The Wage Gap


Women have faced oppression and unequal treatment for centuries. In the United States today, this gender based discrimination is demonstrated by the wage gap. It was only in 1920 that the 19th amendment was ratified and women were given the right to vote. That was 144 years after the founding of America and 51 years after the 15th amendment was ratified, outlawing voting discrimination based on race, color, or previous conditions of servitude.

“On average, women employed full time in the United States lose a combined total of more than $840 billion every year due to the wage gap.”

History of Women in the Workforce

1920 The Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified.

1932 The National Recovery Act forbids more than one family member from holding a government job, resulting in many women losing their jobs.

1964 Title VII of the Civil Rights Act passes including a prohibition against employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex.

2013 The ban against women in military combat positions is removed; this overturned a 1994 Pentagon decision restricting women from combat roles.

In 1932 the National Recovery Act was passed meaning that there could not be more than one government worker per family causing countless women to lose their jobs so that their husbands, the breadwinners of the family, could keep them. It was only in 2013 that the ban against women in military combat positions was removed, allowing women to do a “man’s job.”

What accounts for the wage gap?

Even today, women are still at a disadvantage. According to the National Partnership, women in America still only make 80 cents on the man’s dollar for the same jobs. This wage gap persists regardless of education or industry.

Data from the National Partnership shows that there is a significant wage gap between men and women’s salaries in most fields, even ones dominated by women. 62 percent of the wage gap can be accounted for by occupational differences, but 38 percent is due to discrimination and bias.

“Women with master’s degrees working full time, year-round are paid just 72 cents for every dollar paid to men with master’s degrees. Further, among full-time, year-round workers, women with doctoral degrees are paid less than men with master’s degrees, and women with master’s degrees are paid less than men with bachelor’s degrees.”



Average Pay vs. Occupation for Men and Women

Screen Shot 2017-12-11 at 2.18.58 PM

In this graphical representation of the wage gap, bubble size indicates the relative amount of men and women in a certain occupation, while bubble height indicates the average income. The blue bubbles indicate men while the red bubbles indicate women. Notice that the blue bubble is higher than the red bubble across the board, even in women-dominated fields.  The data used to estimate pay was taken from the U.S. Census Bureau.



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