U.S. women still confront yawning gender wage gap: Study

Median weekly wage US$684 compared to US$832 for men
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 04/17/2012

NEW YORK (Reuters) - In most common occupations, women still make less than men doing the same job for an equal amount of hours, according to new data.

Overall, they earn US$0.77 for each dollar made annually by men and in some professions such as financial managers, the number drops to US$0.66.

"These gender wage gaps are not about women choosing to work less than men — the analysis is comparing apples to apples, men and women who all work full time — and we see that across 40 common occupations, men nearly always earn more than women," said Ariane Hegewisch, a study director at the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR), a non-profit research organization.

The reasons are varied but discrimination law cases show women are less likely to be selected for the best jobs, they are hired at a lower rate and don't get equivalent raises to men over the years, she said.

"Discrimination in who gets hired for the best jobs hits all women but particularly black and Hispanic women.”

The findings, based on an analysis of earnings data for full-time workers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, showed that in 2011 the median weekly wage for full-time female workers was US$684, compared to US$832 per week for men.

In the 20 most common occupations for women in every job, except bookkeeping and auditing clerks, women earned less, according to the report. The same held true for traditional occupations for men, apart from stock clerks and orders fillers.

More than twice as many women, 5.52 million, as men, 2.3 million, work in occupations paying poverty wages for a family of four.

Three women's jobs — cashiers, waitresses and maids — and two men's occupations — cooks and ground maintenance workers — have salaries that put a family of four below the poverty line.

"It is shocking that important occupations such as teaching assistants or nurses, psychiatric and home health aides — stressful and responsible jobs that are critical to the well-being of our society — are likely to leave a woman unable to support her family even when she works full time and year-round," said Heidi Hartmann, president of the IWPR.

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