January 22, 2010
End of the wage gap? Not so fast
You probably saw this week's Pew Research Center study on how American men are getting a bigger economic boost from marriage these days. As Pew reported, "A larger share of men in 2007, compared with their 1970 counterparts, are married to women whose education and income exceed their own."
In 2007, 22 percent of 30- to 44-year-old men were married to women who outearned them. In 1970, that figure was just 4 percent. In addition, 28 percent of wives had more education than their husbands in 2007, while just 19 percent of husbands had more education than their wives. (In 1970, those figures were essentially reversed.)
With the exception of men losing their jobs at a disproportionately higher rate than women during the recession, these statistics may seem like cause for celebration. I'll admit my initial thought upon seeing the Pew report was, Good. Maybe this will be the decade when women wearing the financial pants in some households and men staying home to change diapers will cease to be a hot news item.
But then I remembered that when it comes to equal pay for equal work -- and equal representation in the nation's most influential jobs -- women still aren't there yet. Not to completely rain on this milestone in the equality parade, but I'd like to offer a reminder that the following workplace discrepancies remain alive and well:
- The average full-time working woman makes 78 cents for every $1 a man makes over a year. As a result of this pay gap, a full-time female worker loses a median amount of $434,000 in wages over a 40-year period. (Center for American Progress)
- The wage gap between mothers and non-mothers is greater than the wage gap between women and men. On average, non-mothers earn 10 percent less than their male counterparts. But mothers earn 27 percent less, and single mothers earn between 34 percent and 44 percent less. (MomsRising.org)
- In 2009, women held 15.2 percent of Fortune 500 company board seats. And women of color held just 3.1 percent of all board director positions. (Catalyst)
- A recent study of 2,000 of the the world's top performing companies revealed that only 29 of them (1.5 percent) have female CEOs. Of the Fortune Global 500, 2.6 percent have female CEOs. (Harvard Business Review)
Hopefully by 2020 we'll be looking at a more promising set of numbers.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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