Throughout the last 40 years, the earnings of women to men has been an issue that has had widespread implications and sometimes even controversy as it relates to the women’s movement, changes in the overall labor force, and the ongoing discussion about economic equality and opportunity between men and women. Additionally, there have been great economic differences amongst women in the workforce along racial and educational lines as well.
Since the 1950s, women in America have trailed men significantly in regards to their wages. Figure 1 shows that while the gap has somewhat narrowed over the past 40 years as more and more women entered the workplace, and the issue has been given more awareness and exposure as time has passed, as of 2010, women still earn only about 77 percent of what men earn. It’s safe to assume that educational levels have increased for both genders during this time period, which in turn would increase overall pay (even without accounting for inflation), and also that the cost of living had increased, making it more necessary and common for women to also work full time, as their male counterparts did. However, what is not accounted for is the fact that women are still nearly 25% adrift of what men earn. The education, experience and qualifications that each prospective employee is the same (at least on paper) and gender lines for many professions have been largely blurred if not entirely erased in recent years. The gap didn’t start to close significantly until the 1980s, which is a time when a college education became more common and perhaps this influenced that generation’s workers, who may have thought that a dual-income household would be necessary to providing their offspring the same opportunity to be educated. These types of self-imposed economic pressures probably forced the amount of men and women in the workplace to become more equal over time, and it would follow that wages would at least head in a similar direction, but the...
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