The wage debate: Pay disparities between men and women remain widespread in the United States

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

More women than ever — 47 percent — are now in the workforce. Even among married couples with children, 63 percent have both a husband and wife working outside the home. More women are also filling upper-level professional and management positions, as well as jobs primarily occupied by men.

For all their advancement, however, women are still paid significantly less than men.

In her 2003 study on women, families and the workforce, Arlie Russell Hochschild noted that for the last 100 years, women have earned about 60 percent of what men earned, and today, that number is only up to 70 percent.

Russell Hochschild estimates that women also work an extra month of unpaid, 24-hour days each year on housework alone. Although the U.S. Census Bureau identifies 500 different occupations,

one-third of working women are clustered in only 10 of those occupations.

Many of these "pink collar" jobs commonly filled by women, such as nursing, bookkeeping, waitressing and teaching, are lower-level, service-oriented jobs that pay less than many of the white- and even blue-collar jobs occupied by men. According to careerbuilder.com, the fields with the highest pay disparities are medicine and health management.

Women in medicine make only 63 percent of what their male counterparts make, including the female-dominated field of nursing, where women represent almost 90 percent of all registered nurses.

Cape Girardeau nurse practitioner Carol Clark-Kutscher says she has definitely noticed gender-based inequality in healthcare. She estimates that female nurses make $10,000-$20,000 less than male nurses, most likely because physicians tend to consider male nurses closer to their equal. She

feels that doctors treat male nurses with more respect, offer them more responsibility, and talk to them in a different manner.

Males are also given more opportunities for advancement to administrative positions because they

are thought to have better leadership qualities, making them more suitable for a higher-paid position of power.

"I've been a nurse for 30 years, and it's still that way," says Clark-Kutscher. "If I were a man, I would be making more money." And if she were a certified registered nurse anesthetist instead of a nurse practitioner ¿— a recognized male-dominated profession — Clark-Kutscher says she would be

making a comfortable $120,000 to $125,000 annually.

If women are ever to be paid the same, says Clark-Kutscher, it would have to be federally mandated across the board.

"It seems crazy, but there's no way to change it," she says. "If you fight for it, you're considered a troublemaker, and if you discuss it with others, it's considered unprofessional."

Equal pay for equal work?

In America's top-paying jobs, men continue to earn more than women, even in the fields dominated by women.

5 Top-Paying Jobs: Male dominated

Senior software developer

Female Salary: $81,000

Male Salary: $87,400

Percent female: 9 percent

Information technology consultant

Female Salary: $79,700

Male Salary: $80,200

Percent female: 16 percent

Electrical engineer

Female Salary: $72,500

Male Salary: $72,800

Percent female: 8 percent

Software developer

Female Salary: $70,500

Male Salary: $72,600

Percent female: 13 percent

Database manager

Female Salary: $65,600

Male Salary: $71,100

Percent female: 24 percent

5 Top-Paying Jobs: Female dominated

Registered nurse

Female Salary: $56,900

Male Salary: $64,200

Percent female: 86 percent

Human resources manager

Female Salary: $55,000

Male Salary: $62,900

Percent female: 80 percent

Human resources generalist

Female Salary: $48,400

Male Salary: $52,100

Percent female: 87 percent

Paralegal

Female Salary: $43,700

Male Salary: $48,100

Percent female: 86 percent

Accountant

Female Salary: $43,600

Male Salary: $49,700

Percent female: 74 percent

5 Top-Paying Jobs: Not-dominated

Attorney

Female Salary: $89,800

Male Salary: $99,100

Percent female: 36 percent

IT project manager

Female Salary: $78,000

Male Salary: $82,000

Percent female: 32 percent

Senior financial analyst

Female Salary: $70,700

Male Salary: $76,600

Percent female: 37 percent

Controller (financial)

Female Salary: $64,200

Male Salary: $78,800

Percent female: 51 percent

Physical therapist

Female Salary: $62,700

Male Salary: $63,500

Percent female: 59 percent

Source: careerbuilder.com 

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