Male–female income disparity in the United States: Wikis


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2005 Census Statistics show males 25 and older had higher yearly income than females 25 and older among all races.[1]

Male–female income disparity, also referred to as a "gender gap in earnings", in the United States, also known as the "gender wage gap," the "gender earnings gap" and the "gender pay gap", is used by government agencies and economists to refer to statistics gathered by the U.S. Census Bureau, as part of the Current Population Survey, comparing median male wages to median female wages. The gender gap is usually expressed as the ratio of female to male earnings among full-time, year-round (FTYR) workers.

For example, in 2004 the median income of FTYR male workers was $40,798, compared to $31,223 for FTYR female workers (DeNavas-Walt et al., 2005). 31,223 divided by 40,798 is 0.765, so the gender earnings gap in 2004 was 0.235 (1 minus 0.765). This is often expressed as a percentage: e.g., "in 2004, women's wages were 76.5% of men's wages," or "in 2004, women earned 23.5% less than men earned." For 2008 the U.S. Labor Department reported women's median wages to be 79.9% of men's, while women who have never married earn 94.2% of their unmarried male counterparts' earnings.[2] This statistic does not take into account differences in experience, skill, occupation, or hours worked, other than meeting requirement for "full time" work.


Trends in the gender earnings gap

Women's pay relative to men's rose rapidly from 1980 to 1990 (from 60.2% to 71.6%), and less rapidly from 1990 to 2004 (from 71.6% to 76.5%), though young women have started to outearn young men in some large urban centers with young women earning up to 20% more than their male counterparts [3].

According to a study published in the June, 2008 issue of the American Sociological Review, women can make inroads into male-dominated management ranks as companies scale-back workforces via downsizing. The study shows that firms apparently make an effort to balance gender inequities during staff shakeups. Women entered management ranks at rates up to 25 percent higher than men in some grade levels after downsizing, which created supervisory openings as older male managers took company-offered buyouts. Overall, women accounted for nearly 36 percent of the company’s managers after restructuring, compared with an average of about 24 percent during the period from 1967 to 1993, according to the study.[4]

However, other trends are decidedly negative: a study at Cornell University concluded in 2005 found that women with children were less likely to be hired and if hired would be paid a lower salary than male applicants.[5] Conversely, male applicants with children were likely to be offered higher pay than women with children or people without children. Professor Linda Babcock at Carnegie Mellon also conducted a study, published in 2007, that found that women who applied for jobs were not as likely to be hired by male managers if they tried to ask for more money, while men who asked for a higher salary were not negatively affected.[6]

In 2005, wives earned more than their husbands in 25.5% of dual-income families, and 33% of all families where the woman worked.[7]

More recently, a report titled Women's Earnings in 2008, published by the US Labor Department in July 2009, found that in aggregate (without controlling for preferences for higher or lower earning fields), women who have never married earn 94.2 percent of their unmarried male counterparts' earnings[2] a figure that is within less than 6% of wage parity despite the fact that, "women, still..are more likely to choose jobs in education and healthcare, where earnings will tend to be lower."[8]

Causes of the gender gap


Hours worked

In the book Biology at Work: Rethinking Sexual Equality, Browne writes: "Because of the sex differences in hours worked, the hourly earnings gap [...] is a better indicator of the sexual disparity in earnings than the annual figure. Even the hourly earnings ratio does not completely capture the effects of sex differences in hours, however, because employees who work more hours also tend to earn more per hour."[9]

Occupational choice

A 2009 New York Times article reported that Anne York, an economics professor at Meredith College in North Carolina, had conducted a study of high school valedictorians in the U.S. According to the study, female valedictorians were planning to have careers that had a median salary of $74,608, whereas male valedictorians were planning to have careers with a median salary of $97,734. As to why the females were less likely than the males to choose high paying careers such as surgeon and engineer, the article quoted York as saying, "The typical reason is that they are worried about combining family and career one day in the future." [10]

Occupational segregation refers to the way that some jobs (such as truck driver) are dominated by men, and other jobs (such as child care worker) are dominated by women. Because jobs dominated by women are, on average, lower-paying than jobs dominated by men, occupational choice is an important cause of the gender gap.

Many critics of the "Choice" Hypothesis would point out the phenomena of Job Crowding, pointed out bellow.

Maternity leave

The economic risk and resulting costs of a woman possibly leaving work for a period of time or indefinitely to nurse a baby is cited by many to be a reason why women are less common in the higher paying occupations such as CEO positions and upper management. It is much easier for a man to be hired in these higher prestige jobs than to risk losing a female job holder. Thomas Sowell argued in his book Civil Rights that most of pay gap is based on marital status, not a “glass ceiling” discrimination. Earnings for men and women of the same basic description (education, jobs, hours worked, marital status) were essentially equal. That result would not be predicted under explanatory theories of “sexism”.[11] However, it can be seen as a symptom of the unequal contributions made by each partner to child raising. Cathy Young argues that rather than men being uninterested in child-rearing resulting in an unequal burden for women, women barring men from taking on paternal responsibilities may sometimes be at fault.[12] Many Western countries have some form of paternity leave to attempt to level the playing field in this regard. In addition to maternity leave, Walter Block and Walter E. Williams have argued that marriage in and of itself, not maternity leave, in general will leave females with more household labor than the males [1][2] [3][4].

"Women's jobs" and "men's jobs"?

The reason for the difference in pay between "women's jobs" and "men's jobs" is disputed. Some would argue that the difference in pay reflects a tendency of women to freely choose low-wage jobs because women prefer less dangerous or more flexible work. Others would argue that both discrimination by employers (Neumark 1996), and social expectations, tend to steer women into lower-paying occupations and men into higher-paying occupations.

Some economists, particularly conservative economists, have argued that the tendency of women to congregate in "women's jobs" has led to "occupational crowding," in which the high supply of applicants for "women's jobs" drives wages for those jobs downwards.[citation needed] Sociologist Reeve Vanneman and his colleagues calculated that if 1990 patterns held, if every labor market in the U.S. had men and women equally distributed across occupations, there would be no gender gap in earnings.

Women and men often make different choices: in college major, in hours and years worked, and in what jobs to take.[citation needed]

Critics of the discrimination theory, including men's rights activists, argue that these "free choice" elements are the source of virtually all of the gender earnings gap.[citation needed] According to these critics, women often choose to prioritize social and family life before their careers, and will therefore avoid jobs that require long or inflexible hours.

Proponents of the discrimination theory, including feminists, argue that such "free choice" factors, while significant, have been shown in studies to leave large portions of the gender earnings gap unexplained (Blau and Kahn 1997, Wood et al. 1993). Furthermore, some feminists argue that the social expectation that women are the sex responsible for child and elder care is not an example of "free choice," but instead an example of sexism.

Male activist Warren Farrell has claimed that childless women who have never married earn 117 percent of their childless male counterparts (as revealed by Census data from 2001), when the comparison controls for education, hours worked and age.[13] In contrast, economists publishing research in peer-reviewed scholarly journals have found that, even after accounting for parenthood status, education, job title, and other factors, there is still a significant income disparity in men's favor (Blau and Kahn 1997, Wood et al. 1993).

Men may get more credit for their work

Some argue that work by men is often subjectively seen as higher-quality than objectively equal or better work by compared to how an actual scientific review panel measured scientific competence when deciding on research grants. The results showed that female scientists needed to be at least twice as accomplished as their male counterparts to receive equal credit (Wenneras and Wold, 1997).

Market value

A study at Carnegie Mellon found that men graduating from that university with master's degrees were eight times more likely to negotiate starting salaries and pay than their female counterparts. In surveys, more that twice as many women than men said they felt "a great deal of apprehension" about negotiating.[14][15] Women may be reluctant to negotiate because they are less valuable than men in the marketplace. David R. Hekman and colleagues (2009) found that customers prefer white men over equally-well performing women and minority employees, which may help explain why white men continue to earn more than other types of employees.[16] Hekman et al. (2009) found that customers who viewed videos featuring a black male, a white female, or a white male actor playing the role of an employee helping a customer were 19% more satisfied with the white male employee's performance and also were more satisfied with the store's cleanliness and appearance. This despite that all three actors performed identically, read the same script, and were in the exact same location with identical camera angles and lighting. Moreover, 45 percent of the customers were women and 41 percent were non-white, indicating that even women and minority customers prefer white men. In a second study, they found that white male doctors were rated as more approachable and competent than equally-well performing women or minority doctors. They interpret their findings to suggest that employers are willing to pay more for white male employees because employers are customer driven and customers are happier with white male employees. They also suggest that what is required to solve the problem of wage inequality isn't necessarily paying women more but changing customer biases. This paper has been featured in many media outlets including The New York Times,[17] The Washington Post,[18]The Boston Globe,[19] and National Public Radio.[20]

Is there a "danger" pay premium?

Men's rights activist Warren Farrell has argued that a significant cause of the gender earnings gap is men's greater willingness to take on physically dangerous jobs (New York Times 2008). Men's activists assert that men are taking more dangerous jobs, as suggested by the statistic that in 2006, men accounted for 92% of workplace fatalities in the United States.[21] This men's rights argument contends that because employers have to pay a "danger premium" to entice workers to take dangerous jobs, and because women are not willing or able to take these jobs even for high wages, men's wages are higher.

However, feminists argue that the most dangerous jobs in the U.S. are not necessarily "male", but most often very low-paid jobs, generally performed by immigrants and other workers who have few occupational options. The Bureau of Labor Statistics investigated job traits that are associated with wage premiums, and stated: "Job attributes relating to interpersonal relationships do not seem to affect wages, nor do the attributes of physically demanding or dangerous jobs."[22]

How much lower is the pay in "women's jobs"?

Different economists have calculated it different ways. The sociologist Paula England looked at data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (a U.S. government study that measures changes in people's lives over time), and found that if a white woman in an all-male workplace moved to an all-female workplace, she would lose 7% of her wages. If a black woman did the same thing, she would lose 19% of her wages (England et al., 1996). The economists Deborah Figart and June Lapidus (1996) calculated that if female-dominated jobs did not pay lower wages, women's median hourly pay nationwide would go up 13.2% (men's pay would go up 1.1%, due to raises for men working in "women's jobs").

See also


  1. ^ 000.htm "US Census Bureau, Personal income forum, Age 25+, 2005". 000.htm. Retrieved 2007-01-20. 
  2. ^ a b Highlights of Women’s Earnings in 2008, US Labor Department (PDF)
  3. ^|For Young Earners in Big City, a Gap in Women’s Favor
  4. ^ Newswise: Women Make Management Strides When Firms Downsize, Restructure Retrieved on June 12, 2008.
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Men Receiving Alimony Want A Little Respect". Retrieved 2009-02-03. 
  8. ^ Young Women Closing in on Gender Wage Parity by Liz Wolgemuth
  9. ^ Browne, Kingsley R. (2002). Biology at Work: Rethinking Sexual Equality. Rutgers University Press. pp. 73–74. ISBN 0813530539, 9780813530536.,M1. 
  10. ^ Do the Ambitions of High School Valedictorians Differ by Gender?, New York Times, June 1, 2009
  11. ^ "Civil Rights: Rhetoric or Reality", Thomas Sowell, 1984. "Markets and Minorities, Thomas Sowell, 1981
  12. ^ The mama lion at the gate -
  13. ^ Warren Farrell Archive
  14. ^ "Women Don't Ask: Negotiation and Gender Divide" by Linda Babcock and Sarah Laschever, Princeton University Press, 2003 ISBN 069108940X ISBN 978-0691089409
  15. ^
  16. ^ Hekman, David R.; Aquino, Karl; Owens, Brad P.; Mitchell, Terence R.; Schilpzand, Pauline; Leavitt, Keith. (2009) An Examination of Whether and How Racial and Gender Biases Influence Customer Satisfaction. Academy of Management Journal.
  17. ^ Bakalar, Nicholas (2009) “A Customer Bias in Favor of White Men.” New York Times. June 23, 2009, page D6.
  18. ^ Vedantam, Shankar (2009) “Caveat for Employers.” Washington Post, June 1, 2009, page A8
  19. ^ Jackson, Derrick (2009) “Subtle, and stubborn, race bias.” Boston Globe, July 6, 2009, page A10
  20. ^ National Public Radio, Lake Effect,
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Knowledge gets the biggest pay premium". 
  • Blau, Francine and Lawrence Kahn (1997). "Swimming Upstream: Trends in the Gender Wage Differential in the 1980s." Journal of Labor Economics, volume 15 (1), part 1, January 1997, pages 1–42.
  • DeNavas-Walt, Carmen, Bernadette D. Proctor, and Cheryl Hill Lee (2005), U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Reports, P60-229, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2004, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC. Available online at .
  • England, Paula, Lori L. Reid and Barbara S. Kilbourne (1996). "The Effect of the Sex Composition of Jobs on Starting Wages in an Organization: Findings from the NLSY." Demography, volume 33 (4), November 1996, pages 511-521.
  • Farrell, Warren, "Why Men Earn More: The Startling Truth Behind the Pay Gap - and What Women Can Do about It" ISBN 0-8144-7210-9
  • Figart, Deborah and June Lapidus (1996). "The Impact of Comparable Worth on Earnings Inequality." Work and Occupations volume 23 (3) pages 297-318.
  • Goldin and Rouse (1997), "Orchestrating Impartiality: The Impact of 'Blind' Auditions on Female Musicians," NBER working paper No W5903.
  • Institute For Women's Policy Research (2005), "The Gender Wage Ratio," available online at .
  • Johnson, Dan (1997). "Getting Noticed in Economics: the determinants of academic citations." The American Economist, volume 41 (1), Spring 1997, pages 43–52.
  • "Knowledge Gets The Biggest Pay Premium" (1999). In Monthly Labor Review. October 5, 1999. Available online at .
  • Mishel, Lawrence, Jared Bernstein and John Schmitt (1999), The State of Working America 1998-1999, Economic Policy Institute.
  • Neumark, David (1996). "Sex Discrimination in Restaurant Hiring: An Audit Study." Quarterly Journal of Economics, August 1996, pages 915-941.
  • Nielsen, Arrah (2005). "Gender Wage Gap Is Feminist Fiction." Available online at This is not a scholarly, refereed article. It is a publication of a capitalist think tank, AWF, supporting male activist Warren Farrell.
  • Rones, Phillip, Randy Ilg and Jennifer Gardner (1997). "Trends in Hours of Work Since the Mid-1970s." Monthly Labor Review, April 1997, pages 3–14.
  • Wenneras, Christine and Agnes Wold (1997). "Nepotism and Sexism in Peer-Review." Nature volume 387, May 22 1997, pages 341-343.
  • Wood, Robert, Mary Corcoran, and Paul Courant (1993). "Pay Differences Among the Highly Paid: the male-female earnings gap in lawyers' salaries." Journal of Labor Economics, volume 11 (3), pages 417-441.
  • O'Neill, June and O'Neill, Dave M., What Do Wage Differentials Tell Us About Labor Market Discrimination? (April 2005). NBER Working Paper Series, Vol. w11240, pp. -, 2005. Available at SSRN:

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