Tag Archives: feminism

Report: State Can Help Close Gender Pay Gap Through Education, Monitoring Contractors

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Most of the 78 cents on the dollar that women earn is because working women tend to cluster in low-paying fields. Think cashier rather than construction worker, nurse’s aide rather than welder, secretary rather than systems administrator, teacher rather than engineer.

Still, even within the same fields, unless union representation makes salary bands or hourly rates predictable and transparent, men earn more.

After controlling for hours worked, experience and time off to raise children, men still make at least 5 percent more, and maybe 10 percent more.

The report says that researchers have determined there are two reasons for that disparity: women don’t negotiate salary offers as often as men, and there may be subtle biases among bosses, even ones they don’t realize they have.

The report gives an example of a study of students graduating from Carnegie Mellon with master’s degrees, which found that 57 percent of men negotiated salary offers and 7 percent of women did. The men’s salaries were 7.6 percent higher than the women. And that $4,000 was almost the exact amount more that people who negotiated were paid compared to those who didn’t.

The authors of the report conducted several focus groups, and a business owner told of a similar story. A woman accepted an engineering job offer without negotiating, and a few years later, a male engineer with the same experience she had at the time she was hired chose to negotiate. When he did, he was earning close to what she was making after a couple years of raises.

So the report, a collaboration by the Connecticut Department of Labor and Department of Economic and Community Development, suggests that colleges should teach students, particularly women, “how to leverage their market value in the private sector by negotiating their salaries and starting positions.”

It also suggests that the state government coordinate with charities that are encouraging girls to explore non-traditional occupations, particularly in the higher-paid science fields. (Biology, which is a female-dominated major, is not a predictor of strong earnings. Computer science and engineering are.)

The report also recommended that businesses conduct unconscious bias training sessions to try and change how women’s actions are scrutinized differently than men, and to change mentoring dynamics.

Women who work in Hartford County have the smallest wage gap — perhaps because of the large unionized state workforce — and the largest gap is in Fairfield County, where women earn 63 cents on the dollar.

That may be because of the patterns of “super earners,” as we explained in an earlier article on this topic. For instance, the top 10 percent of female lawyers earn $200,000 or more; the top 10 percent of male lawyers earn $300,000 or more.

Teresa Younger, the executive director of the state’s Permanent Commission on the Status on the Status of Women, was on the task force that did the study. She said, “This report is a good first step, but no one is under any delusions its recommendations will solve the decades-long problem of pay inequity.”

But she praised the fact that the report suggests that the government develops metrics to monitor future progress — and ask  state contractors to report on their own salaries by gender.


Investigation in How To Remedy Women’s Wage Disparities

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The Connecticut Department of Labor and Department of Economic and Community Development will do a study on the gender wage gap in Connecticut, including recommendations for actions to eliminate it, the governor announced Wednesday.

Our coverage of this issue suggests it’s the high number of “super earners” in Connecticut that is one factor — the top 10 percent of male earners in any given field often far out earn the top 10 percent of women in that field.

Nationwide, women’s passivity in negotiating for wages also contributes.

“While this is a complicated issue, that cannot be an excuse for inaction,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said.  “It’s time for our state to find ways to address gender wage disparity.”

“As a woman who has worked the majority my career in the private sector, and now the public sector, I have a unique vantage point in looking into this important issue,” DECD Commissioner Catherine Smith said.  “Economic opportunities should be open and equal to all Connecticut residents.  The wage disparity in our state based on gender is troubling and warrants a closer examination into the factors driving our poor performance.”

The Governor has asked the commissioners to make recommendations to address the gender wage gap by October 2013.

Teresa Younger, executive director of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, praised the governor, saying: “He is sending the right message to the women of Connecticut, who make up 51 percent of the population and nearly half the workforce. “

Yale Proves Discrimination Against Women Persists in Nation’s Academic Science Labs

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Dan Haar and I have argued vociferously about whether women’s lower pay can be completely explained away by the occupational choices women make, the time they may take out to raise children, or even women’s negotiating skills when they get a salary offer.

A new study by Yale professors released in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, summarized in the fantastic Boston Globe Ideas section, comes down on my side of the argument.

Yale researchers sent resumes to 127 biology, chemistry and physics professors at six unnamed research universities, both men and women, and the resumes were identical, except some were from John, and some were from Jennifer. They were told that this college senior had recently applied for a laboratory manager job, but eventually planned to go to graduate school and that the professors’ input on their application would help refine mentoring of science majors.

As the Globe says: “Regardless of their own gender, field, age, or tenure status, professors tended to view the female student as less competent and less hirable.”

The professors who thought they would hire the student were asked to estimate what they’d pay him or her.

Jennifer was offered an average  starting salary of $26,508. John was offered an average salary of $30,238.