Tuesday marks the day by which, thanks to the gender wage gap, American women have worked long enough to match what men made in a single year last year. The gap still means that a woman who works full-time, year round will on average make just 80 percent of her male peers. There hasn’t been statistically significant progress in closing the gap in nine years.
Some women may hold out hope that they can find the right work that will pay them equally. But virtually anywhere they go they are at risk of being paid less.
There is almost no job a woman can take and expect to be paid more than a man, according to a new analysis from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Of 120 occupations, just four pay women slightly higher than men, on average: counselors, food preparers and servers, sewing machine operators, and teacher assistants. By contrast, 107 have a wage gap of at least 5 percent, with one as wide as 44.4 percent.
The same pattern holds true for women of color specifically, who earn less than men of their same race in all jobs, except for black women who work as office admins or in natural resource, construction, and maintenance.
But women of color experience much larger gender wage gaps overall. Across all occupations, median weekly earnings for black women are just 62.5 percent of white men’s, while Hispanic women make 57.2 percent. White women earn 79.5 percent of white men’s pay.
It doesn’t matter if a woman tries to take a job in a traditionally male field. While these jobs tend to pay better — occupations with large numbers of women pay, on average, about 83 percent of those dominated by men — women still earn less than men in the most common jobs that men hold. For example, female truck drivers make about 80 percent of what male ones make, female janitors make 84 percent, and female software developers make 83 percent.
Even if they move higher up the food chain, female mangers make 77 percent of what male managers make and female chief executives make just less than 78 percent.
But men still make more even in female-dominated jobs. There’s a gender wage gap in all 20 of the most common occupations for women. Female nurses, teachers, and secretaries all make less than the rare men who take those positions.
There are a number of causes of the gender wage gap beyond the fact that men’s work pays better than women’s work, on average. Women are also more likely to take time off of work to care for family members, thus winding up with less overall experience. At least part of that is thanks to a lack of guaranteed paid family leave and affordable childcare.
But when economists study the gender wage gap, they always come away with a share of it that can’t be explained by all of these factors. It’s hard to say for sure what causes the remaining gap, but given a number of studies finding bias against women in the workplace, it’s not a stretch to think that it is playing a role.