The Institute for Women’s Policy Research: The Gender wage gap


After reading about Wal-Mart’s staffing practices and the Dukes v. Wal-Mart case earlier in the semester, I decided that I wanted to take a closer look at inequalities that exist in the workplace.  When starting my research, I came across a think tank that is devoted to understanding women and their socioeconomic place in society.  The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) reports on women in terms of education, the economy, employment, democracy, poverty, welfare, work and family, and health and safety.

I have chosen to focus in on the gender wage gap.  According to IWPR, women receive more college degrees than men and make up half of the workforce.  They are the main providers or equal contributors to household income in four out of ten families.  Despite this, women are still only making 77 cents to every dollar that males are earning, a gap of 23%.  The IWPR studied how this gap has changed over time; their findings certainly surprised me.  The gender gap is being narrowed at a decreasing rate.  In the past decade the gap was only shortened by less than half of one percentage, whereas between 1991 and 2000 it decreased by about four percent, and more than ten percentage points between1981 and 1990.  IWRP stated,  “According to our research, if change continues at the same slow pace as it has done for the past fifty years, it will take almost another fifty—or until 2056—for women to finally reach pay parity.”

As a female who will soon be entering the workforce, I am interested in learning more about this wage gap and what the IWRP believes will happen to it in the coming years.  In several studies the IWRP actually goes through and examines the gap by occupation.  I am curious to see what the current gender wage gap is for the positions I am currently applying for.

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4 responses to “The Institute for Women’s Policy Research: The Gender wage gap

  1. As someone else in the job search boat, I also find this an interesting topic to pursue. As our society becomes more progressive, you would assume this issue would be less of a concern. It turns out this is not the case! You mention years 1991 and 2000, hopefully the more recent statistics show improvement. It would be interesting to see which industries of business have the largest gap, whether it be finance, government, etc.

  2. I think this will be a really interesting topic for you to explore for your white paper, especially because you can relate to it right now. Like Alexis said, I hope you will be able to find improvements that have been made since 1991 and 2000 as you continue to do research. I’ll be really interested to see what you end up finding when you do finish your paper!

  3. I recommend you look into multiple reports that examine the difference in pay between sexes. I am by no means suggesting that the disparity doesn’t exist, but I feel that a think tank such as this one might be biased in their research. Many factors play into why women make less money than men on average. The Economist once had a 14-page special on this very topic. If you have the time, I suggest trying to find it (it’s from last year or two).

  4. In going along with what Brian said about there being many different factors coming into play here, the percentages of women in executive positions might be a compelling factor to look at. I am actually researching it as part of my paper two case on L’Oreal, since it really stuck out to me just how few women are execs there (like come on, it’s a makeup company!!) The percentage of women in c-suite positions of Fortune 500 companies would be an interesting thing to find out.

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