This graph, (released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics / US Department of Labor) breaks down 525 occupations, comparing how many men and women are in each field as well as the difference of income between the two genders in each field. Speaking to the point of occupational gender segregation, you can see that a full time parking lot attendant (which are predominantly male as shown by the data) make more watching cars than a childcare worker (which are predominantly female as shown by the data) does watching children. The point being that traditionally male dominant occupations versus traditionally female dominant occupations of the same skill level - apples to apples - earn more (and that's assuming that watching a car takes the same skill as watching a handful of children). This suggests that our society values the work that men traditionally do differently than the work that women traditionally do.
The graph referenced above shows 525 different occupations -- here's the breakdown: in 416 of those occupations (80%), men earned significantly more. In 106 of the occupations (20%), there was no real difference in pay and in one, only one occupation, women made significantly more than men (nutritionist / dietician).
If you scroll down and search through some of the data here, you'll also realize that yes, the popular rebuttal that men work longer hours is true. But women spend more hours doing housework that is unpaid. Men’s longer work hours are subsidized and facilitated by unpaid labor done by women, which contributes to the gender pay gap; meaning that because women are spending more time doing the unpaid work of food preparation, cleaning, childcare, etc, men are able to work longer hours. All of this contributes to the gender pay gap. Statistical data for how men and women are dividing household tasks can be found here, in the American Time Use Survey published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics / US Department of Labor.
A social research journal published findings in 2000 that looked at data collected between 1950-2000 and concluded that when occupations change from being male dominant to female dominant, pay also changes; they found that when women enter male fields, the overall pay - for both the men and women working in those fields - goes down. And when men enter traditionally female fields, the overall pay - for both the men and women working in those fields - goes up. The conclusion being that, as a society - once again - we value the work of men and women differently and this inequity is based on gender. You can read the findings here. (Social Forces is published in partnership with the Department of Sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill).
The upside is that the gap is closing. We're far better off than we were 30 years ago. Those who believe the gender pay gap is a myth will hold onto the data that shows the few occupations where men and women are receiving more or less equal pay. While this is evidence to them that the gap doesn't exist, it's evidence to us - and those that support the plight of women - that there are areas where the gap is closing. But it does not dismiss the fact there is still a gap. We are moving in the right direction, just not as fast as some feel it should. This graph, for example, shows occupations in which women's median earnings as a percentage of men's median earnings are highest (2016). Sure, this shows some movement toward equality but one must also recognize this equality is seen in what are traditionally female dominant occupations -- sewing machine operators, food service, teachers assistants, and counselors. The second chart shows four, predominantly male, occupations where men are making significantly more than women. The first graph shows that the gap is somewhat closing in certain - traditionally female - occupations and the second shows that the gap persists in what are traditionally male dominant occupations. One could argue further that women are making only slightly more than men in the four female dominant fields selected whereas women are making significantly less than men in the four male dominant fields selected, highlighting the imbalance.
There's a lot of data pertaining to the gap and for the reasons surrounding it, but not much in regards to women having to leave the work force to have / raise children. The reality is that we live in a man's world, where the expectation is for the woman to stay home from work and that doesn't really change as babies grow into toddlers and then into kids and young adults. It's a systemic issue that stems from the fact it's a man-made system. It caters to men because it was built by men. It's hard to be what you don't see; the trickle down of living in a male dominant society is not easily accounted for. There are even further disparities when comparing women of color to white women (this report speaks to how the pay gap affects women of different demographics and this topic, within a topic, really deserves it's own separate post).
If raising a family and taking time off of work was expected of both parents, there wouldn't be such a disparity in earnings. Things like this are not accounted for because it's not the way our society is currently built so there is no data to collect. To accept the way things presently are for the way things should be is an endangerment to women. The numbers and figures referenced above are helpful but even they only tell a portion of the story. When your government does not offer free and easily accessible birth control, for example, your society is also removing a woman from the work force sometimes against her will.
Melinda Gates, who has degrees in computer science and economics as well as business administration and worked at Microsoft for nearly a decade says "Even when the world says they invest in data, they don't invest in data around women. And if we don't invest in collecting statistics about women, we don't know how and where to act". Words are just words, emotions are just emotions without action. It's why we, as a company, donate money to the American Association of University Women. Because we see the value in the research they do and respect their ability to turn such research into action.
We'll leave on a more humor-filled tip because that's our nature and heavy stuff always needs to be softened in order to be properly digested. Watch this video
and then ask yourself, how else would the world be a different place if men did things women do and vice versa? Funny, but also a sad.
Comments and rebuttals welcome. Let this be a place for open discussion.