May 29, 2015 Practice Points

Continuing Wage Gap Between Male and Female Workers

By Emily J. Bordens, Esq.

On April 14, 2015, the New York Times published an editorial regarding “Equal Pay Day,” a day selected by the National Committee on Pay Equity and described by the Times as a day meant to draw attention to the continuing wage gap between male and female workers.

The editorial board, after setting forth the history and evolution of the Equal Pay Act, a law signed by President John F. Kennedy in 1963, ponders why progress on wage equality has stalled. For example, in 1963, a full-time working woman typically made 59¢ for every dollar earned by her male colleagues; yet the gap has only narrowed to 78¢ on the dollar by 2013. Moreover, in 2014, the ratio of female-to-male weekly earnings was 82.5 percent.

The editorial board opines that the longer this gap persists, the less it can be explained away by factors other than discrimination. Relying upon data from the Economic Policy Institute, the article explains that men continue to out-earn women at every corporate level; curiously, the higher up the ladder, the bigger the gap. For example, women in the 95th percentile of female earners made 79 percent of wages for men at the 95th percentile, while women in the lowest 10th percentile made 91¢ for each dollar earned by their male counterparts.

Furthermore, the article sheds light on the fact that the pay gap between male and female workers is more pronounced among workers with a college degree. In fact, the higher level of education, the bigger the gap. For example, female workers with college degrees earned approximately 78 percent of their male counterparts. On the other end of the spectrum, the article explains that workers without higher education have the narrowest gap, about 80 percent of male earnings (female workers earned $16 per hour for a male worker’s $20 per hour salary). The editorial board explains that the wage gap exists even in traditionally female occupations, such as nursing and education, where male registered nurses out-earn female counterparts by an average of $5,000 annually and male teachers continue to out-earn female teachers.

In closing, the editorial board criticizes the Republican party, blaming it for blocking consideration of a bill that would have extended pay equity rules currently in place for federal workers to private employers. The editorial board hopes that more effort can be made in this area.

Keywords: litigation, woman advocate, Equal Pay Act, wage gap, wage equality, Equal Pay Day

Emily J. Bordens, Esq. works at Bressler, Amery & Ross, P.C. in Florham Park, New Jersey

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