Throughout the 20th century, there has been a definite difference between men and women and their median income. Studies show that womens median earnings are substantially less than mens earnings. However, this earnings gap has started to close recently, bringing the percentage of womens earnings closer to that of the median earnings of men. According to the Census Bureau, the gap stayed relatively constant from 1960 to 1980. From 1980 to 2000 the median of womens earnings as a percentage of the median of mens earnings increased by nearly fourteen percent.
This report will be investigating what exactly caused the earnings gap to narrow after twenty plus years of stagnation by examining certain factors such as employment, education, family make-up, and other factors that may have an affect on the earnings of men and women. A Brief History Of This Phenomena Since the Equal Pay Act was signed in 1963, the earnings gap has been narrowing at a very slow rate. In 1960, women who worked full-time, year-round earned $16,144 while men earned $26,608.
Therefore, women only made 60 cents on average for every dollar earned by men. This average persisted for the next twenty years with virtually no change in percentage of mens income earned by women. In fact, the gap actually widened to an all-time low (within the time frame of 1960 2000) in 1973 when women earned an average of just 56 cents for every dollar earned by men. By 1980, the percentage had risen back to the original level of 60 percent with women earning $22,279 and men earning $37,033.
During the next 2 decades, there was relatively drastic change in the statistics. From 1980 to 2000, womens earning compared to mens rose from 60 percent to 73 percent in 2000 with women earning $27,355 and men earning $37,339. Compared to the previous 2 decades this was a very dramatic increase in womens earnings. If the momentum of the gap narrowing continues as it has the past twenty years, womens role in society and the family could change.
The old stereotype that women are the stay-at-home moms and men are the breadwinners would become obsolete. Pay equity would allow the mothers to support the family financially while fathers could stay at home or work the part-time job while raising the children. Pay equity would also make raising children as a single mother more manageable, providing more comfortable living for the single parent family. Literature Review Scientists argue over many reasons or factors for the narrowing of the earning gap starting in 1980.
The most common being: level of education, job choice, overcrowding in a few select occupations, and sexual discrimination. The level of education of the women has increased in the last twenty years. In the decades of the 60s and 70s, many of the women being compared did not hold the same caliber of job as their male counterparts did, due to advanced education of men. Since 1975, the enrollment of women into four-year colleges, and the obtainment of bachelor degrees has climbed to what some would say an equal or superseding amount compared to men.
These women are now entering the workforce and climbing the corporate ladders across America. Another large factor for the differences in earnings between women and men is the trend for women to choose certain occupations that allow them to balance work and family obligations. The six most prevalent occupations for women are school teachers (3,952,000), secretaries (2,741,000), cashiers (2,321,000), miscellaneous managers and administrators (2,349,000), sales supervisors and proprietors (2,005,000), and registered nurses (1,978,000).
These occupations are said to be overcrowded, therefore causing the wages in those occupations to be depressed. It has been argued that women choose these occupations because there tends to be less skill obsolescence for workers who leave and reenter the labor force. It has also been argued that the educational commitment for employment in these fields is less than in some others, allowing workers to have more time at home for other family obligations.
Sexual discrimination has always been an underlying theme when earning gaps across gender lines are discussed. Statistical studies have attempted to measure the effects of sexual discrimination on womens pay scale. It is argued that the pay is equal between men and women with the same position, however the sexual discrimination makes itself apparent when examining the promotion statistics within the firms. Many contend that women arent getting the chance to move up the corporate ladder to therefore better their wages.