wo authors just issued an analysis for the Congressional Research Service focused on the persistent problem of the inequality of women’s pay. Several decades after a shake up of cultural norms sent legions of women to work, women as a group still make less money than men. Many women see this inequality close to home, in their own workplaces, or their own professions.
Analyzing the root causes requires a look at several factors. The lingering effects of the undervaluing of “women’s work,” such as teaching, and the high value given to work requiring muscle, such as shipping, can contribute to the overall oddities in pay scales. Other theories look at the higher prevalence of men in union jobs, which often command higher wages. Still others focus more on the difference between men and women, as opposed to difference in the jobs, since overall women are more likely to work fewer hours since they still have the bulk of the responsibility for child care and family responsibilities. Comparisons of women with the same education level as men show the men paid far more.
The analysis discusses the existing and some proposed laws to equalize the field. The Equal Pay Act requires men and women doing the same job to be paid the same. The Paycheck Fairness Act, introduced in the Senate, and passed in the House, would expand the reach of the law. With the change in Congress, it may be a dead issue this term.