Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Lifetime Losses: The Career Wage Gap

The Center for American Progress Action Fund has just released a report on the career wage gap between men and women. The career wage gap is the estimated lost wages over a lifetime of work by women as a result of the gender wage gap (based on the median wages of all full-time working men and women from the 2007 American Community Survey). The report provides national estimates as well as estimates and rankings on a state-by-state basis.

For the U.S., the Center found that the average full-time female worker loses approximately $434,000 in wages over a 40-year period as a direct result of the gender pay gap. Factoring in education level, the Center estimates the career wage gap as follows:
  • Bachelor's degree or higher - $713,000
  • Some college - $452,000
  • High school diploma - $392,000
  • Less than high school - $270,000
In the state rankings, Ohio falls somewhere in the middle; the overall career wage gap is estimated at $486,000. For different educational levels, the Center estimated the following for our state:
  • Bachelor's degree or higher - $657,000
  • Some college - $502,000
  • High school diploma - $449,000
The summary report, which also provides calculations based on occupations, is available at the Center's website. There's also an interactive map available that allows you to pick states for comparisons.

Note: Some contend that the gender wage gap is "feminist fiction" (Independent Women's Forum, 2005), that the differences come from the "choices" women make regarding the occupations they select and the time away from they incur as a result of having a family. Yet 2003 research by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found even after accounting for those choices, women still earned only 80 percent of what men earned in the same period.

You may notice the use of quotes around the word "choices" above. It's really time to reframe our thinking around the idea that women have a "choice." Joan Williams, author of Unbending Gender:Why Work and Family Life Conflict and What To Do About It, 1066 Foundation Chair, Distinguished Professor of Law and Founding Director of the Center for WorkLife Law at University of California, Hastings College of the Law questions the use of the word "choice," saying that "many people assume that women, couples, and families make voluntary choices about work and family that result in a range of consequences. Oftentimes, women bear the brunt of these so-called choices that actually reflect some deep-seated notions about the ideal worker and gender ideologies about caregiving. Values at home, in the workplace, and in society constrain choices of careers or employment options that, in turn, result in reduced earnings or limited opportunities for career advancement.” Williams stresses, “This is not ‘choice.’ People who do not conform to our expectations for the ideal worker—men as well as women—are disadvantaged. We need to recognize that workplaces that define their ideal as someone who works full-time full-force for forty years, taking no time off for family care, may be engaging in gender discrimination."
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Thursday, December 11, 2008

In My Inbox

Here are brief summaries of a number of articles and reports in my inbox that are worth noting:
  • Sex, Gender and Women's Health: Why Women Usually Come Last - while women live longer than men, they also spend more time in their lives in poor or compromised health. The Disease Control Priorities Project, funded in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recently released this four-page summary of women's health issues globally.
  • The Celluloid Ceiling: Behind-the-Scenes Employment of Women on the Top 250 Films of 2007 - the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film found that in women were 15% of the individuals serving in key positions (like director, producer, writer, editor and cinematographer) on the top 250 films in 2007 (Spiderman 3, Shrek the 3rd, Knocked Up...) - a decline of 4 percentage points since 2001.
  • The Financial Conditions of Women on Their Own - the Consumer Federation of American, in a report co-authored by OSU professor Catherine Montalto, recently reported that women on their own are often much worse off financially than Americans overall - the median household income of female-headed households, for example is $22,595 compared to $43,120 for all households (the report is based on 2004 data and doesn't even take into account the current economic condition). Women on their own are also tend to have less education, are less likely to own their own homes, and are less likely indicate that they "save regularly." CFA also reported previously that women were much more likely to be targets of subprime lending, even though women in general tend to have equal or higher credit scores when compared to men - as much as 41% more likely in fact. (Women Are Prime Targets for Subprime Lending, 2006).
  • OSU researchers Randy Hodson and Lindsey Joyce Chamberlain were also co-authors (along with Martha Crowley, NC State and Daniel Tope, Florida State) of a study that examined the impact of organizational context on the levels and types of harassment women face in the workplace, and the results might surprise you. They found that women face the most harassment in workplaces where the proportion of men to women is fairly equal. (OSU Research News brief).
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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Catalyst's 2008 Census of Women in Business Leadership

Catalyst has just released their 2008 census of women serving on the boards and as corporate officers of Fortune 500 companies, and the news isn't encouraging.
  • the percentage of seats held by women on Fortune 500 boards increased from 14.8% to 15.1% (848 seats out of a total of 5610)
  • the percentage of female corporate officers increased from 15.4% to 15.7% (1312 female officers out of a total of 8344).
  • the percentage of women among the Fortune 500 "top earners" declined from 6.7% to 6.2% (129 out of 2084 total)
The news for women of color isn't any better:
  • women of color make up slightly more than one-fifth of the total number of female directors, but are only 3.2% of the total (up from 3% in 2007).
The EOWA Australian Census of Women in Leadership, released in October, actually showed declines in the number of women in executive management and board positions:
  • the percentage of executive management positions held by women declined from 12% in 2006 to 10.7%
  • the percentage of board seats held by women declined from 8.7% to 8.3%
EOWA director Anna McPhee, commenting on the results, said "At the time of the 2006 census we described the pace of change as glacial. In 2008 the results show that women's progress is melting away."
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Don't Blame Title IX

NCAA President Myles Brand made an interesting move last month when he called on colleges and universities to not blame Title IX for cuts they may make in men's sports opportunities during this downturn in the economy. Brand readily admitted that he was trying to "preempt" any attempt to blame Title IX for cuts in collegiate sports programs, an argument which Brand characterized as "unfair" in his comments in USA Today.

Title IX, passed in 1972 to ban discrimination on the basis of sex in any educational program receiving Federal funding, is often cited as the reason for cutting opportunities for men to play sports at the collegiate level - the most frequent spin that as such, the cuts are unfair (supported by the belief that men have a God-given right of first refusal to sports).

The Women's Sports Foundation has some of the best reference information on Title IX - it's the first place to go when looking for stats to back up arguments in support of Title IX. Like the fact that men's participation in sports at the collegiate level has actually increased in the 36 years since Title IX was passed.

(Check the Institute's wiki for more information from the Women's Sports Foundation's most recent report card on colleges and universities.)
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Election Update - Kilroy Wins Ohio's 15th District Race

The results for this race were finally announced this past weekend; Mary Jo Kilroy will represent Ohio's 15th House District when Congress convenes after the first of the year. She will join Marcia Fudge, who won the race to fill the seat left vacant by the untimely death of Stephanie Tubbs Jones earlier this year.

According to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers, 75 women will serve in the U.S. House of Representatives, and 17 will serve in the U.S. Senate - 19% of the total 535 seats available (not including non-voting delegates). Those results would rank the U.S. 63rd among the 188 legislative bodies evaluated by the InterParliamentary Union for the percentage of seats held by women (based on October 2008 totals).

Also interesting to note:
  • the Senate in New Hampshire is the first where women hold the majority - 13 of 24 seats. One take on it: it's an almost volunteer position with poor pay in New Hampshire - $100 a year plus gas money - the lowest in the nation in 2005.
  • in contrast, South Carolina became the all state in the nation with an all-male Senate. (In 2005, South Carolina paid its legislators $10,400 annually according to a report by the Council of State Governments)
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