The Gender Wage Gap

By Martha V. Shelton | April 04, 2012 AAA
The Gender Wage Gap

Though the wage gap between women and men has been narrowing since 1955, the unfortunate truth remains: women continue to earn less money than men in the United States. Pay differences can be attributed to several factors, including: industry, company size, education and experience and as well as the location of a job. Here, we take a look at some of the best and worst geographic locations for women in terms of compensation, and we look at the differences of the gender wage gap by industry.

A Big Picture Overview: Some States Better than Others
According to the U.S. Census Bureau's "American Community Survey 2009," women's earnings as a percentage of men's earnings are the highest in a handful of states: California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, Florida, New York, North Carolina and Maryland. Within these states, women generally tend to earn at least 80% of men's wages. This compares with almost 20 states where women earn less than 75% of men's wages.

Recent Analysis Points to the 10 Worst Paying Cities for Women
A recent study performed by 24/7 Wall St highlights certain Metropolitan areas where the gender wage gap is the widest. Curiously, in the lowest ranked city of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, women earn roughly 63% of a man's median income, which compares with the national average of almost 80%. Ogden-Clearfield, Utah – another low ranked area – did not fare much better, with a women/men wage ratio of around 64.4%.

Rank Metropolitan Area Women\'s Pay as % of Men\'s Median Income - Men Median Income - Women
10 Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, Florida 72.6 $51,124 $37,101
9 Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, Pennsylvania 72.6 $53,608 $38,890
8 Boise City-Nampa, Idaho 72.4 $44,908 $32,514
7 Chattanooga, Tennessee 72.4 $45,273 $32,753
6 Colorado Springs, Colorado 72.1 $50,101 $36,126
5 Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Connecticut 71.8 $70,605 $50,714
4 Augusta-Richmond County, Georgia 70.6 $46,648 $32,926
3 Toledo, Ohio 70.0 $49,739 $34,817
2 Ogden-Clearfield, Utah 64.4 $51,766 $33,331
1 Baton Rouge, Louisiana 63.4 $51,103 $32,385
Source: 24/7 Wall St.

Certain Industries More Conducive to Equal Pay
While industries such as construction and leisure and hospitality tend to be relatively "more equal" in terms of pay (women earn around 92% of men's wages in construction, and roughly 83.5% of men's wages in leisure and hospitality), other industries see lower women to men pay ratios. Financial activities have the lowest pay ratio, as women earn roughly 70.5 cents to every man's dollar. Manufacturing is not all that much better for women – the ratio in that industry is 73.8%. One of the largest industries, education and health services, sees women earning around 77% of men's median weekly earnings.

The Bottom Line
Compensation is influenced by several factors, including: experience, knowledge and skills, degree of responsibility, size of the company, industry and location. While certain geographies and industries appear to be more equal in terms of pay, other situations seem to be less favorable; however, the more well equipped a woman is with data and facts, the more well positioned she is to step into an employment situation and negotiate for adequate compensation.

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