The Pew Research Center recently released a study on full-time and part-time employee wages in 2020. It found that women performing the same work earn about 84% of men’s pay, which means that female workers must work an extra 42 days per year to earn the same amount. While there have been advances in closing the pay gap in recent decades, the difference remains basically unchanged over the past 15 years.
Young women did better
There were some bright spots in the study – female employees between the ages of 25 and 34 earn 93% of men in the same age group. It was an improvement from 1980 when women in this age group made 67% of men. At that time, women workers of all ages earned 64% of men.
Why is it still an issue?
The study also explained why the gap still exists. Although more women now get hired for higher-paying jobs, they still dominate the low end of the pay spectrum. The study also found that 42% of women surveyed believed they were victims of gender-based pay discrimination, which is twice the rate of men.
Motherhood is still a problem
Pew also found that women continue to have more parenting and caregiver obligations. Examples include:
- Women tend to juggle more parenting responsibilities even when they have demanding full-time employment.
- Women take longer leaves after the birth or adoption of a child.
- Women are more likely to work less so they can focus on the family.
- Women are more likely to turn down a promotion if it involves more demands upon their time.
Recognition is still a problem
Some employers may argue that women workers choose to have children and care for their families, but more women felt less appreciated or diminished for their work. The gender breakdown on core issues included:
- Passed over for promotion because of their gender: women 19%/men 13%
- Passed over for important assignments or projects: 19%/14%
- Treated as if they were not taking their career seriously enough: 27%/20%
Some companies need to change
The benefits of a diverse staff are documented in several major studies. So owners, managers and human resources staff may need to change their expectations for the ideal employee, especially when there are complaints about a pay gap. Male and female employees can also advocate for change by filing complaints and supporting others who do, especially when there is a difference in pay and other indignities.