Wage gap even worse than we had thought

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - People On The Move - Jill Sch­lesinger Jill on Money Jill Sch­lesinger, CFP, is a CBS News busi­ness an­a­lyst. A for­mer op­tions trader and CIO of an in­vest­ment ad­vi­sory firm, she wel­comes com­ments and ques­tions at [email protected]­lon­money.com.

I know you prob­a­bly want good news for the hol­i­day sea­son, but women work­ers — and the guys who root for them — it’s high time to ar­gue for an end-of-year bonus or salary in­crease, be­cause you likely are com­ing up short.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port from the In­sti­tute for Women’s Pol­icy, the gen­der wage gap is even worse than pre­vi­ously thought. Un­like Cen­sus Bu­reau data that ex­am­ines the cur­rent state of wage dis­par­ity in a given year, this re­port looked at a 15-year time pe­riod (from 2001 through 2015) to bet­ter gauge the gen­der wage gap that ex­ists.

The ex­tended time pe­riod cap­tures some­thing called “work force at­tach­ment,” which takes into ac­count when peo­ple leave the work­force vol­un­tar­ily or in­vol­un­tar­ily. (The study fol­lowed the same peo­ple over the time pe­riod.) While men were also pe­nal­ized for time out of the work­force, women’s earn­ings losses for time out were al­most al­ways greater than men’s.

With a longer lens, the gen­der wage gap bal­loons from the of­ten-cited 20 per­cent to a jaw-drop­ping 51 per­cent. Did you catch that? Women made 49 cents for ev­ery dol­lar a man made.

One fac­tor be­hind the gap is women tend to take more breaks in their ca­reers to raise chil­dren or care for el­derly fam­ily mem­bers. They are be­ing pe­nal­ized for tak­ing care of their fam­i­lies.

Only 28 per­cent of women worked full time ver­sus 59 per­cent of men over the 15 years cov­ered and, as a re­sult, they missed out on some prime earn­ing years. This find­ing is con­sis­tent with a re­cent Gold­man Sachs study, which found that a woman who takes just five years out of the work­force can forgo one-fifth of her po­ten­tial life­time in­come, even though she is only away from work for one-eighth of her ca­reer.

Even women who took off just one year from work got hit hard; their an­nual earn­ings were 39 per­cent lower than women who worked all 15 years.

An­other is­sue is that when the bur­den of care­giv­ing falls on a woman’s shoul­ders, she may take her­self off the pro­mo­tion track, which can hurt her ca­reer tra­jec­tory. Or she may re­duce her hours or go part-time, which can rob her of valu­able ben­e­fits and/or re­tire­ment sav­ings. Or she may sim­ply choose time or con­trol of her sched­ule over money.

The Gold­man re­search uses the term “down­shift­ing” to de­scribe this phe­nom­e­non — es­sen­tially, many women, ei­ther vol­un­tar­ily or in­vol­un­tar­ily, shift to work that re­quires less time, less travel or more flex­i­ble hours.

If you were wait­ing for the good news, you’ll have to wait a lit­tle longer: Even women who stayed in the work­force for the en­tire 15 years faced an enor­mous pay gap: They made 67 cents for ev­ery dol­lar a man made.

OK, that’s a lot of bad news, so here is some­thing good: The re­search finds that there has been progress over the past 50 years. And I am en­cour­aged by the next gen­er­a­tion of en­trepreneurs, who are more thought­ful about this is­sue.

They want to ad­dress the wage gap not only on a fair­ness ba­sis, but also to at­tract and re­tain more women to their or­ga­ni­za­tions. They are ex­pand­ing ben­e­fits, in­clud­ing pro­vid­ing paid fam­ily leave time for em­ploy­ees to care for their kids and ag­ing par­ents; en­hanc­ing flex time to al­low more em­ploy­ees to work re­motely; and some are lob­by­ing the govern­ment to pro­vide sub­si­dies for child care.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.