|NO FAIR PLAY: Motherhood takes a toll on women’s pay cheques even as families are increasingly relying on the wages of working mothers
Women made little progress in climbing into management positions in the United States even in the boom years before the financial crisis, according to a recent report released the Government Accountability Office.
As of 2007, the latest year for which comprehensive data on managers was available, women accounted for about 40 per cent of managers in the US workforce. In 2000, women held 39 per cent of management positions. Outside of management, women held 49 per cent of the jobs in both years.
Across the workforce, the gap between what men and women earn has shrunk over the last few decades. Full-time women workers closed the gap to 80.2 cents for every dollar earned by men in 2009, up from 62.3 cents in 1979. Much of this persistent wage gap, however, can be explained by what kinds of jobs the sexes are drawn to, whether by choice or opportunity.
The new report, commissioned by the Joint Economic Council of Congress, tries to make a better comparison by looking at men versus women in a specific industry and in similar jobs, and also controlling for differences like education levels and age. On average, female managers had less education, were younger and were more likely to be working part time than their male counterparts.
In all but three of the 13 industries covered by the report, women had a smaller share of management positions than they did of that industrys overall work force. The sectors where women were more heavily represented in management than outside of it were construction, public administration, and transportation and utilities.
Across the industries, the gender gap in managers pay narrowed slightly over the last decade, even after adjusting for demographic differences. Female full-time managers earned 81 cents for every dollar earned by male full-time managers in 2007, compared with 79 cents in 2000.
This varied by industry, with the pay gap being the narrowest in public administration, where female managers earned 87 cents for every dollar paid to male managers. It was widest in construction and in financial services, where women earned 78 per cent of what men were paid after adjustments.
Across the workforce, the pay gap was also slightly wider for managers who had children.
Managers who were mothers earned 79 cents of every dollar paid to managers who were fathers, after adjusting for things like age and education. This gap has stayed the same since at least 2000.
The greater toll that parenthood appears to take on womens paychecks may help explain why, generally speaking, female managers are less likely to have children than their male counterparts.
In 2007, 63 per cent of female managers were childless, compared with just 57 per cent of male managers. Of those managers who did have children, men on average had more children than their women counterparts.
Female managers were also less likely to be married than male managers, at rates of 59 per cent versus 74 per cent, respectively.
It is difficult to determine why a wage gap exists between female and male managers, and to what extent these differences might be because of discrimination or other factors, like hours clocked. The new GAO report, for example, does not try to control for hours worked, beyond broad categories like full-time or part-time status.
The findings were based on an analysis of data from the American Community Survey of the Census Bureau.
When working women have kids, they know it will change their lives, but they are stunned at how much it changes their paycheck, Representative Carolyn Maloney said of the report. In this economy, it is adding insult to injury, especially as families are increasingly relying on the wages of working moms.
During the recession that began in December 2007 and ended in the summer of 2009 — generally after the data contained in this new report — men generally bore the brunt of job losses because of the types of industries. It is still unclear how management positions might have shifted or whether women were affected differently by that.