Analysis: The Biggest Myth About the Gender Wage Gap
It might be the most famous statistic about female workers in the United States: Women earn "only 72 percent as much as their male counterparts."
It's also famously false.
A new survey from PayScale this morning finds that the wage gap nearly evaporates when you control for occupation and experience among the most common jobs, especially among less experienced workers. It is only as careers advance, they found, that men outpaced female earnings as they made their way toward the executive suite.
So, women aren't starting off behind their male counterparts, so much as they're choosing different jobs and losing ground later in their careers.
The irony is that as women advance in their own careers, they might be more likely to fall behind, but they are also more likely to negotiate. That popular refrain that women don't know how to ask for a raise? That's bunk, too, the researchers concluded. Nearly a third of women -- and 29 percent of men -- have asked for raises, and even more female executives have done the same. In female-dominated sectors like health care and education more, half of women have negotiated for salary, benefits, or a promotion.
Still, inequalities persist. Comparing men and women job-by-job conceals the fact that men still dominate many of the highest-paying jobs. PayScale studied more than 120 occupation categories, from "machinist" to "dietician." Nine of the ten lowest-paying jobs (e.g.: child-care worker, library assistant) were disproportionately female. Nine of the ten highest-paying jobs (e.g.: software architect, psychiatrist) were majority male. Nurse anesthetist was the best-paid position held mostly by women; but an estimated 69 percent of better-paid anesthesiologists were male.