According to a new report by the American Association of University Women, men still earn more money than women. The question: how much of this gap can be chalked up to different major and career choices of men and women, and how much can be attributed to gender discrimination, subconscious or not, on the part of employers and maybe women themselves. The gap in pay is of concern to many women as over a period of time, it has the potential to have great economic impact.

The American Association of University Women’s report says that women earn about 82 cents to the dollar that men make. The report acknowledges that women tend to choose majors, careers, and jobs that are overall lower-paying than those chosen by men. For example, men are more likely to be engineering majors, while women are more likely to major in social sciences, a generally lower-paying field. Women also tend to select jobs with less hours than those chosen by men, which also may impact pay.

The pay gap varies by field. According to the report by the AAUW, among teachers, women earned 89 percent of what men earned. In business and management, women earned 89 percent of what their male counterparts earned. In sales occupations, women earned just 77 percent of what men earned.

The report says that when factors like educational and employment decisions are factored in, there is still a third of the gap that is unaccounted for. In other words, a woman can have the same degree, experience, and position in an identical field, and still earn slightly less than a man.

While acknowledging that women may also fail to effectively negotiate salaries, the report says that the remaining 1/3 of the pay gap is likely attributable to gender discrimination. Employers could be subconsciously, or perhaps directly, subscribing to outdated social norms. Women could also internalize these social norms about what is an “appropriate” career for a woman.

Christina Hoff Sommers, from a conservative think tank, wrote on the Huffington Post in reaction the report released by the American Association of University Women. Sommers claims that there is little, if any, systemic gender discrimination in the workplace and that any different in pay is attributable to women’s educational and employment choices.

Meghan Casserly from Forbes online writes how the pay gap persists when women are entrepreneurs. Female CEOs pay themselves 76 cents to the dollar that their male counterparts do.

Parenting experts suggest that fathers (and mothers) put unnecessary limits on their daughters. You know what I mean. Phrases such as “be careful” and “don’t take any chances” encourage young women to hold back and avoid risk. Conversely, young men are encouraged “to go for it.” Men are programmed to be risk takers.

In order to combat any gender discrimination, young women can take the following actions:

· Don’t take on more debt, educational or otherwise, than you absolutely have to

· Be assertive in salary negotiations

· Understand the financial implications of certain major/career choices

For everyone else:

· Speak up if you see or experience gender discrimination or other form of prejudice

· Encourage daughters, nieces, and all young women to pursue careers in science, math, and technology.

· Fathers (and mothers) need to encourage their daughters to dream, try and achieve.

Note: This was written with inspiration from my daughter Beth!

John Bradley Jackson
Entrepreneur, Professor, Author
Deja New Marketing
© Copyright 2013

About the author
  1. Christy

    Good article, John. I would, however, take issue with your suggestion to encourage all young women to pursue careers in science, math, and technology. I believe they, and society, would be better served if they (and young men) pursued careers in fields *of interest to them*, not simply science, math, and technology because those are fields with the potential for high income. If they’re interested in those fields, great. If they’re not, they should probably be looking at another field of study and career path.

  2. I think also due to the bio-psychological, there is time in women’s life, they have to carry a big investment that is their children, so those capitals, such as time, money, and effort are going to those children and they need to sacrifice for it.

    Those challenges limit women. She would have to make a choice between her career and her children and I know most of the time, they will fall for the children.

    Anyway. Go MOM! 😀

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