How the Gender Wage Gap Differs by Occupation

Source: Emily Baxter, Center for American Progress, April 14, 2015

….Some argue that the wage gap is purely due to “women’s choices,” but such a characterization hides the cultural and social factors that go into women’s decisions to enter or stay in a particular job. Moreover, even when women choose the same jobs as men, the wage gap persists. For example, male surgeons earn 37.76 percent more per week than their female counterparts. In real terms, this means that a female surgeon earns $756 less per week than her male colleague, which adds up to nearly $40,000 over the course of one year. And this does not apply only to high-paying, male-dominated careers: Women are 94.6 percent of all secretaries and administrative assistants, yet they earn 84.5 percent of what their male counterparts earn per week—a weekly difference of $126.

It is also important to note that differences in women’s education do not help explain the gender wage gap. In fact, education has helped shrink the gap—but has not been nearly enough to close it. Women complete college and graduate school at higher rates than men; they earned 47 percent of all law degrees in 2011 and 47 percent of all medical degrees in 2014. All except one of the occupations with the smallest wage gaps do not require education beyond high school, while almost all of the occupations with the largest wage gaps require a college or professional degree. Furthermore, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected that, going forward, jobs that require advanced degrees will grow faster than those that do not; they will also continue to have higher entry-level wages than jobs that require less education. Since women are pursuing advanced degrees at the same or slightly higher levels than their male counterparts, it is clear that helping women stay in the labor force and excel in well-paying jobs after completingtheir education needs to be a societal and a policy priority….
What Occupational Data Show About the Causes of the Gender Wage Gap by Emily Baxter
Women of Color and the Gender Wage Gap by Milia Fisher
Video: The Gender Pay Gap Explained by Sarah Jane Glynn, Sara Langhinrichs, and Andrew Satter