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Charting The Pay Gap

There are many ways in which people of a certain ilk try to deny or defend the wage gap between men and women. Some claim there is no gap, ignoring substantial research that it is a real problem. Some claim it is a matter of personal decisions, as though women choose to earn less to do the same work as men. Another claim that has gained popularity is that the gap all but disappears if we ignore the very top levels, with the implication being that the problem will correct itself sometime in the future when more of these positions are filled by women. Ignoring the fact that there is no valid reason so few females occupy those positions now, this hides the fact that the wage gap is present from the earliest point in our careers. It may be smaller, but that small gap widens over time.

Economists for the New York Federal Reserve conducted research showing that, among recent graduates, men get 3 percent more than women. Educated workers between the ages of 22 and 27, likewise, show a relatively small pay gap between women and men, with some industries even eliminating the gap altogether. The small-size of that injustice does not last, however. 

Among the college educated workforce, the small gap in the early years is quickly replaced with a massive gap. Men 35 to 45 years of age make 15 percent more than their female counterparts. Researchers accounted for differences in choice of profession, college major and race, so no other form of discrimination explains that gap. It is a gender-based pay gap and it is substantial.

The struggle for equal treatment in employment is dishearteningly real. Problems that should have been eliminated decades ago persist. For many women, harassment, discrimination and lower wages are workplace realities. More needs to be done to make sex discrimination in the workplace a thing of the past.

Source: Bloomberg Business, "How the Pay Gap Between Men and Women Starts Small and Gets So Much Bigger," by Jeanna Smialek, 5 August 2015 

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