years old hadn’t had a child, compared with 31% in 1976.
By most metrics, women are outpacing men in education. In 2009, about 87% of women 19 or older had graduated high school, slightly higher than men.
About 28% of both men and women had at least a college degree in 2009, but women are on a loftier trajectory: In 1970, only 8% of women had a college degree, compared with 14% for men. Women between 25 and 34 years old are now more likely to have a college degree than men of the same age, and more women than men go to graduate school.
The labor-force participation rate for women 20 or older doubled over the past half-century, and is holding steady at 61%.
Women, however, continue to make up a disproportionate share of administrative jobs, and lag far behind men in the higher-paying computer and engineering fields.
And men still get paid more to do the same jobs: Across educational levels, women made on average 75% as much as their male counterparts in 2009.