Chart of the Day: The gender wage gap widened last year

chart of gender wage gap over time

A new report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research shows that our progress in closing the gender wage gap has stalled–and actually backslid last year. The ratio of women’s to men’s median weekly full-time earnings was 80.9 percent in 2012, a decline of more than one percentage point from 2011. In fact, you have to go all the way back to the 1990s to see any significant, sustained improvement on the gap. “Since 2001 the annual gender earnings gap narrowed by only about one percentage point.” Dismal.

Atlanta, GA

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director in charge of Editorial at Feministing. Maya has previously worked at NARAL Pro-Choice New York and the National Institute for Reproductive Health and was a fellow at Mother Jones magazine. She graduated with a B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. A Minnesota native, she currently lives, writes, edits, and bakes bread in Atlanta, Georgia.

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Editorial.

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  • Aidin Foroughi

    I wonder what efforts are put into “closing the gender wage gap”. “Our progress”?
    I was reading a recent article (on Forbes) about the top 10 best-paying college majors and guess what, the top 5 are all engineering majors.. I’m in an engineering school, and there are like 2 girls in the whole department. I don’t think anyone can expect employers to try to close the gap!
    In canada, the percentage of women in engineering hasn’t changed since the early 90s, and I’m surprised to see even this “dismal” and slow progress in closing the gaps.

  • a male

    Yes, statistics show that on average, a woman working full time makes only 80.9% of what a man does working full time. Caucasians also make more than African Americans and Hispanics, working full time. “Asians” for some reason, make more even than caucasians. I am Asian. I am not even going to speculate as to why that happens, as it is not as if “Asians” are concentrated in IT and engineering vs. other people working in retail and service positions. Asians do that work too.

    I do not see a claim that workers are doing the same job, or have comparable duties, accomplishments and qualifications, much less are being paid and treated differently in the same organization. I do not even see a claim that “full time” equals the same amount of hours worked. Someone being paid for 48 hours or 60 hours a week, should be making more than someone doing the same job 40 hours a week.

    I believe in equal pay for equal work, period. It doesn’t matter if they are fresh off probation, or have been doing the same job for 50 years. It doesn’t matter if they have a PhD and a Nobel Prize, taught themselves, or are differently abled. Bill Gates flipping burgers should make the same as an undocumented worker with no formal education flipping burgers, on an hourly basis. (Occupations in which ability or experience lead to differing outcomes such as pure sales or skilled trades of course are different. It remains to be seen if anyone else can do the job of Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, with comparable success.)

    I work in a hospital. I work nights and due to my insomnia, get about four hours of sleep during the day on a regular basis. I cannot work more hours than I do because of my state of mind, and in fact risk my safety and that of others by driving drowsy trying to get home. My all female coworkers on the other hand, who all happen to be of Filipino origin and have a completely different work ethic, some even leaving spouses and children behind in their home country in search of any employment or higher paying work, think nothing of working double shifts, or having two full time jobs, with maybe even a third job or doing independent caregiving on the side. The current record is FIVE eight hour shifts in a row (working 40 hours straight – previous record was “only” 24 hours in a row) shuttling across the street between their two health care jobs, avoiding legal problems for their individual employers.

    Naturally, my female coworkers make more money than I do. They work 80, even 100 hours a week to my 40. They may be making double or 250% of what I make. One coworker with a toddler at home still works herself to make about four times what I make because she thinks she and her husband don’t have enough. My coworkers scoff at my complaints getting four hours of sleep a day, as they claim to get by on as little as two. I am unable to afford a home in my hometown in Hawaii, and can only live here because my mother allows me to pay about a third of market rent to live in a home she bought (my mother has home loans until beyond 92 years old, so it’s not like her children will simply inherit her property either). My coworkers own homes and buy homes to rent out on the side for even more income.

    The simple fact that they make more money than I do, with as little as a high school education in their home country versus my seven years of university in the US, or are easily snapped up by employers (they find other jobs by inquiring when friends say there is work available), ahead of myself who took 14 months to find a job inquiring directly to ads without friends on the inside (resulting in just five interviews and one offer of full time work), is not discrimination.

    The “average” man making more than the “average” woman is not discrimination, without more information. A caucasian man once described to me how a former boss of his threw job applications postmarked with certain zip codes directly into the trash without reading them, believing place of residence meant something about ethnicity. That’s discrimination. In Japan, employers posted “male” (management track) and “female” (clerical) job openings, until Japanese lawmakers outlawed such blatant acts as unconstitutional (they have an equal rights amendment). That’s discrimination. Japanese managers would openly (as in media interview) explain how women “need” less money, as they have husbands (or parents) to take care of them financially, or have an expectation that female employees will quit for good after getting married or having children, and are thus not worth the investment to hire. That’s discrimination.

    Women in the US making 80.9% of what a man makes does not prove discrimination, without more information.