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  • Gender Wage Gap Is Real - Regardless Of Occupation U.S. Women Are Paid Less
    Posted On: Aug 21, 2016

    By Doug Cunningham and JoAnne Powers, August 22, 2016

    The gender wage inequality gap for women is real and cannot be explained away by the choices women make in careers. That's according to the Economic Policy Institute's Jessica Schieder:

    [Jessica Schieder]: "No matter what industry or occupation a woman goes into chances are overwhelmingly that she's gonna be paid less than men in the same occupations.  It’s not just a case of overwhelmingly women are much more likely to work in female-dominated occupations and men are more likely to work in male-dominated occupations, but even when women reach over and wind up in chemical engineering or finance, they are still going to make less on-average than the men in those same fields.  It’s phenomenal how taken for granted that is, how easily people make that assumption that women would ever choose to make less.  It’s absolutely absurd.”

    A new report from EPI found overwhelming evidence that women’s careers are shaped from a very young age by discrimination, social norms and other forces:

    [Jessica Schieder]: "By the time a women earns her first dollar she’s gone through years of education.  She’s been guided by mentors.  Her parents have expectations for her, and the people who’re around her.  And the hiring practices and just widespread norms and expectations about how she should find work-family balance in her life, have a lot to say about where she ends up.”

    Research also shows that when women migrate into male-dominated fields the pay goes down, and when men migrate into female-dominated fields the pay increases:

    [Jessica Schieder]: "A number of economists and social scientists have kind of attributed that to a phenomenon called devaluation.  Basically, the thinking behind this is sexist individuals see women doing jobs, and because women are capable of doing those jobs, those jobs must be easy, by default.”

    Schieder says even the progress that has been made in shrinking the wage gap isn't really great news for workers:

    [Jessica Schieder]: "When you look at the history of the wage gap, it’s actually really interesting because about thirty percent of the closing of the wage gap that we've seen since 1979 is actually due to men's wages falling in absolute terms.”

    Ideally, the gap should be closed by raising the wages of both women and men:

    [Jessica Schieder]: "Families ranging from two parents working to families that are overwhelmingly women that are single parents, you’d have more money going to these workers.  Women are an incredibly important part of the workforce.  Women being underpaid means that less money is going to workers.”

    With women still carrying a disproportionate share of caretaking responsibilities, one approach to addressing the wage gap involves family-friendly policies:

    [Jessica Schieder]: "Policies that make it possible for women and men to balance their work and private lives, their work and family responsibilities, definitely would benefit women.  How do you get to those policies?  Obviously legislative change, but also the ability of workers to unionize and collectively bargain makes a huge difference in what they can ask for.”

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