Utah (ABC4) — Several studies found that women earn less than men whether they work in the same, or in different occupations. On ‘Equal Pay Day’, March 14, ABC4 is looking at how 2022’s national numbers compare with Utah.
The studies and analyses were completed by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, the American Association of University Women, and the Department of Workforce Services.
According to a Regional Economist at the DWR, Gwen Kervin, economists calculate the gap by dividing the median female wage by the median male wage. Only full-time employment is used, as it produces the identical standard needed for the uniform measure, the report stated.
Nationally in 2020, adult women who worked full-time earned approximately 81% of what their male counterparts earned. Looking at Utah, the ratio drops to 72%, Kervin said.
According to the DWS, there are several factors behind the male-female disparity in wages including education, occupation choice, and work experience. In Utah in 2020, 33% of women over the age of 25 held a bachelor’s degree or higher, whereas 37% of men held a bachelor’s degree or higher. Nationally, 34% of women hold a bachelor’s degree, and only 32% of men do.
However, taking that into account, the DWS still states that the largest wage gap occurs between men and women with bachelor’s degrees.
Education, occupation choice, and work experience all factor into lower wages for women relative to men.
“However, these don’t explain the full picture. Even when controlling for these factors, a portion of the gap is still unexplained,” the report stated.
They concluded that while Utah’s wage gap is larger than the national one, women in Utah are making headway. More Utah women are graduating from college than ever before, allowing them to demand higher wages. Meanwhile, younger women pursuing majors in science and engineering will bolster their future earning prospects.
“Analyzing the gender pay gap is critical to understanding women’s immediate and long-term economic security—or insecurity. More women live in poverty than men, and women are more likely to work in low-paying jobs. Women who are mothers are paid less than men who are fathers. But women are also increasingly the primary breadwinners for their families; their income is critical,” The AAUW stated in their 2022 report. “Underpaying women and undervaluing their work not only hurts women and their families; it damages the entire U.S. economy.”
The IWPR reported that in 2022, women earned less than men for full-time weekly work in almost all occupations, all 20 of the largest occupations for men, and 19 of the 20 most popular occupations for women. The only occupation with no gender differences in median weekly earnings was Teaching Assistants.
IWPR reported that women earned 83% of what men earned for median weekly earnings for full-time work. And IWPR took all workers into account, women only earned 77.4% of what men earned because they are more likely to be in part-time jobs.
They also reported on the wage gaps in the 20 most popular occupations for women. For the most popular occupations for women, the wage gap ranges from women earning 100 percent of what men earn (teaching assistants) to earning only 69.4 percent of what men earn (financial managers.) These occupations employ 38.7 percent of women, and 14.7 percent of men working full-time.
Among 132 occupations large enough to estimate earnings for women and men, there are only three where men earn less than women; Compliance officers, men earn 96.5% of what women earn, Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses, men earn 96.6% of what women earn, and Wholesale and Retail Buyers, except Farm Products, men earn 97.9% of what women earn.
The occupations in which the largest wage gap exists are Real Estate Brokers and Sales Agents (62.5%), Personal Financial Advisors (63.2%), and Insurance Sales Agents (64.7%).
For men’s most popular occupations, women earn less on a weekly median average than men in all 20 occupations. The gender wage gap in these occupations ranges from 94.1 percent for Stockers and order fillers to 76.4 percent for Other Production workers.
“The COVID-19 pandemic brought to the fore the extent of “occupational segregation” in the United States, that is, that women and men often tend to work in different occupations and that the occupations that are predominantly held by women pay less and are undervalued compared to those predominantly held by men at the same level of skill or education,” the IWPR stated. “Research suggests that these differences in the gender composition of occupations and industries account for half of the wage gap.”
AAUW reported a few things people can do to fix the wage gap. They said individuals should write letters to legislators, local papers, blogs, etc. to push for change. They also said that employers should conduct regular pay audits and that employers should prohibit retaliation against employees for discussing, disclosing, or inquiring about their wages. And that, if you are a woman, you should push for better wages.
“While women can’t negotiate around discrimination, it is helpful to know your market value and to push for better wages,” the report stated. They recommended taking the AAUW Work Smart salary-negotiation course.
The DWR recommends encouraging women to enter higher-paying industries, that are typically dominated by men, and reducing the barriers to entering them, would potentially boost wages for women as well.