Taking A Look Back At The Gender Gap

In honor of Women’s History Month, WorkplaceDiversity.com is presenting a look at the past. Women, historically, have made less money than their male counterparts. Part of the reason may be is that women didn’t receive equal rights until 1920’s. Women were more known to be housewives taking care of children rather than CEO’s of a giant conglomerate. With women such as Sheryl Sandberg, Hilary Clinton, Michele Obama and Laurie Ann Goldman, women are being looked to as CEO’s, leaders and history-makers. Let’s take a look back and see how this has come to be.

Since the early 70’s, on average, the amount of women earning college degrees has increased 33.4%[1]. For bachelor’s degree, this number is up almost 14%[2], masters up almost 22%[3] and for doctoral degrees, this number is up an astonishing 42%[4]. This is a main contributing factor as to why women now receive more money than in the past. This feminist shift has proven that women are capable of the same job duties that their male counterparts do.

As a whole, the income median for full-time women in 2010 $36,931 with Asian women earning the most and Latina women the least. In contrast, their male counterparts earned a median income of $47,715 with Asian men again earning the most and Latino men earning the least. Thanks to advancements such as the Women’s Liberation Movement, women are becoming more socially accepted as CEO’s and entrepreneurs in today’s society. The problem being is that we still have a case of the “Oz Effect,” in which you pull back the curtain to reveal that even though the advancements of women have been vast, the actuality of it is that women are still only making .70 cents for every dollar their male counterparts make.

Educational level and age seems to be the two most important factors being contributed to pay equality. The younger the age group, the closer the gap is in pay equality. This could be because more women are attending college right out of high school and earning subsequent degrees as males. The career field also plays a role as well with some career fields making more money than others. Finally, marriage plays a role in the factor that married women make more than their single counterparts.


[1] Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Chart 3: Percent Change of Constant-Dollar Median Usual Weekly Earnings, by Educational Attainment and Sex, 1979–2010,” Highlights of Women’s Earnings in 2010 (July 2011).

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