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Everything You Need to Know About the Gender Pay Gap

Written by Cove Johnson Rabidoux

The gender pay gap in the United States has been a persistent issue for decades. Although there have been advances for working women, overall there hasn’t been much change. The Pew Research Center states, “The gender gap in pay has remained relatively stable in the United States over the past 20 years or so. In 2022, women earned an average of 82% of what men earned, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of median hourly earnings of both full- and part-time workers. These results are similar to where the pay gap stood in 2002 when women earned 80% as much as men.”

The gender pay gap is not only an issue of fairness, but it also has long-term effects for women. Not being able to retire, food insecurity and poverty are all impacts that the gender pay gap has.

Presently, several factors contribute to the gender pay gap. One of the most significant is the issue of “occupational segregation” or the tendency for women to be concentrated in certain lower-paying jobs. According to a 2020 report from the National Women’s Law Center, nearly 60 percent of women work in just 20 of the 845 occupations reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Gender and racial discrimination and bias are also major contributors to the gender pay gap.

Living in California, I’ve seen firsthand how the gender pay gap affects women. California has the biggest houseless population of any state, and women make up a disproportionate number of the homeless population. Even with higher education, women earn less than men in the same job and with the same qualifications. According to The Orange County Register, “California women get paid 88% of [what] men [are paid].” This means that while the average weekly earning for California women is $1,020, for California men it is around $1,160. Even with such a big pay gap, California is the 6th best state in the United States of America in terms of equal pay.

The gender pay gap is even more evident when looking at specific professions. According to a study by the Institute for Women's Policy Research, fields such as law, medicine, and finance have the largest gender pay gap. In California, the median annual wage for female lawyers is $84,000, whereas men lawyers make over $100,000. But the gender pay gap is not only an issue in California – it is a nationwide phenomenon. This pay gap has been present since the 1960s and continues to persist today.

The good news is that there are many steps employers can take to reduce the gender pay gap. Employers should conduct investigations of their pay practices to identify any problems. They should also make sure that job descriptions and interviews get rid of any practices that may lead to discrimination. Plus, employers could invest in training programs that focus on creating a culture of inclusion and equality.

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