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ANALYSIS: The gender wage gap is bigger than you think

Just how big is the gender wage gap, really? It all depends on how you look at it. (Wikimedia Commons)

A new study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research claims that the gender wage gap is more drastic than we knew. For every dollar made by a man, the study says, the average woman only makes 49 cents.

The new number sharply contrasts with multiple other reports about the gender wage gap. The US Census puts the gender wage gap at 80.5 percent, while other calculations make it as narrow as 93 percent.

So which is right and which is wrong? On the Dave and Dujanovic show Thursday, we explored the math and found the wage gap in America changes depending on how you measure it. And by some measures, women really are making less than half as much as men.

Here’s our breakdown about what each of those statistics means.

93 cents on the dollar

Gender Wage Gap: 93%

The gender wage gap according to the American Association of University Women.

When men and women with the same experience work the same jobs, the gap isn’t quite as big, but it still exists.

In their first year out of college, all things being equal, women will make an average of 93 cents for every dollar earned by a man.

That number comes from a study by the AAUW, and it only applies if the man and the woman are working the same job with the same experience in the same part of America.

The gap starts to change, however, as time goes by. According to a study by Hired, the gender gap between men and women will increase by 6 cents over the span of eleven years, suggesting that male employees get better raises as time goes on.

Different jobs, also, have wildly different pay gaps, with some of the worst pay gaps showing up in careers that, historically, have dominated by men. According to a SmartAsset study, the worst gaps are in the financial industry. Female financial advisors, they say, only make 58.9 percent as their male colleagues.

The most equitable jobs seem to be ones that have been historically dominated by women. While financial workers see a larger gender wage gap, female nurses, retail buyers, and special education teachers are paid almost exactly as much as their male counterpoints.

80.5 cents on the dollar

Gender Wage Gap: 80%

The gender wage gap, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The gap gets a lot bigger, however, if we take into account that men and women tend to gravitate toward different jobs.

Women still tend to work in historically female-dominated trades at disproportionate rates. The most popular jobs for women in the United States, according to the Department of Labor, are teachers, nurses, and secretaries.

And those jobs don’t pay as well as the jobs that, historically, have been dominated by men. In fact, the top ten highest-paid jobs in the United States all continue to be dominated by men, while most of the lowest-paid jobs are dominated by women.

As a result, the gender wage gap between men and women, when we look at everyone in America, is a lot broader. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average woman only earns 80.5 cents for every dollar earned by a man.

49 cents on the dollar

Gender Wage Gap: 49%

The gender wage gap, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research’s study gives the darkest view of American income disparity yet. The average woman, by the math, makes less than half of the average man.

Unlike the first number, they weren’t comparing men and women who have the same job, and, unlike the Census Bureau, they weren’t just looking at one year. They looked at the average wage men and women made over the past 15 years – and when you add time to the equation, the gap gets a lot broader.

Women, they found, are far more likely to spend time unemployed, taking care of the family, with no income whatsoever. 43 percent of the women they surveyed spent at least one year with no earnings, compared to only 23 percent of men.

Culturally, the research found, women are still expected to take care of the kids, and that social pressure affects their incomes.

If all things were equal, the survey found women would make 93 percent as much as men – but they aren’t. Women still move into lower-paying jobs and take time off for family, while men still move into management roles and are encouraged to stay focused on their careers.

The study’s conclusion: we might be making strides of labor policy – but because of social expectations, the gender gap really is a lot bigger than what we’ve heard.

More to the story

When KSL Newsradio’s Dave & Dujanovic talked about this story on the air, Debbie Dujanovic said that one step toward fixing the gender gap in America would be to start talking about our salaries.

If you missed the show live, you can still catch everything they had to say on the Dave & Dujanovic podcast.

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon on KSL Newsradio. Users can find the show on the KSL Newsradio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.

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