Saturday, December 20, 2014

What about the wage gap?

One of the data points from my book concerns the gender wage gap, showing the difference between the money a woman makes as compared to a man performing the same job. The Secret Peace included a chart showing how that gap has been narrowing for the last few decades:

Since the last data point I had before my book was published was from 2004, I thought I'd look up if there was anything more recent. Sure enough, I had marked a mention in The Week from December 2013: "According to new data from Pew Research, the wage gap for American women under 32 has shrunk to 7 percent. But among all ages, women make 16 percent less than men." 16 percent less than men means 84 percent of their wages, so let's update our chart to reflect that:

We see that the line continues exactly as we would expect. It's maybe slowing slightly, but overall it's practically a straight, linear trend from 1975 to today. Does this mean that, sometime around 2035, we can expect to see pay parity? I don't know; the last few points could be more difficult ... but signs look good.

This issue was in the news again recently, and there was a lot of debate over what the exact numbers are. Personally, I think the number matters less than a few key points:

  1. There is still a wage gap.
  2. It is decreasing, albeit slowly.
  3. It is decreasing not due to natural causes but thanks to the tireless work of countless individuals.

That same Week article mentioned, "Millennial-age women are just ‘as pessimistic as their mothers and grandmothers regarding gender equality.'" This is a real shame, since we can see that younger women are working with a much smaller pay gap than in the past. Is it ridiculous that there's still a pay gap at all in 2014? Of course, but it's important not to get too cynical, lest we stop working to eliminate it. My daughter will be working age around 2033 ... here's hoping she finds a finally fair working world.

One group working on this issue is the National Women's Law Center, which you can donate to here.

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