The one state where a gender pay gap will live for another century


Source: Institute for Women’s Policy Research
Source: Institute for Women’s Policy Research. The U.S. gender wage gap is expected to close in 2058. The map shows how many years faster or slower the wage gap will close in each state compared with the U.S.

Wyoming is home to a yawning and enduring wage gap between men and women’s pay, according to data highlighted Tuesday for Equal Pay Day.

The Cowboy State has the longest expected wait within the U.S. for women workers to earn the same as men, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research reports.

Wyoming’s gender wage gap — the difference in earnings between full-time, year-round women and men adult workers — is projected to close in 2159, says IWPR, a Washington-based think tank. So, it’ll be 143 years until Wyoming women may make the same money as men.

As seen in the chart, that span is 101 years longer than for the country as a whole. The U.S. pay gap is expected to close in 2058, in about 42 years from now.

Wyoming’s wait period eclipses those in other states. The No. 2 longest wait is in Louisiana, where the gap is seen closing by 2106 (90 years from now and 48 years longer than the U.S.). And the No. 3 longest wait is in North Dakota, where the gap is seen closing in 2104 (88 years from now and 46 years longer than the U.S.).

The industrial makeup of these areas could be behind the pay-gap trends. Mining, which pays relatively well (the sector’s annual mean wage is $63K vs $48K among all U.S. occupations), is a dominant industry in Wyoming. Women make up about one-in-seven jobs within the U.S. mining and logging industries.

Woman’s Work has written before about ongoing inequity in the workplace. Women’s earnings are about 80% of men’s among full-time workers. They need to increasingly enter well-paid jobs and industries to make as much as men. But currently women dominate the most common low-wage occupations, such as childcare workers and home health aides.

At the other end of the inequity spectrum among states, the gender wage gap is expected to close the fastest in Florida — by 2038, or 20 years ahead of the U.S. In both California and Maryland, the gaps are expected to close by 2042, or 16 years before the U.S.



Women out-earn men in these jobs

Among the hundreds of detailed occupations tracked by the U.S. Census Bureau, women out-earn men in less than 10, the government reported Thursday.

The out-earningest job: tour and travel guide. Women in this occupation make about 115% of their male counterpart’s earnings, according to median data for full-time, year-round workers in 2014.


Looking at the jobs for which women make less than men (that’s most of them), there appears to be a large pay gap for occupations that deal with money. Census reports that women working in certain financial specialties make 54% of their male counterpart’s earnings.



Women and Guns — Marie Claire Reports on Conflicts, Danger

Source: NORC at the University of Chicago

Marie Claire has just published a project about women and guns, describing its series as a look at the “conflicted, dangerous, and empowering truth.”

The accessible piece focuses on a wide variety of topics, such as women in gangs, women’s views on guns and gun ownership, and how the NRA is reaching out to women. A substantial pool of women own guns: About one-in-10 women personally own a firearm, according to a 2015 report from NORC at the University of Chicago.

Here are a few bits from Marie Claire’s work that jumped out at me:

** “Joining a gang isn’t a choice—it’s a default,” Marie Claire writes about the rise of girl gangs.

According to a 2013 FBI report, estimates say at least 10 percent of gang members nationally are women.

“All-female gangs are on the rise in many jurisdictions, as well as, female participation and full-fledged memberships within male-dominant gangs are steadily escalating,” the FBI says. “Female gang members typically support male gang members, serving as mules for drugs, couriers for weapons, and gathering intelligence for the gang, although, many are taking more active roles by serving as soldiers or co-conspirators. Female gang members in some jurisdictions are forming their own gang sets and commit violent crimes comparable to their male counterparts.”

** On the NRA: “In the past few years, the NRA’s messaging has developed a distinctly female tone, actively courting women members across ages and gun literacy levels,” Marie Claire writes.

Of note, the narrowing gap for the firearm-ownership rates between men and women (seen in the above chart) is due to men becoming increasingly less likely to own a gun, NORC says.

** On domestic violence: “For women, gun violence happens at home. The most common threat doesn’t come from a stranger. It comes from the person you sleep next to.”

** About personal safety and race: “As a woman, I always have to think about safety. It’s there when I am walking to my car late at night, when I’m in a hotel room in an unknown city, as I lock up my apartment before bed, while strolling through the park… As a black woman, my concerns about safety are multiplied by the nature of my skin. I am forced, increasingly, to worry about police officers who turn their guns, all too often, on unarmed black people,” writes Roxane Gay (@rgay).






Women nabbed 77% of jobs growth…


…in January, data released Friday show.

Specifically, the U.S. economy added 151,000 jobs last month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in a truly “eh” result. Women’s employment accounted for 117,000 of those jobs.

Of note, women have made up more than 50% of jobs growth in nine of the 12 months through January, BLS data show.


Ryan Murphy looks to level Hollywood playing field

Ryan Murphy, the creative force behind TV hits such as “Glee” and “American Horror Story,” is looking to level the playing field for directors, according to news reports.

He’s launching a foundation called “Half” that will aim for 50% of director slots on his shows to be “filled by women, people of color and members of the LGBT community,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

In the U.S. women make up about one-third of employed producers and directors, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. These are well-compensated jobs, with a mean annual wage of more than $90,000, almost double an average of about $47,000 across all occupations, BLS says.



Insight Needed on Gender-Based Job Segregation


There’s an obvious and worthy goal of a new federal proposal to collect more wage data by gender and race: figuring out whether workers receive unfair pay.

Inequity harms employees, their families and undermines values that are core to many Americans. By requiring wage data from businesses with at least 100 employees, officials with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Friday they are looking to:

  • Identify ‘possible pay discrimination and assist employers in promoting equal pay’
  • ‘Help employers in conducting their own analysis of their pay practices’
  • ‘Use this pay data to assess complaints of discrimination, focus agency investigations, and identify existing pay disparities that may warrant further examination.’

The EEOC also touched on a more subtle, yet still key, goal to close the wage gap. The agency wants to gain ‘insight into pay disparities across industries and occupations,’ officials said.

Cutting occupational segregation is an important step to narrow the wage gap between men and women. That is, women need to increasingly enter well-paid jobs and industries to make as much as men. Currently, women dominate the most common low-wage occupations, such as childcare workers and home health aides.

A greater share of women working in higher-earning fields could help narrow the wage gap. Currently, women’s earnings are about 80% of men’s among full-time workers.

An employment environment that supports men and women throughout their lives — as children are born, family members require care and life evolves — would support equitable compensation. Providing paid parental leave to men and women, for example, would help workers balance demands from the office and families. An absence of gender-based penalties for attending to family matters — equally honoring men and women’s ambitions, natural desires and obligations — could boost opportunities and success for all workers.

Researchers with the NY Fed recently explored the pay gap between the sexes and found that early in their careers, there were earnings premiums for women in certain majors. But those premiums evaporated as workers approached their mid-career, perhaps due to discrimination or family-care responsibilities.


Most custodial parents don’t receive full payments


A fresh report from the U.S. Census Bureau offers a snapshot of child support in the U.S., finding:

  • A bit less than half of custodial-parent families have court orders or other financial agreements that obligated financial support from absent parents.
  • Almost 46% of custodial-parent families owed child support in 2013 received all due payments, up from 37% two decades earlier. See above chart.
  • Among custodial parents who received financial child support, the average monthly amount was $330 per month, almost 70% of the $480 due.

Cash isn’t the only support for kids

But cash isn’t the only way parents can help support kids. Last year the Journal of Marriage and Family took up the issue of “deadbeat dads,” or fathers who provide little or zero cash to support their kids. The study found some of these men do, in fact, offer valuable goods, such as clothing, gifts and food. Of note, while there are “deadbeat moms,” too, more than eight-in-10 of custodial parents are mothers, government data show.

According to the Census report, absent parents supplied non-cash support to almost 62% of custodial parents, offerings gifts, clothes, diapers, food, etc.


Low-income dads provided an average of $60 per month per child in non-cash goods, according to the study in the Journal of Marriage and Family. The authors interviewed more than 300 low-income noncustodial fathers in Austin, Texas; Philadelphia, and Charleston, S.C. between 1996 and 2003.

“I was really surprised by how much these disadvantaged guys, these truly marginally employed men, are putting all of this thought and what little resources they have into showing their children that they care,” said Kathryn Edin, a study co-author and sociology professor at Johns Hopkins University.

While non-cash support has its limitations, offering goods can provide non-custodial parents interaction with their kids.

“If fathers ‘come by’ on a routine basis to deliver the goods on which mothers rely, they can purchase regular access to the child,” the authors wrote.



Step it up, dudes…

I once read that economics is “politics in drag”—it bandies about as if it were a purely objective, value-neutral science, when in fact, it’s a vehicle for enacting deeply-held ideologies about what belongs in the public sphere—or not, the dogma of individual responsibility, and the role of collective institutions in facilitating social inclusion and equity. Or at least that’s what Dr. Nancy Folbre’s analysis of economics as a “masculine domain” means to me.

This is not to say that we should abandon the field. Quite the opposite, we need more women like Ruth and Dr. Folbre who can expertly bring “woman’s work” into the picture and make visible the productive value of and society’s collective responsibility for what has for so long been relegated to the private sphere and placed squarely upon the unpaid shoulders of women and girls.

But changing the field of economics, as with any institution, will require long-term, multi-faceted strategies both within and outside the discipline. We’re talking about challenging deeply held beliefs—not only within organizational and institutional cultures, but also at the very personal, individual level. Amen to Dr. Folbre’s assertion that “men’s reluctance to share the temporal responsibilities of family care” is a “major factor” for closing the wage gap.

But when most men in the U.S. (and not just economists) hold tightly to the belief that they do as much housework as their wives–even though data show that they don’t, we know we’re in for an uphill battle. If we women can’t convince our male partners that the unequal distribution of household labor affects our career and earning capacities (not to mention the tradeoffs that we disproportionately bear in terms of leisure time, according to none other than the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) imagine the potential resistance in the crusty corridors of the economic Old Boy’s Club.

In order to support more women in the field of economics, we need to also promote a broader dialogue about women’s equality—at home, in the workplace, and in society at large. Thankfully, we don’t have to start from scratch, as women activists, researchers, organizations and movements have spent decades getting care work on global political agendas like that of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), The World Bank, and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).

But perhaps even more, we need dialogue that encourages us to surface and question our own assumptions and beliefs—about the gendered division of labor (among other things) and the ways that we—men and women both—intentionally and unintentionally benefit from and perpetuate it.




Gender labor divide shapes world


Women are underrepresented in the field of economics.

Some also seem to be not so interested in business and related topics. Anecdotally, almost 80% of my Twitter followers are men.

As a daughter of two economists, and a former data reporter for the Dow Jones publication MarketWatch, I’ve wondered:

  1. Why aren’t more women in economics?
  2. Why are men a disproportionately large share of consumers of news about business and finance?

Studying how scarce resources are distributed is of particular importance to women. A fresh report from the U.S. Census Bureau shows about one-in-four kids live in families with only one parent, and about five-in-six custodial parents are moms. Indeed, mothers are increasingly the sole or primary breadwinner for households.

And women’s earnings are typically a fraction of their male counterparts’. Check out this new chart from the Economic Policy Institute,  a Washington-based think tank, that illustrates how much less women make than men.


Bottom line: The distribution of cash and resources is paramount for U.S. women and their dependents, i.e. most of the nation’s population.

Economist Nancy Folbre, who has studied the economics of gender and family, among other topics, spoke with Woman’s Work this summer about the wage gap between men and women, why women are underrepresented in economics and men’s role in cutting inequity. She also touched on the possible impacts of a woman president and mandating paid parental leave.

To preface Dr. Folbre’s remarks, here’s a bit of background information:

  1. Women’s earnings are about 80% of men’s among full-time workers, according to the latest BLS data.
  2. After decades of a narrowing earnings gap between the sexes, progress has plateaued in recent years.
  3. Even though women are increasingly going to college, their wage premium evaporates as workers approach mid-career.
  4. Women make up the majority of the most common low-wage jobs.

Now, onto Dr. Folbre’s observations (the interview was edited for clarity and length).

Woman’s Work: What do you see as the No. 1 roadblock to closing the wage gap?

Folbre: The lack of support for family care – affordable daycare, paid family and sick leave, penalties for part-time employment. Part-time work involves a significant penalty in terms of both hourly pay and access to benefits.

But I would also add that men’s reluctance to share the temporal responsibilities of family care is also a major factor.

And discrimination against women remains significant — less explicit than it once was, but deeply embedded in social norms and expectations.

WW: Why are women so underrepresented in economics?

Folbre: Economics is very market-focused, and market work remains a masculine domain. Market logic emphasizes that consenting adults pursue their own self-interest and everybody is better off as a result.

But market logic doesn’t apply to care of dependents, a more traditionally feminine obligation. Children, the sick, and the frail elderly don’t fit the preconditions for consumer sovereignty in market exchange. Most care of dependents takes place outside the market. Women generally take more responsibility for this care than men do.

Economic theory doesn’t provide much insight into this—other than to suggest that women must simply have greater “preferences” for family care, or be more efficient at it.

Most economic theory takes altruistic preferences—or the lack of them—as a given, rather than asking how they are socially constructed or enforced.

Caring for a family member out of a sense of moral obligation is not an activity that can be reduced to market logic. So, I think that market logic is less consistent with women’s actual and anticipated experience than that of men.

The whole concept of concern for other people or interdependent utilities or obligations for other people, these are largely absent from the market paradigm. The textbook assumption is that participants in the market don’t care about other people, they have independent preferences. They are basically making decisions based on prices and income. It’s a very narrow, stripped down characterization. In some instances, it may be accurate. But a lot of the work that women, in particular, do doesn’t involve impersonal transactions.

We live in a world shaped by a moral division of labor that is highly gendered. It’s more acceptable for men than women to behave in purely self-interested ways.

WW: Do you think having a woman head the Federal Reserve could raise interest among women in joining economics?

Folbre: Yes. I think Janet Yellen is someone who’s willing to express concern about unemployment and social well-being, as well as economic growth. She seems both competent and kind. I wouldn’t be surprised if she has a role model effect.

[Editor’s note: Heather Sarsons, a graduate student at Harvard, has studied gender promotion gaps and the difference in recognition for group work among economists, and recently found that there can be a penalty for women who co-author publications with men: “While women who solo-author everything have roughly the same chance of receiving tenure as a man, women who co-author most of their work have a significantly lower probability of receiving tenure.”]

WW: If Congress mandates paid parental leave, will that cut employment?

Folbre: I don’t know. It’s possible that it might. If it did, the effect would be pretty small. A lot depends on who finances [the leave] – whether it’s financed through employee contributions or some other source.

When the question is framed in broad terms, it’s not clear who would be paying for paid family leave. Regardless of how it’s financed, employers are going to pay some costs, in terms of management costs, hiring replacements for workers on leave. On the other hand, they are going to get some big benefits in terms of reduced worker turnover and training costs.

How those two sides of the ledger compare probably [varies] from industry to industry.

WW: If Hillary Clinton or another woman becomes the next president, how great a step will that be for women to achieve political parity with men?

Folbre: I think it will probably be pretty great, but it’s hard to say. [Clinton] has promised to be more proactive about pay equity and childcare and family issues. By framing these issues as central issues, I do think she is having a positive impact.

But there is also the question of what kind of political environment she’ll be operating in. If you look at the Obama administration, there’s been a huge gap with what Obama could have accomplished with support from Congress and what has actually happened.

What’s going to happen about pay equity is going to depend on the outcomes of political elections at every level, including the state levels.


Women lose wage premium for certain college majors by mid-career


Researchers with the NY Fed explored the pay gap between the sexes.

Here were some notable findings:

*Women earn about 97 cents for each dollar earned by men with the same college major and doing the same jobs among recent college graduates.

*Early in their careers, women earn at least as much as men in 29 of 73 majors. Women’s earnings premiums were for majors such as engineering, treatment therapy and art history.

*Women’s wage premium evaporates as workers approach their mid-career.

Here are the researchers’ possible explanations for their findings:

* Discrimination may be “more widespread” as workers approach the middle of their careers.

* Women are more likely than men to drop out of the labor force to raise kids, cutting their work experience.

*Women with care-taking duties who need schedule flexibility may receive low wages.

Read more: The pay gap between the sexes


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