Wage Gap affects Women Everywhere

Back in November, Mary Baldwin University in Staunton was host to a small conference on Equality and Economic Security. The endorsing organizations were: New Directions Center, The Institute for Reform and Solutions, and Community Criminal Justice Days. Some of the information presented was from research compiled by the American Association of University Women, and this report is gleaned mostly from their literature.  In Virginia, a woman makes eighty-cents for every dollar a man earns. And why does this make a local news story? I’m proposing, because many women in our communities are working full-time, or frequently a combination of full and part-time jobs, and unless the rate of pay changes, they shouldn’t expect to make the same pay as a man in an equal position until, at the soonest 2059. The Simple Truth, an AAUW publication, draws from statistics of the Current Population Survey, or CPS, which is produced monthly by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the Census Bureau. The Simple Truth states:

“The pay gap affects women from all backgrounds, at all ages, and of all levels of educational achievement.   …Even when more education can increase earnings, it is not an effective tool against the gender pay gap. Across all racial and ethnic groups, American women now earn more college and post-college degrees than men, “

and the pay gap remains.

Data can certainly point to men and women making different types of career choices, so the BLS collected numbers for jobs that could be compared validly to one another. Their conclusions indicate:

“In 2015, the US civilian workforce included 149 million full- and part-time employed workers. 53 percent were men, and 47 percent were women. But women and men tend to work in different kinds of jobs. Women are disproportionally represented in education, office and administrative support, and health care occupations, and men are disproportionally represented in construction, maintenance, and repair, and production and transportation occupations. Segregation by occupation is a major factor behind the pay gap. Even though a pay gap exists in nearly every occupational field, jobs traditionally associated with men tend to pay better than traditionally female-dominated jobs requiring the same level of skill.”

While everyone is familiar, especially from 1970s and 1980s, with women moving into the formerly male-associated jobs, that occupational integration began to stall in the early 2000s. As the information from AAUW concludes, it suggests how individuals, employers and governments can make a difference. So, The Simple Truth continues:

“Because most employers have some latitude when it comes to salaries, negotiating can pay off. While women can’t negotiate around discrimination, knowing what your skills are worth and learning techniques to promote them can help . . . Negotiation can be tricky for women because some of the behaviors that work for men, like self-promotion, and assertiveness, may backfire on women (Carter &Silva, 2011;Bowles and Babcock, 2013). Knowing what your skills are worth, making clear what you bring to the table, emphasizing common goals and maintaining a positive attitude are some tactics that have been shown to be effective for women.”  (Babcock &Laschever, 2008). Work Smart and Smart Start are salary negotiation workshops offered by AAUW to teach women how to negotiate with confidence.  For more information about the pay gap, visit www.aauw.org , the Simple Truth.


With appreciation to the American Association of University Women for the information in this report, for Allegheny Mountain Radio , I’m Amanda McGuire.

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Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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