Gender pay gap is eroding, especially among younger women, US data show
Women are slowly making inroads in the gender pay gap. Recent Bureau of Labor Statistics data for full-time workers show women earn 82 percent as much as men, up from 64 percent in 1980.
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A recent study from Catalyst, a nonprofit New York-based organization that promotes women in the business world, found that women in the business world are offered fewer of the "hot jobs" – those jobs with high visibility that are central to an organization's mission and tend to lead to promotions down the road.Skip to next paragraph
The Catalyst survey of top MBA grads found that men led projects with budgets more than twice the size of women's, with teams that were more than three times as large, and that posed a higher risk to the company. Men also had roles with significantly more critical responsibility – one reason, Catalyst suggests in its analysis, for the persistent gender gap at senior levels that exists in the business world.
Another major factor in continuing inequities is the lack of parental supports, says Hartmann.
The United States is one of the only countries in the world – and the only industrialized nation – she notes, without any guaranteed paid maternity leave. (Lesotho, Papua New Guinea, and Swaziland are included in the countries that have guaranteed paid maternity leave.)
And without the subsidized child-care costs that many nations have, many mothers have to factor child-care costs into their decision whether to return to work, and often take a leave of absence – which they're later often penalized for when they do return to work.
And in a labor market in which about half of US workers get no paid sick time at all, women are still most often the ones to skip work – and forgo pay – to stay home with sick children or other family members.
Still, women are slowly chipping away at the wage gap. And while paid parental leave remains elusive for many US workers, women have won a number of legal gains in the past 35 years that have helped contribute – most notably the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 and the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (which requires most employers to provide unpaid, job-protected leave of up to 12 weeks for family or medical reasons).
Some smaller employers are exempt from even these basic protections, notes Hartmann, "but the fact that we have them is better than [nothing]."